Peculiar LED Failure

This panel-mount LED indicator  glued to the Z-axis stage of my Thing-O-Matic had been dutifully showing a bright green glow when the extruder heater was active:

Failed LED panel indicator
Failed LED panel indicator

Of late, it began flickering erratically whenever the heater turned on. It used to flicker when the PID loop (hacked to be a bang-bang controller) drove the extruder temperature past the switching threshold, but this was worse.

It’s rated for 5 VDC, 25 mA and has an internal resistor to make that happen. Channeling the true spirit of DIY 3D printer electronics, I deliberately connected it directly across the 12 V extruder power and let it burn at 80 mA. The poor thing was surprisingly bright for an ancient green LED ( the 8124 date code stamped on the side I pried off for the picture says it’s three decades old) and, even under that abuse, it lasted for a year: not to be sniffed at.

I’d expect the LED to fail open when a bond wire burned through, but you just never can tell. It worked fine on the bench, which is typical of all intermittent failures.

So I popped an identical indicator off the stack, conservatively added a 270 Ω series resistor to drop the excess voltage, and it’s all good again.

Ya gotta have stuff, right?