Build | Fix | Re-use

Soldering LED Strips to Make Shapes

Another quick tutorial for those curios minds out there, today kaitlyn1franz on instructables shows us some pretty handy tips for soldering LED strips together to form some rather interesting shapes.


To start here are 3 Very important tips:

– Pay attention to the direction to the LEDs. They have Data in and Data out as indicated by the pins and the arrows on the strips.

– Make sure you solder the correct pins. If GND is soldered to one side of the wire, make sure the other side of the wire is also soldered to the other side. I made this mistake when I stopped paying close attention to it.

– If you make a mistake, de-solder the connection, do not try to rip it off the strip.

– Note the arrows on the strips. Make sure all of the arrows are going the same direction. This ensures each data out goes to a data in. The strips only go in one direction.


Step 1: Cut out Your Shape



The first thing you need to do is decide what shape you want to make.

I wanted to make the Digilent logo, which is essentially composed of two triangles.

Something that’s really important to note is that, the shape is based on the LEDs, not on the shape of the strips, so keep that in mind. For example without the shape of the strips in my shape, the triangles appear to have rounded corners. Cut the strips so that you can make the desired shape.

Decide what strip you want the wires from the microcontroller to go to. I choose a corner on the outside triangle so that the wires wouldn’t get in the way. From there you should be able to follow the arrows around to make one long strip if the shape was stretched out.

Also cut out the wires you need and strip them. You will need three wires for each bend if your LEDs have three signals. I found it easiest to make the wires longer than necessary and then just fold them out to make the curves.


Step 2: Secure a strip



I found it was easiest to solder if you have something to secure the strip. Secure the strip with a clamp of some sort.


Step 3: Heat the Copper Pad



Take your soldering iron and place it on the side of one of the copper pads to heat it up.


Step 4: Make a solder blob



Touch the solder to the heated copper pad while the iron is still touching it. Make a solder blob on the pad and remove the soldering iron.


Step 5: Repeat for all pads



Make solder blobs on the other two pads.


Step 6: Attach the wire



Take the wire in one hand and the soldering iron in the other hand. Heat up the solder blob and place the wire on the blob. Remove the soldering iron and hold the wire until the solder hardens around it.

Warning! The wire and strip may heat up significantly.


Step 7: Repeat For the other two wires



Attach the other two wires.


Step 8: Connect the strips together



Using the same technique attach all the strips together, forming one long strip that can be bent into the desired shape. Make sure all the arrows point the same direction.


Step 9: Bend your strips into the desired shape



Now that you have a bendable strip, you can bend the strip into the desired shape and continue with whatever you needed the shape for.

For example, an LED Graduation Hat. 🙂

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