Instructions for DIY ringlight for the photo enthusiast who wants a professional look without the associated cost. This project costs about a 10th of the real deal and works reasonably well. All told it cost me just under $100 to assemble and about 3 hours of time. I basically followed the workup offered here (http://www.noestudios.com/photo/ringlight/) but I found that it lacked the details about wiring it up. I am a total newcomer to electrical wiring but I sought aid from an expert who looked over my work and proclaimed it good. As a disclaimer, working with electrcity is inherently dangerous and requires a healthy respect for those dangers. I in no way take responsibilty for your safety if you decide to do this project. 120v AC current is very painful AND potentially fatal if the current crosses your heart (see the totally valid criticism below in the comments for an explanation). The danger on this particular project is relatively low but you are dealing with voltage so BE CAREFUL.
Anyway, enough disclaimers, lets get down to it!
Step 1: the materials
I already had a bunch of scrap plywood from other projects so thats 20 bucks I saved on this for a sheet of 1/2" birch ply. You don't have to use birch, as it is slightly more expensive than douglas fir or particle board but I like birch. it's pretty.
The first thing to do is cut out our circle from our sheet of ply. I measured out 36" up and down and drew the ring with a pencil on a piece of string tied to a nail at the center. I tried to make as close to perfect as possible but the shape is not really that important because it is on the other side of the camera and won't be seen by anyone other than your models. By having a 36" outer diameter I was able to put 12 sockets on there about 5 1/2" - 6" apart. The ring is 6 inches wide all the way around, giving it an inner diameter of 30". You can go smaller in size if you need to but I wanted a big opening to shoot thru so that I can get wide shots without having to crop out the ring in my images.
I cut thing ring in half so that it will collapse down to half size for easier storage. The sliding bolt locks are not ideal for locking it into to the open position and as of this posting I am still looking for a better solution.
Not pictured below:
-20 feet of 12 gauge wire, 10 black, 10 white. it is pretty cheap, maybe 30 cents a foot.
-12 100 watt bulbs, $5
-bag of electrical connection caps, $3
-box of 1" screws (for sockets)
-box of 5/8" screws (for hinges and bolt locks)