View Full Version : Inexpensive LED Lighting w/ Strobe effect

RJ Productions
04-09-2010, 12:51 PM
OK Everyone's back from TW where you all had Halloween OVERLOAD...

Time to get back to creativity...

I'm working on a project and utilizing LED lighting throughout.

I was at Harbor Freight and ran across a 12 volt LED spotlight for car use.

When I plugged it into a transformer it didn't light. (no self respecting Haunter ever READS the directions!!!)
There is a switch on the base under the magnetic holder. The packaging states it has rapid, interval or constant beam! BONUS!!!
Hit the push button and it's a fast strobe, second push gets you a slow strobe, third push for constant light!!
Only drawback is that with a loss of power it returns to the off position so you would have to cycle through it you want constant light.

Unit has 17 LEDs, it's own housing and a 6'9'' cord. All this for about $5.00!!!!

Here's a challenge...anyone that is a bit more electronically adept, (and has a little more time) how about a quick method to bypass the switch so it stays either strobing or constant??

Here's the link in case you don't have a Harbor Freight nearby:

I like the little spotlights that are now available, but these can easily adapt for areas where you need a larger light wash.

Let's be creative!! Any other cool ideas out there??

Back to work...

damon carson
04-09-2010, 01:28 PM
Where is it that you switch it from strobing or constant? On the back on the cord what? How big is this thing? Is the magnet at the very top I take it? If I cant figure it out I know someone who can. Harbor Freight is a hardware store right. I think they have one close to me. As a matter of fact they do. Just give me the details. I will get back to you on this.

RJ Productions
04-09-2010, 06:44 PM
It's actually a cool little item!
It's about 2 1/2 in. across,
3 in. end to end with the base folded.

The Magnetic base piece is folded out in the picture,
if you fold it closed it covers the button which is on the back of the light.
The cord actually rolls up into the unit!
You spin the lens on the front and it rolls the cord into it!

The magnet is a ring so you could screw right through the base and anchor the unit
and be able to adjust the angle of the light. (See the flipped picture below)

I haven't opened it up yet, it might just be as simple as by-passing the switch..

$5.00 for a single wash light is a good deal,
$5.00 for a STROBING LED fixture???? Outstanding!!

RJ Productions
04-09-2010, 10:21 PM
played a little with it tonight,
opened it up and by soldering across
the wires coming in from the button
it stays in a fast strobe mode.

Remove and return power and it stays in the strobe mode.

Good if you want to use them as LED strobe lights.

So if anyone is more electronically gifted I like to be able
to place them in a constant ON status.

Good luck,


04-10-2010, 06:55 AM
Im going to have to pick one of these up and play with it. Does it only have the lighter adapter? Harbor Freight is amazing. Always see their ads but never really looked at the store...its like a haunters toy store, and all SUPER cheap. Thanks to Allan H for recommending I check em out!

On a side note of this, does anyone know if any of the LED suppliers make or if there is an easy way to get the compact LEDS such as Darklight, EFX, or Mini Spotlights to strobe (fast), chase, etc...?

Also from anyone's experience, how well do the UV ones work for something like a 3D house?


Mike "Pogo" Hach

04-10-2010, 09:29 AM
Also from anyone's experience, how well do the UV ones work for something like a 3D house?

Mike "Pogo" Hach

As soon as orders come in from TW, I'll be experimenting with UV lights from a couple different vendors so that I can evaluate if they will be as good in practice as they are in theory.

RJ Productions
04-10-2010, 10:37 AM
I am always a supporter of Haunt Vendors. Without their input and creativity our industry stagnates!! We get into a discussion of "build it or buy it?" where I have always stated there are things you build and then things you buy. Especially when there is risk factors in play.

There are now a couple of LED lighting suppliers. They average about $11.00 a mini spot light.
Not a bad price, just adds up quick since you'll probably need 50 plus lights!

The "build it" angle for lights has a learning curve as well as it's just tedious!! I for one would not know that first you have to solder in a resistor, then which resistor, then which leg to solder it to!! The housings for the lights are small, I have big hands...so sometimes it's better to buy them and get "plug & play" capibilities.

However, something like this find is an item that is not currently offered. Based on a single light cost, a vendor selling you a 17 LED STROBING fixture would have to start at $50.00-$75.00 !! So adapting these $5.00 lights is a HUGE savings.

IF you want to experiement with your own LED lighting you can get them fairly cheap in bulk, but again you then have to get the right resistor and solder it correctly.

