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LED for Dummies


Jefuemon
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So, for my current build, I'm toying around with the idea of adding a few LED's to spice it up a bit.

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Just looking for a few warning lights, and such.
Problem is, I'm one of those people whose lighting/mechanical endeavors in model building fail 98% of the time. I couldn't even get the monoeye of a PG Zaku II to light!
So, does anyone have some idiot-proof (or at least very resistant) LED products, tips, or tricks to share? Thanks!
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Always test with watch batteries first before soldering anything. Most any LED is designed around ~3 volts, and 3 volts is very easy to get from most any assortment of watch batteries you may have laying around.

With more and more "cheap LED's from China" I'm encountering more and more "non-standard" configurations---most of the "rules" for determining which is the negative end don't apply any more. Internal configuration (if visible) is about the only sure-fire way to identify---or a quick check with something supplying 3v.

"Flat spot is negative"---not for some Chinese manufacturers! "Long lead is positive"---see previous remark.

I had a heck of a time with the last LED I soldered due to that (re-mounting one from a model train---it was definitely non-standard, as I ended up having to wire it "backwards" from what it appeared to be, based on the "standard indicators")

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I'm also using 3V LEDs on most of my custom mods.

It gets complicated if you are doing chain of LEDs from single power source. Then you need to figure out battery voltage and probably resistor ..etc. There are many web site covering the calculation method. Many recommends using resistor for even single LED set up, but I guess that's debatable. I've tried a couple of 3V LED + 3V battery set up without problem.

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Not LED specific per se, just general electronic advice:

- make sure you're connections are actually connected. Best to solder them. You should be able to pick up a soldering iron (¥420)and solder (¥105) at Daiso, so those supplies won't break the bank.

- check that everything works before putting it into the model (as David mentioned)

- avoid kinks and shorts in the wiring - ESPECIALLY when you're at the stage where you're putting the tested circuit into the model (the VFMF: VF Modelling Manual has a good suggestion: use super blocks glued into the interior of the model to keep the + and - wires separate).

Just like any other new modelling technique, it may be a good idea to try it out on a throwaway/low cost kit first.

The VFMF: VF Modelling Manual also has a few pictures of the modellers whittling down the plastic around the light emitting parts to better fit into the wing tips of the model. If you attempt that, make sure none of the metal that is normally covered by the plastic is exposed (lest you might accidentally set the house on fire).

Also, have you thought about fibre optics? It *may* be easier to install them into a VF sized kit, and as the electricals are all in one place, you don't have to worry about shorts or kinks in the wiring.

Edited by sketchley
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Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm not looking at lighting up the Valk, I know that's way beyond my skill now. Just kicking around the idea of some lights on the hanger wall, and/or on the launch arm. Slow steps for a first time.

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Evan's Designs has a lot of LED and wiring stuff to help simplify getting things hooked up. They've even got some rectifier equipped LEDs that don't have to be wired in a specific direction like most. And, they have international shipping.

Just took a peek at this site. Looks to have exactly what I was thinking about. Looks really user friendly, too. Just might be placing an order in the future.

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Just my 2 cents but they make flashing LED's as well if your not keen on Circuit boards. The cool thing is that if you hook 1 flashing LED and some plain ones in series, they all flash! Three things you will need to know are your voltage supply and how many LED's you are going to use and you can use tools on the web to calculate any resistors you need.

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HLJ has LED sets complete with connectors and battery holders. Do they have Radioshack or similar in your neck of the woods? They sell battery boxes with switches and LED's already on them. You could connect additonal LEDs up to the prewired leads. - MT

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I'm kind of leaning towards ordering some stuff from the Evan's Design site posted earlier.

I'm sure they've got LED's and other stuff available over here, it's just figuring out the correct search terms (sometimes, it's a lot easier to go with an English site).

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Couldn't you just go to the equivalent of Den-den Town or Akiba in your neck of the woods? When it comes to these kinds of electronic components, all you really need to do is show a piece of paper with the specs on it (Amps, Volts, Resistance, etc.).

I'm almost tempted to tell you to send the components to me and make it for you...

... but yeah, just did a quick search on google for LEDs, and what comes up are oodles of the LED incandescent bulb replacements. Not much comes up for LEDs themselves, but I stumbled on this:

http://www.rgb-led-light.com/

(Most of the quick searches at the major stores (Konan, Homes, etc.) led to the incadecent bulb replacement LED lights. I'm not sure if it was because I was using the wrong term to look up the bulbs, or that those major stores simply don't care them, as there isn't that much of a DYI/weekend carpenter tradition here).

Edited by sketchley
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Couldn't you just go to the equivalent of Den-den Town or Akiba in your neck of the woods?

This is Sapporo we're talking about. Not exactly on the frontier, but I think we can see it from here!

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I'm pretty sure there are areas that specialize in electronics, of those...

Anyhow, as I was thoroughly embarrassed with the results of last nights 5 minute search, I put on my google-foo head band, and came up with these:

Puramo specific:

http://ms-plus.com/search.asp?id=22059

http://www.ms-plus.com/search.asp?id=11492

These look the most like what you're after. I haven't explored the site too deeply, but they may have plug-and-play (no or minimal electrical assembly required) stuff that is more what you're looking for.

LED online retailers:

http://www.my-craft.jp/html/category_chip1.html?gclid=CPeDs4OT8LcCFUNipQodsR0ABw

http://akizukidenshi.com/catalog/c/cr5mm/

http://www.led-paradise.com/product-list/2

EDIT:

Hmmm, shipping on that site to Hokkaido looks like it might be a deal breaker.

Nevertheless, with that product info, I'm certain you can find similar stuff with cheaper shipping.

Edited by sketchley
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Just like to thank everyone for their help and suggestions. Placed an order yesterday for some "plug-and-play" LEDs, see how well they turn out.

If I'm happy with the way this turns out, I might get brave enough to actually light a Valkyrie kit, instead of just the base. Small steps, though!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mwaaahahahahahaha! Came in the mail today.

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Don't think that even I can mess this one up! Good motivation to get back on the bench, too. Putty and sanding stage on the Valk now, hate that step!!

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Don't think that even I can mess this one up!

I'm glad you've found something that'll work. :D

This has been a pretty informative thread, with the links posted and a potential build/instructional to follow I can see this being a valuable resource in future times.

Putty and sanding stage on the Valk now, hate that step!!

I don't mind the sanding, I just hate the clean up (vacuuming) and prerequisite 'packing up' of my project. Even with a designated area for my hobby stuff I'm still find it it hard to spend more time on modeling and less on tidying. Good luck Jefuemon!

modelglue

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