Introduction: SpectrumLED- an INSANELY Bright 200 WATT Variable Spectrum LED Panel

Picture of SpectrumLED- an INSANELY Bright 200 WATT Variable Spectrum LED Panel

Dimming and changing the color spectrum of LED's? IMPOSSIBLE! Nope... Now Not!

As this is my 50th Instructable, I've decided to upload a super "special edition" Instructable:

How To Make Your Own INSANELY Bright 200 WATT Variable Spectrum LED Panel- For under $25!

I decided to call it "SpectrumLED"

I will use SpectrumLED for many different purposes such as: Photography Light (for filming my 'Ibles), Reading Light for Books (in my bed), Extra Lighting for My Projects (on my table) And a lot More!

Did you know that The light output of SpectrumLED is equivalent to a ~2,000 Watt Incandescent Bulb!?!

This means that SpectrumLED will give about 50 times more light than an average incandescent light bulb that you have in your room*, while only consuming about 5 times more power at full brightness!

But, What does "Variable Spectrum" mean?

If you look closely at the picture above, You might be able to see that some of the LED's look white, And some look yellow.

Each color (white or yellow) is controlled by a separate dimmer, This means that I can choose any color that ranges between white-ish blue-ish -and- yellow-ish orange-ish. That is A LOT of different colors.

Don't forget to visit my Instructables page for more electronics projects!

*Average of 40 watts

Step 1: Any Inspirations for Making SpectrumLED?

Picture of Any Inspirations for Making SpectrumLED?

Ever since I joined Instructables, I've been wanting to make a really bright LED panel that I can use for taking picture for my Instructables.

But even before finding about Instructables, I built myself an LED light that was mounted on a tripod, It had a few other features, But I used it mostly as an extra light, This was actually one of my first electronics projects!

I called this invention the "LEDPOD". You can see my Instructable about the "LEDPOD" here

A couple months after making the "LEDPOD", I decided that I want another light that would have a warmer "daylight" spectrum.

Right at that time, Our building decided to replace all of the fluorescent lights in our underground parking lot with LED tubes (These look exactly like fluorescent bulbs, But are more efficient and live longer), While installing the lights, One of them broke. Later that day, I found the broken bulb in our garbage room, And I knew it would be perfect because it had exactly the LED's that I needed for my project!

I used its LED's to make the "LED-timate Light", You can see my Instructable about my "LED-timate Light" here

After making both of these lights, I thought that NOTHING could get better than this!

Less than two months later, I happily proved myself wrong...

I decided that I wanted to make some kind of "Variable Spectrum LED Light" And this Instructable is what it's all about!

By the way, If you want to buy an LED photography panel, Be prepared to pay at least $1000 to $10,000. Don't believe me? See for yourself- And that's ~$1000 for only 40 Watts! "SpectrumLED" is 200 WATTS!

But why are these already built panels so expensive? The real answer is that when photographers need them, They buy them, So the company can sell them at any price that they want! The parts barely cost the company anything and they sell them for so high, In this Instructable, I'll show you how to make one at the price of the parts, which are way cheaper! And by "way" I mean HUNDREDS of times cheaper!

The two videos that you can see below are videos that I watched almost ten times before making "SpectrumLED"

If you want to make "SpectrumLED" I would definitely recommend watching both of these videos AT LEAST once.

Can you agree with me that if you mix both of these projects together, You get something similar to "SpectrumLED" (except for the variable spectrum part...)

Link for mobile viewers: DIY Perks: How to make a super bright LED light panel (for video work etc)

You might know Matt from YouTube, He also has an Instructables page.

He built a Dimmable 100W LED Panel for filming his YouTube videos, He has tons of other awesome projects, I recommend checking out his YouTube channel!

