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lighting my canopy

Discussion in 'LEDs and Optoelectronics' started by D_C, Jan 26, 2013.

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  1. D_C


    Jan 10, 2013
    Hello a fellow noob here :)

    I am looking at doing a road trip soon so have been brainstorming to many ideas :p

    I will be throwing a canopy on my truck and using it as a hotel for a couple days and after that putting tools in an out which at times it is dark when putting or taking out so I was thinking of maybe doing a few strings of L.E.D's inside of it (more for the fun of learning)

    I was thinking of using a push button like a car door light. pressed is off, open canopy and button pops out which turns lights on. I was at Mouser getting ideas of supply costs and had about 50 choices of push buttons o_O

    I one was hoping I could be pointed in the right direction on what they call that button so I get the right one, and two get you opinion if what else I am looking at will work the way I am thinking

    I saw these L.E.D's and saw they put out about 6800 mcd with 55 deg angle so am I right on thinking a few of these could light the inside of my canopy well, if they do how many would you think it would take to light it up.

    8 foot bed 5 foot wide about maybe 4 foot high.

    I was also thinking of making a timer for it so if the lights are on for to long they will shut off before draining my battery.

    I was looking at this and was wondering if this will work. As a noob I don't know how exactly it works but I was looking for something to handle extreme temps. I am going from 80F (26C) temps to down to -20F (-29C) temps and will be cold for a few more months.

    This is still in thinking stage so any input on how I should do it or things I need to think about will be more then welcome.

    Thanks :)
  2. PTaylor


    Jan 26, 2013
    You just want to light up the inside of the unit when you open the rear door, and have a timer to turn it off after a certain amount of time.
    You could build all this yourself just to learn, but I would suggest buying the stuff "off shelf".
    For example, the switch you would be interested in would be a simple, limit switch. There are thousands of types but the where you mount it is going to determine what type you want. Google "limit switches" and go to image view to get an idea.
    As far as LEDs, I would look into LED ropes or something similar. already made up, just need to add power. Look for ones that will run on twelve volts and how much power they take. They come in different lengths also.
    As far as a timer, get one already made on a PCB with adjustable timer and relay switching.
    Easy to mount, wire in, adjust the amount of time, etc.

    I think this would be a lot cheaper because you've got to design a timer with discrete components, which is extremely easy, but you have to watch how much current you will be running so simple output of a chip just wont cut it.It's going to be several components, it will need a PCB, etc....

    The LEDs will need current limiting resistors and wires, tie wraps, etc....

    Get it off the shelf, much cheaper, easier to work with.
  3. D_C


    Jan 10, 2013
    I appreciate your suggestion but I am wanting to do it more for the learning experience. I could just get those white push lights battery operated but that takes all the fun out of it

    The limit switch sounds interesting and I will look into that. The problem I am having with the switch is I don't know what

    OFF - (ON)
    ON - (OFF)

    those are the simple options of what type they ask. there is like 50 others. I know what off an on mean :p just not which order is the first, when depressed or when pressed

    OFF - (ON): does that mean when depressed it is off and when pressed it is on?
  4. PTaylor


    Jan 26, 2013
    Most limit switches are going to have a NC and NO terminal (connection). So that means that with the switch just as it is, one point will be normally closed, and the other will be normally open.
    The only reason I mentioned a limit switch is because they are generally used in locations where some mechanical action (movement) will interact with the switch.
    I was thinking that when you had the door down on your canopy, it would be pressing the switch, but when you open the canopy, it is no longer pressing the switch, and that would turn that lights (LEDs) on.

    There are some pretty good web sites that explain LEDs and how to determine the size of current limiting resistor along with it. It is very unwise to hook an LED to a voltage source without limiting the current, it will burn out quick,if not immediate.

    Timers are not that hard, but can get complicated. frankly, I like to use cheap processors and program them for whatever time delay I need. Very few external components needed, hardly any math involved, and it can easily be changed via code instead of components.

    A good timer to look at would be a 555 timer. This has been around forever, and there are thousands of sites and example circuits on the web. You can also find sites that you can just enter in values and it will calculate all component values you need.

    If you are going to build something from scratch, the first thing you will need to build is a small power supply. Some chips run at 5 volts, some at 12V, some have wide ranges.

    The chip in the link you posted runs at 5V. A vehicles battery is 12V, and that voltage changes. When not running, the battery can be 12 volts up to a little more than 13V. When the vehicle is running, the alternator is charging the battery, and it can go up to over 14 volts.

    some chips that run at 12V will be destroyed at 14V, when you are driving.

    Why not this:

    Have you thought about kits instead of piece by piece?

    You can get some cheap electronic kits, say, power supplies, timers, etc.... that you can put together yourself and learn while you go. They do take some of the guess work out.
  5. D_C


    Jan 10, 2013
    ha I didn't even see that. I was so busy looking at the temps of it to even think to check that.

    I remember reading that the battery fluctuates so was thinking of using a voltage regulator but haven't figured how much I will need to run the L.E.D's. I don't think I would want to get a 12v voltage regulator but not sure if I got a 9v if it would get to hot.

    I'm not sure how many L.E.D's I will need to use yet. Was thinking to get the canopy on and play with a few L.E.D's to see how well they light it up.

    I have a few 555's laying around just didn't think to use them because as timers they are not very accurate but in truth I don't need accuracy. Guess I just wanted to see what else is out there :)

    I have never used a cheap possessor so didn't think about that but I think that may be a good idea for I know the basics of programming. I bought the Uno Arduino and have played with it some so I guess my statement isn't entirely true.
    I will look into the possessors I think I like that idea.

    I am doing this for learning and I won't be working for a couple weeks so it will give me something to do and gain from.

    thank you for your input it has been helpful as it gives me ideas to think on as well as ideas to do research on.
  6. PTaylor


    Jan 26, 2013
    Take a look at this:
    and here.

    LEDs are pretty straight forward. You can throw a 470 Ohm 1/2W resistor on a leg and attach....say a 9V battery to it and get a rough idea of how much light it will put out. This works pretty good with typical LEDs. The math will get you closer on the right value, but that's a good start. I like using half watts because of the size.

    I think you'll find you will need a good dozen or more to get decent lighting, which is why I was thinking about LED rope lights or some type of premade string that has many LEDs already assembled.

    Hell, get fancy with it,get some tri-colored LEDs, a couple of driver chips, and use that Arduino to oscillate the colors!

    One switch, up will give normal lighting, flip it down and.....disco!
    Get three Lm3915s and have them dance to the music!:cool:
  7. D_C


    Jan 10, 2013
    lol get the pimpmobile going :p

    I did contemplate multi color (not disco ;) ) but if I start doing that then I will never do it because I will keep thinking better things and never get to it.

    the calculator you linked helped re-insure I was thinking right on how they would get wired so thanks for the links.

    now I just need to get to my truck so I can start playing. :)
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