High power LEDs (by )

I've got a few 3W RGB LEDs that I've been meaning to play with, so over the Christmas break, I decided to hook 'em up to the bench PSU and have a play.


As I have but one variable bench PSU with current limiting, I could only easily light one LED at a time. I didn't have big enough resistors to build individual LED current regulation circuits - I just set the current limit on my PSU to 0.35A and cranked the voltage up until it maxed out, hooked up to one LED in turn.

They are certainly dazzlingly bright:


Since the green and blue LEDs both have the same forward voltage, I figured I might be able to drive them together by using a pair of resistors as a current splitter, and setting the PSU for 700mA, thus ensuring that 350mA went to each LED.

However, my 0.25W resistors started to smoke when I got to about 400mA, so I shut it off - if one of the resistors burnt out then the entire 400mA would go into the surviving LED, overloading it (until its resistor also burnt out), and possibly making the thing explode. I ended up with a nice pair of burnt-out resistors:

100ohm 0.25W resistors, all burnt out after carrying 200mW each

Which is a shame, because I'd love to see how bright the thing is at maximum, with all three LEDs going!

My lab partner was most impressed, and asked me lots of questions about current and voltage; I had to resist her demands to keep making things, so I could go inside and write this blog post:

Jean enjoys watching me do electronics

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