Link for mobile viewers: Rulof Maker: How to make • 200W Ring-light 4 Video LED

Rulof used the same LED's that I used for SpectrumLED, Only without warm LED's

I can also assure you that the pan he used as a heat-sink can not dissipate the heat from the LED's

Step 2: Everything You'll Need to Make SpectrumLED

Picture of Everything You'll Need to Make SpectrumLED

For this project you are going to need A LOT of components, Here we go:

All links below lead to eBay, And are in U.S. Dollars

12V 17+A Power Supply

If You Use An ATX Power Supply: 10-Ohm 5W Pull-Up-Resistor

12V 10W Cool LED's-Buy 10 for ~$3.50

12V 10W WarmLED's-Buy 10 for $5.50 (Choose: "Warm White", "10pcs"- You'll use only 7)

A HUGE Heat-Sink- This one was salvaged from an old stereo, "What's Inside" Coming Soon!

Tripod- Buy Mine Here $13- It was priced ~$8, When I bought it

12V Dimmers- Buy 2 For ~$4.50-(Choose: "Quantity=2")

1/4" Hex Nut- Buy 2 for ~$2.80 (Hardware stores will probably be cheaper, and you need only 1)

Heat-Shrink Tubing- Buy A Box Of More Than You'll Need ~$5.50

8mm=1/32" Drill Bit- Buy it for ~$2

4mm=1/64" Drill Bit- Buy it for $1

1/4" Female to 1/4" Male Screw- I used a leg of an old coffee machine, Buy something similar for $1 (You need 2)

Old/Empty Solder Spool

Some Rough Sandpaper

Wire (A lot of different gauges)

Thermal Adhesive- I used "Arctic Silver" Buy 5 Grams ~$11.50 or a cheap, low quality alternative Buy 5 Grams $1

Epoxy Putty- Buy something similar for $1.50

1 Small Zip-Tie (Recommended color: Black)

5.5mm Male Connectors - Buy them for $1 (Choose: "2 Pcs Male")

5.5mm Female Connectors- Buy them for $1 (Choose: "2 Pcs Female")

A Handle From An Old Hand-Held Radio(Salvaged), You can probably 3D print this if you want!

Metal Rod (Salvaged from an old printer)

I Used A Silicone Adhesive- Buy Something Similar: 58 Grams For ~$1.50, You can also use Sugru (which is made of silicone too)


Soldering Iron +Solder

Heat Gun (Recommended- I don't have one)

Wire Cutters

Small Wire Cutters (aka Snips)- Buy The Kind I Use Here ~$2

Multi-Meter (Must Have Features: Volts & Continuity)

A Drill (Corded/Cordless, It doesn't matter)

Needle-Nose Pliers/Tweezers

Helping Hands (I used my "DIY Magnetic Helping Hands")

Solder Dispenser (Recommended- I used my "DIY Solder Dispenser")

Solder Fume Extractor (Recommended- I used my "DIY Retractable Solder Fume Extractor")

C-Clamp - (Any size will work)

A Pair Of Latex Gloves

Utility Knife

Flat Screwdriver- The easiest way to mix 2-Component Thermal Adhesive

Ruler- (Any size will work)

You can also view all of these components that are needed through this eBay collection

Step 3: Adding a Pull Up-Resistor (ATX Power Supplies Only)

Picture of Adding a Pull Up-Resistor (ATX Power Supplies Only)

If you are using an "ATX Power Supply" you must add a 10-Ohm resistor.

I learned this while reading Jason Poel Smith's guide on "Computer Power Supply to Bench Power Supply Adapter", I thought it would help me, And IT DID! I recommend checking out his Instructable if you're not, or weren't sure how to do this (like me)

How do I connect the pull up resistor?

As you can see in the picture Connect a 10-Ohm resistor* between the green wire (PWR ON) to any black wire (GROUND) of the 20-PIN male connector (I tried to un-solder a 20 PIN female connector from an old motherboard, But I wasn't able to remove it)

You might also want to tape it down on to the connector so it won't fall off.

After you connect a pull-up-resistor, You should hear the fan turn on, This means the power supply has turned on.

You can skip this step if you aren't using an ATX Power Supply

*And as always with resistors, Polarity doesn't matter

Step 4: Looking for (And Finding) 12V in My ATX Power Supply

Picture of Looking for (And Finding) 12V in My ATX Power Supply

As I mentioned earlier, The LED's that I chose for SpectrumLED work on 12V, This means that I need to look for 12V in my ATX power supply.

