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#1
Old 08-25-2009, 10:43 PM
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Is there such a thing as tinted tape? (Keeping bright LEDs at bay)

My house is never pitch black unless there's a power outage... because every DVD player, TV, cable box, and wireless adapter has a blasted glowing LED. Some are less obtrusive than others - and the manufacturers, God bless 'em, installed some kind of dimmer - but others glow like the Kenny Rogers sign outside of Jerry Seinfeld's window.

I started thinking - surely there's a more elegant solution than duct tape or sticking a Post-It in front. I thought for sure somebody like 3M would sell some kind of tinted tape that would not completely block the LED, but reduce it. But either it's called something else, my Google-fu sucks, or it doesn't exist, because I sure as hell can't find it.

Anyone know of such a product? Or a good substitute?
#2
Old 08-25-2009, 10:47 PM
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I've used color-tinted cellophane/acetate sheets - you can buy it in rolls found in the gift wrap section, often. I used some clear tape to tack it in place to dim the bright yellow glow from my alarm clock's screen.

Last edited by Ferret Herder; 08-25-2009 at 10:48 PM.
#3
Old 08-25-2009, 11:43 PM
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I've used ordinary masking tape on some of my worst offenders. And some of the damned things were almost too bright, even then! (It's always the BLUE ones!)

The problem with ordinary color filters (like theatrical gels for lighting) is that they pass way too much light, and you'd have to use too many layers to have a significant effect.

If you want to get fiddly about it, try using black electrical tape, with a small hole cut in a key spot to let just a little light out.
#4
Old 08-25-2009, 11:49 PM
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I use colored electrical tape. It comes in Red, Blue, Yellow, Brown, Orange, Green, White and probably more.

Cut a small piece and stretch it over the Led.

you can vary the amount of light by how tightly you stretch the tape.
#5
Old 08-26-2009, 12:29 AM
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I once had a Netgear router where, on the top, there was a circle of blue LEDs. There were maybe 10 of them in this circle, and they would perform a kind of spinning animation that looked pretty cool on my bedroom desk.

Until I turned out the lights and tried to sleep.

They were so bright they lit up the entire room with a pulsating blue light. I mean, really, lit up the room. It was like daylight, blue, spinning daylight. It was like an alien spacecraft had landed in my room and was in a holding pattern.

I had to cover that thing with a ton of electrical tape.

My previous hdtv in my room had a genius feature where the name glowed bright white when the TV was off. Had to cover that with electrical tape as well. It was about 40% too bright.

Now I've got a printer on my desk where the power button is a 2 square inch glowing blue square. I have to cover it with a towel.

And I have an external hard drive that has an array of lights that pulsate when the drive is being accessed, which is all the time.

Don't electronics makers consider that some of this stuff might be going into rooms where people are trying to sleep?

Someone really should invent tinted tape, if they haven't already. It wouldn't be too difficult. Take clear tape, add some black to the plastic batch, bingo bango.
#6
Old 08-26-2009, 12:38 AM
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I have this same problem too and was just thinking about buying some do-it-yourself car tinting stuff. Would that work? I was thinking something like this: http://store.diyhut.com/20rotibyfo.html
#7
Old 08-26-2009, 05:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wierdaaron View Post
I once had a Netgear router where, on the top, there was a circle of blue LEDs. There were maybe 10 of them in this circle, and they would perform a kind of spinning animation that looked pretty cool on my bedroom desk.

Until I turned out the lights and tried to sleep.

They were so bright they lit up the entire room with a pulsating blue light. I mean, really, lit up the room. It was like daylight, blue, spinning daylight. It was like an alien spacecraft had landed in my room and was in a holding pattern.

I had to cover that thing with a ton of electrical tape.

My previous hdtv in my room had a genius feature where the name glowed bright white when the TV was off. Had to cover that with electrical tape as well. It was about 40% too bright.

Now I've got a printer on my desk where the power button is a 2 square inch glowing blue square. I have to cover it with a towel.

And I have an external hard drive that has an array of lights that pulsate when the drive is being accessed, which is all the time.

Don't electronics makers consider that some of this stuff might be going into rooms where people are trying to sleep?

Someone really should invent tinted tape, if they haven't already. It wouldn't be too difficult. Take clear tape, add some black to the plastic batch, bingo bango.
Great post!
#8
Old 08-26-2009, 05:50 AM
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Catalogs used to sell colored tape for gift wrapping, I don't know if anyone makes it anymore. I think Ferret Herder had a better idea, anyway. Lots of places sell cellophane for gift wrapping.

