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Minature LED DIY

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I'm preparing for the lighting segments so I though I would post a little info here. Trying to manage all of the variables in order to make the best choice is time consuming. Nxscale posted a few images of his ready made LED which was intriguing.


The biggest problem for me was the delivery time. I "thought" (see cost below) the ebay price points were great but the shipping guarantee was reall bad. I saw 50pcs for 21.59 plus shipping

and then saw 10 negative reviews so that was a question. I searched around and found LED company locally so I have them now. 


One benefit I found shopping locally is the application variable. There are a number of packages/casing that are available. This allows you to choose your own package for you own design or application.


Here are the key components.




Magnet Wire


The magnet wire works well based on the size. One note of caution is the insulation as it is painted on and can be scratched off. So you want to be careful in regards to abrasion during

your installation process.  




There are two types of tweezers. One for grabbing and moving the LEDS and the other to act as a vice. The one on the right is grasping in the relaxed state you will need that during the soldering

step. The pointed tweezers can be used to hold the wire also.


Soldering Iron


This is a 12 watt soldering iron with a  .015" / .39mm tip. The key is controlling the amount of heat applied to the LED as a whole.


LED SMD (Surface Mounted Devices) 


We are seeing a lot of SMD use based on their size. The surface mounted technology opens the door for us in the modeling world where we can light small objects today.


There are a number packages but here is what depicted in the image above.   


  • 402
  • 603
  • 805
  • 1206

What is important is the second LED from the right. That is a right angle LED. I has its own casing so to speak which add to better placement. It is these kind of unique packages that

ebay does not offer. There are multi color SMD as well a reverse mount which offers other mounting solutions. So take a look around at what the LED manufactures have to offer as you might 

find something that makes your project come together easier.




From a cost stand point the LED prices varied from .08 to .28 cents. The right angle was .28 cents.

On ebay 50pcs of 402 wired was $21.59 plus shipping and 1 month waiting. 

50pcs 402 cost me $10.50 so there is a saving of $10.


Buying 4 colors locally would save me $40 and I took that $40 and bought the new soldering tip, new tweezers and I can do my LED myself for ever without waiting weeks.   





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What I've found works best to solder smd LEDs down to 402 (and they do look like small grains of sand!) is to tape a piece of blue painters tape upside down on the bench. The just stick the LED down on the tape and the wires as well in place. Tiny, tiny dab of flux with a pin on each joint and solder. I clean them in water and isopropanol.


I've found the ebay sources to be fine on getting the smd LEDs very reliable and cheap. Usually a cent or two each. Only a couple of weeks usually to get them. Also prewired ones come up on auction a lot very cheap if you wait, like 10-20 cents each. Ledbaron also has them reliably but more expensive at like dollar each, but cheaper if you buy more. Shipping is airmail and a week usually. We have virtually no local electronics sources here, a few, but hard to get to and spotty stocks and can be high prices saddly.


It's a tradeoff on how much time you want to spend and how many you need. For the tiny 402 I now just opt for prewired as I need few like that. Most structures 1210s are fine and those I can solder quickly and soundly.



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Yeah, I can see how the tape method will churn out the numbers.


What's crazy is the amount of money I spent on 700 LED's I could have bought 10,000 LED but what am I going to do with 10,000 LED's. Either way it's a waste. I figured out at least I have more than enough for projects I'm doing currently

and I can make and sell a few other components to off set the cost.


Here is the truth to the matter. If I would have clicked the Buy It Now button the LED's would be shipped and arrive a few weeks. At least I can get on with the job at hand which is worth the extra money to me.


Who know what I'll be doing in two weeks. 




All my bus stuff is sitting on the shelf as we speak, the layout is waiting on the crossing panels to be installed. The static grass applicator is waiting to be made and the LED's are sitting in from of me now. The worst thing is I have a JMRI install to do.   

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i usually use a double sided tape to stick the SMD, apply a coating tin into both SMD and the wire, then solder them. 


don't forget to use magnifiers, without it you could overheat your eyes quickly.  :)

Edited by HantuBlauLOL

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