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Author Topic: wiring LEDs  (Read 1931 times)
United States United States

« on: August 22, 2010, 11:51:25 am »

I was wondering if anyone could give me a rundown on how to wire LEDs. Laymons terms please. I do not know hoe to read circut blueprints that's why I come to you guys. Haha. Thank you in advance for your help.
Zeppelin Overlord
United Kingdom United Kingdom

The Green Dungeon Alchemist

« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2010, 12:31:07 pm »

It's very simple really, the LED has polarity which means one side connects to + (positive) and the other to - (negative). They operate on about 3 volts, you should really use a resistor with your LED too or they will burn out. If you are just using a button cell battery or two AA batteries then it should be okay without a resistor.

Green Dungeon Alchemist Laboratories
Providing weird sound contraptions and time machines since 2064.
United Kingdom United Kingdom

« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2010, 12:47:50 pm »

The important thing about LEDs is that they don't have linear resistance this means that if you connect them to a voltage source (ie a battery) on their own they will draw too much current, shortening their life considerably.

For a simple circuit the way to get round this is to add an appropriate resistor in series as ballast, which in simple terms, will limit the current and protect the LED. The downside of this is that you're dissipating power in the resistor, but in most cases this is fairly insignificant.

If you're using high powered LEDs (ie 1Watt plus) then it may be better to use a specially designed current regulated power suppply, but for standard LEDs a resistor is fine.

Suppliers like Maplin and RS should have formulae on their websites to calculate the appropriate values of resistor.

If you're making and array of LEDs you will generally want them connected in parallel ie all positive terminals connected to a positive supply and negative terminals connected to ground, this means that they will all 'see' the same voltage as the supply.

If you connect them in series ie positive terminal of one to negative terminal of the next and so on then they will share the voltage and you;ll need to calculate the supply voltage required for the whole series.



A man of eighty has outlived probably three new schools of painting, two of architecture and poetry and a hundred in dress.
Lord Byron
Zeppelin Captain
England England

Lord of Glancairn

« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2010, 01:35:45 pm »

Idiots guide to LED's

The LED will have a long leg, and a short leg.

The long leg is the Positive connection.

An LED need's maybe about 1.6v to run.

To work out what value resistor you need to place between the positive connection on the power source and the long leg of the LED, you need to use Ohm's Law.

Voltage divided by the Current equals Resistance.

If you have a 3 volt supply, and you have a 30mA LED you would require a 1k Ohm resistor.

3 divided by 0.003 equals 1000

Then you have to ask yourself if you're connecting the LED in Series or Parallel?

If you're connecting then in Series, one after the other in a chain, you'll need add all the LED's together.

So a 3v supply will run 2 LED's, and a 9v supply would run about 5 LED's.

If you connect them in Parrallel, (all the positive connections together and all the negatives together) Witchcraft happens, and you can connect lots of LED's together but you have to add all the currents together ensuring they don't exceed the maximum current of your power source.

What really matters is what you do with what you have. - H. G. Wells
Zeppelin Admiral
United States United States

Reverse the polarity!

« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2010, 01:42:15 pm »

LEDs have a specified current, which you should match within a reasonable tolerance. Since D is for Diode, you also have to satisfy the forward voltage drop across the LED. The resistor gives you somewhere to shunt the remaining voltage and a means to control the current. The forward voltage and the expected current vary. There are some standard values which are often right, but you should really check the specifications for the parts you're going to be using. Alternately, have extras and know how to use a multimeter to verify your estimated values by trial and error.

Looking at it as a way to "limit the current" is in the right ballpark but not really entirely correct. It does set the current, and it is chosen such that given the supply and forward voltages the LED will receive its specified current. But its purpose is not to prevent an over-current condition and it doesn't have a way to stop it from occurring if something happens outside the ideal expected conditions.

This is pretty handy for single LEDs and this one for arrays, especially if you don't grok circuit analysis. On the other hand, you don't need much more than Ohm's Law for this, which you should really pick up ASAP if you're going to be doing electrical stuff. Note that the array wizard will give you results which are of varying stability. One resistor per LED is the most stable (1xN array), but this is not always desirable. The overall circuit including the supply and other elements will determine whether this works in any consistent or usable fashion, so you should stick to single-LED or 1xN arrays if possible.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2010, 01:43:56 pm by arcwelder » Logged

Mad repairman for the ship of the damned.

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