We Learned Electricity!

Josh, Michelle, Danielle and Immony soldering the sign

We’re in week 3 of this LED sign project, and we now know how to finish it up. We had previously soldered all the anodes on the LEDs, but we were a bit confused about the connections of the cathodes and resistors. As we had been working off of a MAKE video, which breezed over the connections, we realized we really weren’t entirely sure of how to make those final connections.

Pushing the Cart of Newspapers

Before the soldering began though, we had to move the huge pile of bundled newspapers we got, courtesy of Mike. Last week, he had suggested that we could get some extra papers to do some as-of-yet undefined future project, but we hadn’t realized how many we would receive.

Stacking newspapers in my studio

Steven and I got a cart from the sculpture room to begin moving.

Stacking newspapers in my studio

We piled the papers against the wall in my studio.

Stacking more newspapers in my studio

Mike lent a hand on round two. The papers had been piled outside on a bench, which made the amount of papers we had seem insanely huge. We were laughing at how ridiculous it might be to find a use for all of these in the next few months.

lots of newspaper

The final stack in my studio isn’t so bad.

Michelle and Danielle study the vague wiring example we had

Meanwhile, Michelle and Danielle watch the video from MAKE, trying to figure out where the resistors go and how many there needs to be.

Working with the breadboard

I took out my breadboard and revisited the original mock-up Michelle and I had done for the circuit, though somehow, we ended up confusing ourselves into changing up the wiring.

Working with the breadboard

We were trying to determine how to make what was happening on the breadboard happen on the back of the plexiglass sign.

on the spot research

Immony doublechecked some wiring specifics.

Josh, Danielle, and Immony working on soldering

Celia, Danielle, and Immony prepared to begin soldering.

Danielle and Immony soldering

Danielle took on soldering, while Immony held the resistors in place.

a race to solder

We had talked ourselves into thinking the LEDs only needed a resistor between them, rather than one for each cathode. As the anodes were already all soldered, it just left this path of cathodes to connect with resistors, or so we thought.

BCL @ work

Racing to finish the soldering. At this point, we decided to stop and test the progress.

incorrect wiring

Unforunately, things were really wrong, so we blew a few LEDs.

something was wrong

We couldn’t understand what went wrong, but we also could really explain why we thought the wiring we had done would work either, so we knew we had to rethink things.

we burnt out some LEDs testing this incorrect wiring

We tested both sides of the sign, but the results were the same, the resistors weren’t resisting properly, and the circuit wasn’t make any sense, or lighting all the LEDs.

we finally figured it out

After some more testing and reviewing why the wiring on the breadboard worked, we realized that each LED did need its own resistor and the power for each LED would have to come off of one main positive lead. Each LED would then be fed off of that main positive lead, which we could run on the top and bottom of the sign’s plexiglass, making the wiring neater as well. Above, you see our victorious 3-LED test wiring in the middle of the sign!!! We’ll go back and fix the resistors, test to see which LEDs are burnt out and then finish it up (hopefully soon)!

5 Replies to “We Learned Electricity!”

  1. i hope you were able to sort it out and that the LED’s were soldered ok on the plexi. i missed being there though but had a good time at phog for the tech night.

  2. I’m glad we finally figured out how to do this. Now it’s only a matter of time before our sign is fully functioning!

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