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My Homemade Strobe Project

Discussion in 'Strobe Lighting' started by Shortstuff, Jul 28, 2009.

  1. Shortstuff

    Shortstuff Member
    Messages: 94

    I thought I'd share my strobe light project with fellow members who may have a similar curiosity as I do about electronics, but also like me who have very little electronics experience or knowledge. I'm just a regular guy who retired from the Corps and at 53 decided it was time to learn something new, something that I've wanted to learn my whole life but never had the opportunity. They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks and I say "why not?"

    I could go out tomorrow and purchase my own lightbar, but again I'm learning and after having done many, many hours of online research, I have found that my little strobe light project is actually much easier to do than you may think. I'm sure there are members who are much more knowledgeable than I am who may jump in here and say it may not work or that I can't do it, but what harm is there in trying? Besides, I would welcome anyone to toss me a suggestion/correction/idea or two to help me along the way.

    The first thing I did was dig out my old Radio Shack 300-in-One Project Lab that has been collecting dust for perhaps 25 years, along with a lot of components I've collected and had as well. Then came the online work which involved a lot of YouTube and searching hard for what I needed to know. I've decided to go with 5mm ultra-bright white (water clear) LED's which are rated at 14,000 mcd's each. I could have chosen much brighter new generation 1watt or 3 watt LED's which are rated in lumens which are much brighter than my choice of LED's. But I want to use the old "keep-it-simple-stupid" adage due to my lack of electronics know-how.

    I've drawn everything out on my computer in AutoCad. My lightbar is currently designed to be 29" wide by 13" deep by 3" high as viewed from the front of my truck. It will incorporate 14 LED arrays:

    4 - 44 LED arrays in the front
    4 - 44 LED arrays in the rear
    1 - 44 LED array on each side
    4 - 24 LED arrays (one on each corner) facing at a 45° angle
    Total: 536 14,000 mcd LED's

    Each 44 LED array I estimated at less than 2 lumens each and my total lumens for my lightbar is about 15. By todays standards not very bright, but again this just a little project that might just be good enough to use on my own truck - that's the whole idea.

    I started out making my own simple LED flasher with a 555 timer on my breadboard which was simple enough. I then found a schematic or two to build a better adjustable flasher but had a little difficulty finding and getting the right components so I purchased a cheap adjustable flasher module for test purposes and it worked well. I have since purchased a good quality 27 pattern (selectable) 2-channel LED flasher, tested it with my LED's and it works perfectly.

    I also ordered a couple of plexiglass samples online, 1 amber and 1 mirror. The mirrored plexiglass is what I plan on using for the mounting surface for my LED's and probably used for the base and top for additional reflection. The amber will be used as the outer lens which I will bend into the shape I need with my homemade bender. I have a very good friend who owns a metal fabrication business directly across the street from my house which will be my source of all the metal materials I need. I am awaiting some perfboard I ordered and then I'll start building my LED arrays.

    So, I'll keep posting updates here if anyone is interested and very much welcome any ideas and help from anyone. I posted a short video of two rows of 4 LED's each attached to and running with my 27 pattern strobe module on my breadboard, set to the random pattern mode. There are only 8 LED's in this video and are rated at 10,000 to 12,000 mcd's each and are not the 14,000 mcd LED's I will be using.

    Here the link: Strobe Project Part 1

    Steve
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2009
  2. groundbreakers

    groundbreakers Senior Member
    Messages: 824

    keep us posted .... i wanna see this when your done .... looks like an interesting project ..... great idea good luck ..
     
  3. kyler

    kyler Member
    from bristol
    Messages: 50

    Cool, where in Mass are you? I am goign to school in Boston. What Led's and flasher did you use in that ebay video?
     
  4. Shortstuff

    Shortstuff Member
    Messages: 94

    I'm in southern MA and the LED's I used in the video I purchased online from Goldmine Electronics and the flasher unit is from Sho Me (Able 2). I'll be posting more pics soon of my progress.

    Steve
     
  5. Shortstuff

    Shortstuff Member
    Messages: 94

    While waiting for more parts to arrive, I've gone ahead and worked up some drawings and the below just shows how I'm going to make each of the LED arrays with 44 LED's each.

    This is just a draft/prototype but should be pretty much what I end up doing for now.

    More to come.

    Steve

    LEDarrayISO1.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2009
  6. groundbreakers

    groundbreakers Senior Member
    Messages: 824

    just make sure the design you come up with DOESN'T conflict with other companies !!
     
  7. Shortstuff

    Shortstuff Member
    Messages: 94

    This is 100% my idea made from scratch and besides, you can't get blood from a stone. I understand exactly where you are coming from though.

    If my posts may cause any problem at all and anyone thinks I should, I'll be more than happy to delete them and keep it to myself.