I did find a source that supplies pre-wired LEDs. More expensive than bulk, but ready to go and you can buy them one at a time instead of 100 (I wouldn't suggest it with shipping costs!!) I orderd a few myself just to play.

It's Golden Gadgets: http://www.goldengadgets.com/led-lights/led-light-bulbs/do-it-yourself-led-bulbs.html

But for our Strobing LED fixture, we need one of our "Electronic Guru's" to figure out a hack so we can keep these Harbor Freight units in a selected mode or we're stuck walking through the haunt and turning each light on individually!!!!

04-10-2010, 11:25 AM
As soon as orders come in from TW, I'll be experimenting with UV lights from a couple different vendors so that I can evaluate if they will be as good in practice as they are in theory.

Let us know your findings...i liked the way they (mini leds) all looked, especially their size and general practicality. However it is hard to see them in a 100% in a practical setting at the show, especially when every attraction is a little different. They are set up there to sell and show in optimal settings to show their ability, not necessarily your setting. Especially for 3D it would be so much nicer to be able to have smaller directional lights for certain scenes as opposed to wash with the flourescents as long as the glow was still the same. Its still a haunt and I think should still have some nice dark shadows as opposed to being entirely bright.

Strobing lights can also be nice. The flourescent strobes are ok, but not as nice as something like a rapid LED could probably do...just a matter of if the spectrum is the same for the glow as incandescent definitely do not work as good as flourescents.

Mike "Pogo" Hach

RJ Productions
04-15-2010, 12:23 AM
Anyone hack one yet??? I've bought a couple and soldered the one lead so I have mini LED strobes, but having a constant wash light for $5.00 would be nice!!

damon carson
04-18-2010, 09:09 AM
Im wanting to go to Harbor Freight sometime this week. Im gonna pick a few up and let you know what luck I have with them. They sound pretty cool.

04-19-2010, 12:44 PM
Anyone hack one yet??? I've bought a couple and soldered the one lead so I have mini LED strobes, but having a constant wash light for $5.00 would be nice!!

Is there anyway you can take a couple upclose pictures of the PCB (electronic board) showing me all the components and traces. If there is a way to hack it, I'm sure I can do it. I do have bachelors in electronics and used to design boards before my current job. I am at work in Brazil and wouldn't be anywhere near a harbor freight until mid May.

RJ Productions
04-26-2010, 08:47 PM
Hey VSneader2,
having uploading files to the message board,
email me and I'll send them directly:


RJ Productions
04-27-2010, 02:52 AM
I'll post a couple pics of the LED light .
First there is the unit showing the button.
Now I've opened up the unit.
Second pic shows the front with the LEDS show the circuit.

Next post will show the back side of the board.

RJ Productions
04-27-2010, 03:02 AM
Now here's the back of the board.

I've moved the wires to the sides in pic 2 & 3 to see all of the circuit board.

The Red & Black wires come from the button.
The two black together are from the power source.

Again, if you push the button once it goes to fast strobe, press a second time and it's a slower strobe, press a third time and it goes to steady on.

If you solder across the red & black, the light stays on quick strobe.

It would be great to be able to have it stay on constant.

Good luck!!

04-27-2010, 04:13 AM
That should give me enough to work on. give me a few days and i will see what i can do.

04-27-2010, 05:32 AM
Is there anyway you can tell me what is on the front of the small 3 legged IC chip I think I know what it is but the writing on the front of it will tell me for sure. I have the schematic of the pcb drawn out the best I can (not sure what IC chip is under the black dot) But I should be able to come up with a way to fix. just need the writing on the IC chip. Thanks

04-27-2010, 12:57 PM
Ok here goes, should be really easy to do. I would do option # 1 first to make sure it works, it should. It is a little harder as you have to unsolder and resolder but it prevents any damage to the board should it not work. (not sure why it wouldn't)

Option # 1 - see picture Front-1 modified

Unsolder the end of the resistor designated by Point # 2. Solder a jumper wire to the now unsoldered end of that resistor. Solder the other end of the jumper wire to either spot designated by Point # 1. Power up and all LED's should be on.

Option # 2 - see picture Back-2 modified

Cut the trace as shown in the picture (just need to remove at most 1/8"). Solder a jumper wire between points # 1 and # 2. Power up and all LED's should be on.

The push button will not do anything to the LED's once this modification has been done.

Please let me know if this works

RJ Productions
04-27-2010, 10:18 PM
Works great!! I did Option #2!!

Thanks Chad!!!