Another possibilty would be taping colored wrapping tissue over the light.
#9
Old 08-26-2009, 06:28 AM
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I just use the Scotch tape you can write on, and color it in with a pencil. Voila, tinted tape!
#10
Old 08-26-2009, 06:33 AM
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How about the fire hazard? I'd think twice before covering up a small hot lightbulb with a soft flammable plastic layer. Even if a LED isn't that hot, remember that the light is on forever, 24/7, and if you tape it shut the generated heat has nowhere to go.
#11
Old 08-26-2009, 11:14 AM
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Something's really wrong if an LED is getting warm enough to be a fire hazard.

And, a pox on whoever it was that managed to make ultra-bright blue LEDs cheap and ubiquitous.
#12
Old 08-26-2009, 11:21 AM
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Sharpies work pretty well.
#13
Old 08-26-2009, 12:04 PM
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Litho tape.

Dark red.
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#14
Old 08-26-2009, 12:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by postcards View Post
Litho tape.

Dark red.
Ooh! That might do the trick. Any reports on how it looks? Will it turn the brilliant blue LEDs purple and the green some sort of brownish orange?

More importantly, postcards, do you use it for the purpose of reducing LED glare? How does it work?
#15
Old 08-26-2009, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by gotpasswords View Post
And, a pox on whoever it was that managed to make ultra-bright blue LEDs cheap and ubiquitous.
It's funny, because until a few years ago, it was somehow impossible to make blue LEDs. All the gadget makers wanted blue lights (because blue = future), but there was no chemical they could use to produce a blue glow in an LED. Or maybe there was one, but it was much too expensive. The best anyone could do was take a white LED and tint the shell blue, and it didn't work. The only options for manus were white, green, red, and orange. This ushered in the era of the Ubiquitous Green Light.

And then, someone came along and found a cheap way to make blue LEDs. Then there was a gold rush (or blue rush) for electronics makers to squeeze as many blue glowing lights onto their products as possible. Harsh, sharp, too-bright blue everywhere!

My DirecTV receiver has a ring of blue lights on the front, which can be pretty distracting when trying to watch TV. Happily, the makers were kind enough to have a "hidden" button combo that can dim these lights to 3 levels of brightness, or turn them off completely. Absolutely everything should have that feature.
#16
Old 08-26-2009, 01:39 PM
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Is there such a thing as tinted tape? (Keeping bright LEDs at bay)

Don't overlook the possibilities of fingernail polish.
A coat or two of dark red will tame an overbright blue LED.
Scratch the polish with a pin to let just a little light through.
#17
Old 08-26-2009, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wierdaaron View Post
All the gadget makers wanted blue lights (because blue = future)...
I suspect the real reason for the great demand for blue LEDs was that, once you had blue, you could create RGB displays that can mimic TVs and computer monitors on a large scale.
#18
Old 08-26-2009, 01:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippy Hollow View Post
Ooh! That might do the trick. Any reports on how it looks? Will it turn the brilliant blue LEDs purple and the green some sort of brownish orange?

More importantly, postcards, do you use it for the purpose of reducing LED glare? How does it work?
I have no idea. Ive been out of the printing biz for a decade and a half now, I was surprised the stuff is even made in this digital age.

It's used to block the UV light used in exposing offset printing plates. Being a very dark red, I imagine it would darken the LED considerably, but to what color I don't know.

But if cmyk is lurking about, perhaps they can give a better idea.
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#19
Old 08-26-2009, 02:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wierdaaron View Post
It's funny, because until a few years ago, it was somehow impossible to make blue LEDs. All the gadget makers wanted blue lights (because blue = future), but there was no chemical they could use to produce a blue glow in an LED. Or maybe there was one, but it was much too expensive. The best anyone could do was take a white LED and tint the shell blue, and it didn't work. The only options for manus were white, green, red, and orange. This ushered in the era of the Ubiquitous Green Light.
Almost.
White LEDs are made FROM blue LEDs.
Red LEDs were first, then Orange, Yellow and Green.
Since Blue LEDs took so long to make (30 years+ after the first Red LED), everyone wanted to use them in their products, because they were so new and cool. Now, they are everywhere.
#20
Old 08-26-2009, 02:39 PM
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Just wait until someone invents a silver LED.
#21
Old 08-26-2009, 04:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by postcards View Post
I have no idea. Ive been out of the printing biz for a decade and a half now, I was surprised the stuff is even made in this digital age.

It's used to block the UV light used in exposing offset printing plates. Being a very dark red, I imagine it would darken the LED considerably, but to what color I don't know.

But if cmyk is lurking about, perhaps they can give a better idea.
Thanks for the info. Where would I find it in a store? Would I go to a print shop, or a photo shop?
#22
Old 08-26-2009, 05:37 PM
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Lots of good suggestions here. You could also try frosted or colored contact paper (aka "self-adhesive vinyl", "shelf liner", etc.) which you can find at craft supply stores and office supply type places for a few dollars a roll.

