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Installing LED Lights

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Old 08-07-2009, 11:24 AM   #1
Hakka's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 422
Location: Australia
Installing LED Lights

Lets put some LEDs in movie Ratchet. We will put a blue one in his head and white ones on all his lights.

(Some of the photos are different in size, so just be patient when uploading/viewing the tutorial!)

Tools needed:

Soldering Iron
1mm drill bit
3mm drill bit
5mm drill bit
Exacto knife
Phillips screwdriver
Flat screwdriver
Wire- 2 colours. I pulled apart some 25 core data cable to get the really thin wires.
Heat shrink tubing - big enough for 2 wires.
Black paint
small paint brush

The LEDs I used are:

3mm blue 5000mcd x 1 head
5mm white 1500mcd x 2 headlights
3mm white 1000mcd x 7 grille/roofrack

The mcd is the brightness rating, the head needs a brighter one to penetrate the light piping. All leds have a forward voltage of 3.5v so we can run them of 2xAA batteries without resistors.

We'll start with the roof rack. Remove it from the figure.

Using an Exacto knife, we need to make a small dent in the center of the light lens. To make it easier you could file the lens down so its flat instead of curved, this might make it easier to find the center.

Installing LED Lights-cage1.jpg

Installing LED Lights-cage2.jpg

Next grab a small drill bit. The size doesn't matter very much; I used a 1mm bit. Use the small hole you made to center the bit and drill down a few mm.

Installing LED Lights-cage3.jpg

If the hole is not centered, you can angle the bit and drill some more to center it.

Installing LED Lights-cage4.jpg

Now grab the 3mm bit and do the same thing, use the small hole as a guide and drill right through. You can use a power drill here if you want, I used a T handle that normally holds a tap (as in tapping a threaded hole) there much less chance of damaging anything.

Installing LED Lights-cage6.jpg

Installing LED Lights-cage7.jpg

Installing LED Lights-cage8.jpg

Now grab a file and rub down the plastic light lens until its flush with the surrounding. This is so the tip of the LEDs stick out.

Installing LED Lights-cage10.jpg

Installing LED Lights-cage11.jpg

You might need to flare the holes out a bit. Just put the drill bit in and work it around a bit. The LEDs should be a tight fit in the hole so you don't need glue. The 2 inner ones are a bit tricky to get in. Use pointy nose pliers, and be careful not to break the LED.

Installing LED Lights-cage12.jpg

When you put them in pay attention to the 2 wires coming out of the LED, one will be longer than the other; the longer one is the positive wire. Install the LEDs so all the positives are on the same side. This makes it easier to get the polarity right when you connect them.

Once they're in connect the + to + and the - to -

Installing LED Lights-cage13.jpg

Installing LED Lights-cage14.jpg

Now put some solder on these; be quick so you don't burn out the LED. You can have them shorter than this but it increases your chances of cooking the LED.

Attach some wires: one pair approximately 10 inches long, the other around 5 inches.

Installing LED Lights-cage15.jpg

Slide some heat shrink tubing over the wires, you need 2 bits that extend to the bottom end of the roof rack.

Installing LED Lights-cage16.jpg
Attached Thumbnails
Installing LED Lights-cage1.jpg   Installing LED Lights-cage2.jpg   Installing LED Lights-cage3.jpg   Installing LED Lights-cage4.jpg   Installing LED Lights-cage5.jpg  

Installing LED Lights-cage6.jpg   Installing LED Lights-cage7.jpg   Installing LED Lights-cage8.jpg   Installing LED Lights-cage9.jpg   Installing LED Lights-cage10.jpg  

Installing LED Lights-cage11.jpg   Installing LED Lights-cage12.jpg   Installing LED Lights-cage13.jpg   Installing LED Lights-cage14.jpg   Installing LED Lights-cage15.jpg  

Installing LED Lights-cage16.jpg  

Last edited by Superquad7; 08-22-2009 at 02:06 AM..
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Old 08-07-2009, 11:24 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 422
Location: Australia

Put the roof rack aside and grab Ratchet.

Spin his head around 180 degrees and remove the phillips head screw. The back half of the head will now come away. Pry gently with an exact blade if it doesn't. Remove the light piping. It slides out of the back of the head.

Grab the black paint and paint the inside of the head.

Installing LED Lights-head2.jpg

Drill a 3mm hole in the back of the light piping, and angle it so the led shines directly on the eyes.

Installing LED Lights-head3.jpg

Now grab Ratchet, and remove the 3 screws around where his head was.

