LED Strips versus Cathodes?

Discussion in 'Modding News' started by Graeme*Kustom*, May 4, 2009.

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  1. Graeme*Kustom*

    Graeme*Kustom* Administrator

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    We hear often of new televisions starting to use LED backlighting to allow for thinner, brighter and more power efficient displays in preference over Cold Cathode Fluorescent lamps, but is this relevant to what we've all used in case mods for the past few years?

    Cathode kits have been a popular and cost effective method of illuminating PC cases for the past 8 years or so, but we all know they have a few downsides - the need for a bulky power inverter, occasional inverter failures and that the tubes themselves can be quite large by the time a protective casing has been added to protect the fragile tube inside.

    Step forward LED strips - we have already been selling these for quite a while, but admittedly the range was limited and the price was too high, we're starting to get a better supply now with more colour options, lengths and a price only slightly higher than cathodes.

    [​IMG]

    So what's so good about these LED strips? Let me summarise with some easy to digest bullet points :


    • Slim design means they easily fit into smaller spaces - only a couple of mm thick.
    • No inverter - just connects straight to a 12v supply
    • Lower heat output compared to cathodes (and their inverters!)
    • Long lifespan - should not lose brightness over time
    • Lower power draw
    I was asked today about running costs, would these make a difference? Assuming your PC runs for 10 hours a day cathodes (8.88w power draw) would cost £3.56 to run for a year. Running two 12" LED strips would cost £0.47 per year (based on electricity rate at 11p per kW/H). So there is something in that these would save some money in the long run but naturally the higher price means they would take a while to pay themselves back, so it's unlikely to be the sole reason that you make the switch.

    How do they look though? Here's a system illuminated with one blue cathode :

    [​IMG]

    And here is the same system with a 12" LED strip.

    [​IMG]

    There's not really a lot in it - the cathode is slightly brighter, although to the eye, the LED strip had a deeper blue which had a better effect. In particular, the red strips look a lot better than the typical red-pink colour achieved by cathodes.

    So there we go - next time you need to light up your case, make sure to consider LED strips. We have a new range of Lamptron Flexlight Pro kits available now.
     
  2. razer121

    razer121 learning grammar :)

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    how well do these strips light up a etched window? i might just have to pick one up if there any good...
     
  3. artso

    artso Registered Trader

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    Are these the ones that you can cut to a required size? Would be interested in 6 inch strips for mATX rig.
     
  4. latency

    latency Existentialist

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    I use LEDs to light my main rig at the moment- a pic for those who care:

    [​IMG]

    They are a little more expensive that cathodes, but you can do more with them, and I can vouch for the better colour.
    With a little talent, you can achieve better positioning (there's only a few places a cathode with fit...) which allows to yo do better light effects, like the ground lighting effect in my case.

    Would definitely recommend to people who are frustrated by the faded colour you get with cathodes, and the difficulty with getting light all around the case.
     
  5. Essay @ Kustom

    Essay @ Kustom I friggin' hate Pod 6

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    Totoro ftw!
     
  6. jacobzcoool

    jacobzcoool Chav Hunter

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    The colour from the LEDs definitely looks nicer.
    Less heat and space are a bonus too :)
     
  7. RickDawson

    RickDawson Kustomer

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    how would I power the strips, without a pc PSU running?

    What mains PSU transformer would be good to power these?
    (directly from the mains)

    I'm thinking of one 1200mm strip to light up my desk and a shorter UV one to light up my DJ Mixer UV print.
     
  8. jacobzcoool

    jacobzcoool Chav Hunter

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    You need a 12v supply.

    Not sure about a suitable transformer, someone else can probably help with that one.
     
  9. latency

    latency Existentialist

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    Any odd mains adaptor for a device you don't have will do, so long as it's rated 12v.

    12v 1A adaptors are very common- they can kick out about 10watts, which is plenty enough to power an LED strip- a single LED probably runs on about 0.026watts.

    So get an old mains adaptor with a 12v 0.5 - 1.0 amp output and cut the end of, then wire it to an old molex plug, and you're laughing...
     
  10. Graeme*Kustom*

    Graeme*Kustom* Administrator

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    Or if after 'So get...' in latency's post it all just sounded a bit too scary, there's always this adapter - http://www.kustompcs.co.uk/acatalog/info_1778.html
     
  11. latency

    latency Existentialist

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    Perfect ;)
     
  12. Graeme*Kustom*

    Graeme*Kustom* Administrator

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    I love all the things you can do with these.

    Our 'sale' section is a little more noticable now, beats pinning an A4 printed sheet to the wall :)

    They're held up there with nothing more than a few bits of blutac, and powered by a small power supply. Since each strip has a pass-thru connector, they're all just hooked up in a chain.

    [​IMG]