CRACK THE ICE ON YOUR LEDS.
Most standard high brightness LEDs tend to be the lensed type that fire most of their light out in a narrow beam. However, sometimes it's useful to have LEDs with a wider viewing angle like the ones with concave lenses used in Christmas lights. These seem to be quite hard to get, and while the flat and domed "straw hat" LEDs are OK, they don't really project their light in all directions.
This project is very simple and involves modifying existing common LEDs to make their viewing angle wider. To achieve this the end of the lens is carefully chopped off the resin body leaving a cracked ice effect that scatters the light in all directions.
This project involves sharp cutting implements and the ends of LEDs literally ricocheting around your room like bullets, and as such precautions should be taken to protect the eyes of anyone in the room.
This is what we're aimimng for. The LED on the left is an ordinary LED and the one on the right has been cracked giving it a wider viewing angle.
It may not be as obvious in the picture above, but when viewed directly there is a definite increase in side scattered light and a slightly crystal effect as you move the LED.
LEDs are generally comprised of an electrode/reflector and another electrode with a jump wire onto the LED chip itself. The whole lot is encased in resin which is shaped to control the light output.
If you carefully crack the end of the LED off making sure you don't get too close to the LED chip then it will still work properly, but with a different light pattern.
This is what we're aiming for. A clean cut with the chip and it's thin jump wire intact.
I find the best tool for the job is a good quality set of sharp electricians wires cutters. The sharp blade cuts into the resin without skipping off the lens and the beefy handles help apply the pressure required to chop the resin
Note that when you cut the resin the end will shoot off at great velocity and often make a slight whistling noise as it spins through the air in a random direction! Make sure you do this when there is nobody else in the room and wear eye protection if you wish.
Also make sure you hold the leads of the LED so it doesn't disappear into a random part of the room.
A chopped LED will have a shattered-ice type of effect on the end that reflects light in all directions like a faceted crystal.
And that's all there is to it. Once you've chopped the LEDs it's a good idea to test them, and inevitably some might not survive the cracking. Also make sure that internal metal bits like the electrodes and the near invisible gold jump wire to the top of the LED chip are still insulated, especially if using the LEDs in a mains project.
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