If you’ve ever seen those gadgets with the “breathing light” LEDs on them and wondered how to do it, then [DIY GUY Chris] can show you how to design your own surface-mount version, using only analogue electronics.

Simulation trace showing the LED breathing light circuit operating. Traces for voltage and current are shown over a few seconds
The LED current tracks up and down in an approximately triangular-wave pattern

The circuit itself is built around a slow triangular-wave oscillator, that ramps the current up and down in the LEDs to make it look as if the lights are breathing in and out. The overall effect is rather pleasing, and the oscillation speed can be adjusted using the on-board potentiometer.

This project is actually an update to a previous version that used through-hole components (also shown in the video below), and goes to show that revisiting completed projects can give them a new lease of life. It also shows how easy it has become to design and order custom circuit boards these days. It’s not so long ago that a project like this would have been either made on stripboard or etched from copper-plated FR4 in a bubbling tank of acid!

If you have revisited an old project that you’re proud of and would like to show others, why not drop us a message on our tips line?

We have covered some other options for breathing LEDs in the past, such as this digital logic version, and this Arduino library that has a host of other effects to choose from, too.