wire the lights and power


Wiring the lights is usually pretty simple. I say “usually” because most people need only one or two strings of lights. If you’re one of those people, follow the directions immediately below to learn how to harvest the cable ends from the roll of lights, then skip ahead to the section that covers connecting the lights to a controller.
Harvesting the manufacturer’s cable ends from a roll of lights will be done in one of two ways, depending on whether you need one string of lights or two.

  • If you need only one string of lights, slide the cable sleeve down the cable to retain the maximum amount of wire, then remove the manufacturer’s dupont connectors with wire cutters.
  • If you need two strings of lights, cut the light string in the middle, along one of the designated cut/solder points, then repeat the step above at both ends of the cable.
Soldering wires to light strips will be necessary if you have more than two strips of lights, or if you have already harvested the manufacturer’s cable ends.  There is a really good Instructable on that topic already, so I am going to defer to it. But before I do, there are a few notes I’d like you to keep in mind while looking at those instructions:

  1. Once you’re done soldering to the strip, use an ohmmeter to verify that you did not accidentally connect adjacent pads. Just touch the ohmmeter leads to the first and the second soldered pads to verify that there is no continuity between them, then the second and third, the third and fourth… It’s easy to miss (not see) a stray strand of wire, and it only takes a few seconds to verify that something bad didn’t happen.
  2. Pay special attention to his wiring because he appears to have the colors messed up. What’s actually “wrong” is that his light strip has its leads in a different order than what is typical, but the 5-strand wire is normal. He’s also got a 24V version of these lights, which I’ve never used or purchased.
  3. Highly recommended: Instead of using heat shrink tubing to secure the connection (near the end of the Instructable), use Liquid Tape. (Amazon link) Your connections will have significantly better isolation and will be much more secure. I included pictures, but in case you haven’t used Liquid Tape before, the process is pretty simple:
    1. “Glob” it onto your bare solder points and allow it to soak into all of the crevices. Keep something disposable (a paper bag, last week’s newspaper, a rag, etc.) underneath it. Apply a thick coat. It’s OK for a little to drip off of it. That’s why something disposable is beneath it. Make sure everything that was soldered is completely covered and is not visible, even a little bit. Put it on thick. It won’t stay that way.
    2. Allow it to dry for at least 3-4 hours. As it dries, it will shrink, and it will form tightly around your wires. This is good! Your solder points are literally being glued into place, and a layer of rubber(-ish substance) is isolating every place the liquid was able to seep in. Nothing but an intentional or violent act or could sever the connections or cause a short circuit.
    3. After the 3-4 hours have passed, add a second coat and allow it to dry. This coat can be much more thin. It doesn’t need to seep into anything – it’s just sealing and securing the first layer. After the second layer has dried, it’s ready to use.

With all that out of the way, here’s the link (Link to Instructable)

Connect the lights to your controller. Now that wires are coming from your light strips, connect them to the appropriate leads on the 5 pole screw-down terminals. If you purchased our manufactured PCB, they are labeled for you. If not, from top to bottom, they are in this order: white, blue, red, green, black (power). Tip: It’s much easier to manage wires in screw-down terminals if you tin the wires beforehand. If you are unfamiliar with tinning, you can read about it here.

Connect power to your controller. Connect the leads from your 12V or 24V power supply to the screw-down terminal block that is on the left side of the PCB. The positive lead is closest to the voltage regulator, and the negative lead is closest to the outside edge of the PCB. Again, these are labeled on the manufactured PCB.