LED lighting panels for your DSLR are great, but they can be expensive. So why not build your own? I decided to, with a twist - literally, as my panel is flexible and can conform to various shapes for mounting or to broadcast light in various directions.
The basic materials and tools I used are:
Neoprene - I used an old backpack made of the stuff, so free!
Hardware Cloth - not really cloth - basically a fancy name for chicken wire, available at home center
Flexible LED strips - available on eBay and such, which is where I got mine - about $15 for 300 LED strip (Mostly used on Tron Suit)
Velcro or substitute
Flexible Wire - I used an old ribbon cable salvaged from a computer
Needle and Thread - I used heavy duty thread, but standard should be fine too
Type M port and plug (x2) - For power in and output to light panel, any type of quick connect will work
10K Potentiometer with SPST switch - For dimming/power on control
Drill + bits
Epic music to work to.
Step 1: Part 1 - Light Panel Construction
I decided on a 6" x 6" square light panel (somewhat arbitrarily), so I needed about a 12" x 6" section of neoprene to make a sleeve out of.
So I took some scissors to an old neoprene backpack (the neoprene was about 1/8" thick) and cut out the needed piece. I folded it over with the side I wanted inside facing out (this one had a blue inner), and pinned it at one corner to hold it in place. Then I sewed a seamed up one side, tied it off, and sewed up the opposing side. Once the two sides were sewed up, I flipped the whole thing rightside out.
Now time for the inner frame:
Take your snips and cut a 8" x 8" square of wire - getting that from adding 1" to each side of the final dimension. Then cut a 1" x 1" square out of each corner, so the sides can be folded in. With that done, fold each edge in half, then in half again, then finally in to the final 6" x 6" dimension. This folding in gives a thick edge that will help the panel hold its shape when formed.
With the frame formed, next insert it into the neoprene sleeve (which will take some wiggling, as the frame may snag the neoprene). Once the frame is fully inserted, sew up the open end of the sleeve.
Lastly sew back and forth though the entire panel, so that when flexed the stretched neoprene will stick to the frame and not simple stretch straight across the gap.