Designing an LED enclosure

A project log for esp8266 Futuristic Hex Wall

A series of 3d printed hexagonal panels outfitted with a number of 24-bit neopixel LEDs provide the backdrop to my invention room.

josh-coleJosh Cole 02/05/2019 at 06:330 Comments

This morning, I started the day with a basic vision for what I intended the final faceplate to look like,. My next logical step was to prototype said faceplate and then design a way to mount LEDs to the translucent bits so the light can be diffracted evenly. I really wanted to get a feel for what this thing is going to look like in its final form.

As a courtesy, let me just point out right now that I am deciding to not use my custom LED enclosure as a final solution. Instead, I'll be sourcing the NeoPixel strand from amazon, as they come pre-packaged in a format which is exactly what I was trying to design myself...

That being said, I did not discover this gem until I had already designed my own solution :) read on for more details about the home-made variety.

My LED enclosure goals were as follows:

With these design constraints in mind, I first set about measuring the LED and coming up with a bare-minimum chamber necessary to enclose a 5mm LED. 

(as an aside, after a failed attempt to solder a wire directly to the LED leads, I took this opportunity to agree with myself that the design should be built around the concept of attaching jumpers to the leads and then locking all that stuff in place, probably through friction)

The only remnant I have from that design session is an awful drawing which I won't bother to post. The dimensions that I derived included the following:

The last question I had was what interface I might use to plug this LED into the translucent panel. So for that, I decided I'd just use square pegs at 3mm X 3mm X 5mm , one in each corner. No tolerances. It's... definitely a "one way door". Once this thing is installed, good luck getting it out :-P But we're here to prototype, not dawdle.

The full dimensions for the part ended up being 12mm X 25mm.

Taking all these observations together yielded the following design.

Okay, it didn't immediately yield this design. I had to iterate a few times before I landed on this particular shape. I'm sure it could use further improvement, but shockingly, it actually worked as I intended!

After making a quick modification to the light diffraction panel, I was able to create the reverse interface for these square pegs. The final result? (okay the part in this picture has a little side handle not shown in the design above. It was a further iteration which ended up not being useful, so... disregard that)

Aaaaand then I discovered the pre-built one from Amazon :)

c'est la vie