Introduction: Portable Light Panel
Runner Up in the
Photography Contest 2017
Good lighting is an essential part of video production and photography. Unfortunately achieving this lighting isn't always easy or cheap, in the past I've used everything from orange tinted desk lamps to led flashlights to try and provide better lighting for my photos and videos. That's why I decided to make a portable white led panel which can be used indoor while connected to a wall adaptor or used outdoors with a battery pack that we are going to build. Overall this is a pretty easy build which can be done even if you're electronics experience is low.
Step 1: Parts
For this project you will need the following components:
- Boost converter x1 (https://goo.gl/BpsZEJ)
- DC jack male x2 (https://goo.gl/F1zavH)
- DC jack female x1 (https://goo.gl/F1zavH)
- Led strip (4 meters) (https://goo.gl/mF7pbD)
- Lithium charger x1 (https://goo.gl/gf2xKO)
- 18650 cell x1 (https://goo.gl/GibJA6)
- Switch x2
- Cardboard (60cm x 60cm)
- Electrical tape
- 12 volt 1.5 amp Wall plug (depends on your led strips rating)
The led strip I chose is a super bright white led strip which really gives a nice tone to whatever you're trying to light up, i would highly recommend that you test your led strips before using them because some of them have a very orange tint which makes the light look awful.
Step 2: Tools
For this project you will need the following tools:
- soldering iron
- box cutter
- hot glue gun
- wire strippers
Im using a minimum of tools because i'm making my base out of a tough cardboard however after using the panel for a while I see the cardboard is becoming weak at the edges so i would defiantly recommend making the base out of something stronger like wood or Plexiglas.
Step 3: The Math
The math behind this is pretty easy, most if not all led strips use a voltage of 12 volts however we need to find out how much amps it needs, to do this we need to take a look at the strips mine says they are rated at 4.8watts per a meter to find the amps needed we use this equation I=P/V (current = power over voltage) therefor I=4.8/12 which equals 0.4 amps. This is only for 1 meter though and im using about 3.5 meters which means we need to times 0.4 to get 1.4 amps which is the total amps needed for the panel
Step 4: Creating the Shape
The way you go about doing this step is completely up to you and what you need the light for as this is where we create the shape of the base which our led strips will go on, I cut my cardboard into a thin long shape which will allow me to focus the light while still not making it too large. I've also scored a line close to the end of each side so they can be bent inward to help focus the light just a bit more this will make it useful as a overhead light as the light will be spread over the area well as opposed to being focused on a point. Once you're happy with the shape of your base you can start cutting your led strips to size, then we peel off the sticky side and and stick the strips down if you got the waterproof strips i would recommend using zip ties to secure the strips to the base.
Step 5: Connecting the Strips
The back of our panel is going to have a dc jack, Velcro and a switch which will allow us to stick the battery pack to the panel and then plug it into the panel (the battery pack will have a male dc jack). The Velcro and dc jack will also allow us to remove the battery pack and just plug in a wall power supply. To do this we are going to connect the positive pad on on the end of one led strip to the positive pad on the start of the next strip the same is done with the negative pad until all the strips are connected then the positive and negative pads on the end of the last strip is run to the back of the panel which is then connect as follows: the positive pad is connected to the positive pin on the dc jack, the negative pad is then connected to the middle pin of the switch then a wire is run from one of the outer pins of the switch to the ground pin of the dc jack (the switch lets us turn it on and off without unplugging the power supply). Check the wiring diagram for a better understanding.
Step 6: The Battery Pack
This battery pack will have some Velcro on the back of it which will allow it to be connected and disconnected from the back of the panel it will also have a male dc jack which can be connected to the female dc jack on the panel, the battery circuit will use one 18650 cell, one boost converter, one lithium charger, a switch and one male dc jack the circuit is created as follows. The positive terminal of the battery is connected to the B+ pad on the lithium charger and then the negative terminal of the battery is connected to the B- on the lithium charger then the positive output pin on the lithium charger is connected to the positive input pad on the boost converter the negative pad on the lithium charger is connected to the middle pin of a switch then a wire is connected to one of the outer pins and run to the negative input pad on the boost converter ,a boost converter is a very cool component that allows us to take a lower voltage and boost it up to a higher one for example we are going to be taking the 3.7 volt output from the lithium charger and boost it to 12 volts its able to do this pretty efficiently which means it won't produce that much heat. now we are going to connect the positive and negative output pads of the boost converter to the positive and negative input on the male dc jack. Now we can build a cardboard case around it and stick the Velcro to the bottom.
Step 7: How It Works
So now we have all of the components put together and we can start taking a look at how it works. The 12 volt wall plug will be soldered to a male dc jack, this wall plug can be plugged in to supply power or the battery pack can be stuck on the back to supply power giving the option of constant use or portability. a small piece of cardboard is also added to the bottom of the panel which will allow it to mount onto a camera. when the battery pack dies it can be removed from the panel and charged through the 5 volt micro USB port, so far with using mine I've found it takes about 4-5 hours to fully charge the battery but you don't need to worry about unplugging it after its full as the charging circuit has built in over charge protection.
Step 8: Uses and Results
while this like doesn't compare to professional light panels it does still work pretty well. The uses extend to using it as a constant video light, photography light for older cameras or even as a really big flashlight. The very last thing I did was put some black electrical tape on the edges to cover up the rough edges. If you have any questions please leave a comment or send me a message and ill do my best to help!
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