Ok, so many of you have probably (hopefully) noticed by now that TCSS is stocking LEDengins : http://www.thecustomsabershop.com/LE...-10W-P651.aspx
Many of the smiths/hobbyists that have been around a while have been using them for a couple of years now. I know that I have been using them exclusively on all my Crystal Focus builds since mid 2009. Well, with the advent of Flash on Clash™ being added to the already awesome Petit Crouton, using LEDengins with the PC has a whole new slew of possibilities. What I am going to try and do is impart some tips and tricks to using these awesome LEDs to their full potential to help you get the most out of your saber experience.
First, lets talk about the LEDs themselves. The 10W LEDs from LEDengin are available in all solid colors: Deep Red, Red, Amber, Green, Blue, and Cool White. They will also soon be available in the multi-color configurations of: RGGB, RGBA, and RGBW. The Stars consist of 4 "Dice" under the focusing dome. So, for the solid colors this means that there are basically 4 LEDs of the given color under the dome, and the multi-colored consist of a die of each of the corresponding color in its title (i.e. an RGGB contains one red, two green and one blue die) The Stars that TCSS carries are all multichannel PCB stars, meaning that each die has its own set of positive and negative pads. Two sets of pads look like normal LED pads in size and the other two sets are very small and fit in the space of one of the other pads. This can make for some frustrating soldering, but there are ways to limit the vein popping, cursing and crushing of valuable things.
The first thing you need to do is decide what main color of blade you are going to want, then you need to decide whether you are going to want Flash on Clash™ or Full Powah!™. This will determine how the LED gets wired and how you set up your Power Xtender™.
Both of these set ups are wired very similar to each other, especially on the LED side. Most set ups are wired with two series pairs of dice. Meaning, that 2 dice are wired together in series to essentially make one LED. The remaining pair are wired in series creating a second LED. No matter whether you're using FoC™ or Full Powah™ both pairs are going to run in parallel with each other. For easy testing, I take a 2XAAA battery pack with alkalines and touch the leads to each pair of pads on the star. This will give you a visual on which pads go with which die. Once you do this, it is easier to visually understand how to wire the pairs. For series wiring you are wiring: source + to Die1+, Die1- to Die2+, Die2- to source -. Think of it as a chain. In the pic I use below, you'll see how I use some wire trimmings to do this. You can also do this below the heatsink if you wish, it just means more wires on the star that have to come down the heatsink and possibly more holes drilled in the heatsink.
The Power Xtender™:http://www.thecustomsabershop.com/Po...nder-P652.aspx
is a teeny tiny satellite board that uses a signal from the board to open up power directly from your battery pack to give either the FoC™ effect, or to deliver devastating brightness in a Full Powah™ set up.
*An important note about the Power Xtender™ IT DOES NOT REGULATE CURRENT/VOLTAGE!*
It pulls power direct from the batteries, so if you have a 7.4V pack and you are putting that to a single die, or a parallel set of dice, you will pop them. Also, if you are running with 18650s or other cells that allow high discharge rates, you run the risk of letting the LED pull as much current (and more) as it wants and can also burn them up that way. LEDengins LOVE current, but too much can even burn them up. LEDs are like dogs, they will eat until they die. W.O.E.™ (Word of Erv'): ALWAYS USE A RESISTOR
. If you need to calculate a resistor, you can do it one of two ways: 1. Learn the two formulas that you will need, or 2. Use an online resistor calculator (lazy).
Ok, so now you've picked a color, and you've picked your configuration (FoC™ or Full Powah™) and you've got your Power Xtender™ and your PC ready to go, so now what? You break out the tools baby!
You need a GOOD soldering station/Iron. I suggest either a Weller 30/40 Watt Iron with FINE conical tip (M10 I think?), or the best would be an ESD Safe soldering station like this one: http://www.mpja.com/SOLDER-STATION-D...info/15141+TL/
and get the fine conical tips (order like 5, trust me).
