My Garage under attack from  LEDs.

    A friend gave me a HUGE batch of LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) a while back.  

    The LEDs were new mostly scrap from the automotive industry, the victims of settings gone awry on the machine that trims their leads;  many had legs that were about 0.1", but still solderable for my use;  Others were bent and not worthy of straightening at the factory.  Also in the collection were BUNCHES of resistors, also victims of an incorrectly calibrated machine.

    Testing revealed the collection contained Red, Orange, and Yellow LEDs.  One bag said it contained over 800 LEDs, another boasted 1,132 of the buggers!  

    The batch of LEDs sat on the shelf for a long while, and finally in July of 2001 I decided I had to do SOMETHING with them.  Further, it should be interesting and unique, perhaps even useful.

    I settled on decorating the side of my garage with them.  WHY?  It just seemed like the thing to do at the time.

PHASE I:  DECORATION.

    The outer shell of my garage is made of Galvanized Steel.  Each sheet is about two feet wide, and has 9 ridges available for mounting LEDs.   Leaving a ridge on each side of a letter looked like adequate space, so I sat down at a CAD program and set about laying out our surname using letters on a 7*11 matrix.  After a bit I arrived at the following:

    A couple hours of marking and drilling left the garage with 134 holes in it in the prescribed pattern, and me with a bit of a back ache.  I picked a drill bit such that the LEDs were a snug fit in the holes.  Over the next few weeks in my spare time I filled the holes with reddish orange LEDs. 

    LEDs like a current of about 20 mA and drop about 2 volts each.  Planning on battery backup someday with a 12V lead-acid battery, I strung the LEDs as many series of (5-LEDs and a resistor) groups all wired in parallel:

   A bit of math and a bit of measuring revealed that 12 Volts, 270 Ohms and 5 LEDs gives a current of about 17 mA, which is a strong drive for the LEDs but will not destroy them either.  Almost as if by magic, the scrap I had been given contained a bag of 270 ohm resistors, and said it contained 2400 of them.

  In case I ever want to be more eye catching and control the letters 1 at a time, I wired each letter separately.  Excess LEDs needed to form a multiple of 5 LEDs in a letter are mounted inside the garage.  I applied a small blob of Silicon Rubber on the back of each LED to encourage the LEDs to stay in place no matter what the weather.

   I took the following picture as I began the next Phase ...


Yes, that's Lorinda, all 5'8" of her under the sign.

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