Mounting LEDs

Before mounting the LEDs behind the monitor, run the software with the LEDs loose on your desk to confirm that everything works. This will save time and heartache in the rare event that a strand has a defect and needs replacing.
Our goal is to install the LEDs behind the screen, projecting light back and outward around the perimeter, illuminating the wall behind.

Every TV and monitor is different, and exactly how and where to best mount the LEDs is more craft than engineering. This is where the “maker ingenuity” comes into play!

While some of our customers have fabricated amazing metal frames and laser-cut acrylic mounting plates, the tools and materials really don’t need to be that advanced. To prove this, our sample setup uses nothing more than cardboard and tape! You can keep it simple or take it as far as your personal skill set allows. It’s not rocket science!

Here we’ve fashioned an LED holder using illustration board from the nearby art supply store. Our template is sized to match the back of the monitor, and a notch has been cut out at the bottom center to accommodate the monitor stand:

Next, calculate the spacing for a ring of 25 LEDs. For this monitor, it worked out nicely as a 9x6 rectangle, roughly 2" spacing, with a one pixel gap at the bottom where the monitor stand protrudes. Perfect!

Notice how the LEDs are spaced along a grid: there’s an equal number along the right and left sides, and (except for the gap for the monitor stand) equal spacing along the top and bottom. As mentioned in a prior page, the software may need to be adjusted for the number of LEDs across and down, if your template is different than this.

When designing your LED holder, make sure it doesn’t block any air vents on the monitor or computer.
Our monitor has holes for a VESA wall bracket that’s not being used, so holes were punched to match, and the template can be held in place with screws. But it doesn’t need to be that sophisticated — don’t feel bad just using tape or something. In fact, that’s exactly how we held the LEDs in place:

The first LED was attached at the center bottom, just to the left of the monitor stand, and then the rest were positioned in order around the perimeter, ending just to the right of the stand.

Once the LEDs are situated, the Arduino can be placed (double-stick foam tape works nicely) and wired in. Connect a USB cable between the Arduino and computer, and a compatible 5 Volt supply to the LED power connector. The mass of wires and tape may look chaotic from this side, but once the monitor is set up close to a wall, nobody will see it.

(Your wiring will look a little bit different — this is our old prototype, which had different wire colors and no convenient plugs on the ends.)

Other Mounting Ideas

Cable ties work well with pixels on their side. Holes can be made using an awl, or you can make very clean holes using a leatherworking punch.
LED pixels can be press-fit into holes drilled through metal, wood or plastic. Holes 11 to 12 millimeters in diameter seem about right — experiment on a piece of scrap material first, find a size that gives a firm but not damaging grip.
Forum user “Wackid” made this stunning 100 LED Adalight frame using aluminum U-track with drilled holes carefully spaced around the perimeter. Extreeeeme!
Last updated on 2015-05-04 at 04.27.56 PM Published on 2012-07-29 at 11.58.37 AM