For a while I was looking forward to get a light panel but the traditional ones with tubes or halogen were so expensive not portable and used only mains power. Then LED light panels came in but again were too expensive and most that I could get around were only meant for the mains and not very practical.
I also bought single LEDs and trying to build my own but would need to make my own board, power supply assemble the components and the worst part was that it would take time to solder each led and resistor which was about 2000 pieces.
Fortunately with led strips everything was already done and I just needed to cut the stip to the length that I needed and then glue and solder everything that would be much faster. So here I will show how to build one for very cheap that has many uses such as photography, videography, working light etc... which will be very light, thin, portable and can be used with many types of power sources.
Lets begin :)
Step 1: Gather Your Components
-Led light strip warm white and cool white 5 meter roll each available in 12v or 5v
-Wiring to join the leds strip together
-Cardboard to affix the led strips
-Stapler pins (the glue with the strip was weak so I had to insert some stapler to hold)
-Male to female dc power plug 2.1 x 5 mm to connect to mains adapter
-Pencil / Markers (optional different colors)
-Brass wool (for cleaning the soldering iron tip during operation)
-Wire stripper (to strip and reveal the copper wiring) can be done with teeth, knife etc.. as well
Step 2: Prepare Components
Layout a basic plan on how to proceed as this will help foresee any problems that might arise.
Cut your cardboard to the size that will be needed. My Led strips would be cut down to 30 cm each and so the cardboard needs to be around 36 cm wide to accommodate everything. What I did was to get a rather large cardboard drew on it and then later on I cut it out.
Prepare the led strips to the length needed which in my case is 30 cm. I would suggest that first apply electricity to the ledstrip to be sure of the color and then measure cut the amount required and put them together in a corner. This is because the led strips are the same color where only when power is applied that we will know which color it is. On my setup I needed 4x led strips 30 cm of warm white and the same of cool white.
From the top of the cardboard leave 1 cm of space and then mark it, this will be where the first row of led strip will be. Then starting on the bottom of the led strip, leave another 1 cm of space mark it and stick the other strip of led. Since my strip are waterproof, I needed to remove the protective layer to have access to the contacts points that I will be able to solder onto later on.
Prepare the electrical wiring that will be used to connect the led strips together and it is wiser and easier to go with colored wiring such as red for positive and black for ground. I already had wires with female connectors so I just cut the ends off and measure 5 cm of wiring that I would need. For this project I needed 5cm x6 of Red and Black wire to make the connection.
Step 3: Assembly and Testing
Start first with the cardboard flat on the surface, clean it to remove any dust that will allow the led strip to better stick to the cardboard. I choose the warm to cool white alternation but you can do how you please, the alternation of the colors will better help in spreading the colors evenly. From what I did, I placed all the Warm white first and then all the cool white so as not to mix anything together.
Once in place on the cardboard I began to mark positive and negative on each side that will help me connect them together where I did all the warm white first and each connection I tested to see if everything would light up. Once completed the same was done with the cool white.
Once all was done I tested once again the warm side and then the cool side which everything lighted up as expected. Afterwards I connected both strips to power where everything worked. I decided not to solder any permanent connection but instead used a female 2.1 adapter and screwed the wire. This is done as to be able to connect to a mains adapter and later on the bare wire can be connected to a battery or to be added to a circuit or microcontroller such as an arduino.