Installing LED Lights-head1.jpg

The torso will now come away from the legs and lower body. Put the legs aside. If your Ratchet has a razor sharp weapon of death on his arm, now would be a good time to remove it.

Installing LED Lights-body1.jpg

Put a small flathead screwdriver under the bar and twist gently. It pops off easily. There is also a bit behind the center light that sits in a hole. Use the screwdriver again if you need to.

Installing LED Lights-body2.jpg

We now need to remove some plastic to give clearance behind the 2 big headlights. I used a hobby saw blade.

Installing LED Lights-body3.jpg

Installing LED Lights-body4.jpg

Installing LED Lights-body5.jpg

Now grab the front grille piece.

Using the Exacto and drill method from before, cut out the 2 holes in the lights. This time, finish with a 5mm bit instead of the 3mm.

Installing LED Lights-grill1.jpg

We also need to remove a bit more plastic behind the holes

Installing LED Lights-grill2.jpg

Now grab the bar piece and drill out the 3 lights to 3mm. There is a post behind the center light, you need to shave down one side (Exacto) to give clearance for the ridge on the end of the LED.

Installing LED Lights-bar2.jpg

Insert the LEDs with all the positive wires on the top:

Installing LED Lights-bar3.jpg

Now hold the bar in position over the grille and take note of the area directly behind the LEDs. We need to put some holes here for the LED wires to go through. You need angle the holes up so they emerge on the backside of the bumper bar. I used a 3mm bit.

Installing LED Lights-bar4.jpg

If you want insulation on the LED wires do it now, I didn't bother.

Grab the bar and angle the wires the same way as the holes in the grille. Put the wires through the holes and push the 2 parts together.

Installing LED Lights-bar5.jpg

Insert the 2 5mm LEDs into the holes.

Installing LED Lights-bar7.jpg

Join the wires from the 3 small LEDs together, and join the ones from the 5mm LEDs together. The wires from the 3 small lights need to be as far forward as possible (assuming he's in robot mode).

Installing LED Lights-bar8.jpg
Attached Thumbnails
Installing LED Lights-head1.jpg   Installing LED Lights-head2.jpg   Installing LED Lights-head3.jpg   Installing LED Lights-body1.jpg   Installing LED Lights-body2.jpg  

Installing LED Lights-body3.jpg   Installing LED Lights-body4.jpg   Installing LED Lights-body5.jpg   Installing LED Lights-grill1.jpg   Installing LED Lights-grill2.jpg  

Installing LED Lights-bar1.jpg   Installing LED Lights-bar2.jpg   Installing LED Lights-bar3.jpg   Installing LED Lights-bar4.jpg   Installing LED Lights-bar5.jpg  

Installing LED Lights-bar6.jpg   Installing LED Lights-bar7.jpg   Installing LED Lights-bar8.jpg  

Last edited by Superquad7; 08-22-2009 at 01:55 AM..
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Old 08-07-2009, 11:25 AM   #3
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Put some wires in there to join the 2 lots of LEDs together.

Installing LED Lights-bar9.jpg

We need to remove some plastic from the front bottom edge of this bit to give clearance around the led wires when it goes together. Go right along the front and about 5mm down the sides. If this presses on the LED wires, it will short the system out. If you used insulation on the wires you don't need to worry.

Installing LED Lights-100_2641.jpg

Drill a hole in his back big enough for the 2 wires.

Installing LED Lights-int2.jpg

Add 2 more wires around 8 inches long to the LEDs.
You can now put the grille and bar assembly back onto the chest. Pop the 2 pins into the holes on his bonnet. Check all wire routing.

Installing LED Lights-int1.jpg

Grab his legs and drill a hole next to the rear screw hole behind his head. Drill it from underneath so you don't damage the screw hole.

Installing LED Lights-int3.jpg

Grab your blue LED and attach some wires to it, around 3 inches long.

Put the back half of the head in place and note the distance from the hole you just drilled and the hole in the back of his light piping. Cut 2 pieces of heat shrink to suit and put them over the wires. Poke the wires through the hole.

Installing LED Lights-int4.jpg

Grab the chest piece. Find the last 2 wires you joined to the chest LEDs. We need to put a few layers of heat shrink on them. The pieces only need to be 5 or 6mm long, so stack them until they are bigger diameter than the hole in his back. Position them so that when they are threaded through the hole they hit the back before the wire pulls tight. Thread the wire through the hole.

