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How to properly wire LED's


 Copyright Notice: All rights reserved Copyright 2005 Llamma Corp.  This document and associated photos and all content at llamma.com may not be reproduced without written permission from the author(s).  This means you may not re-post at another site, sell these documents on eBay or reproduce in any form.  Our articles are written with the intention of them being read at our site.  Feel free to link and use any one photo from any of our articles for the purpose of linking. 

LED's and Resistors Available From Llamma.com

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When wiring an LED you have three options

  • wire each LED single with its own resistor
  • wire multiple LED's in Series with a single resistor
  • wire multiple LED's in Parallel with a single resistor

Single-

For an example we will use a single Ultra Bright blue 5000mcd 3mm LED

Our supply voltage will be 5V from USB (could be 12V or whatever supply you are using)
The LED has a voltage drop of 3.3V
The LED should run at 20mA

Plug those values in the resistor calculator and see what you get

Calculated to exactly 85 Ohm
next highest 10% resistor 100 Ohm
0.034 WATTS
0.057 WATTS safe pick*

*safe pick means you should have a buffer over the minimum, in reality you can run a much higher wattage resistor without issue most readily available are 1/8-1/2 WATT or 0.125-0.5.  Do keep an eye on this number when calculating multiple LED's.  If you run a wattage higher than your resistor is rated to run it will get hot and fail at best, burn your finger, melt plastic, start a fire at worst.

So to wire the above example, we find the LONG LEG of the LED which is POSITIVE and attach the proper resistor to it.  Connect the ground to the SHORT NEGATIVE lead.


Series-

This is the method that adds up quick for power draw.  But it often can be the easiest, just connecting leg to leg of the LED's, great when you need a small number close together.   Use the same forward voltage and mA as above and choose 4 LED's resistor calculator , you'll find that there is not enough voltage.  If you up the voltage of the source to 12V and lower the quantity of LED's to 3 it works. 


Parallel-

This is our preferred method for connecting multiple LED's.  With a comparatively simplified install with a single resistor and the ability to handled 4 or more LED's this was our choice for our Xbox 360 controller mod amongst others. 

Bundle all the like legs together slap a resistor on the long positive leg and away you go.    Using our example resistor as above 20mA 3.3V if we enter a supply voltage of 5V and a quantity of 4 in resistor calculator we find that a 22 Ohm resistor will serve our needs.

You can make many combinations that will give a proper resistor value but keep an eye on the wattage of the resistor required, its easy to go over capabilities of cheap and readily available resistors.  (e.g. 1/8 WATT=0.125 WATT, 1/4=0.25, 1/2=0.5)
For our example we found any number up to 7 was within spec.


Rule of thumb values to use for calculating unknown LED's

20mA for all colors

Blue, White, Green, Pink, Purple, 3.3V voltage drop.
Yellow, Red, Orange, 2.0V voltage drop.
 


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Microsoft, Xbox, and the Xbox logos are registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp.  Llamma.com and Xbox-Repair.net are in no way affiliated with Microsoft.  All references to Modchips, Linux and any other forms of xbox modifications are done for the purpose of writing and testing interoperable software as allowed under Sect. 1201 (f) Reverse Engineering exception of the DMCA.  This site does not condone the illegal copying of games.  All advice/information is provided as is without warranty to accuracy. Do not consider any comments as legal advice, I am not a lawyer. All references to Mod chips should be taken as hypothetical in nature, actually installing a mod chip may be illegal. In simple terms don't sue me if you mess up on your own or with my help. Make your own decisions do the research determine what is legal and what is not, I take no responsibility for your actions.  
All photos and content copyright Llamma Corp. 2002
-2005

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