Jun 18 2013

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Sam Gipe and LEDs

Sam Gipe writes:

Here’s what I remember about LEDs:

Instructables and Candlepowerforums were good sources for ideas. This guide is awesome and is everything you need (basically, you’re building a really bright flashlight, though you might forego batteries):

Beginner’s Guide to explain simple LED flashlight

Lumens (brightness)

If I recall correctly, car headlights are something like 1000 to 3000 lumens. This led is as bright as a dim headlight, at 800 – 900 lm, so with 10 or 20, you’ll win:

$4 900 lumen

1200 lumen: $20 1200 lumen


Even though they convert something like 70-90% of energy to light, they dump a lot heat and need heat sinks (& fans?), especially if your want you truck to shine like the sun. You can “overclock” them by pushing higher voltage too.

LEDs emit in exactly one color

(I forget how they do “white”). If you want colors, you can get a white one and put a color filter over it…but what that really does is block all colors but one (which means you lose half brightness). What you really want to do is buy an LED that emits in the color(s) you want. Then you get green/blue/whatever in its full glory.

Red: Red Cree LEF (look around and you can find much brighter ones and different colors)

Multi: Multicolored RGB

LEDs are like CPUs in that every year they get much better than last year. Seoul semiconductors and Cree made popular ones when I looked a few years ago. Each company has lots of models. Candlepowerforums will help with figuring out which is the best today.

Reflectors & Bases & Driver Boards

The LED is a little printed bubble. It has to sit on a base, which helps with heat and mounting. The bases are usually round, about the size of a quarter. Then you add reflectors, which are about the size of a marble and point the light at someone else’s eyes. They’re about $3 each. Driver boards are often programmable and how you blink to the music, or just turn things on. Links to all those things here:


Driver Boards

Here are some examples of projects.
Note that most of what you see is a heat sink.

These might be oldish, but there’s lots of stuff out there:


here’s an LED source:


When I researched all this stuff, a 1W LED was really bright. It looks like they’re up to 5W and 10W now.

This will NOT shine like the sun:

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