LED Vehicle Brake Lights
Into LED Case Lights.
Automotive LED brake light
strips are a cool way to add red lighting to your mod and since most things
automotive run off 12v DC, including rear window brake lights and they require minimal work to
adapt them for use within a PC. This guide will show two different ways of
using two different types of LED 3rd brake light strips to create your own home made
super bright red case lighting. Below shows the 40 LED
light strip (95/04 GMC mini-van/blazer led third brake light) along with most of the materials and some of the tools used to perform this
mod... and yes, cold heat soldering irons truly suck but will work well enough for mods this
The red lines below show
where I marked and cut the light strip, I cut mine into fourths but you could
cut it in half if space within your case permits, but as is the LED light strip
at 16" is too long to fit comfortably within most tower cases.
In the picture below the
arrows point to where the strip would be cut, the traces on the PCB can also
easily be seen and wiring it up is as easy as using an X-Acto knife and scraping
at the traces on the cut edge until the copper shows through.
Once that is done it is just a matter of soldering lengths of wire in between
the edges of two pieces to reconnect it all, I did not take pictures of
this step but it is just what it sounds like anyway.
In the following picture you
can see what it looks like all cut up with the wiring reconnecting the points on
the PCB. I used a couple of coats of Liquid Electrical Tape on the back
side to hold the four pieces together and also to prevent the lighting from
shorting out if it were to come in contact with the case metal.
Below shows the hookup points
for the 12v positive and negative wiring on the bare light strip,
nothing was marked + or - on these light strips, but there is a resistor on
the PCB that let me know the forward direction.
The following shows the
backside of the LED light assembly with the liberal coating of liquid electrical
tape, the items circled in red are the same spots as the arrows point to in the
picture above, the wiring to the the molex connector will be soldered on after a bit of cleaning.
Leap of faith... the wiring
and molex are connected, for this I used a 4 pin Molex pass through cable that
has a female 3-pin socket off the 12V side, they are cheap and common. I
use them a lot in wiring different things for PC use, in the picture below the
top wire is unmodified and the one below is the part of it you will need.
After wiring everything up I
had to test fire it so I plugged it into my test
PSU and was almost blinded, forty red brake light LED's are intensely bright
and headache inducing if you look at them straight on. The liquid
electrical tape on the back makes them flexible so you can make a curve of the
strips to light the entirety of a mother board and components.
Below is the forty LED
lighting mod glowing inside the project I made it for, it is far brighter than
the picture makes it out to be but you can see how well it lights
up every bit of the mother board side of the enclosure... super bright and
Next up are some 12 LED brake
light bars, they are small enough to fit into any case, really bright and easy
to wire up for computer use. If you are only using a single light bar you
simply clip a power connector (as shown 3 pics up) and solder the wiring to the
LED bar where it is marked + and -. The project I was using them in
required wiring two of the 12 LED light bars together as accent lighting outside
The picture/diagram below
shows how to wire the two bars together, again a very simple task to perform
The following picture shows
how I went about attaching two LED bars together, some electrical tape and door
edge molding hold them tight. If I were going to build them for a project
where they would show through a window I would have made it look better, but for
the way I used them it didn't really have to look as good as it does.
Hooking the light bars up to
the test PSU to make sure they work, shown below. As is they could easily
be tucked away within a computer case, but as previously mentioned I had other
plans for them.
The following picture shows
the bare modified LED light bar in the center, the Plexi-glass that I cut,
sanded and glued together on the left, with the light bars attached to the Plexi
and entirely ready to rock on the right.
Finally, a picture of what the
2x 12 LED light bars look like installed into the project and they look
awesome... I'm not just saying that because I built them either.
Automotive LED rear window or
third brake lights
are easy to mod into a PC, they are a bright and reliable lighting
solution that can't be beat... the above mods are super simple and entirely
worth doing, if red fits within the case lighting theme you really can't go
wrong. I bought both types of LED brake lights for $4.00 each from AllElectronics.com
(sadly they are no longer available), but there's always ebay, JCWhitney
or auto salvage lots and junk yards where they can likely be had cheap.
Guide written by ARTbyTROY