Electronic Components: LEDs
LEDs (light emitting diodes) are ridiculously commonplace now, but this wasn’t always the case. There was a point in time when LEDs were much less common and they cost around $260 each! The story of LEDs goes back to the discovery of electroluminescence, electricity creating light as a byproduct, in 1907 and by 1927 the first LED was reportedly created in 1927 by Oleg Losev. It wasn’t until the early 1960s though that Nick Holonyak created the first LED that emitted visible light and by the late 60s Monsanto was the first to mass produce them to use as indicators. LEDs later grew beyond just red colors to include yellow and later blue and this was attained by changing up some of the chemicals in the LED and/or through different alloys in the semiconductors.
For many, many years, LEDs primarily were used in displays and as indicator lights. Many electronics kits used them to give a visible cue that the circuit was working or they acted as a display. Upon being mass produced, LEDs became incredibly cheap, but their uses still seemed somewhat limited by their low light output. Years of research and improvements led to the development of super bright LEDs by Shuji Nakamura in the 1990s. The super bright light was attained by using new alloys in the construction of the semiconductors that made up LEDs. Adding to this fluorescent phosphors, white light was able to be created. This of course paved the way for LED lightbulbs to start replacing traditionally incandescent bulbs.
Once the technology of LEDs became good enough to match the brightness of a lightbulb, they began to largely replace traditional lightbulbs. While the initial investment of buying an LED bulb seems high, they tend to pay off in the long run. A typical LED lightbulb should last upwards around 20 years, and the cost to use them is considerably less than that of incandescent bulbs as they consume less power. As a bonus, LEDs generate little to no heat, so very little energy goes to waste. If you’re thinking about replacing your lightbulb with an LED bulb, it may seem confusing at first as the LED bulb may display 100W or more. At first glance, you won’t want to use this bulb in a normal 60W light, however, the tricky part is that the LED bulb generates 100W worth of light while using less wattage than a traditional 60W bulb. While it is important to be safe and ensure you’re not putting the wrong bulb into the wrong light fixture, most LED bulbs will use less power than the fixture is designed for. Replacing your lightbulbs with LED lightbulbs will be an ongoing and long term investment that eventually adds up. If you’re looking to update to LED bulbs, this guide can help you find the right type of LED bulb for the best secondary effects such as different types of lights for mood and sleep purposes.
In addition to more environmentally and economical lighting and use in various electronics kits, LEDs can also be used in small, jury-rigged circuits to spice up dioramas and miniatures. With a small power source, a basic circuit and well-placed LEDs, you can really spice up your displays as well as your Warhammer and D&D miniature games. While doing this with really tiny gaming miniatures might be a challenge, it’s quite a bit easier to manage scenery and dioramas as you have more room to lay the circuit out and a number of different methods can be used for various effects. This site also covers how to use different components to make life easier.
From their inception, LEDs have gone from being an expensive component to being super affordable and they’re used in everything from displays and circuits to miniatures and now replacing lightbulbs. LEDs have had an interesting life since they were invented and it will be interesting to see how they’re used as they become even more affordable and easy to use.