plans to make your own led light fixture?

persimmonbob(6b)January 27, 2014

I know that you can buy all kinds of led's,but are breadboards somewhere available to make your own lights.
I have a lot experience soldering electronics since i used to work in Robotics.
I notice that those real expensive units all have round lights.

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I don't really understand what you are asking, and am not clear on what you mean by 'breadboards'.

You're right, you can buy all kinds of LEDs... beads or diodes, diodes mounted to aluminum stars or squares, cob beads (chips on board), square/rectangular arrays, along with a vast array of different wattages, light intensity outputs, and spectrum options.

You mention "lots of experience soldering electronics", which will definitely come in handy with DIY LED projects. It is very important to always consider the thermal management (heat dissipation) aspect when working with high intensity LEDs.

Most DIYers use a heat sink to attach their arrays. Although, even a heatsink is not enough to passively cool some LEDs, so cooling fans are also incorporated into the fixture design.

If wiring in series, make sure you calculate the forward voltage & amperage properly. Most use constant current drivers to power their LEDs (arrays and/or strings). And I would venture a guess that most 3-10w LEDs could be powered with as little as 350ma, up to 700-1,000ma with ease.

Some LED producers (e.g., Cree) are currently manufacturing chips/diodes that are very efficient and very intense. A lot of today's LEDs offer a good variety of kelvin temperatures and spectrum choices.

If you do a goggle search for DIY LED supplies, I'm sure you can find several suppliers that can meet your needs for a 'killer' DIY project. I would list a couple of good ones, but I think this site kind of views that kind of thing as a form of advertisement.

Late note: got it now, just goggled LED breadboard! 

I've never used a breadboard for any of my DIY LED projects, so I really cannot offer any suggestions. I believe breadboards are being used a lot for the smaller indicator type of LEDs and 'arduino' (for fading LEDs and other possibilities)? I've always used high intensity LEDs mounted on various types of heat sinks, along with manually soldering any wiring for my DIY builds. If I comprehend this right, bread boards require no solder, correct? I guess my main concern with breadboards would be how to go about mounting several high wattage/high output LEDs and how to manage heat, with a large enough size breadboard to make a decent size grow light fixture. 

This post was edited by o2tiller on Mon, Jan 27, 14 at 19:01
    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 6:14PM
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o2/tiller, thanks for more inside on led's. By breadboards i ment the perforated boards used to solder the led's to.They might be multy layered.You do have to solder your led's to it I saw a led fixture at a Hydro-fonic supply store,that have several round light sources made with led's,that were so pricey.I just do not know how much is involved making a home made one,Like parts to built one cheaply.
It sames that you have a lot of experience in that field.Bob.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 8:41PM
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Hey Persimmonbob:

Some of the pre-made LEDs can INDEED get very-very pricey! If you decide to make your own fixture, give the design (and materials you use) some forethought, do your homework, have a plan, and then re-think/re-evaluate that plan. You can build a quality LED fixture as good (if not better) than the pre-mades, at a fraction of the cost.

I started playing around with LEDs initially about 3-4 years ago, and have now converted over completely (really can't say 100% completely, but almost completely) for my indoor plants. I was very skeptical about LEDs during the first year I started to use them. At that time, 'my lights of choice' were t5ho & metal halide. I ignored all the pro & con opinions out there that pertained to LEDs and growing plants (don't believe everything you read or hear). Instead, I paid particular attention to how different species of plants grew under these lights. My plants were the true indicators, and I was surprised at how good the LEDs performed.

To date, I really like using 3w to 5w LEDs (the ones already mounted to aluminum stars) for my builds. I also use the round 9w cob beads (chips on board) for some of my fixtures, and have been very pleased with the results. I drive my LEDs with constant current (ma - amperage) way below their maximum capacity. Longevity of the LEDs has been excellent (still very bright with no apparent weakening of intensity).
Those puppies do get hot, so it is very important to manage heat dissapation in the design of the fixture. I've also played around with different spectrums & kelvin temperatures, and finally settled on using 6500K & 660nm red LEDs (with a mix of 4:1 or 5:1, whites:reds). My plants grow and fruit favorably with this mix. The other plus is that it looks pleasant to "my" eye. I have some larger fixtures that incorporate 45+ LEDs, and smaller fixtures with 12 LEDs. The possibilities of configurations, intensities, and spectrums, are endless.

