Here's a video, to help you decide if Phoenix Lights LEDs are for you.
LED tutorial for DIYers
Reproduced with permission of CPI Engraving & Ken Cox
I use the tool kit on the right to make life easy. The heat sink acts as a great clamp, as well as for it's designed purpose. It protects the rest of the strip from overheating and keeps the heat at the solder point.
You can do everything that these tools do with an Exacto knife. Do I need to remind everyone to use the right tool for the right job???
When measuring for LED length, try to use enough segments that the LED'S cover the etched area. My pictures aren't the greatest but you can see the cut lines in the other two pictures.
The length of LED segments don't always work out to the width of the etched area, so just go to the closest segments cut line. Segments MUST be cut as marked, every 3 LED's.
Each segment is actually an electronic module that requires all the components in the module in order to function properly.
Since the segments must be kept intact, you will want the number of strips to come out just a little shorter than your project. Don't worry, these are bright enough to do the job!
After you have determined the correct length and snipped off the section you plan to use, clamp your heatsink as near your work area as possible. The photo at right shows the sink on top of one of the LEDs, but the sink should be moved right, enough to block the heat from de-soldering the LED from the strip.
Using a sharp tipped instrument, gently peel back about 1/4" of the tape backing, so it does not burn while soldering.
On the end of your lead (wires) cut back just enough of the insulation so that you can "tin" the wires, and tin them. Next, tin the little round spots on the end of of the section, working quickly so as not to damage the section with heat. Being careful to connect Positive with the side of the segment marked with a +, and the negative lead to the side with a -, solder your wires to the section of LEDs.
Plug them in for a test. If they do not light, double check that you have the polarity correct, as they will not work if the polarity is reversed.
You can mix and match colors by soldering "jumpers" from one segment to another. A jumper is simply a very short piece of wire, tinned and soldered to make the connection from one segment to another. You will want to flex the area where you have made a jump, to be certain you have made a secure connection. It's also a good idea to thoroughly clean any area where you have soldered, as the rosin in the solder is corrosive, and over time could deteriorate the copper in the strips.
If you are going to do a lot of these, a set of test leads will come in very handy. These can be found on our "Random Parts" page.
I have put together this tutorial to help those who like to do their own work. This is offered to those who also have purchased LED's from me. Some of the pictures are self explanatory while others are just helpful hints. Remember, there are many different ways to design and build the LED strips. This is my method that I use and was posted at the request from some CES members that have never done any soldering before, and like to do it themselves. For those that have purchased LED's from me"THANK YOU" and I hope this helps!
Thanks, Ken Cox
Special thanks to Ken Cox from us here at Phoenix Lights. With his help, we are growing each day, and will forever be thankful for his kindness and generosity.