You might be surprised at the results you get with seemingly opaque materials, depending on the strength of the offending LED.

Also, the elegance factor will go up if you carefully trim the piece you stick on.

Gluestick glue will stick on an otherwise unsticky piece of some material securely enough for most items you don't pick up a lot, but will come off easily if you don't like it after all.

If you have or can get an old lampshade, maybe you could cut pieces of the shade lining -- it's often styrene, which if you want to spend $20, you can get a big unused piece of here -- which would be heat-resistant and not distort the LED's color.

There's various translucent sheet materials in the scrapbook aisle of craft stores you could get for less than a dollar, cut out or maybe use a hole punch on, and apply with gluestick glue.

You realize we'll want pictures once you try something, right?

Last edited by emmaliminal; 08-26-2009 at 05:38 PM. Reason: sticking more sticks to the sticky gluesticks
#23
Old 08-26-2009, 06:38 PM
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If you want red tape, go to an auto parts store - it's used to make temporary repairs on brake light lenses.

For that matter, why not just get a small piece of window tinting (which comes in all sort of different shades and tints) and use that?

Last edited by beowulff; 08-26-2009 at 06:40 PM.
#24
Old 08-26-2009, 09:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippy Hollow View Post
Thanks for the info. Where would I find it in a store? Would I go to a print shop, or a photo shop?
A good-sized art supply store may carry it, or perhaps a local print shop could give you a few inches worth if you ask nicely.

The auto supply store is another good idea, though.

Last edited by postcards; 08-26-2009 at 09:23 PM.
#25
Old 08-26-2009, 09:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippy Hollow View Post
Thanks for the info. Where would I find it in a store? Would I go to a print shop, or a photo shop?
What you want to search for is Rubylith tape. 3M makes one called "lithographers tape." Poking around on the 'net, it looks like it's an art supply store item.
#26
Old 08-27-2009, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by ctywkr View Post
I use colored electrical tape. It comes in Red, Blue, Yellow, Brown, Orange, Green, White and probably more.
Plain, black electrical tape will block an LED completely, if it's someplace you don't want light at all. It's also the type of adhesive that peels back and re-sticks quite well, so if it's on something like an alarm clock, it's easy to check the LED and re-stick the tape.
#27
Old 08-27-2009, 12:19 AM
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I find white out does wonders on some. Others get masking tape or post it notes.
#28
Old 08-27-2009, 11:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippy Hollow View Post
My house is never pitch black unless there's a power outage... because every DVD player, TV, cable box, and wireless adapter has a blasted glowing LED.
As you can tell from the replies in this thread, you are not alone.
#29
Old 08-28-2009, 03:48 AM
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How about turning some of them off at the plug? Or is that just too simple a solution?
#30
Old 08-28-2009, 08:17 AM
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I had to use almost a full roll of electrical tape on this before it became usable.

http://airoswiss.net/info/ultrasonics/7142.aspx

In addition to the Green LED display, which at least has some purpose, the entire front panel of the unit glows blue for absolutely no reason at all except maybe someone thought it looked high-tech and pretty
#31
Old 08-28-2009, 09:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wierdaaron View Post
My DirecTV receiver has a ring of blue lights on the front, which can be pretty distracting when trying to watch TV. Happily, the makers were kind enough to have a "hidden" button combo that can dim these lights to 3 levels of brightness, or turn them off completely. Absolutely everything should have that feature.
For the rest of us DirecTV users do you happen te remember what this "hidden" button combo is?

Thanks,
Rob
#32
Old 08-28-2009, 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Dervorin View Post
How about turning some of them off at the plug? Or is that just too simple a solution?
Well, most of them are designed to be plugged in at all times (DVRs, routers, etc.)...

justrob, you simultaneously press the left and right directional buttons around the blue ring. Each press will make it progressively dimmer, until the 4th press or so, which then turns the blue LED off.

Today's plan is to go to the art store in search of litho tape... or the auto supply store...
#33
Old 08-28-2009, 09:49 PM
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I have a tower fan that has a blue LED. A damn FAN, for pete's sake. I put some medical tape on it last night, dimmed but not gone. Think I'll try the sharpie on the tape tonight.
#34
Old 08-28-2009, 10:19 PM
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Tinted tape actually won't be effective. The brightness of your environment ranges through so many orders of magnitude that you can't make your leds "dim" at all light levels. Something very bright in total darkness will be invisible in direct sunlight, or even in a bright room. That's why LEDs are often so bright. Their makers fear they won't be visible under some conditions. And in fact, occasionally I look at an important LED indicator and have to think for a moment whether it is on or not.

Anyway, electrical tape is good. It won't let through any light, and it's a nice, smooth black. Cuts very clean too. And it's easy to remove with no gunk.
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