simple and cheap dark detecting led

Posted on Feb 5, 2014

How do you make an LED turn on when it gets dark. You might call it the `nightlight problem, ` but the same sort of question comes up in a lot of familiar situations- emergency lights, street lights, silly computer keyboard backlights, and the list goes on. Solutions Lots. The time-honored tradition is to use a circuit

simple and cheap dark detecting led
Click here to download the full size of the above Circuit.

with a CdS photoresistor, sometimes called a photocell or LDR, for "light-dependent resistor. " (Circuit Example 1, Example 2. ) Photoresistors are reliable and cost about $1 each, but are going away because they contain cadmium, a toxic heavy metal whose use is increasingly regulated. There are many other solutions as well. Look here for some op-amp based photodetector circuits with LED output, and check out some of the tricks used in well-designed solar garden lights, which include gems like using the solar cell itself as the sensor. (Our own solar circuit collection is here. ) In this article we show how to build a very simple- perhaps even the simplest- darkness-activated LED circuit. To our LED and battery we add just three components, which cost less than thirty cents altogether (and much less if you buy in bulk). You can build it in less than five minutes or less (much less with practice). What can you do with such an inexpensive light-controlled LED circuit Almost anything really. But, one fun application is to make LED throwies that turn themselves off in the daytime to save power. Throwies normally can last up to two weeks. Adding a light-level switch like this can significantly extend their lifetime. Here are our components: On top: a CR2032 lithium coin cell (3 V). On the bottom (L-R): the LED, an LTR-4206E phototransistor, a 2N3904 transistor, and a 1 k resistor. This LED is red, blindingly bright at 60...

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