In all ATX power supplies the yellow wire (+12V) and the black wire (GROUND) give 12V

I've seen many ATX power supply projects, And in all of them people get access to 12V power through the main 20/24 PIN Male Connector.

I decided NOT to do it that way because of two reasons:

1. I wasn't able to salvage a 20 PIN Female Connector

2. It's a big connector, A lot of outputs = Bigger chance of making an error

After playing with my power supply I found out another connector that has only a black wire, and a yellow wire, I decided to use that one. (Picture #1)

If my ATX power supply: Burns out, Isn't strong enough, Or doesn't work for any other reason, I can easily replace it with another one because all ATX power supplies have this connector that has an output 12V.

You can skip this step if you aren't using an ATX Power Supply

Step 5: Modifying the 12V Connector

Picture of Modifying the 12V Connector

First, Cut the connector with wire cutters (picture #1) You should end up having eight wires (4 yellow + 4 black)

Splice all of the wires at your preferred length (picture #2)

Twist the remaining wires together, This form a thicker wire which will be able to deliver more current (Very Important)

This is also the time to plug in your soldering iron, You'll be using it in the next step

You can skip this step if you aren't using an ATX Power Supply

Step 6: Solder a Long Wire to Your Connector

Picture of Solder a Long Wire to Your Connector

First, Open your chosen tripod to the highest setting (picture #2)

You want to choose a wire that is:

1. Is thick enough and can deliver high current

2. Is longer that the highest point on your tripod (picture #2)

Now solder the Red Wire (+) to the Yellow Wire of the Connector (+), And the Black Wire (-) to the Black Wire of the Connector (-). (As seen in Picture #1)

Don't forget to add Heat-Shrink Tubing to protect against shorts!

Step 7: Hack Your 5.5mm Male Connector

Picture of Hack Your 5.5mm Male Connector

Right before starting to solder a 5.5 mm Male Connector, I was thinking that It makes no sense to use thick wires on all of the parts of SpectrumLED, When the connector has such thin wires!

If you're still wondering what I'm doing, I'm modifying the connector to be able to deliver more current (Amps)

You might be able to call what I'm doing a "hack" or a "mod", But it doesn't matter, Let's start!

First, I found 2 identical5.5mm Male Connectors in in my pile of 5.5mm connectors, I believe you won't do this, You'll probably just buy these connectors... You obviously won't have to do this step if you have these connectors

I used snips to Cut of the rubber that surrounds the metal part of the connector (Picture #2)

After being left with only the metal connector, Solder a thick red wire to the middle connection (+) of the connector, Don't forget to insulate it with shrink tubing (Picture #3)

Solder a black wire to the outer part of the connector (Picture #4), And insulate it with shrink tubing, You might also might to check continuity of everything with your multi-meter.

After finishing everything, Make another one!

Step 8: Solder Your Hacked 5.5mm Connector to the Main 12V Power Wire

Picture of Solder Your Hacked 5.5mm Connector to the Main 12V Power Wire

As shown in picture #2 I soldered both of the connector's wires in "parallel", And after that, I soldered them to the 12V power wire

You'll probably want to check for continuity with you multimeter

Step 9: Make Sure Your Dimmers Work

Picture of Make Sure Your Dimmers Work

After finishing all of the steps that were before this one, I wanted to make sure that my dimmers work, I did this by connecting them to the LED strips that I have over my table. You can see in picture #1 that they work!

Step 10: Attaching the 1/4 Inch Screw to the Heat-Sink

Picture of Attaching the 1/4 Inch Screw to the Heat-Sink

I wanted to mount the heat-sink on the tripod's head, To do that I had to use a Female 1/4" Screw (similar to a Hex Nut [I salvaged it from an old coffee machine]), And a Hex Nut.

First, I used my snips to cut away the aluminum (Or alumin"i"um, However you prefer to call it...) because there wasn't enough space for the hex nut, This is pretty easy because aluminum is a very soft metal. (picture #2)

To finish everything, I held the nut with Needle-Nose Pliers, And screwed in the screw, Make sure that everything fits as it is supposed, And you're done.

