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TRON: Legacy. How would I be able to set-up a battery-run LED Strip system in my NY Comic Con costume? Answered

Alright, so I'm going to NY Comic-Con with a loose adaptation of Jeff Bridges' (Kevin Flynn) outfit from the movie Tron: Legacy. I chose this outfit because, as far as lighting is concerned, it seems like the second-easiest costume to make. Pictures will be provided below.

Now, my confusion. Because EL wire would be a bit too dim (and expensive) for the effect I want, I've decided on the LED strip approach. I found this reel of 3528 SMD LED Strip that is both cheap and very bright, but after looking around the interwebz about battery power, I am thoroughly confused.

For about (at most) 12 feet of this wire, what would I need to set-up a system where the LED would last for most of the day? I probably would wear it for 3 of the 4 days of NYCC, so I suppose the battery(ies) should be rechargeable (or if not, cheap enough to buy in bulk). I'm a college student, so I'm on bit of a budget if you couldn't tell already lol.

Thank you in advance. I hope to hear from you guys soon!


Hmm 300leds per 5m = 60leds/meter

You are going to use about 3m, so 180 leds
Lets say each led uses 5ma (estimate only)
A D cell batt has around 12000 mah to source.

So 8 D cells in series would (estimate) power it for 13.3 hours.
Again, thats a rough estimate. Try hooking ll the 3 meters up to a multimeter to test current consumption of the 3m segment. You will be able to power it longer if the current consumption is lower.

Wait, 180 LEDS times 5mA equals 900 mA... and 12000 mAh divided by 900 equals 13.33_ hours. But, is that only for one battery? Wouldn't 8 D-batteries have a (12000 x 8) mAh thing going on?


Alright, so if each reel is 24 Watts, and every reel is made up of 300 leds, then each led should be around 0.08 W, right? And every meter uses about 4.8 watts?

So, following (watts = volts times amps), if it requires 12V to work, then every led should use 6.6 mA (0.08 watts / 12 volts = 0.006666 Amps). I took a physics class many years ago, so tell me if my math is wrong.

0.4 Amps per meter times the 4 meters being (around) 1600 mA.

12000 mAh / 1600 mA = 7.5 hours

but (12000 x 8) mAh / 1600 mA = 60 hours

which one is it? or, am i completely wrong? lol


6 years ago

I would be confused too.  There is no mention of current flow for each
section of three or the full length.
There is no way to predict how many minutes of 8 cells in series will
provide 12 volt power to light.
The only avenue to try is a test purchase.


Look at my comment above. I'm not sure if the math is completely right, but I know that each LED has a working voltage of 12V and a total wattage of 24 Watts per reel (which is 300 LEDs). So I *think* that each LED uses 6.6 mA

thank you for your reply, btw. I have just purchased the LED strip and will test them out when I get them.

sorry- I should comment on my above comment but the replay button isnt there. You are right in your math where each LED uses 6.6ma. It should work for 7.5 hours (4m). Batteries in series dont add mAh, only voltage. Batteries in parallel add mAh. So it should run for around 7.5 hours on 8 alkaline D cells. You might be able to run it off of 9v- possibly. Try playing around with the number of batteries- less batteries = cheaper and lighter

OH! So connecting 8 1.5V batteries in series is like having one big 12V battery with the same amp hours, and putting them in parallel is like having one big 1.5V battery with 8 times the amp hours?

........ that's annoying, lol

If it works on a 9v battery system, albeit dimmer, then I should run them in parallel?

1. Yes :)

2. If they can run at 9v, just try like 12 D batteries, 2 packs, each having 6 wired in series and then connect those 2 packs in parallel.
Which would give you some 15 hours run time approx

Wow, I feel like I've learned so much today. Thank you so much!

Ugh, 12 D-cells? I only barely realized how to cleverly distribute 8 of them, lol. But I see your point, though. 9 volts have no where as much mAh as D-batteries.

depends how long you need to run it a day- 7.5 hours/day then battery change seems fine to me :)

you have an excellent point! Now, if you excuse me, I have to find a place that sell D-cells in bulk for relatively cheap. ::runs into the sunset::

::runs back:: oh, and thank you again. You have no idea how much of a help you have been. I'll make sure to credit you in the instructable I'll (hopefully) make!

::runs back into the sunset::

hints= harbor freight, costco, ebay, china ,etc. airplane tickets to china might offset the cost a bit though....

i have made something similar to this, but with rgb leds and they are on the bottom of my skateboard. they have resistors built in and run off of 12v so you can either use 8 of any size 1.5 volt cells or a 9v and two AAA cells to power them. the 9v will only last for a few hours since the leds pull 7.2 watts per meter when on maximum brightness. in addition i bought a controller for them on ebay for 6-8 bucks that has a remote. you just solder it all together and it works out pretty good. if you need a more simplified detailed description i can provide one in a Message.