Anyway, enough disclaimers, lets get down to it!
Step 1: The materials
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)
Step 2: Putting it together
Also, do yourself a favor and buy a pair of wire strippers. Really, they're like 8 bucks and they make this job so much easier. If you try to do this with a regular pair of pliers it will take you LITERALLY 3 times longer. Even if you never use them again it is worth it. I don't use mine much, more frequently they are used as a bottle opener. But NOT while I was doing the electrical wiring. Safety first, beer second.
Strip back your wires about 3/8th", then bend them into a 'U" shaped loop, slip it around the terminal post, and then bent the U onto it to secure it. Repeat 4X for every socket.
One word about the wiring; when you are screwing down the sockets onto the ring, make sure that the connection terminals are all oriented the same way. One screw is gold, the other silver. They are on opposing corners so just pick a way and make sure the rest look the same. Generally speaking the way that wiring is done is to connect the black to the gold and the white to the silver. Just remember: black gold, white lightning! I wish I had a better neumonic for you but hey, you work with what ya got.
not displayed: the hinges are on the backside. The sliding bolt locks are placed opposite them on this side.
Step 3: Junction box wiring
OK, now we are ready to test the thing. Screw in your 100 watt bulbs, plug it in, use a piece of wood to switch it on. and....
Step 4: IT WORKS!!!!
Step 5: Sealing the terminals
Step 6: The stand
If you choose to do it this way though, I drilled two 1/2" holes opposite eachother and crazy glued recessed nuts into the holes. The recessed nuts have a flange on one side so that they can't fall out. All tripods and cameras use 1/4-20 (commonly called a quarter-twenty at the hardware store) mounts so any 1/4-20 bolt will fit any camera. I attached the tripod quick release mounts to the recessed nuts for easier removal.
Step 7: Crack a beer and play with yer new toy
Also, I shoot with non-automatic prime lenses which means I have to meter off camera and generally accept that not every shot will come out. This half length one was shot with a 50mm Pentax Asahi lens, the close up was shot with a 135mm SMC Takumar lens. You might not be able get this kind of sharpness with all zoom lenses. At least, probably not with the kit lens that comes with your camera. I know that I can't with mine but maybe it is different with yours. try it out and have some fun.
I hope this project was a good learning experience and that it allows you the freedom to shoot some pictures that will astound your friends and peers wih their professional look. Happy shooting!
you can see more examples at: