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Old 06-10-2010, 01:59 PM   #16
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I took the conversation over to another board temporarily and this is what has been going on over there. Thought I'd share in case it sparked any ideas or thoughts.

I also wanted to post this current conversation I was having on another board and get some sort of a response here from it maybe

I wanted to post over some information I was given on another forum and see what the response is.


How thin do you want the strings to be? How long do the lights have to be on for?

You could either hide a big battery in the ceiling and, using LEDs, use the strings as wires. this would be low voltage and safe(not sure if it would pass like a government inspection or anything) to touch. You would probably want insulated wires but make them as narrow as possible.

You could put individual LEDs inside the tube, each one having its own button-cell battery. This would only run for a couple hours, and you'd need lots of batteries...

The strings would vary in length - I'm guessing 5-6 feet. Ideally the lights would need to be able to be on for a few hours a day for an extended period of time (if this piece were ever accepted into a show). I could make sacrifices to get it up and running for now, but then I would just have to re-figure everything out in the future.

So, are you saying that if I used like LED strip lighting and put it into my own tube, I could use wire that could also function as the support that leads up to a battery hidden somewhere in the ceiling?

And by "big battery" what are we talking here? Car battery? or is it something that would be custom built?

Really the "big battery" can be anything that supplies you a DC voltage for the LEDs (those LED strips you linked were 12V) with enough current. You could use a car battery, a custom battery, lots of standard size batteries, OR something that plugs into the wall and converts the AC into DC, which would probably be the best choice, since you wouldnt have to worry about batteries at all and this type of converter is cheap.

The question is, how THIN are the strings supposed to be? I would imagine that the ideal solution for your project would be like fishing line or some other transparent, thin string. But if you can tolerate more width I think you could use wires both as structural support and power. We're not talking nearly as thick as, say, a lamp cord, but something like insulated 24 to 30 AWG. The diameter of 30AWG is 0.01 inches or 0.28 mm, and it can carry up to a rated 142mA. AWG rating table. series LEDs would need at most 20mA, so you can put 2 or 3 strings in parallel.

Keep in mind the 0.01 inches will not include the thickness of insulation, which will probably double or triple the thickness.
They make it in black. Actually, that particular insulation is probably thinner than what I just said. Try to find some at a hardware or electronics store perhaps and see if it'll fit the bill.

How many 36" bulbs are you trying to put up in this display? because that will affect the power supply that you will need.

Do I need to make sure that whatever plug I have that converts AC to DC is certain volt? Also - how do I make sure that it is able to be connected to the wires? (The only kind I've ever seen goes from the wall and has a plug for whatever device is using it (modems, dvd players, etc).

Ideally the strings would be almost nonexistent, but I know that is only a possibility if the tubes are somehow battery powered.

also, when you say 2 or 3 strings in parallel, are you talking about strings of the wire? Maybe I'm confused, but if the 30AWG can cary 142mA, and series LED's need at most 20mA, why would I need to parallel things? wouldn't the one wire be enough to power the whole series?

Thank you a bunch for your help so far, I finally feel like I'm getting somewhere with this stuff.

I just looked again at those strips you linked. They try to sell a 12V car charger on the same page so I assumed they were 12V, but they are not. Looking at the technical specs page, they are 3V - 6V and 300-600mA. This is too much. You can probably easily find a 12V or 24V LED strip that will take far less current, which is what you'll need to make the wires as thin as possible. try shopping around. You might look into LED rope lighting. It is probably very easy to modify to suit your project, and it's long and cheap. If you can't find a 36" LED bar or strip that meets your needs, you can consider using 2 or 3 bars inside of each tube (3 12" bars), but again this might require triple the wire. Let us know what you find.

The 12V or 24V strip will also be convenient since most of the AC-DC converters are made for those voltages as well.

I was also told that using fluorescent tubes is probably not a good idea as the wires would be delivering a volt that could shock someone if the bulb or wire were touched on accident while someone was looking at the installation
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Old 06-10-2010, 02:39 PM   #17
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Cold Cathode tubes are another option. They typically run off of a 12v source. I use 2 blue Cold Cathode tubes, wired to a 12v transformer, as moon lighting on my fishtank.

DIY for fish tank lunar lighting:

If you wired the CCFL tube up to a 2-wire cord (similar to speaker wire, with + and -), it could then run out of site to where it would splice up with the transformer and plug into an outlet.
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