LED Strip Planning

posted Aug 24, 2012, 7:39 PM by Andrew Stock   [ updated Aug 24, 2012, 7:39 PM ]
Short posting before I delve into what will hopefully be an eventful weekend! I've been doing some sketchup work on just how I would like to build housing for my LED strips so that I can attach them to the sides of the case. Anyway, the design is still a little rough in sketchup... I couldn't find a good way to 'bend' segments with an even gradient to fit into the curves of the case... but it should be easier to do 'physically' with a heat gun and some liberal pressure. Here's what it looks like so far...

First of all, here's the LED strip I will be using. It's pretty cool stuff... each LED is a tri-color individually addressable light compatible with PWM, meaning I can control the color and pattern of each individual light to make some pretty nuts patterns. 

The other nice thing about this strip is that I can cut it every two LED's, so I can customize the length pretty easily to fit what I need. 

I started on paper designing the housing to fit one segment, and quickly moved to sketchup. Here's the component I created from scratch to represent the LED strip and it's Acrylic housing:

Basically, I plan on using a strip of 'EndLighten' acrylic that is supposed to distribute light really well. That strip (shown transparent above) will be sandwiched by two opaque black pieces of acrylic to help 'keep the light in' so to speak. To the back of this stack, I will adhere the light strip using hot glue or something similar. That whole part will be encased by some thin 2mm acrylic, just to protect the back of the LED strip for the most part. I could end up dropping this and instead coating the backside in some of that non-conductive spraypaint stuff I've seen others using... just to save on acrylic costs and fabrication effort.  

Anyway, I just duplicated the little segment a bunch, and fit it into my case slots:

(I won't have individual segments in the actual fabrication, of course... it will be long continuous segments that are bent with a heat gun to fit!)

Part of the reason I put this into sketchup was to validate that I would have enough room inside the case for all this business to fit. I was especially concerned about the left case wall, where it was relatively close to the back of the motherboard tray:

*phew*! Just barely fits, with a few milimeters to spare. In case you can't tell from the picture, you're looking at an inside shot of the case, head on at the edge of the motherboard tray/motherboard connectors. On the left is the side of the case with the LED strips in place. You can see there is a small grey margin between that and the white motherboard tray. 

Just for the heck of it, here's a zoomed out shot. My hope is that the individual LED lights and such will not be quite as visible as in the sketchup... but I may have to change the endlighten out for something frosted to properly mask the LED/circuitry. 

And last, but not least, here's a rough-cut small version of the LED strip housing that Logan (the guy working on the Arduino part of this project) put together while I was cutting my case wall the other day. 

That's all for now! I'm hoping I'll have enough time this weekend to complete cutting the other case wall. See you soon!