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D.I.Y. LED-kits?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Mara, Mar 7, 2005.


  1. Mara

    Mara

    Jan 11, 2001
    Finland
    Hell-o,

    Does anyone sell D.I.Y. LED-kits in the U.S. or in Europe? I suppose I could just get normal LEDs but how should the LEDs be prepared so that they are flat along the fingerboard?

    -M
     
  2. Bassic83

    Bassic83

    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    Well, there's a couple ways to do this. One is to rout the underside of the fingerboard to accept LEDs and their associated resistor networks. The led (if you get a small one) should be mounted flush with the edge of the fingerboard, with just a little bit poking out, due to the curvature of the LED itself. You can sand the front of the LED down a bit and it will still work. Just don't go too far- if you hit the diode structure, that LED is toast. The process is covered pretty well on this website here.

    The other method, which I am using on my 6-string build, would be to have the LED mounted somewhere in the body, in it's own cavity, thus facilitating easy repair/replacement, and use fiber optics to carry the light out to the markers. It should be less destructive, as the channel to carry the fiber will be much smaller. This way, you have one LED as the light source, which is cool, and the fiber carries the light. When the LED is off, the markers disappear (unless you choose to top them with some diffusing material). If you go out to Fiber Optic Products website and order the sampler kit, they'll send you a bunch of different sizes for you to check out. The 0.5mm unjacketed is very popular, Scott French uses that size on his instruments, I'm going with the 0.75, just because I wanted the slightly larger face that size would present. Good luck to you, keep us posted!
     
  3. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Always groove.... Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Columbia, Md
    If you don't want to permanently modify your instrument, check out www.hotdotz.com
     
  4. tiefling

    tiefling

    Aug 19, 2003
    Washington DC
    I ordered and tried Hotdotz and I would highly suggest avoiding them. They break very, very easily. I had to return two sets and the third just broke last night...I finally just gave up and took the 70 bucks as a loss.
     
  5. Rowka

    Rowka Supporting Member

    Dec 9, 2002
    Jacksonville, FL
    What broke on it?
     
  6. SirPoonga

    SirPoonga

    Jan 18, 2005
    I wonder if you could take EL wire and do something like this.
    http://www.elwirecheap.com

    I believe you can make el wire any length.

    My idea: measure and cut/cap/whatever is needed to run all the way down your fretboard. Measure out where you want the "dots" to appear. Then paint/perm black marker the rest of the wire.

    To attack you could wither just glue/tape the wire on. Cut a groove with a router down the fretboard. There might be a good non-permanent way of attaching it.

    Actually, if I was to do something like this I would do the opposite. I'd only black out the dots, let the entire wire glow. Would look cool :) But then I'd get enough wire to surround the entire bass for looks.
     
  7. SirPoonga

    SirPoonga

    Jan 18, 2005
    I was thinking about this. I have some questions on fiber. Can oyu cut the fiber to any length? Do you need to cap it with some type of diffusing material then?
    You'd need a single fiber for each marker?
    Do you just need to put a lightsource at the end of the fiber?
     
  8. Mara

    Mara

    Jan 11, 2001
    Finland
    Bassic83,

    After sanding the 'dome' of the LED, wont a groove remain surrounding the LED? Can this groove be filled fith some epox or lacquer or is it wise to just leave it there?

    edit: I noticed fiberopticproducts sell a Inverted LED . Would this work?

    -M
     
  9. Bassic83

    Bassic83

    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    Hey all-
    As far as I know, you can sand the top of an LED flat. If you wish to put a diffusing filter over it, you can. Or, sand it with progressively finer sandpaper to about 4000 grit. As far as the fiber optics, I plan on routing the bottom of my fingerboard to accept a fiber bundle. I'll calculate the width and depth later, and post what I think will work. The light source is just placed in front of the fiber. You can cut it to any length you like, then you have to polish the end for optimum light transfer. If you get the $18 kit from the fiber optic supply people I linked to before, you'll see what I mean. As far as a light source, an LED with a resistor on soldered onto the positive leg and a 9v is all you need. You can put a switch on it, or wire it to your stereo jack, but a word of warning here, it will bump your speakers. It can be filtered out, but I'm running a seperate circuit for mine. Make certain the fiber bundle is tightly held together at the LED end, and align it with the front of the LED. Some kind of small grommet would work on both the fiber bundle and the LED. If you want to get all super-custom and tricky, you could mount the LED on an adjustable bracket of some kind, but I plan on using hot glue to hold mine in place. I'm doing all this during my build stage, remember. Not as an add-on. I don't know how Marty Sims does his, this is for my own amusement. If you do a search on "fiber optic" on these forums, you'll turn up a thread with a couple shots of Scott French's finished product. Plus a bunch of other useful tidbits of information. All I can tell you is that a 510-ohm resistor on the positive leg of my LED connected to a 9v lights it up quite nicely. I still need to finish my circuit, and try a couple different resistor values (300-ohm) to verify that is the way I want it, then install a switch in the control cavity, and a 9v battery box, and a small cavity for the LED and fiber bundle termination. That's it for the electronics end. I'm going to leave the fiber sticking out of the side of the fretboard to get it when I dress my frets. I have some really fine-grit abrasive paper I'll use on the end.

