Surface Mount LED’s

Even with the re-designed plastic that was to allow for better light transmission I was still not entirely happy with the amount of light being shown – and with the size of the LED’s it made the whole thing feel rather inefficient.

So I decided to move onto Surface Mounted LED’s which would give a much better viewing angle and packed a better punch for their size; ideal for this application. However when I ordered them I never accounted for just how small they really were. Here’s a picture of one.

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Yup, that tiny little gold spec on the tip of that blade is an LED. As a person I am MASSIVE and in no way a soldering master and have all the coordination of a drunken, ice skating giraffe – so at this point I was a little concerned.

After a little research on the web it seemed the most common way of doing this was under a magnifying glass with a few pieces of specialist equipment that I didn’t have. So I came up with my own method of doing things.

For this I used prototyping board which has vertical running tracks of connecting copper; chop these to the desired length. Next place blobs of solder periodically on the tracks parallel to each other but not connecting (this is for a parallel configuration). It should look a little like this:

WP_001201Once I’d done that I emptied the desired amount of LED’s onto the sticky tape you see in the shot to stop them getting lost. Making sure that you connect them all in the right polarity you can now use your chosen weapon to lay them onto the solder (bridging the tracks). For this I used a scalpel blade with a little bit of putty on it so it was slightly sticky. When you have them layed out – reheat the solder. This should result in your LED being set in there. Repeat until you have the desired amount, then wire up a battery with a hefty (680k ohm in this case) resistor to test – and viola!

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Then when it was mocked up with the face plate it looked like this

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The LED’s are slightly out of line and will have to be straightened but I am pleased with the result – the glow given off inside the indicator area is absolutely beautiful.

Needless to say by the end of the day I had become a soldering master.

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