They have things to hold LEDs to panels, I've never been sure exactly what
they were called, something like "bezels".
You could just drill smaller holes, then glue (I think I'd use epoxy) the
LEDs behind the holes, so they light up through the holes but the LEDs
don't actually stick out through the holes.
Or, take a blank panel, cut out some or most of the plastic, then glue a
piece of clear plastic over that hole. Then mount the LEDs behind clear
I'm not sure what you have in mind, but other than using blue LEDs, you
might consider using bicolor LEDs, so they mean something with one signal,
and another color with another signal. Originally, those were bipolar
LEDs, two different color LEDs in the same package, apply voltage in one
direction, the green LED would come on, apply voltage in the other
direction, the red LED would come on. But in more recent times, they've
added similar LEDs with three leads, so one lead is ground, an which LED
is on depends on which terminal the positive voltage goes to. Then of
course you can get a third indicator, by turning both LEDs on at the same
time, so you get a color that combines the two colors of the two LEDs.
One might just try cutting off the rounded end of the LED. That's
just plastic of some sort, made to act as a lense. I'm not sure how it
affects what you see, but it won't cost anything much to cut off a bit and
It's a lot of work, when just as easily you could
look for a LED with the packaging you want instead.
You can also visit your local electronics store, and
see what they have in stock. But watch the pricing.
One item available locally was $3.00 a unit, while
Newark had them for $0.22 each. Makes a big difference
between make-or-break on budget. I have one electronics
store in town which is not "RadioShack" or "The Source",
and their prices are rather high.
When I bought LEDs from Newark, I bought several bags
of 50 matched LEDs.
LEDs are available over a wide range of efficiencies.
Modern LEDs can be blinding at 20mA, whereas some
older (junk, floor sweepings) LEDs you can barely
see them at the 20mA current flow level. The RadioShack
"bag of assorted LEDs" tended to be the less desirable
type. You have to shop pretty carefully on a site
like Newark, to get a good one, with just the
right color, the right intensity for the application
and so on. It can take *hours* to find the right one.
The LEDs on Newark are not floor sweepings. But LEDs
have specs, and if any company still makes the
inefficient LED types, you might still buy one
Modern LED production equipment, is great at sorting
the product. When you buy a bag of 50 LEDs, the intensity
and color temperature can be relatively closely matched.
If you looked at my LED arrays here, you would see little
variation across the array. But one bag of LEDs, isn't
even remotely similar to another bag of LEDs (color
could be quite different, on white LEDs). If you have
a project that needs 100 LEDs, depending on the
electrical circuit used, you may notice a mismatch
between portions of the array. I used Vf sorting,
to make LED combinations with better intensity
balance, and no current limit resistor in the
path (my power source happens to be current
On a computer output, the Front Panel header already
has the current limiting resistor in place.
If you design your own readout LEDs, it is your
responsibility to determine whether a current
limiting resistor is already present, or you need
to connect one in series with your LED. A very
basic knowledge of electricity theory, helps to
avoid "a blinding flash of light followed by nothing" :-)
For example, connecting to the Activity# on an IDE
connector, I'd probably use a series resistor with that.
+5V ---- 330 ohm ----| |----------+ Activity# --+
1/4 watt |/| red \|__ controller
LED /| signal
So in that example, the hard drive may have an open
collector transistor on its end. Which jams to ground
or floats open circuit. When it jams to ground to
turn the LED on, you want to limit the flow of
current. If the Vf of the LED is 2V, the voltage
across the resistor is 5V minus 2V or 3V.
3V divided by 330 ohms is approx 10mA (half the
LED current rating). The resistor power dissipation
is V^2/R or 3V * 3V / 330 = 27mW, which is much
less than the 250mW shown in the drawing for the
resistor. I could also use a 1/8th watt resistor
without burning it out. For hobbyists, you don't
always have a good selection of resistors available,
but again, doing a power calc ensures you aren't doing
something totally outrageous (smoke comes from
There are plenty of web sites with these details,
and I've already written too much.
I'd just put a cutoff wheel in my "Dremel tool" and see what happened.
Except for some white ones, I haven't bought LED since the early days,
when they weren't much better than floor sweepings. I've pulled so many
out of scrap equipment that the only reason I'd need to buy LED was for
something very specific.
Even for white LEDs, it's certainly more convenient to buy an LED
flashlight and take them out of that, likely cheaper too.
On 07/31/2015 10:49 PM, Michael Black wrote:
I always heard them called tri-color LEDs, since turning both on gives
you yellow. With a 2-lead version that means applying AC, which switches
between the colors.
BTW, I used to know someone who was only familiar with mixing PAINT
colors, and couldn't accept that mixing red and green gives you yellow.
Also, yellow and blue make white (as in white LEDs).
One company makes tray components for
custom setups. I don't think they have any
provision for LEDs.
You could do your own out of Plexiglass. I
have placed T1 3/4 LEDs in plexiglass. It takes
a drill template (metal) while you're drilling,
to help control things. (It's better if you
own an actual drill press.) Plastic tends to pull the
drill bit. I've done a couple 4x12 LED matricies
in Plexiglass, without the stuff cracking. You use
the thickest stuff you can find at Home Depot (0.220").
My setup is for an illumination application, rather
than a readout. It's pretty hard to make a tasteful
readout display, that isn't blinding, or alternately,
You should have some spatial separation, so you can
stick LabelMaker labels underneath. If your LEDs
are placed too close together, you won't be able to
tell at a glance, which hard drive is active.
They make various kinds of retaining rings.
Or stuff like this, with a hex nut on the back
to hold them into a bezel. Real overkill.
I would consider buying mounting hardware, if I was
working in aluminum to make my own 5.25 tray interface.
When working with material like Plexi or Lexan, I try to
find the thicker stock (0.220") and drill #2 holes in it.
I have a box of 0.75" stainless #2 screws I use for little
projects. I use screws because I can't find the
right glue here.
A perfboard of the Radio Shack variety holds the
LEDs in place. Then the perfboard is fastened
in proximity to the bezel with the LED holes.
So the perfboard holds the LEDs. But if you use
one or two-piece retaining hardware for the LEDs,
you can random-wire to the back of them, and
make a rats nest. The retaining hardware holds
the LEDs in place. For the project I was doing,
the Plexiglass was intended to be protective,
and provide a surface that could be wiped
down on occasion, with a little alcohol
for cleaning. The Plexiglass prevents
water spray from getting to the perfboard
that frontx thing is interesting and has possibilities.
this would work better & easier to do than modding a filler pan in a
this version has 6 small bays + 2 large bays.
what search terms did you use to find it?
I've been providing referrals to FrontX for
a long time. I don't remember how I found it.
Buying from them is a dollars versus time thing.
If you're in a hurry, then they can solve a few
problems for you. But they don't have every possible
thing you could ever want. They certainly haven't
taken their business to any extremes (rheobus
controllers, USB hubs etc). They're mainly focused
on cables and connectors.
Use Tony's suggestion of the flat rectangular LEDs. Drill a hole in your
faceplate slightly smaller in diameter than the width of the LED. Use
something like clear silicone adhesive to hold them in place, using enough
to fill the hole. Once it has set, you can trim the excess off the outside
of the faceplate so its flush, and the light from the led will look like a
soft glowing point of light on the face plate :-)
Maybe something like these:
Plenty of colors to choose from, and certainly cheap enough :-)
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