LED Shell Lights

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slomatt

Rank V

Traveler I

1,912
Bay Area, CA
A while ago I bought a used shell for my Tacoma and quickly discovered that finding things at night in a dark shell is not a lot of fun so, I decided to add some LED lights. My requirements were reasonable price, a warm color temperature (I really dislike bright white lights in camp), dimmable, and good light coverage throughout the shell.

This project is pretty straightforward but I took some pictures in case anybody is interested.

The final install includes two 4' long LED bars velcroed to the roof and a dimmer on the side wall. The wiring uses a weatherproof quick disconnect so the shell can be removed if necessary.


The lighting is a nice warm color and fills the entire shell.
 

slomatt

Rank V

Traveler I

1,912
Bay Area, CA
TODO: Link to parts I used.

The proper way to dim LEDs is using PWM (pulse width modulation). For fun I hooked up the dimmer to an oscilloscope and confirmed it was using PWM, this photo shows one 4' length of LEDs being driven at about 50% duty cycle. If anybody is really interested in electronics the PWM frequency is 1.345kHz and the dimmer has no built in voltage regulation. Dimmer efficiency ranges from around 93-97% depending on the input voltage. A single 4' strip driven by the dimmer at full brightness drew 246mA at ~12v and 365mA at 13.8v.


These are household LED strips with high quality 3M adhesive backing. Connections are made by soldering to the strips, or they sell special clips you can buy that don't require solder.


After you clean the aluminum channels with rubbing alcohol you simply stick the strips in place.


I then applied high quality velcro to the back of the channels.


All wiring is loomed and heat shrunk to make it look clean.


I chose channels with frosted covers so the light is diffused.


To tie the two strips together I used a small plastic project box I had sitting around and some screw terminals.


Currently the dimmer is just temporarily installed so I didn't take a picture of it.

Hope this inspires others to start some LED projects.