Bonus:Strengthen Everything with Epoxy Putty:

I covered the connection (Where the Hex Nut was) with epoxy putty, This keeps it from spinning around in its place.

I also did the same thing to the tripod itself*:

You might have seen in the parts list that this tripod is pretty cheap.

Usually, You get what you pay for, This is true, And especially in tripods...

The 1/4" Screw that was located on the tripod's head was really short and couldn't really hold anything, I used another screw,I Screwed it on, And made sure that it would stay strong in place with Epoxy Putty.

I recommend doing something similar to this if you have a cheap tripod

*In the beginning made this as a separate step, But after seeing that this Instructable is ~30 Steps, I changed it because my computer started lagging (yours might too)... This also isn't really a part of the Instructable, It's just a small tip

Step 11: Arranging the LED's on the Heat-Sink

Picture of Arranging the LED's on the Heat-Sink

I wanted to put the LED's in a checker-board pattern so the color would be equal to what I was projecting it at, It might be easier for you to understand if I say "I wanted both sides to be symmetrical"

The easiest way to do this is by taking a picture with another phone so you won't forget how you organized them

In the end, I chose 10 Cool LED's and 7 Warm LED's (Which are none of the pictures above, They are just random options)

But how many watts are the LED's?: While I was experimenting with the LED's, I wanted to measure how many watts they used (even though the seller lists it, But I didn't believe him).

So I used the current measurement function on my multi-meter, I measured the LED's current consumption, At 11.5V and to my surprise, The LED used ~1.1Amps! That's more than 12 WATTS for each LED!

Step 12: Remove the Black Paint With Sandpaper

Picture of Remove the Black Paint With Sandpaper

This step is optional, But I do recommend doing it:

I decided to remove the black paint from the heat-sink, I'm sure that this paint doesn't conduct heat as well as bare aluminum...

This took me about an hour, But with the right tools, It should take less than 5 minutes

Another quick tip is to scratch/score the heat-sink with a utility knife, It makes it easier to sand

Don't forget to do this in a Ventilated area, And preferably with a mask, If you don't want this to happen to you (scroll down to: "symptoms")

Step 13: Mounting the LED's to the Heat-Sink With Thermal Adhesive

Picture of Mounting the LED's to the Heat-Sink With Thermal Adhesive

This is a VERY important step, Gluing the LED's on to the heat-sink with Thermal Adhesive

You might not know this, But while gluing them down, I found out that it is a lot harder to use thermal glue compared to regular thermal paste.

Another thing I learned is that you should take your time while doing this, And if you use the same kind as me (Arctic Alumina hardens in less that 5 minutes), Just make several small batches of mixed adhesive (Because it's 2-Components)

And to make the soldering process easier, I glued all of the LED's with the negative (-) facing down

If you don't know how to use thermal paste (or Adhesive), You might want to watch these two videos that I've added below, They will explain how to spread it

And here are the video links for mobile viewers:

How To Apply Thermal Paste

Install Thermal Compound Paste as Fast As Possible

Step 14: Solder the LED's

Picture of Solder the LED's

Here comes the hardest part: Start soldering the LED's...

As you can see in picture #1, I cut some wire to a short length (~7 cm / ~2.75 inch), And started soldering each column in parallel (-to-, +to+), It is very important to first solder only the LED's in each column in parallel. If you solder all of the LED's in together parallel, They won't work well because the wire can't deliver enough current, And it's way to hard to solder thick wires to the LED's. This might remind you somehow of putting jumper wires on a bread-board

Obviously, To let the dimmers control the different colors of the LED's, You have to solder cool-white and warm-white separately...

After soldering ALL of the cool LED's columns, I soldered all of the columns together in parallel (Picture #2)

Now repeat everything you did with the Warm-White LED's, Do your best not to die of boredom ;), Because it takes a very long time!

After you're done with both, Check for continuity between the LED's, They should all be "Continuit-ized", Or if I explain it a bit better: Each different polarity of the LED's should be "continuit-ized" with all of the other same colored LED's

Make sure that none of the LED's touch the heat-sink, Do this with your multi-meter too

Step 15: Solder the Main Power Wires to the LED's

Picture of Solder the Main Power Wires to the LED's

After soldering all of the LED's (cooI and warm) I found some 14 gauge wires.

