While there are a number of ways to ‘connect’ the fiber to an LED, here we will share with you one method that works VERY well. However, this is NOT the only method.
First ~ In understanding this method, it might be helpful to broaden the definition of “connecting the filament” to “directing or guiding the filament”.
Welcome to the world of Heat Shrink Tubing! HST is primarily used for electrical applications. As it’s name implies: when heat is applied to HST, it shrinks or constricts, tightening up and securing the connection.
Here are the basic steps:
- Gather the fibers / cable that you would like to illuminate.
- Place the fibers in the HST.
- Place the LED illuminator in the other side.
- Apply heat to shrink the HST around the connection.
- The HST will ‘shrink’ up, tightening the connection.
- Note: Once you shrink HST it, it can NOT be un-shrunk.
Here are three different examples. The top LED is a 5mm LED that we will connect to a group of loose fiber optic filaments. In the middle example we connect a 32 strand cable to a 3mm LED. The bottom a 2mm LED that will be connected to the 64 strand cable.
After you’ve guided the filaments or cable into the HST, you’ll need to apply heat to shrink the tubing. While some use a heat gun, we use a candle. Here are a few tips, and any time you work with an open flame, please be careful!
- Wave’ the HST over the flame using a side to side motion.
- DO NOT allow the HST to touch the flame!
- DO NOT stop the HST over the flame… keep it moving!
- Extend the HST beyond the base of the LED, this will give you a better “seal” after it shrinks and further protects the LED.
- Keep the ‘space’ between the Fibers/Cable to a minimum. If there is too much space, and it should shrink or bend, this will prevent the light from making it to the fibers.
- Keep the HST moving… especially when shrinking the fiber side. You do not want to melt the fibers! (The HST will shrink BEFORE you melt the fibers, the key is: KEEP IT MOVING!)
- Sometimes it helps to wrap a piece if tape around the fibers and the HST AFTER you’ve shrunk the HST. This will help hold the fibers in place.
HAPPY (and safe) SHRINKING!
Special thanks to Kevin Kelly for contributing the photo’s. Kevin also contributed the Leader’s Nose Project.