RGB LED Mood Lighting

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About: Well, I feel like I am a pretty regular guy... I work in the Entertainment industry. I love to create things, and build things so this site is one of my regular places :) I also enjoy going out doors, play...

Intro: RGB LED Mood Lighting

Here we have a RGB mood lighting system, this is made to hang on your wall and give you something to zone out on and give the room a nice little glow of changing colors. I had no idea how this was going to turn out, BUT I am happy with the outcome!






Step 1: Parts Needed

Alright so below are the parts and the tools I used... I encourage adapting this project into your own style, so you can follow it step by step or use it as a reference to make your own creation!

Parts:

Poster Board (found at Micheal's arts and crafts)

5mm RGB LED's (I bought at www.besthongkong.com, also at Fry's Electronics)

Resistors for my project I used 330 ohm 1/4 watt resistors, but whichever kind you need for your LEDs, how I have found out is by going to http://led.linear1.org/led.wiz which is a LED calculator, you plug in your information and it tells you the array and what resistors to use. (I bought at www.besthongkong.com, also at Fry's Electronics)

Copper Tape (found at Micheal's arts and crafts)

Wire (found at Fry's Electronics, but I am sure Radio shack has them too)

9 volt battery harness (found at Fry's Electronics, but I am sure Radio shack has them too)

9 volt batteries (found at Fry's Electronics, but I am sure Radio shack has them too)

Choice of wood 1x4x8 (Home depot, Lowe's)

L shape metal Brackets (Home depot, Lowe's)

Screws fir Bracket (Home depot, Lowe's)

Fogged Plexiglas (or clear Plexiglas sanded with medium grit sand paper) (Home depot, Lowe's)

Tools:

Wire Cutters
Soldering Iron
Hot Glue Gun
Skill Saw, or Chop Saw
Screw Driver
Drill
Carpenters square or Ruler

Step 2: Deciding and Starting on Layout

Well to get everything started and to figure out how much of everything you need, you need to figure out the amount of LED's and the size of boxes to get your full dimensions of your project. Once you figure all that out you can collect all your materials and get started, I will go through the process of what I did, and you can either copy exactly or use it as a reference to create your own!

I decided on 25 RGB LED's

Each square 4 inch's X 4 inch's

25 squares, 5 squares X 5 squares, which makes the main board 20 inch's X 20 inch's

So measure out a 20" square piece of Poster board and start cutting, MAKE SURE IT IS A PERFECT SQUARE!

Step 3: Building Frame

After I cut out he size of the poster board, I made the wood frame to go around it. I wanted to go for more of an industrial look, so I mounted the brackets on the outside instead of the inside... I also did not sand down the wood to keep the rough look... but you can do it however you want! even make the frame out of sheet metal!

So the poster board is 20 inch x 20 inch, so I cut two of the boards 20 inch long, and then two of the 22 inch long since the boards were 1 inch think, and the longer ones cover two ends of the 20 inch boards. Once you have the boards cut simply butt them all up together in a square, Lay in the poster board and make sure it fits! Then layout out the brackets, and screw it all together!! Easy as that.

Step 4: Prepare Board

So we want to start the layout out with a bunch of guide lines on the main poster board. I first made a grid for the main boxes, 4 inch x 4inch. Then you need to make sure that the LED's are centered in each of the 25 box's. So draw an X in each of the boxes, which if all is laid out correctly you can draw the lines down the length of the board in a X pattern... Kinda hard to see in the pictures, sorry.

Now that you have it all laid out, grab a drill and drill bit. Choose drill bit size that is a little smaller then the end of the led itself, example: if you are using 5mm LED's then maybe go for a 3 or 4 mm drill bit. Now in the center of each box you should have an X, and at the cross of the X should be the very center of each box. So that is where you need to drill the holes!

Step 5: Making the Boxes

So you can make the boxes many different ways, but the most important thing is to make sure the boxes are nice and straight. So the route that i did was to cut out cross members out of poster board and then little notches out of them on the opposite side so they all fit together.

Cut 8 strips of the Poster board, 20 inch's in length and 3 inch's in width. I choose 3 inch's in width because that gives you enough room behind the main board for wires and batteries, but also enough on the front for a thin piece of Plexiglas.

Once all those are cut, now measure out and draw a line every 4 inch's. Then another one down the center, which in my case is in 1.5 inch's. For example take a look at the pictures below.

Next you want to cut notches into these poster boards, cut the notches half way down each of the four lines. Cut each notch the width of the poster board. See pictures below for examples.

Step 6: Preparing the LEDs

So you need to make sure that the LED's are nice and diffused, there are many ways to do this, some people sand the whole LED, others have cut the tops off to make the ends flat. But for me I went a different route, I just covered each LED in Hot Glue, and it seemed to work out pretty good!