Installing LED Lights-int5.jpg

The wires from the head LED need to be joined to the others. This can be tricky as you need to position the chest in its place but its not anchored. The longer wires you have on the head LED means the more room you'll have to work, but you'll also have more wire to hide.

Installing LED Lights-int6.jpg

You can now put him back together. Make sure there's clearance for the wires along the front. Insert the 3 screws, and put the head back on and insert the screw.

Installing LED Lights-int7.jpg

You should have about 2 inches of wire sticking out for the head LED. Put the LED in the hole at the back of his head, and push the excess wire back into the hole.

Installing LED Lights-back2.jpg
Attached Thumbnails
Installing LED Lights-bar9.jpg   Installing LED Lights-int1.jpg   Installing LED Lights-int2.jpg   Installing LED Lights-int3.jpg   Installing LED Lights-int4.jpg  

Installing LED Lights-int5.jpg   Installing LED Lights-int6.jpg   Installing LED Lights-int7.jpg   Installing LED Lights-100_2641.jpg   Installing LED Lights-back2.jpg  

Installing LED Lights-back3.jpg  

Last edited by Superquad7; 08-22-2009 at 01:57 AM..
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Old 08-07-2009, 11:25 AM   #4
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I painted over the outside of the light piping at the back to block the light from coming out the back of his head. I also painted the backside of the LED. It's easier to do this last with the LEDs on so you can see where the paint needs to be.

Put his roof rack back on.

Connect the wires from both sides of his rack. You can use heatshrink to make it look sort of like another black bar on the rack. I ran out of heatshrink, so I've left some excess wire on one side to allow for a cut and rejoin.

Join the 2 wires coming out of his back to the wires on his roof rack.

Installing LED Lights-back3.jpg

I used a 2 x AA battery pack to power him so I used a small circuit board plug. I have matching sockets on the display shelf so multiple figures can be plugged in and switched from a single battery pack hidden under the shelf.

The LED pro program says he should run for 5hrs 55min on Duracell ultras before the LEDs dim.

Installing LED Lights-batt.jpg

You can use a small 3v watch battery mounted on his back or even inside him if you don't like the battery pack idea. You can also use a 3v plug pack to power him from the mains.

That's it! We're finished (assuming it all works). If it doesn't work, it's probably a short along the front of his chest. Pry the positive and negative wires apart with a flathead screwdriver hopefully you wont have to disassemble him.

This is what he should look like:

Installing LED Lights-finished1.jpg

Installing LED Lights-100_2664.jpg

Installing LED Lights-100_2662.jpg

Installing LED Lights-finished3.jpg

[Though I don't transform mine] If you would like to retain the transformation just add some of the small PCB plugs so the roof rack can be detached, or it might even transform without the plugs.

If you look down on him from the top you can see the wires in the front of the chest. If this bugs you, just find a scrap of plastic and cut it to size and stick it in there to hide the wires. The same can be done on the roof rack.

If you can do the LEDs on this guy, you wont have trouble with any of the other figures; he's the hardest I've done so far.


[In response to the question: "Is there a way to not have a huge battery pack sticking out?"]

Originally Posted by big hank
Yes there is. You could use any 3volt or greater power source that can fit into your figure if you want an integrated power pack. I do pretty much all mine with watch batteries hidden in the figure, [which] allows [for] transforming and having [the] lights on in alt modes.

Hakka prefers to display them in his Home Theater primarily in bot mode, so this actually makes more sense, given his needs.

The AA battery pack will have much more milliamp per hour output, allowing him to drive more figures for a longer period than if he had installed watch batteries.

If Hakka were to replace the plugs with barrel connectors, he could even run his LED packed Transformers with a DC wall adapter!

Thanks for the tutorial! This is a great Ratchet-specific step by step follow along. I'll for sure be referencing it when I get around to my Ratchet!
Its easy to do, but hank pointed out my reasons for using the AAs. On Ratchet you can put it inside his chest with a switch on the back.

When he's on display, the wiring loom is hidden on the underside of the shelf. I plug him straight into the pack when he's in the photo box.

My Prime has 20 LEDs. I don't think he'd last long on a watch battery

Attached Thumbnails
Installing LED Lights-back3.jpg   Installing LED Lights-batt.jpg   Installing LED Lights-finished1.jpg   Installing LED Lights-finished3.jpg   Installing LED Lights-100_2662.jpg  

Installing LED Lights-100_2664.jpg  

Last edited by Superquad7; 08-22-2009 at 02:04 AM..
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