I have almost completed the process for adding LED strip lighting to the underside of a table. Along the way we have learned how to make use of LED strip light L sections, how to mount, measure, cut and solder LED strip lights and how to make the lighting portable with a 12V battery pack. Now, for the final step: how to check for connection problems and desolder when needed.
There were several opportunities to check for connections issues throughout the process. The first opportunity was when I mounted the LED strips and soldered the connections. Once I soldered all of the connections, I plugged in the 12V battery pack, and looked for any length of strip that wouldn’t power on. Luckily I did not run into any initial issues.
There was more work to be done after mounting the LED strip, so still room for error. Soldering points can sometimes easily separate, or experience a short once things have been moved around a bit. A short is a problem I sometimes run into when soldering. The LED strip lights, and there connectors are somewhat close together, as seen in the image below.
A short is simply an electrical circuit that allows a current to travel along an unintended path. In the case of the LED strips, a short can occur if the solder for each connection is touching. After I used the table once, and moved it around a bit, I started to notice some flickering issues. I flipped the table, and double-checked the connections. This is what I found to be the issue.
As you can see in the image, the solder points are touching. I somehow overlooked this issue initially, mostly because the LED strip lights were powering up at the time. At some point, pressure must have been applied to the strip, pushing the two soldering points closer together.
So now that I have identified the issue, I can desolder the connection and start over with a cleaner, better soldering job. You will need a desoldering pump, which looks like this:
This is a great tool to have. A lot of people call it a solder sucker, which is exactly what it does. You simply melt the existing solder with your soldering iron, and as it melts, you press the trigger on the desoldering pump, which creates suction and pulls the excess solder off of the board/connections.
After you clean the excess solder away, you should be left with something like this:
There is no longer solder running between the connections and causing a short. Simply resolder and check the connections one last time.
And there you have it. A complete, underlit table project from start to finish. I hope this has been helpful for you DIYers, and LEDIYers. I look forward to walking you through my next, somewhat more advanced project. In the mean time, here are some images of the finished project for you to enjoy.