case mod 101: LED swap

This walkthrough will show you how to replace a dim case LED with a super bright LED (or any other kind of LED you like). It’s not difficult, and you don’t even need to use a resistor–just drop the new LED in. But this guide will show you how to get a professional looking insallation.

The first step is to cut the old LED off so we can reuse the pin headers and wires. I don’t show how to cut it off, but I bet you can find a way to get it done. So to get started, we have our reclaimed wire harness, and a new bright blue LED. Before you make your connections, put some heat shrink tubing onto the leads. You’ll want to cover up the solder joints you’ll make.

wire and new LED
the old wire and the new LED

It helps tremendously to have your work supported while you solder. So I like to use these “helping hands” to hold the work while I hold the solder and the iron with my hands. In a pinch you could also tape the work down to a piece of scrap plywood.

helping hands
helping hands really help

The leads on the LED are too long, so we need to cut them shorter. But rememebr that LEDs have polarity–usually the negative terminal (cathode) is marked by the flat side of the case. Pick a leg to start with, and get a couple of turns of wire wrapped around it. This is where the helping hands really pay off–keeping everything together without them can be a trick.

ready to solder
wire is wound on, and ready to be soldered permanently

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