Whenever a product is successful it tends to evolve rapidly to make manufacture cheaper and easier. This then leads to a lower cost.
For the linear neon-like LED strip the next step appears to have been a custom LED tape with heavy busbar tracks to negate the need for separate bus-wires along the length of the strip.
This has removed the complex and time consuming stage of adding regular link wires between the bus-wires and the LED tape. It’s also removed the normal termination technique of using spikes into the end of the bus-wires. That’s not a bad thing, as the crude friction contact was not as reliable as the newer system’s solder terminations directly onto the end of the tape.
The simpler internal construction also means that the strip can be made thinner. This makes it better suited to more detailed outlines as the thinner strip and simpler internals allow tighter radius bends, although you should limit these wherever possible as it can put stress on individual LEDs.
A bit of experimentation shows that the best way to terminate wires to this material is to cut out a small section of the side to expose the solder pads as I did in the video. A closer look at the factory terminated end shows they did the same thing. It only takes about 3mm (1/8″) The supplied strip had silicone end caps stuck on with silicone adhesive. The cable end had a hole through the end cap for the wires and some adhesive had squirted out around them.
The quality of the LEDs in these products is always an unknown variable, especially when buying from eBay – which is sometimes used as an online dumpster or skip for factory seconds. The LEDs are being run at about 15mA which is good, but lifespan will be greatly extended with a slight voltage reduction. The red strip I was playing with was still linear and vivid at less than 9V at significantly reduced current. That made it more suitable for a home environment and suggests use with batteries for prop and costume applications.
Another interesting side effect of the reduction in thickness of the material is the way it’s packed. A 5m length can be rolled into a fairly compact coil for shipping and storage.
Here’s a search link for the keywords associated with this material.
Target price is around $5 per metre shipped or $20 for a 5 metre roll shipped.
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