Author Topic: Use of Micro LED's for Lighting  (Read 1640 times)

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nscaleSPF2

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Use of Micro LED's for Lighting
« on: February 06, 2013, 10:09:46 PM »
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From time to time, others in this forum have shown the remarkable results that are possible when one uses smd led's to light layout scenes.  This inspired me to consider this approach on my own layout.  Specifically, for truly scale street lights, signals, and building interiors.

Unfortunately, perusing websites like digikey.com and mouser.com left me clueless as to how to attach wires to these little devils, and how to power them.  (Clueless is a condition I often find myself in, but usually not for very long.)

So I eventually stumbled on the Ngineering.com website.  It contains a series of tutorials that explain how to attach magnet wires to the (normally) surface mounted led's, and the circuitry required to power them.  They even sell some tools that they claim will make the process easier, if not totally painless.

Has anyone else tried the Ngineering approach?  Is it worth investing the time to learn their process?  Any input would be welcome.  I am somewhat adept at soldering, and have successfully hard wired several decoders.

Jim

p.s.  I did a search of the forum, but was not able to find this topic.
Jim Hale

Trying to re-create a part of south-central Pennsylvania in 1956, one small bit at a time.

DKS

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Re: Use of Micro LED's for Lighting
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2013, 10:20:46 PM »
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These threads should be of interest:

https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=27923.0

https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=28242.0

There are some sources of pre-wired SMD LEDs online. Some eBay sellers carry them, and there's a shop that also carries them. I've not used the Ngineering approach, as I've got my own methods, as have several others here on the Wire.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2013, 10:24:56 PM by David K. Smith »
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nscaleSPF2

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Re: Use of Micro LED's for Lighting
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2013, 10:40:18 PM »
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Yes, thank you, David.  I have seen the two threads.  I bought some of the Christmas lights, but they are a bit too large for what I have in mind, and the modern street lights are outside of the era that I am modeling.

The "shop" prices will quickly bankrupt this railroad.

I guess I am looking for someone to enlighten me about their methods, or give me an opinion of the Ngineering approach.

Regards,
Jim

Jim Hale

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DKS

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Re: Use of Micro LED's for Lighting
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2013, 10:43:50 PM »
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My method is shown (sort of) in this video:

Not a valid youtube URL
and also described here: http://jamesriverbranch.net/detail_5a.htm
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peteski

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Re: Use of Micro LED's for Lighting
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2013, 10:57:02 PM »
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Although I also often use magnet wire or even uninsulated wire to hook up SMD LEDs, some alternate methods I use are shown in a thread on the Atlas Forum: http://forum.atlasrr.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=58447

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nscaleSPF2

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Re: Use of Micro LED's for Lighting
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2013, 10:57:53 PM »
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OK, David, I get it.  Thank you.

Jim
Jim Hale

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Re: Use of Micro LED's for Lighting
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2013, 11:22:09 PM »
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Truly inspiring, Peteski.  Thank you.

Do I really need a temperature controlled soldering iron, though?  Or can I get away with a low wattage pencil iron?  Current plan is to have between 100 and 200 LEDs.

Regards,
Jim
Jim Hale

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peteski

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Re: Use of Micro LED's for Lighting
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2013, 11:45:33 PM »
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Truly inspiring, Peteski.  Thank you.

Do I really need a temperature controlled soldering iron, though?  Or can I get away with a low wattage pencil iron?  Current plan is to have between 100 and 200 LEDs.

Regards,
Jim

You're welcome Jim.
A low-wattage pencil iron should work but you need to be careful (and quick) when soldering really small LEDs (like 0402 or 0603). It doesn't take much to fry them (or at least delaminate their solder pads).  I often work on electronic circuits and to me it is important to have a good tool for the job.  But not everybody thinks like that (or is willing to spend extra money on the better tools).

You could probably find a good temperature controlled iron for less than a hundred dollars. Sure, it is more expensive than a simple pencil iron but in the long run, you will probably be happy with the investment. It is up to you.
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DKS

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Re: Use of Micro LED's for Lighting
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2013, 01:36:47 AM »
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You could probably find a good temperature controlled iron for less than a hundred dollars. Sure, it is more expensive than a simple pencil iron but in the long run, you will probably be happy with the investment.

+1
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Re: Use of Micro LED's for Lighting
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2013, 06:40:22 AM »
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Mad skills, mad skills.  That's all I can say.

nscaleSPF, you may be able to grind some of the acrilic off those christmas lights to make them much smaller...

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Re: Use of Micro LED's for Lighting
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2013, 08:13:15 AM »
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Peteski, thanks for the advice; will order a temperature controlled iron.

John, of course we are mad.  We wouldn't be modeling in N scale if we were not.  What's fun for me is trying to do things that I have not done before.  If the full truth were known, I plan to install the LEDs in Bob's TrainCat signals, and I have visions of tiny wall-mounted gooseneck lamps lighting the station platform.

Jim
Jim Hale

Trying to re-create a part of south-central Pennsylvania in 1956, one small bit at a time.

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Re: Use of Micro LED's for Lighting
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2013, 12:01:17 PM »
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Soldering tiny LEDs needs some practice. I started big and now I am down to the 0402 LEDs.
I tried the low heat method but I destroyed a lot of LEDs since you have to hold the iron much longer to the solder. I used now around 700 degrees, use a lot of rosin flux, pre-tin the LED pads and the wires. Now within a fraction of a second, the iron heats both parts and solders them together. At the end, I put a drop of CA glue on the back of the LED to keep the wire from moving around while handling them.
Besides a good iron, I also purchased a microscope. Maybe overkill but those 0402 LEDs look like monsters now.

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Re: Use of Micro LED's for Lighting
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2013, 12:39:04 PM »
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Besides a good iron, I also purchased a microscope. Maybe overkill but those 0402 LEDs look like monsters now.

This is a good option. Student-grade scopes are more than adequate for this kind of work, and can be had for less than $100.
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nscaleSPF2

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Re: Use of Micro LED's for Lighting
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2013, 09:56:24 AM »
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Gentlemen, do you think that something like this would work?

http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/779030/Carson-MagniLamp-Magnifier/

I don't want my face to get too close to the soldering process, if you know what I mean.

Jim

Jim Hale

Trying to re-create a part of south-central Pennsylvania in 1956, one small bit at a time.

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Re: Use of Micro LED's for Lighting
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2013, 06:06:48 PM »
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I've been using a lot of N-gineering's micro-LED's on my layout. Some recent articles I wrote for N-Scale magazine show them in use in my Skid Row and Suburbia scenes.

I've since made some gooseneck lamp fixtures for gas station signs and similar applications using .018" stainless tubing and N-gineering's stamped aluminum lampshades.

To me the hardest (most tedious) part of the job is scraping the painted-on insulation from the magnet wire so I can make a solder joint (anyone have any helpful hints on this?)

I use an ordinary Radio Shack 30 watt iron to solder everything. The trick is to touch the iron to the joint for no more than one second to avoid damaging components. Using my Optivisors also helps a lot.