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Thank you everyone for the fast response and great info. I will try the telephone connectors they are supper cheap at the local dollar store. 1 to 5 connectors for 50 cents and 50 foot of cord which i can cut in half so i will have 2 25 foot leeds for 50 cents also. I am very excited about changing my lighting over to leds this year. Thanks again
 

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Discussion Starter · #102 ·
Thank you everyone for the fast response and great info. I will try the telephone connectors they are supper cheap at the local dollar store. 1 to 5 connectors for 50 cents and 50 foot of cord which i can cut in half so i will have 2 25 foot leeds for 50 cents also. I am very excited about changing my lighting over to leds this year. Thanks again
I didn't initially understand what you were asking when you were asking about phone lines. If I am correct you want to create a replacement for a connection system using phone line with standard phone jacks?? That could be SUPER COOL. I personally have about 35 units of 20' long auxilliary phone cables with jacks from old phone systems. This could have several applications... Not just connecting the lights in a system that is similar to Joes RCA setup,Phone cables are routinely availible in LONG lengths cheaply (20' or more). It also could allow a 2 or more channel auxillary setup for controlling lights that do interesting things (Blinking, alternate flashing etc) from a considerable distance with a microcontroller or simple circuits. That Could be interesting. First we need to see how weatherproof (or corrosion proof) the phone connections are using standard jacks and cables. Are you up for that task??
 

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Thanks for the response. Looking at your pictures in different threads, it looked like really thick wire which is why I asked. I guess the sheathing on it is thick is all.

I was thinking about the vampire clips that Ghoulish was worried about soldering too close and creating a spark. Would it be possible to use a 1x3 piece of wood, drive a nail through the board 2 inches apart and mount the wood longways on the wire so the connections are no where near together but would still hit each wire? Here is a rough drawing of what I am talking about. Not sure if it would work.

 

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Why would you need to do that if you are really worried about a short you can place a drop a hot glue on the nail heads where the wires are soldered. We are only talking about 12 volts here not enough voltage or current to do any arcing. The computer power supplies have protection circuits anyway and will just shut down if that happens anyway. If by chance you get a blob of solder that touches you can reheat the solder and suck the extra away, solder can also be clipped with a diagonal cuter (watch your eyes), and it can also be filed. I file all of my circuit boards after soldering to knock off any sharp edges.
 

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I am not saying you have to do this, it is just the route I am most likely going to go. Having the nails that close together is how any vampire clip is made, but if I am not using a commercial grade clip, i want a little play in my clips. Driving the nails close together works but you have to get the angle right or you put it slightly sideways to catch the wire, as niblique posted in another thread, or maybe earlier in this one.

The way I am looking at doing it, you put one nail through and then push the other through and it gives you more play. Also having the nails a little farther apart would help keep the exposed nail through the bottom of the wire from getting smashed to the side and touching the neighboring nail creating a short.

I just wanted to throw out my take on the clip and what I will probably do.
 

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I didn't initially understand what you were asking when you were asking about phone lines. If I am correct you want to create a replacement for a connection system using phone line with standard phone jacks?? First we need to see how weatherproof (or corrosion proof) the phone connections are using standard jacks and cables. Are you up for that task??
Niblique,
Ya, you got it standard phone cable and jacks. Glad to hear you think this might work, best of all this stuff is on deep discount at about every dollar store i have been to lately. I know they wont be water tight just as they set but with a little precaution on where i lay the connections I think this can be overcome easily. I will try and wire some up this weekend and let you know the outcome. Do you agree that since the wire is not stranded extra effort in securing the wire to the light housing should be taken as to not break the wire from excessive bending.
Also thanks for taking the time and doing the LED Stotlight Tuturial cant wait for the next installment.
 

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you can water proof with these ziploc containers. you can flip them over and mount the jacks to the top (bottom that is flipped over) maybe a little silicone if needed. you can drill holes in the lid and have the connections up off the ground inside the container. they are only a few dollars for like five of them.

http://www.ziploc.com/Products/Pages/ContainersSmartSnapSeal.aspx
 

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you can water proof with these ziploc containers. you can flip them over and mount the jacks to the top (bottom that is flipped over) maybe a little silicone if needed. you can drill holes in the lid and have the connections up off the ground inside the container. they are only a few dollars for like five of them.

http://www.ziploc.com/Products/Pages/ContainersSmartSnapSeal.aspx
Yep, place the connections inside the ziploc or glad containers, seal the holes, smear Amazon.com: PERMATEX DIELECTRIC GREASE - PERMATEX - 22058: [email protected]@[email protected]@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/[email protected]@[email protected]@51rVXlx1OVL over the connections (same stuff the auto parts store sells you to coat your taillight bulbs), and then close it up. The grease will keep the water out of the connection, plus keep the contacts from corroding. You might be able to just coat the connections in the grease alone, if you keep the connection up off of the ground.
 

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I like the idea of the phone connectors but here is one thought. I work in construction as a safety manager. On a hospital job, the roof leaked into a data room. It got onto the end of the cables. The company said the warranty was voided for the entire cable as it could cause corrosion up the line. All of the cable had to be removed and put back in, Miles of it was thrown away.