A trick I figured out is to put the LED on something and then pour the Hot Glue onto the LED while rotating the LED so it doesn't drip.

Step 7: Putting It Together

Well now that we have Prepared all the parts it is time to put it all together and start wiring... so start out with putting all the cross members together. Once all of those are together you can place them into the wood frame, then slide the main board in the wood frame too. Layout how much room you want on the top of the cross members so the plexiglas will fit, then mark where the main board is on the wood frame. You can Glue it all in place right now or take out the cross members and glue in the main board in place, let it dry, and then glue in the cross members (which is what I did).

When all of the poster board is in place and the glue dried, you can slide all of the LED's in the holes. It might help to bend the leads (the two wires) out a little bit so when you flip the board over they will not fall out.

Step 8: Wireing It Up!

Lets start wiring and soldering!!

Start off by flipping the whole thing over so you can see all the LED leads sticking up out of the main board. Take a look at the LED leads, bend all of the positive leads (longer leads) one direction, and then all of the negative leads (shorter leads) the other direction. It is very important that this is correct or else some of the LED's will not light up.

For Junction points or soldering points I used copper tape, you don't have to do this. Rather you can just solder the wires and resistors straight together, I did this because for me it was quicker and cleaner.

You will want to place one copper strip under the Positive lead so you can solder the positive lead to the strip. You can look at the image below.

The Negative lead will have a resistor soldered to it, so I placed the copper strip at a right angle to the right of the lead. This was so I could solder the resistor to the negative lead, then the other side of the resistor to the copper tape. You can see in the images below.

Once that is set up, you need to decide on how many LED's you want to put on the power source(s), I choose to use two 9 volt batteries. So that makes it 13 LED's on one battery, and 12 LED's on the other. You could use a plug in power source if you like, then you could put them all on one circuit.

Then just start throwing in some wires connecting all of the positive copper tapes together, and all of the negative copper tapes together. Figure out where you want the switch, and where to mount the batteries, then solder the negative end of the battery holder to one of the negative copper tape tabs. And solder the positive to a positive copper tape tab.

At this point you should be able to plug in the batteries, or your wall plug and see the beauty of 25 little boxes changing colors lighting up a room!

Step 9: All Finished

Alright, I hope that everything worked out with this instructable... if you have any questions, thoughts, and or ideas please post them up so everyone can see and learn. Also if you have any pictures of your variations please post those too!! Thank you for your interest, and best of luck!!






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100 Discussions

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laupnod

3 years ago on Introduction

I dunno if this is the right place to ask but I have all but made this instructable and it looks great. problem is the batteries last less than 15 min the only difference on my project is the use of a switch with two on positions and an excessive use of aluminium tape to hold everything down

Much thanks

1 reply
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seligtobiasonlaupnod

Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

My batteries did last much longer then 15 minutes, but I ended up switching it over to a plug so I could just leave it on and not worry about wasting batteries.

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UgniusR

6 years ago on Introduction

Nice instructable. How did you secure your plexiglass on the front? Glue? Also, where did you get a 20 x 20, or whatever size you used, sheet of plexiglass? Did you go to Ace or something? I looked on the Home Depot website, but there were only precut pieces and they were pretty exensive. How much did your's cost?

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seligtobiasonUgniusR

Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

Thank you for your compliments! I attached the fogged piece of Plexi glass with some double sided tape, you can also use hot glue instead. I used double sided tape just in case I wanted to show someone the insides of the project, the tape makes it a little less permanent then gluing it. I used this thinner fogged Plexi glass that is intended to diffuse fluorescent shop/kitchen lights (I actually not sure if the fogged plastic is technically Plexi Glass, but may just be thin fogged plastic). I bought it from Home Depot, but can't find a link for it from their website (sorry), but if you look in the fluorescent light section you should be able to find sheets of it. The plastic is pretty thin so I was able to score it with a pocket knife and then just bend it really carefully and it will snap along the score line. You can also cut it with scissors, but doing that you get these little cracks along the edges, so I would suggest scoring and snapping the plastic. Hope that helps, let me know if you need anything else!

Hello Seligtobiason

I see your panel mood ligthing its very cool , I'm from Mexico and I'm looking this kind of panel.

But Until now I couldn't be able to find where it sell by someone

I would like to know if you know where I can find it this panel

Where are you from?

Do you sell it? I hope you can help me look friend I design and install sensory room its a room special where the therapist work with special needs people

I hope you can write me, its my email: sensoryroomsmexico@prodigy.net.mx

Best Regards

Fernando

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techwolf0

4 years ago on Introduction

So i started to test my LED's starting with the setup from the top of battery one and i can't seem to figure out why when i only use two lights that one of the lights won't work. Can you give me any suggestions?

