Created on: 6 August 2012
Updated on: 31 January 2023
In this automatic light electronic circuit, when the ambient light level drops below a certain level, the LED switches on automatically. The circuit uses an operational amplifier, or op-amp IC. In addition, a LDR, or light dependent resistor detects the current light level.
The following video shows the automatic light electronic breadboard project operating. When a piece of cardboard is placed in front of the LDR, the light to the LDR decreases. As a result, the op-amp switches the white LED on. This simulates a night light that switches on automatically when the ambient light becomes dark enough.
In addition to a breadboard, wire links, 9V battery and battery clip, you will need:
|100k resistors (brown - black - yellow)
|1/4W 5% or better
|56k resistor (green - blue - orange)
|33k resistor (orange - orange - orange)
|10k resistor (brown - black - orange)
|4k7 resistor ( yellow - violet - red)
|1k resistor (brown - black - red)
|Electrolytic capacitor, 16V or more
|LM741 op-amp IC (8 pin DIP)
|PN2222 or KSP2222
|E.g. 5mm white LED
|LDR (Light Dependent Resistor)
To make the light level at which the LED switches on adjustable, you will also need a 100k trimpot.
Two automatic light circuit diagrams have been included. The first diagram shows the automatic light circuit using a fixed light level to automatically switch the LED on. The second circuit adds a trimpot to make the level at which the LED switches on adjustable.
The LM741 IC is housed in a 8-pin DIP, so normal DIP IC pin numbering applies to it. If using a bright LED, place the LED away from the LDR. A photo of the completed breadboard circuit is shown below. Click the photo for a bigger image.
Cover the LDR to restrict light to it and the LED will switch on. If you have built the circuit with the trimpot, then adjust the trimpot so that the LED switches on at the desired light level. Do this by covering the LDR so that the desired level of light is reaching it. Now adjust the trimpot until the LED just switches on.
Keep the LED away from the LDR. If the light from the LED is bright enough and it reaches the LDR, then the automatic light circuit will switch off because there will be enough light reaching the LDR. After the circuit switches off, the light from the LED will no longer reach the LDR which will cause the circuit to switch the LED on again. The circuit will carry on "oscillating" like this until there is enough ambient light, or the light from the LED is prevented from reaching the LDR.
We have reached the end of this tutorial series for beginners in electronics. I hope that you enjoyed building the circuits in this series. The subject of electronics is so vast that there is always something new to learn. Go back to the beginner's section to look for more beginner's tutorials and articles.