LED’s have the ability to make a speaker project go from blah, to wow! They really can be the last touch you need to make a project turn heads. The only problem most people have is how to implement them. There area a few ways to do this. Let’s first start with the easiest way.
The easiest way is to use a pre-built LED strip light. I used one of these in my custom X-box speakers. The advantages to using these are they are simple to you. All you have to do is hook up a power source that has the same rating for the LED strip (typically 12v). You can also do RGB lighting, which means you can change the color. I usually would recommend getting an RF remote if you were going to do that, so you do not have to have IR sensor on the outside. Honestly, there is a lot you can do with LED strip lights. However it is not all good.
The bad with using this lighting is two fold. First, the cost. Typically LED strip lights will cost substantially more more than building your own. In fact it can easily cost 10x as much. Having said that, they are still relatively cheap with strip lights typically costing anywhere from $8-25.
Second, is the supply voltage is almost always 12v. Now if your project already calls for a 12v power supply, that is not an issue. But many higher end build require more than 12v. This means you know have tovert your signal to 12v. This is done by using a separate component (more money) called a boost or buck converter or step down (go down in voltage). This of course adds to the cost and complexity of the project. Not everyone wants to do that.
The harder way actually has a few advantages to it. First, as we have already discussed is cost. It is significantly cheaper to get bulk LED lights. These lights can go as cheap as $3 for 100 LED’s. You can already see the major difference in price. But price isn’t the only advantage.
Another advantage is you can attenuate the brightness to best suit your project. Now this takes math, that we will be going over in a little bit. However it is not hard to do. But being able to decide the final brightness has quite a few advantages to it. If you do not want the lights to be bright, you can attenuate them down or vice versa.
Finally, you can adjust them to work with any voltage without the use of boost converters that were previously discussed. This not only save time, but also valuable space in your project. If you want to learn how to do the harder way, it is actually quite simple. First check out this video which explains it in detail.
I absolutely love this site. It is simple to use. All you need to do is enter the data you know. If you do not know it, the site helps you figure it out by giving you the normal data needed for most size/color LED’s. That is extremely helpful for anyone beginning, as not all manufacturers supply the data you need. Now go have fun with LED’s! Don’t forget to share your favorite projects!