Blue LED Light Box

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Introduction: Blue LED Light Box

About: Eric J. Wilhelm is the founder of Instructables. He has a Ph.D. from MIT in Mechanical Engineering. Eric believes in making technology accessible through understanding, and strives to inspire others to lear...

Build your own blue LED light box to combat SAD and winter blues. Sleep better and wake up with more energy while exploring the world of high-power LEDs. If 18 watts of LED power isn't enough to wake you, just add more LEDs!

Also, check out Blue LED dawn simulator for Soleil Sun Alarm.

Step 1: Why Blue Light?

According to light box manufacturers 446 to 477 nm wavelength light is supposed to be the most effective for treating seasonal affective disorder (second to natural sunshine, of course). Instead of buying a commercial product that lacks external control and might be based on psuedo-science, I decided to take advantage of the rapidly falling price of high-power LEDs to build an 18-watt blue light.

Step 2: Materials

Here's what I used and where I got it.

Luxeon III Stars, (Lambertian) 3 blue (470 nm), 3 royal blue (455 nm) - Luxeon.com
BuckPuck 700 mA driver (03021-D-E-700) - TheLEDLight.com
30 volt DC power supply - RadioShack
1/8 Mono phone jack and plugs - Radioshack

lying around the shop but available at RadioShack or Jameco:
small breadboard
wires
mica
heat grease
1/8 thick aluminum sheet approximately 8 x 10
#4-40 nylon screws and nuts

Step 3: Rough Cut and Drill Holes in Aluminum Base

The LEDs generate a lot of heat, so I mounted them in an aluminum base that could also act as a heatsink.

Cut the aluminum to size and mark where you want to mount the LEDs. I printed a template on paper and used it to mark where to drill mounting holes.

Step 4: Round Edges and Sand

Round the edges of the base and then sand it. I sanded with 100, 200, and 320 grit paper.

Step 5: Bend the Aluminum Base

Clamp pieces of wood to the front face of the base to keep it flat. Bend it into an upside-down "7" shape.

Step 6: Cut Mica

The back side of the LEDs is not electrically neutral, so they need to be isolated.

Cut thin pieces of mica, which is thermally but not electrically conductive, into the shape of the LEDs. I used a laser cutter, but you can also use the mica's existing shape and carefully drill holes to fit the LED's screws by starting with very small drills and working your way up.

Step 7: Mount LEDs

Put heat grease on both sides of the mica and sandwich it between the LEDs and the aluminum. Attach the LEDs with the nylon screws.

Step 8: Solder the LEDs Together

Solder the LEDs together in series and connect them to the LED power supply. The Buckpuck power supply will drive 700 mA up to its maximum voltage. Connect the DC power supply to the Buckpuck. You can solder all these connections, or if you want to do fancy external control, putting everything on a breadboard is easier.

Step 9: External Control

If you want to control the light from an external source, like a dawn simulator, bend up the backside corner and drill a hole to mount the 1/8 connector, or whatever connector is appropriate. If you are not going to do external control, you should at least put an on/off switch on the light.

Step 10: Mount Power Supply

Hot glue the DC power supply and bread board to the base.

Step 11: Felt Feet

If you're going to put the light on a nicely finished wood surface, put some felt feet on the bottom.

Step 12: Enjoy the Blue Glow

Bask in the blue glow of the LEDs. Some people use them in the morning to wake up, while others use them in the evening to help go to sleep. Run a few experiments and see what works best for you.

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    user

    We have a be nice policy.
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    83 Comments

    Hello, will this diy light work for acne?

    I am considering purchase a blue light as reviewed on http://www.lighttherapydevice.com/, if this light works for acne so I will make it myself.

    user

    this is a great insperation to my school work

    3 replies

    LED in ears cures SAD!!

    Listen guys. This is going to sound like SCI-FI i know, but bear with me because this is awesome news! :)

    Scientist in finland have found out that if you insert a pair of very strong LED lights in the ears, it cures SAD.... Simple. Yes. Weird. Yes. Effective. Yes, because they have allready launched a product thats on the market now caled "Valkee": http://www.arcticstartup.com/2010/01/22/valkee-projects-light-onto-your-brain-literally/

    Its a portable lighting device, looks like a walkman, but it costs like 200 euros!

    Now I am really curious to make a DIY set for myself, but a bit unsure how strong the LED should be, what size, color, and if there is risks like burns/ shock. I asked my local electrician and what he could produce was a white 20 MA LED.

    What do you think!!?


    According to the study, 1 lumen was effective at treating SAD. It looks like 20 mA white LEDs are more than bright enough.You can dim it further with resistors if you prefer.