I used these wires to Solder the main power connection, You MUST use thick wire that can deliver ~10 Amps, 14 Gauge wire can deliver a lot more that 10A

Now repeat what you've done on the other side

Step 16: Solder the Dimmer to the LED's

Picture of Solder the Dimmer to the LED's

In the beginning of this step, I didn't solder the dimmer directly to the LED's, I soldered a 5.5mm Female Connector to the main 12V power wires of the LED's, And plugged it in to the dimmer, And IT DIDN'T WORK

For over half an hour I was investigating and trying to find out what went wrong, Bad Solder Connections? I Killed the Dimmer? NO! Eventually I found out that the middle pin of the female connector (+) was narrow-er than the middle part of the male connector! So I un-soldered the female connector from the LED's and started thinking again... For this reason, You might want to use XT-60 Connectors

So I un-soldered everything (one female connector counts as "everything") and started again.

Remove the outer black sheathing from the dimmer's wire, And splice the wires

After that, Solder the dimmer to the LED's (picture #3), Don't forget that you'll have to repeat this with the other side (warm), SpectrumLED should light up when you turn on your power supply

I just want to let you know that the dimmer's wires heat up because they're thin, And act as a small resistor, But it's okay...

Step 17: Mounting the Dimmers to the Heat-Sink With Thermal Adhesive

Picture of Mounting the Dimmers to the Heat-Sink With Thermal Adhesive

I don't really like these dimmers. I also don't really like the fact that they get pretty hot (I might be drawing too much current from them ***oops*** :) )

I did the same thing in this step, And the step that I glued down the LED's.

I applied Thermal Adhesive to the dimmer and Clamped it on to the heat-sink with a teeny-tiny clamp(picture #3)

I did this to:

1. Help cool down the dimmer

2. It's easier to use like this

Step 18: Adding a Handle- Drill

Picture of Adding a Handle- Drill

A couple days after finishing SpectrumLED, I wanted to add a handle, Here's how I did it:

After struggling on finding a way to do it (Making it have a 0% chance of breaking and falling to the ground), I noticed that there was a hole in the heat-sink, This helped me find a way to reach the solution!

I found an old handheld radio in my "Take Apart Pile" and decided to use its handle.

I also found a perfectly sized metal rod** (salvaged from a printer) in my "Scrap Metal Rods" box. It's length was only a bit longer than the handle and the diameter was just slightly smaller than the diameter of the heat-sink's hole, PERFECT!

I drilled two holes with my drill into the handle, I recommend doing this with a 6-8 mm drill bit. You can probably see in the picture that I drilled in to my hand. That was not fun, Learn from my mistakes and use gloves.

You might still not understand why all I did all of this, Picture #3 will probably make it clearer

**These are the same kinds of rods that SilverJimny found at step #7 of his Harvesting parts from a Laser Printer Instructable, If you're interested in seeing that

Step 19: Adding a Handle- Glue

Picture of Adding a Handle- Glue

After drilling holes in to each side of the handle, I used silicone adhesive to glue the handle and the metal rod in place

Make sure that the distance between the handle and the heat-sink is symmetrical on both sides, You can do this with a ruler

I chose to use silicone and not epoxy putty because of three reasons:

1. I though it would adhere better

2. I wanted the handle to be flexible

3. The main reason: I ran out of epoxy putty!

Step 20: Improvised Spool to Store the Wire (Wire Dispenser)

Picture of Improvised Spool to Store the Wire (Wire Dispenser)

This step is optional:

I decided to use an old solder spool, Free and easy to use...

I drilled a hole (picture #2) in to the spool and zip-tied it to the heat-sink with a zip tie, After that, I just wrapped the wire around the spool. It's that easy!