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arturo_mc

6 years ago on Step 7

I've finished building the frame and putting it together! This is a very nice instructable, i will surely post pics once its finished since, well it is all thanks to you! :), but one quick question, did you sand the plexiglass? the LEDS are already dimmed with the hot glue, so did you sand the plexiglass as well? or is it crystal clear plexiglass?

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The pexiglass is actually already fogged when I got it so no need to sand, but if you have clear, then you should probably sand it. The plastic that i used is actually a diffuser from a fluorescent kitchen light that I got from Home depot.

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philgainer75

6 years ago on Step 9

Since each LED cycles through the same pattern... this is entirely red when turning on... then green, the blue, etc. Correct?

How long after powering on does it degenerate into a random pattern? Any chance of uploading a video from the moment of powering-on so we can see?

I'm working on something similar, but plan on turning them on at different intervals. This way there is a clearly defined pattern at power, but then degenerates into the randomness as your box does.

2 replies

You are right, they do all start out red, and fade from each color. But I don't think that there is a need to have them power on at different times, it only takes 10 seconds or so for the randomness kicks in so it would be more or less a waste of time.

The LEDs' themselves are not regulated that well when being made so when they fade from one color to another the timing is off a little bit, which quickly makes them off pattern, then leads to the randomness. I hope that helps!

Thanks for the reply!

10 seconds? Wow... that's much faster than I am seeing with mine so far. I've got a lot of 500 here, and in my testing, they seem fairly consistent.... 20 slapped on a breadboard sees about 10-15 of them hold a decent sync for upwards of a minute. Although time-consuming, and if need be, I could test, sort, and group out the ones that appear to have similar timing. Im using 121 (11x11) of my 500 for this project, so I've got more than a handful to pick from.

Like stated above, having the pattern at power-on is one of the main points of my project (through tinkering with adjustable delay circuitry) ... seeing it degrade is part of the goal, but doing so in under 10 seconds will be disheartening. I guess I'll find out more as I progress.

Again, thanks for the reply!

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acarballo

6 years ago on Step 8

So how do you turn it on? i mean...do i have to get my hands inside of it and clip the batteries or does it have a button or something?

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In the Instructable it is just setup to pop the batteries in and out, but that did get annoying so I just put in a switch to the side to turn it on and off.

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Im kind of new to electronics, if i wanted to add a switch for both of the circuits (top RGB and bottom RGB) where should i put the switch?

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Hey there, sorry about the delay in response. So since there are technically two power sources you can't use a standard switch, BUT they do make a switch that has two inputs and two outputs so it really is two separate switches connected together! That would be your best bet, so for a switch just attach the positive wire from the battery to the input on the switch and then a wire from the output of the switch to the positive of the LED! Easy as that!

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arturo_mcseligtobiason

Reply 6 years ago on Step 8

Hello, its me "acarballo" from before, i changed my email account with facebook and my instructables accounts got screwed, but anyway, thanks for the fast responde, and i repeat, im fairly new to electronics, so maybe you could help me out a bit on this please.

Since my local electronics store only had 16 chameleon Leds (RGB's), i bought 16 and im gonna make it 4x4, but the question is, im gonna have 2 arrays, of 8 chameleon Leds each, Should i use 150 ohms resistors and power each array with a 9V battery? or what resistors should i use? Thanks in advance for your support!

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Hello again, if you are ever in doubt of what kind of resistors to use, you should check out any LED Calculator, my favorite is this one:
http://led.linear1.org/led.wiz
It is nice, simple, and easy to use.  On that note, if your LED needs 3.4 volt 20mA and is being pulled from a 9volt battery you should use 330ohm 1/4 watt resistor for eachLED.  I see I wrote 150Ohm resistors in the instructable, but that would be if you wired two LEDs to each resistor, but in the case of working with "flashing" LED's you do want a resistor to each LED.  Sorry for the confusion, and I fixed the mistake in the instructable (oops!).  Hope that answered you question, and let me know how else I can help!

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Hmph, using the calculator you provided, and using, 9v as source voltage, 3.4 diode forward voltage, 20 diode forward current mA, and 8 Leds, it tells me i should use 120 ohm at 1/4 Watt for every 2 leds... im kinda lost then since you said i should use 330 Ohms for each Led D:

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Since these LED's are not one solid color they are considered "Flashing" even though they are just fading from one color to the next. So with "Flashing LED's" I have read that if is best to have one resistor per LED, which in this case of 9 volts would be the 330 Ohm 1/4 watt resistor. The confusion of the 150Ohm vs 120Ohm is that 120 Ohm is what is suggested, but I had 150 Ohm on hand so that's what I used, and you can go with higher resistance for a substitute but you should never use less resistance!

I hope that clears up everything, and again, trust the LED calculator, when in doubt with anyone's projects use the LED calc. You never know what the circumstance is with whoever is making the project, my 150 Ohm resistors is a prime example!