    Blue and cyan may work too but the longer the wavelength, the safer it is. I have never used the Valkee before. If you have, please let me know about it. There is little if any risk of getting shocked from 3.6V but shorts can burn at any voltage.
    http://www.valkee.com/uk/Transcranial_Bright_Light_Treatment-IFMAD.pdf

    Here's an article about my opinion
    http://hanlin-y.blogspot.com/2012/01/opinions-on-valkee-brain-stimulation.html

    LED in ears cures SAD!!

    Listen guys. This is going to sound like SCI-FI i know, but bear with me because this is awesome news! :)

    Scientist in finland have found out that if you insert a pair of very strong LED lights in the ears, it cures SAD.... Simple. Yes. Weird. Yes. Effective. Yes, because they have allready launched a product thats on the market now caled "Valkee": http://www.arcticstartup.com/2010/01/22/valkee-projects-light-onto-your-brain-literally/

    Its a portable lighting device, looks like a walkman, but it costs like 200 euros!

    Now I am really curious to make a DIY set for myself, but a bit unsure how strong the LED should be, what size, color, and if there is risks like burns/ shock. I asked my local electrician and what he could produce was a white 20 MA LED.

    What do you think!!?


    Do you remember an approximate cost of this project?

    Im making a wake up light for my final engineering project and and unable to find useful information :(
    Can anyone help me with the circuit for the wake up light, please.
    Help much appericiated

    This design involves a risk for the eyes. According to Lumileds documentation :

    "Blue and RoyalBlue power light sources represented here are IEC825 class 2 for eye safety."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_safety#Class_2


    This means that LED can cause damage is the user stares at them. HB LEDs should always have a diffusor in front of them.

    1 reply

    Yes, all commercial LED light boxes have diffusers on them.
    I am looking into the blue light hazard and while it is not completely settled at what point it starts to be dangerous, it is clear that small point sources will be much worse than diffuse ones. Given how powerful the Luxeons are, I would STRONGLY urge you to use a diffuser. Even a thick piece of vellum an inch (3cm) away would help a lot.

    If the mechanism for BLH is as expected, even 480nm light is likely to be hazardous, and even when diffused. 505nm light ("Cyan" for Luxeons) would be < 10% as dangerous as blue while being 60% as effective for reducing melatonin levels (the presumed mechanism for reducing SAD and restoring circadian rhythm).

    So I am looking at building a box with 505nm to replace my Philips unit.

    Finally, make sure the light box is in your upper peripheral vision - it appears the receptors for melatonin/circadian are there, and the area of most concern for BLH is the macula (center point of vision).

    They've started flogging these in Oz too. How confident are you regarding 660nm and 880nm?

    Ok guys!... This will sound like Sci-fi i know, so bear with me!

    Scientists in finland have found out that if you insert a pair of LED lights... in the ears (!) it cures SAD. Simple. Yes. Weird. Yes. Effective. Yes, because they have launched a product called the "Valkee". A moblile light theraphy gadget, that looks like a ipod with earplugs (i even think there is a mp3 player in it).

    http://www.arcticstartup.com/2010/01/22/valkee-projects-light-onto-your-brain-literally/

    So, now I am very curious of how to make a DIY version!
    I am uncertain about size, color, power and if there is any risks of heating/ burns of the earcanal. But, please if you too are willing to test this, put the results up and lets hear it! My local electric store suggested a pair of 20 MA LED 5mm lights. What do you think?!!

    1 reply

    Here is a pic of the Valkee

    valkee_led_korvalamppu.jpg
    user

    I haven't looked at LED prices lately, but maybe something like this would be easier for some people to deal with.

    http://www.alliedelec.com/search/productdetail.aspx?SKU=6790284

    I think all you would have to do is then provide a power supply and mount that enclosure to a heatsink. It certainly doesn't have the aesthetic appeal of your design, but it's an option.

    Why use those Luxeon Leds, as you could simply use raw LEDs... anyways, looks great, love the aluminum shaping... gives me ideas :P

    2 replies

    I used the Luxeon's because they are much brighter.

    user

    very professional :-) thanks for sharing. We are in the Led lighting field also, manufactuer in Ningbo city, China I am Annie from Paneralighting Co., www.paneralighting.com annie.deng@paneralighting.com , hope we have a change to talk about the lighting details:-)

    Have you considered a hat version of a lightbox? I've been thinking of modding a Luxion LED headlamp with a blue LED and attaching it to a hat visor facing inward.

    Blue light is actually proven to keep you awake.... But that is beside the point. Nice Instructable!

    1 reply

    If it keeps you awake, turn it on in the morning.

    I suggest heating the aluminum before bending any angles tighter than the ones used in this project. I wanted a true 90 degree angle for my project but the aluminum broke without heating with a torch. It made the bending easier too!

    1574392325_c6d9f50d58.jpg