Learning with LEDs. Created by Rick Winscot. Last updated on :39:11 PM UTC

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1 Learning with LEDs Created by Rick Winscot Last updated on :39:11 PM UTC

2 Guide Contents Guide Contents Tools / Materials Introduction Did you know... Diode? Components Packaging Kitting Teaching and Learning Adafruit Industries Page 2 of 23

3 Tools / Materials Introduction I've been making these little kits for kids (and kids of friends!) as well as school groups. its a nice way to get started playing with LEDs, batteries and switches Did you know... "An LED (light-emitting diode) is a special kind of diode that emits light when a current flows through it. The LED has two terminals, an anode and a cathode. Because it is a diode, electrons can only flow in one direction. When the electrons cross the barrier between the anode and the cathode, they release a photon, which produces light." Diode? "A diode lets electrons flow in only one direction. It works like a switch: when current is flowing one way, the switch is on, but when current tries to flow the other way, the switch turns off. Sir John Ambrose Fleming is best known for inventing the diode, originally called the kenotron." So much awesome knowledge! And, here is a way to share this blinky awesomeness. A list of materials you will need. LEDs - our rainbow flashing LEDs are the most satisfying ( CR2032 Batteries ( 220 Ohm ( or 330 Ohm ( resistors Diagonal Cutters ( Small Flat Pliers ( or Crimping Pliers ( Shrink Tubing ( Adafruit Industries Page 3 of 23

4 Small Ziplock Baggies ( 2 x 3 inches ) Optionally, you can include a LED sticker, badge, or both in your kits. If you don't have any of these tools, you might want to consider Ladyada's Electronics Toolkit ( It has everything you need... and more. If you plan on soldering any of the components, I recommend using SAC305 RoHS lead-free Solder ( especially if your kits are going to be in tiny hands. Adafruit Industries Page 4 of 23

5 Components Start by cutting the cathode (short leg) of the LED down to about 6mm. Pick a leg, any leg on the button... and snip it off as near to the body of the button as possible; minimizing the sharp snaggy bits. Bend the pin across from the one you clipped out and the other two pins into the body of the button. Adafruit Industries Page 5 of 23

6 If you are worried about sharp / pokey bits, you can use the leg of the LED you cut off to bridge the two legs of the button. Use SAC305 RoHS lead-free Solder... especially if your kits are going to be in tiny hands. Adafruit Industries Page 6 of 23

7 This circuit uses AWG Crimp Sockets ( to easily connect each component. Wrap a socket around the free leg of the button and crimp in place. Adafruit Industries Page 7 of 23

8 You can use a small pair of pliers, jewelry crimps, or one of the awesome crimpers ( from the Adafruit store. Time to trim-up some resistors. Adafruit Industries Page 8 of 23

9 Cut the lead to about 5mm on both sides of the resistor. Crimp a socket on only one side... just like you did with the button. Adafruit Industries Page 9 of 23

10 Leave the other side as a bare pin. Dress up your crimp sockets with a bit of 2-3mm shrink tube. Adafruit Industries Page 10 of 23

11 About 6mm each (because it shrinks) will do. One over the crimp socket on the button. Adafruit Industries Page 11 of 23

12 One over the crimp socket on the resistor. Shrink the tubes with a heat gun, hand torch, match, lighter, or solar death ray of your choice. Adafruit Industries Page 12 of 23

13 Fire burns... be careful! voilà... one down. Adafruit Industries Page 13 of 23

14 Packaging The package template (blue download link below) includes a ready-to-print PDF and the original Adobe Illustrator file... modify away! I've used standard printer paper here. It's easy to cut, fold, and glue... at the expense of the package being a little more fragile. If you want something more durable, you can always upgrade to cardstock. After printing, cut on the solid lines Adafruit Industries Page 14 of 23

15 Using a straight edge, bend on the dotted lines. 'Pinching' the curved lines is pretty easy with standard printer paper... a little more difficult with card stock. Adafruit Industries Page 15 of 23

16 Grab your favorite glue or sticky-tape dispenser. I use a double-sided tape dispenser... it's fast and friendly. Apply to both tabs in the middle section. Adafruit Industries Page 16 of 23

17 Carefully align the side tabs and press together. You can put a dab on the lip of the package now... or wait until the last step of kitting; I prefer the latter. Adafruit Industries Page 17 of 23

18 Adafruit Industries Page 18 of 23

19 Kitting You can kit all the components yourself... or make a little family fun! It's important to QA your kits - no one wants to open a dud! Use plates, cups, or small containers to separate your components. Then, give each of your staff a battery and show them how to assemble / test a kit. Adafruit Industries Page 19 of 23

20 Good kits are disassembled and go in a small ziplock bag, bad ones are retired to the rubbish bin. Time to add a battery and set of components to each one of your packages. Root Beer Floats may be needed at this point to replenish the massive amounts of energy expended. Adafruit Industries Page 20 of 23

21 Adafruit Industries Page 21 of 23

22 Teaching and Learning There are so many fantastic resources to help you introduce electronics into your curriculum... for the young learner, you can use Ladyada's E is for electronics coloring book ( Have you seen the MAKE presents series by Colin Cunningham? MAKE presents: The LED ( MAKE presents: The Resistor ( MAKE presents: The Diode ( MAKE presents: Ohm's Law ( Great videos to help build context in your lesson plans. Have you seen Snap Circuits ( Adafruit Industries Page 22 of 23

23 Or... littlebits ( The future is bright... keep calm and blink on! Adafruit Industries Last Updated: :39:05 PM UTC Page 23 of 23

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