Low Profile LED Lighting

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I was refurbishing a 1963 camper that I wanted to be completely off-grid. I needed very low profile lighting that worked off 12 volts. I found LED strips to be cheap on ebay and ordered some. This is what I came up with to put into my camper. Hope you like it.

Step 1: What You Will Need:

These are most of the items you will need.

LED strip (I got this 5 meter strip for around $4 on ebay)

a blank copper clad PC board

A permanent marker (I used a Sharpie)

some solid 22 g wire (2 approx. 3" stripped of its insulation, and 2 for connection to battery)

A clear CD case (frosted paint can be used to help diffuse light)

Some tools you will need...

Scissors

Soldering iron and solder (and something to hold the PCB while soldering)

wire strippers

Etchant solution

Step 2: Make Your PCB

Cut your strip on a diagonal between the (+) and (-) terminals on strip. This makes it easier to solder a wire to the correct terminal in a very neat and orderly fashion. Take your permanent marker and lay out the copper side of the PCB to where all positive are connected and all the negative are connected. I make my runs come together at one end so that I can connect the wire that's going to the battery. I reuse my etchant so I only remove as much copper as I need to. After etching, rinse to stop the action and scrub the permanent marker off. Drill a tiny hole into the (+) run and another in the (-) run. Then two more where the wire is going to connect to the battery.

Step 3: Apply LED Strips to Top of PCB

Ensure that all (+) are to one side and that will make all (-) on other side. Strip the two 3" wires of all insulation. Straighten it as best you can. Lay the wire down in contact with the solder joints and quickly solder it to the strip. Then put it through the small hole and solder to the run.

Step 4: Frost the CD Case

Then put the wired PCB in CD case. I drilled holes in it so I can mount it on ceiling (or wall). I also used a small project box to mount an on/off switch and connected alligator clips to the ends of the wire.

This turned out better than I expected and have made them for every area in my camper I need light. They use about 160 ma which comes out to less than 2 watts!

I also bought some yellow highlighters and highlighted on the frosted paint over every other LED strip. This makes the light a little more like incandescent light and not as harsh.

Hope you like this instructable.

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    17 Discussions

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    fatgnatsho8c1rkut

    Reply 3 years ago

    I bought my etchant solution at Radio Shack, it was around $12.

    Any Ferric Chloride solution should work fine. I heat it and re-use it several times.

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    sho8c1rkut

    3 years ago

    i want to ask which eching solution are you using

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    HoldOnTight

    3 years ago

    I like the idea of cutting the LED strips on an angle. Great tip!

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    Yonatan24HoldOnTight

    Reply 3 years ago

    Oh you comment thief! :)

    That is a really good idea, I've never seen someone do it that way before

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    grayl

    3 years ago

    In the assembly you show at step 4, I see 12 strips each containing 3 leds, all the strips wired in parallel, putting 4 volts across each led. With 160 ma for the whole assembly, that works out to only 4.4 ma per led. I gather you are using the 5m x 300 leds @ 20 watts variety, not the 60 watt variety. Nice work!

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    fatgnatgrayl

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thank you. I didn't really try to figure it out that way, I just used my multimeter and measured the current used. On the ones with 9 strips it was about 160 mA and the ones with 12 strips was about 220 mA.

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    TimoR3

    3 years ago

    Good idea, pal! Have you tried already demolishing flat panel displays, taking the plexi with "cloudy" printing and cut the plexi into, say a "star" or some other forms? Then just add the LEDstrip to the edges of the plexi.

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    fatgnatTimoR3

    Reply 3 years ago

    No, I haven't tried that. Good Idea ! Thanks

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    Heyup

    3 years ago

    I like this, Well done mate and thanks for sharing your idea :)

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    zappenfusen

    3 years ago

    I'm using the small white fan light globes with Leds. Seems to hide them better than anything else I've tried while not dimming the output excessively. Single Leds in bottle caps and cheap chargers from China and you've a rechargeable Hurricane lamp. This idea appears even cheaper to execute.

    zapp

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    john12692

    3 years ago

    it doesn't show up in the photos but can you see the individual LEDs/bright spots where they are when you look at this in person?

    1 reply
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    phatgnatjohn12692

    Reply 3 years ago

    Yes, the frosted paint doesn't diffuse the light perfectly, but works fine for my purpose. Hope this answers your question.

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    gkumbar

    3 years ago

    Nice work

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    fatgnat

    3 years ago

    Thank you.

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    cszhaoqm

    3 years ago

    nice wiring idea