    I chose to put the LED in the body to simplify replacing the LED should it become necessary, or to change the color if I get tired of it. Going with green to start, may change to red or blue or purple depending on my mood. I might install a plug of some sort to quick-change the LED. I don't know, just having ideas...
     
  10. SirPoonga

    SirPoonga

    Jan 18, 2005
    Cool. I've been thinking about getting a warmoth neck. I wonder if I could talk them into prerouting tracks for the fiber to run down :) Maybe a new product idea for them. Fiber doesn't look terribly expensive.

    At the heel I'd just need to have all the fiber end at a hole. Then I could route a track/cavity in the body and mount the led so that when the neck is bolted on the LED lines up with the fiber ends. Through an on/off switch and tada :)

    I'm a beginner and don't really play with a band. Right now I just jam with some friends in the corner of a local bar. However the lighting is not that great and I can see how something like thise would be helpful. Heck, you could even so some cool tricking out of your bass with fiber :)

    Bassic83, so you are just going to run the fiber down some routed area under your fretboard? Are you going to secure the fiber with glue down the fretboard?
     
  11. Bassic83

    Bassic83

    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    I was thinking that I'd have a master bundle track routed down my fretboard, with "offramps" for each single optical marker. Secure the ends near the edge of the fretboard with a smidgen of epoxy, and keep the main bundle together with a small band of heat shrink tubing. I still need to test the fiber against the hair dryer to see if that works, if it doesn't, I'll use some other method of securing the main bundle together. Perhaps a single band of mylar tape. We'll see when I get that far. It's all conceptual right now anyway. As far as the Warmoth guys routing a channel down the edge of the fingerboard, I don't know if they'd want to do that, but it's worth a shot. If I were to go that route, I'd probably use epoxy and side-glow tube. Seems like more work than coming up with a rout pattern and using a Dremel router. Need a reeeally small drill bit as well for the marker dotz...
     
  12. Mara

    Mara

    Jan 11, 2001
    Finland
    This is the one and only thing that scares me a bit. How long will a good quality LED last? If I'm spending 2k on a custom built one-off bass with LEDs, I don't want to have to rip off the fingerboard after two months to replace the LEDs...

    Also, I'm thinking about fitting 2-colored LEDs so that i can swap from red to blue to OFF. Is the lifetime of 2-tone LEDs significantly shorter than of a normal LED?
     
  13. Good LED's last on the order of 100,000 hours. If the installation is done correctly, this equates to around 10 years of constant use. Would work for me. :)
     
  14. SirPoonga

    SirPoonga

    Jan 18, 2005
    And if you socket the LED it's easy to replace.

    If I was to put an LED at each "dot" instead of looking at teh fiber optic idea I'd somehow socket the LED and french some thicker clear cellophane over the LED. Errr, french is an automotive term, it means to embed. I've been looking at frenching my brake light and license plate for my motorcycle lately :)
     
  15. tiefling

    tiefling

    Aug 19, 2003
    Washington DC
    I am way too old to have chuckled at the fact that SirPoonga is going to be frenching his brake light.
     
  16. SirPoonga

    SirPoonga

    Jan 18, 2005
    And even more funny, I'm not that old :)
    Actually, to use the correct terminolgy I am going to flush mount some LED taillights and french the license plate :)
     
  17. Mara

    Mara

    Jan 11, 2001
    Finland
    Guys,

    Will it be sufficient just to drill holes in the fretboard + machine the grooves for the wires when fitting LEDs into the face of the fingerboard? I'm wondering if the LEDs are so much longer than the thickness of the fingerboard that additional drilling is required for the neck too?

    My bass will be neck-through and the luthier who is building it has never fitted LEDs so I'm trying to gather as much good information for him as possible.

    If you have any fotos showing the holes, grooves and LEDs fitted in the fingerboard prior to glueing it to the neck, I'd be very thankfull!

    Thanxxx and rock on!

    -Mara
     
  18. Mara

    Mara

    Jan 11, 2001
    Finland
    Thanks, I missed that link earlier. I walked into a local elctronics shop and told them I want 11 LEDs and 11 resistors that I will power by one 9V battery in parallel circuit. They calculated and suggested the following:

    LED: 1000mcd, 20mA, 2Vf
    resistor: 390ohm

    They calculated that for this circuit the exact ohm of the resistor would be 350ohm but the nearest higher rated resistor available is 390ohm. How does this sound to you?

    The cost of the set? 10$. Fitting by the luthier? 0$. Can't really complain.

    -M
     
  19. SirPoonga

    SirPoonga

    Jan 18, 2005
    http://www.fiberopticproducts.com/Flourescent.htm

    I was thinking of another possibility.
    Those optics are easy to find. I have shot a bow with one on. Very nice in low light conditions. They pick up any light source.

    To, what if you flush mounted small pieces for each dot on your fretboard. Then routed out a channel all the way down. Like the LED link. But have one super bright LED shining its light down the channel for the fiber to pickup. Maybe need to paint the channel with a reflective silver paint (can be found at hobby shops) to help get the light all the way down the channel.

    These things don't need much light to glow so that should work. Just the ones closer to the light will glow brighter. I'd have to get my hands on some of that and test on some scrap wood.

    Or, on a simular note take what hotdotz does but instead of LEDs use the flourescent fiber in it's place. Then run a unjacketted fiber to each of those. No need to make a bend in the fiber therefore you can make a slim strip that sticks on like hotdotz.