Maybe the manufacturer knew something about moisure on an open end. I don't know. Just my observation. Personally I hope it works flawlessly so I can try to impliment it.

hPropman, I fixed the link to the drawing of the vampire clip I was looking to make. Hopefully you can see it now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #112 ·
Greg what if you pre drill the nail hole with a hole about half to 3/4 the diameter of the nails using the drill press. that should eliminate drifting and wire alignment issues. you can make a jig for the drill press to line up the holes for the correct spacing. Also what about those plastic boards that they use for decks these days. that would eliminate the painting and the sealing of the blocks.
I thought about "Trex" decking. I think it's 1" thick. Too thick for the nails. BUT...... Now that I think about it, You could use a larger drill bit to drill halfway through the material, use a punch to drive the nails the rest of the way into the countersunk holes, and then fill them with hot glue to protect the wires and the nail heads when your finished. Pilot holes for the nails themselves would have to be VERY Small (perhaps less than 1/16"). My experience with tiny drill bits is that they flex a little, and break a lot. With care, it could be done. Maybe I'll give that a test tomorrow. I'd like to get this right before too many people invest a lot of time in the build. Not that my original idea won't work, I just think it can be better. Thanks for the Input Joe.
 

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The Telephone line and connectors seemed to work. Did this little test run today, but boy was that phone line small to work with. I had a lot of trouble getting it stripped without breaking the small strands of wire. and trying to solder it was a trick, only the second time using a soldering iron, but I think I got it and the phone connections seemed to work great. here's a picture, I think this picture will come up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #117 · (Edited)
Thanks for the response. Looking at your pictures in different threads, it looked like really thick wire which is why I asked. I guess the sheathing on it is thick is all.

I was thinking about the vampire clips that Ghoulish was worried about soldering too close and creating a spark. Would it be possible to use a 1x3 piece of wood, drive a nail through the board 2 inches apart and mount the wood longways on the wire so the connections are no where near together but would still hit each wire? Here is a rough drawing of what I am talking about. Not sure if it would work.

Hey Spider, I just saw your refreshed image of your Vamipre Clips. Undortunately they won't work as drawn because the wire flexes and the connections won't be secure with one zip tie in the middle. Actually it WILL work with two zip ties, one over each nail.

Here's a picture of my setup (not the pic I will use for the tutorial).


The reason these work so well is because the retainer (hair tie) has direct and even pressure over the nail tips. Note how the retainer is wound around the wire and then back to the block. this creates a VERY secure connection. If you wanted, you could make your clips just a little wider and drive the nails at 45 degrees from each other instead of being paralell like the picture shows. That would solve any concerns and still have nice secure connection. As Joe said though, it shouldn't be an issue.

Also, I wanted a system that needed NO TOOLS or non reusable parts. Zip ties are very secure but you need to cut them to remove them. I throw a handfull of hair ties and a small piece of plywood (for something to press against) in my pocket and that's all I need to complete the connection. BTW You don't need to drive these in very deep to make a secure connection. the copper nails only have to make good contact with the copper inside the landscape wire. Rich had mentioned needing plyers to make the connections with his, and I've not experianced the difficulties that he experienced, even in the colder weather approaching halloween.
 

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Discussion Starter · #118 ·
LED TUTORIAL FINISHED (well pretty much)

7 days of constant typing and taking pictures and I'm finally done with the main part of my LED TUTORIAL. It was a lot of work but I think it will be very helpful to anyone that wants to experiment. It still needs some tweaking but it's close.

Feel free to read it and make comments/suggestions in this thread. I know there are quite a few grammatical errors that I will correct over time.

Any Feedback?? If something wasn't clear, or there is a picture that could be added or changed please help me make this better.

I might need a little help on the computer power supply hacking. I know how to do it myself, but there's a lot more information to be learned than what I might be able to deliver on my own.

Thanks for your patience.
 

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Greg when I do mine I solder the resistor to the led first using the helping hands withe the leads hooked together, then I insert the leds in the cap, twist and solder them together, then test them before I glue them. Sometimes I just use the hot glue and do not even bother with the super glue. The hot glue holds them just fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #120 ·
LED Testor

OK it's Official, I have WAY too much time on my hands in the winter time.

I had taken out my old lights to inspect them, test them, and upgrade them. I also had a few stray LED's which I couldn't identify the colors. Holding a resistor while checking these things was a pain. So I made this little contraption using a 12V wall wart, some heavy gauge copper wire, a micro-LED (resistorized), and a spare 580 ohm resistor.


On the left is straight 12V to test finished lights and other 12V items (small Motors?). On the Right is a resistor with high enough value to test most Single and multiple NON-resistorized LED's without any damage. I added the small LED in the front so I would know when the contraption was live (plugged in).


For more complex LED patterns, I have some spare alligator clips (and wire) to test those arrays before they are fully completed.

I NEED to get a LIFE!

It works GREAT though, and would have helped a lot in my LED build.
 
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