You also need some thin gauge rosin core solder like this one you can you can get at your local Radio Shack:http://www.radioshack.com/search/ind...kw=64-013&sr=1
Thin needle nose pliers, or electronics tweezers are helpful, a set of helping hands is a must and if you don't already have wire cutters and strippers you're in the wrong hobby. I use 28 ga. wire as I like how supple it is and it really helps for the cram-fu parts of the job. 26ga. wire is easy to find here in the states though and is good enough. I don't really recommend any thicker than 26ga as you will find it hard to get all the wires you need around this LED and in the hilt comfortably.
*Helpful hint* You know all those 5mm and 3mm accent LEDs that you use and cut the legs off of? What about the trimmings from all those resistors that you're supposed to be using? Well, I save about 70% of those trimmings to use in wiring these LEDs (or for bridging SMD pads). See pics below for more Info.
Ok, first, DO NOT MOUNT THE LED TO THE MHS HEATSINK! The star pads that the emitters are mounted on are awesome heatsinks on their own and make soldering a female dog as it is. If you mount the LED to the heatsink before soldering you'll get cold solder joints that will fail, if you can get any solder to flow on the pads at all. This is where the helping hands come in handy. For my example, I will be using a RED 10W (I will provide more info on the differences between red and deep red in another post).
Ok, above you'll notice that I have the LED clipped in the helping hands. I usually put a bit of heatshrink, on one set of jaws so as to not damage components. You'll see now where those LED leg trimmings come in handy (the resistor ones work well too and are actually easier to bend). First, get all of your wires that you need pre-cut, stripped and tinned at least on the ends that will connect to the LED, and get the resistor/LED trimmings tinned along the full length. The LED needs to be "primed" a bit before you solder to itwith the LED in the helping hands, warm the bottom of the star by rubbing the iron around the bottom. Do not leave it in one place for too long, just do this for about 15 seconds or so. Once this is done, start tinning the pads of the star. Put the iron tip at an angle so that more surface area of the tip contacts the pad. Touch the solder at the junction of the tip and pad and you should see it 'flow' onto the pad after a second or two. Do this for all pads. The really small pads can be a pain sometimes. If you bridge them, don't panic! The easiest way to fix it is to take your iron and 'wipe' across both pads outwards towards the edge of the star. This usually clears it up. If not, make sure you have some de-soldering braid on hand and start cleaning.
Once all your pads are tinned, start adding your trimmings (if you are doing series pairs of LEDs) like the pic above. I solder one end of the trimming to the first pad (Die1-) and then bend it to fit on Die2+. Solder it down and trim any excess. Do this to the other pair and then add your main lead wires. It should look similar to this:
With the LED wired, you need to wire your PEX (Power Xtender™). The power extender needs a resistor no matter what application you are using it for. You can either use a standard resistor or an SMD resistor of the 2512 footprint if you're feeling adventurous. Here is a tip to making the resistor streamlined for use: Cut the trace of the positive side of the PEX like so:
You can either solder it through hole (like I do now), or bend the legs to solder them on the pads like shown above. Either way works. To use the SMD resistors, you'd have to remove a bit more of the trace on either side of the cut and scrape off the green coating to expose enough to tin.
The PEX needs a direct input from your battery. I usually use the PEX as a junction from the recharge port to then jump to the soundboard. This saves wiring, and looks neater in the end. The side of the PEX with three pads is the input, the side with two pads is the output. On the input side you have a +, Signal, and - input. The + and - should be obvious (they're the battery inputs) and the signal input will come from the appropriate place on the sound board. For FoC™ wiring, the pad you solder to is here:
[Place holder for pic]
And for the Full Powah™, you would wire it here:
I will be adding to this post/thread as I think of more tips/info. I will also be adding some pics to help clarify some things above. Feel free to ask questions as I'm sure there will be many. Thanks and go build some sabers!