Give it a shot ~ give it a try ~ design and build your own fixture. You can definitely DIY a really nice LED fixture for the price of a decent t5ho fixture, learn a lot in the process, and have the self satisfaction of building it yourself & knowing it is "right".

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 10:38PM
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Thanks again o2tiller,this give me time to set-up for next fall/winter.I am try to give tropicals a shot.I am in zone6/7 and winters are a little long for tropicals.
You are talking about Allum. stars, what are they and what do they look like.I just don't want to sounds like a nuisance here, How many units have already constructed and what are you using for powersupplies.
Appreciate your insights Bob

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 11:07AM
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Pictures are worth a thousand words. I've attached a few good examples of some of the materials used for DIY LED builds. As you can see, there are many possibilities.

Aluminum star

Aluminum star w/LED

Constant current LED driver

Heat sink (LED stars attached & wired in series)

Individual LED heatsink

Individual heatsinks w/LEDs

DIY LED heatsink kit that you can purchase

As I mentioned above, the hard part is doing your homework along with the associated research. Some other minor details: it's a good idea to use a thermal adhesive, or paste, when attaching LEDs to a heatsink (even if you are using screws to secure your LEDs to heatsinks). Another thought to be aware of: the spread of the LED beam. For depth penetration, optic lens are often used on LEDs (30, 45, 90 degree optics).

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 2:09PM
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What is the length of your fixture and how many leds and what watt ea are they? I have been playing with some 50W leds with bean angle of 140 but the lux (my light meter) shows a fast drop off at 5" off center, which I think is the biggest problem with high power leds. You can get a 50W with driver fo under $20 on Ebay. I would think the way you did it would be much better using 2-5w leds and a lot of them. Have you made any measurements?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 7:48PM
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Size of my fixtures, number of LEDs used, and total wattage, vary for my applications & particular goals (including color & wavelength of the LEDs that are being used).

Several of my builds use 3w and 5w LEDs (two different brands) spaced tightly together, which have proven to be very favorable for my plants. I have made par measurements using a high quality quantum meter in the past, and was very pleased with the results.

The 'white' LED specs (from manufacturing data sheets) are as follows: ***both 3w & 5w have a 125 degree spread without optics

3W ~ 135 lumens @ 350ma with forward voltage of 2.55
235 lumens @ 700ma with forward voltage of 3.2
320 lumens @ 1000ma with forward voltage of 3.5

5w ~ 139 lumens @ 350ma with forward voltage of 2.9
260 lumens @ 700ma with forward voltage of 3.05
348 lumens @ 1000ma with forward voltage of 3.15
463 lumens @ 1500ma with forward voltage of 3.25

So I guess the real question is: can you accomplish your goals with the $20 eBay LEDs & drivers? Probably. Would an inexpensive T-12 or T-8 fluorescent accomplish your goals? Probably. Would the lumen output from fluorescent bulbs be more economical. Probably, and more than likely. We all want the best bang for our buck (especially in today's modern world). No arguments from me in regards to LED technology still having a price range that seems to be out of reach for many people.

I've been told by a few major-players that the 'out of reach' part of the equation is going to change in the very near future, especially with the advances in LED technology that have already taken place. This will start to eliminate the 'choke hold' of a high price monopoly by a country that controls certain rare earth phosphors. Apologies to the OP, I know this post has nothing to do with your question regarding breadboards.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 12:59AM
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Here is a link to the info me and another guy put together so far. Were growing Orchids. I am currently using 4 T8 florescent and evening indirect sunlight. You can backup to the top of the thread for more info.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 1:08AM
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