    Steve
     
  8. flatlander42

    flatlander42 Senior Member
    Messages: 421

    wesportI like them!!!!wesport
     
  9. Shortstuff

    Shortstuff Member
    Messages: 94

    I did build my first array tonight and it sure is bright! I built it exactly as I had planned and it works exactly as I had hoped. I'm going to build a second array then I'll have two of them to test with my flasher. I'll temporarily rig them with the amber plexiglass and see if I can't get them on video outside both day and night and go from there.

    I'm also considering a different array design using 14 or more 10mm 140,000 mcd (10 times brighter than my 5mm I'm using now) instead of the 5mm 14,000 mcd's. Using the 10mm LED's I'll be using much less amperes but increasing the overall brightness considerably.

    Steve
     
  10. Shortstuff

    Shortstuff Member
    Messages: 94

    This is my first time soldering components to proto board so don't laugh too loud, but here's what my first array looks like:

    Steve

    LEDArrayMix1.jpg
     
  11. kyler

    kyler Member
    from bristol
    Messages: 50

    nice, you need to get a video up ASAP, I'm thinking two of these in a grill would look pretty cool. Maybe house them in a project box
     
  12. EGLC

    EGLC PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,733

    VERY VERY COOL!! Is there anyway though to make them in a not so bulky "package"??
     
  13. kyler

    kyler Member
    from bristol
    Messages: 50

    I guess he could always cut the leads for the LED's down?
     
  14. flatlander42

    flatlander42 Senior Member
    Messages: 421

    set it next to something....like a pop can or something so we can see the scale. *pry not as big as it looks* It looks GREAT! One thing to add tho.....are they all pointing in the exact direction? It may be neat to kinda bend/aim some of them slowly to the outside so the Viewing area would be larger.

    once again...LOVE IT!
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2009
  15. Pirsch

    Pirsch Senior Member
    Messages: 596

    If he's doing it himself and not going into business to make a living with it...It doesn't cross the lines on Copyright infringements. If he put a name to it and sold it, there maybe a problem but he's good.

    It Looks good. I would drop the length of the leads down, make a bend... 45 degree and it would be real sweet. You've done some good work. Would like to see it working. Give the spec's on how many flashes etc.. :salute:
     
  16. Shortstuff

    Shortstuff Member
    Messages: 94

    Thanks for the compliments, but again I've never undertaken anything like this before. I started doing my "research" online a couple of months ago just to learn a little about electronics, something I've always wanted to do but never had the opportunity. I've since purchased my new Fisher 8'HD and need a strobe light so I figured what the heck, why not build one for myself? Sure, I know my finished project will not compare with a Whelen or Code 3 but at least I can say I built it myself, I learned in the process and if it turns out well enough then I've probably saved some money.

    Anyhow, the dimensions of the mirrored plexiglass and protoboard are each 1-3/4" x 4-3/8". I mounted the LED's using the full length of their leads to provide any necessary cooling which can never hurt. I know that they don't have to have additional cooling but I've got the room to take advantage of it. My lightbar will be used year-round so extra cooling can't hurt on a hot summer day when the lightbar may exceed 140°F.

    I've shot a quick raw video that I've just posted on Youtube (link below) of what the new array looks like, which has a total of 44 - 14,000 mcd LED's. Yes, it is very bright as you'll see, but I want even brighter, so I've decided to order 300 - 10mm LED's each one rated at 140,000 mcd's. I've already started drawing my next array which right now will have 24 - 10mm LED's (same size as the 44 LED array) and provide more than 3 times the light and should be close to what some of the newer (3rd) generation LED arrays are putting out.

    In the video below you'll also see the 1/8" amber plexiglass in use over the array, which is the plexi I'll be using in my finished project.

    Youtube Video

    Steve
     
  17. THEGOLDPRO

    THEGOLDPRO PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,136

    dang thats pretty good man, you could def cut the led leads down a bit to make it more compact if you wanted. im excited to see the finished product.
     
  18. Pirsch

    Pirsch Senior Member
    Messages: 596

    That's got some REAL potential... Looks Great! Like Goldpro said...Can't wait to see the finished item!:salute:
     
  19. Shortstuff

    Shortstuff Member
    Messages: 94

    Just posted my 3rd video on Youtube (link below) testing my first array in both daylight and at night. At least I know that it does work as I'd hoped but I'm going to build another array, same size but using as many as 30 LED's. But each one of these new LED's are 10mm rated at 140,000 mcd's each.

    First LED array - 44 - 14,000 mcd 5mm LED's total output (approx) 616,000 mcd's.

    Next LED array - 30 - 140,000 mcd 10mm LED's total output (approx) 4,200,000 mcd's.

    Just waiting for the parts to get delivered.

    Youtube Video

    Steve
     
  20. THEGOLDPRO

    THEGOLDPRO PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,136

    nice man!!!!! any idea what the final product is going to look like???? casing ideas ect.