For filmmaking purposes, controlling how much light comes into the lens is pretty basic. Opening or closing the iris (or aperture) of the camera can control the total amount of light, but what if you want to be more selective? You might need to control light sources individually and that's where a dimmer comes in.
Simply plug whatever light you wish to dim and crank down (or up) on this very handy gadget. Made easily and cheaply with hardware store parts, this little dimmer can handle any light up to 600 watts.
If you're not a filmmaker, this gadget will still handle most of your light controlling needs.
Step 1: Parts List
These parts can be found at any hardware store (Lowe's, Home Depot, Ace) or Wal-Mart. In my experience, Home Depot has the best prices, but Wally World is known for deals on stuff you didn't even think they had.
- 6' 2 prong power cord, $1
- "Old Work" PVC gang box, $0.72
- Lid for gang box, $0.54
- Rotary Dimmer, $5
Step 2: Tools
Not very complex here as most have something that will fit the bill already.
- Multi-tool (I just used the pliers and Phillips head screwdriver in this)
- flathead screwdriver
- wire cutters/strippers
Step 3: Prep the Dimmer
All we're doing here is cutting off the exposed ground wire and twisting the ends of the two black wires. It is now ready to be attached to the cord.
Step 4: Prep the Cord
Cut the cord from 1' to 1.5' from the female end. Separate and strip the four wires.
Step 5: Prep the Box
Using a blunt instrument, break out one of the die-cut holes. I used the pliers from the multitool.
Step 6: Run Cords Through Hole and Add Strain Relief
After both cord ends are inside the box, tie each one in a knot. This will prevent the cords separating from the dimmer if they get yanked on.
Step 7: Connnect Cords to Dimmer
Find both ridged wires and twist them together, adding a screw nut. Take the remaining two wires and twist them to the black wires from the dimmer (it doesn't matter which ones). Add the two remaining screw nuts.
Step 8: Squash Guts Into Box and Attach Lid
It will be a tight fit, but push everything down in the box and screw in the dimmer. Brute force may been needed on this step, but I like the compact result.
Step 9: Attach Knob and You're Done!
The knob is a press fit. Happy dimmering!
Like this type of thing? Check out The Frugal Filmmaker
Step 10: Here's the Video Version...