Completely new to electronics, I've just begun to play with an Arduino. I was wondering, if I wanted to make an LED sculpture, what is the correct way to extend the legs of each LED so that they stand about 3 inchs long and are bendable? Is there a particular type of shielded wire that has enough strength to support an LED's weight?
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You probably want solid insulated hookup wire that is about 0.5mm or 0.6mm in diameter.
That's about AWG 22 or AWG 24 (larger AWG numbers are for thinner wire).
As an alternative you could use bare wire and use sleeving on the wire but solid hookup wire is often cheaper and easier to get than bare wire suitable for soldering. If you get two colours (such as red and black) you can keep the polarity straight.
It would also be a good idea to get some heat shrink tubing and put it over the LED leads where they are spliced to the wire, but be careful not to overheat the LED when you are shrinking the tubing with a hot air gun.
Solid core wire would be my recommendation.
Electrically it will be sufficient for the voltage & currents for LEDs... and it's stiffer than standard stranded wire; You might need to get one size larger (for added strength) but I would think it could hold an LED up at 3in.
As the lower current, also smaller cables can be used. Be sure to isolate correctly, not for LED life, but for ARDUINO life: a short-circuit can be dangerous.