Step 21: Future Ideas/Additions/Upgrades

Picture of Future Ideas/Additions/Upgrades

These are some ideas that I'm thinking of adding to SpectrumLED:

Make It Portable: Add 12V 7 AMP Lead-Acid Battery (+Charger)

Help Cool Down The Heat-Sink: Add a 12V Fan- Even better: Controlled by an Arduino, The arduino will turn on the fan when the heat-sink passes a specific temperature (This can only happen after I learn how to program an Arduino, Unless there is a code that somebody already made, You can probably see I know nothing about this) I could also make something like Andrea Biffi's "silent fan with thermal controller"

Watt Meter: I also want to add a watt meter capable of measuring high current at 12V (not an amp meter) to each separate dimmer, Just out of interest, To see how much each one uses.

Improve The Dimmer: I want to replace these dimmers with dimmers that change the brightness using voltage, Not pulse width modulation, But because my dimmer flickers really quickly, My camera can capture the annoying lines only on the lowest brightness, Which is pretty impressive! I might be able to find a dimmer that can be controlled by a remote, Or use a "Remote Controlled Relay"

Improving the Tripod: I recently bought a really small tripod on eBay and it's supposed to arrive soon, This will be easier to use on my table!

Step 22: Even More Pictures of SpectrumLED!

Picture of Even More Pictures of SpectrumLED!

Here are a couple more pictures of SpectrumLED, I find them slightly addicting to look at!

Step 23: Thanks for Watching!

Picture of Thanks for Watching!

I hope you enjoyed my Instructable!

Don't forget to visit my Instructables Page! I'm sure that you'll find at least a couple projects that will interest you!

Subscribe for TONS of more upcoming Instructables, I think I have around a BILLION different ideas for more projects that I'm sure you'll like!

Check out my collection of all of the LED gadgets I've built until this day, I'm sure you'll like it if you liked SpectrumLED

Help support more "yonatan24" projects by clicking that big orange "VOTE" button in the top right corner of your screen! THANK YOU!

If you build or have already built something similar to SpectrumLED, Make sure to post a picture in the comments to show everyone! I'll also put your picture in this Instructable!

I'm almost done with an "FAQ" guide, I will be putting the link here when I'm done

What I would like you to write in the comments below:

Overall, Did you like SpectrumLED? Hate it? FREAKIN' LOVE IT? I DO!

Any ideas on ways I can improve SpectrumLED itself?

Any ideas on ways I can improve this Instructable? Did I make any mistakes? Is anything unclear?

Do you have an Idea of another project that I can make with these LED's?


bhvm (author)2017-08-10

Were these dimmers able to handle all those many LEDs? What are they rated at?

BTW your each new instructable is better than older one. Keep it up!

Yonatan24 (author)bhvm2017-08-10

Nope. I mean yes. Kind of.

I think they were rated for either 5 or 8 amps - the one that powered the cool white LED's got really hot, and the one that powered the warm white LED's stayed pretty cool. But I don't recommend these since they flicker pretty badly. I recommend the dimmers that I used for SpectrumLED V2.0, they do get quite hot when I power the lamps at full power, which isn't something I do very often anyway. Issues solved:


bhvm (author)Yonatan242017-08-13


alex_peters (author)2017-02-21


Yonatan24 (author)alex_peters2017-02-22

Glad you liked it!

Noah-Keiko (author)2016-12-04

Looking to attempt this. What are the dimensions for the heat sink? I may have to purchase one.

Yonatan24 (author)Noah-Keiko2016-12-04

The dimensions are 18 by 11cm, however, I would definitely recommend using a bigger one - it makes it way easier to solder, and can dissipate more heat...

By the way, I'm building a second, improved version of SpectrumLED, and I will be done in about a month. I can let you know when I've published the Instructable if you'd like :)

Noah-Keiko (author)Yonatan242016-12-11

Yes, i would very much like to see it when your done with the second one and post it. I would appreciate it very much.

BrandonW86 (author)2016-11-30

It's a good start on a great idea. I'm going to be making a few these for my photography side-biz, and to take with me on weddings. I'll of course have to make them a little more "pretty" for that purpose, so I'll let you know what I do to make things cleaner.

A couple tips:

- If you're going to use the ATX PSU method (which to me is brilliant, because why not?), there's no need to "hack" all the other connectors, when you can buy the Molex connectors for pretty cheap (check out or for example, as they have kits that are relatively inexpensive with all the components included, however the crimper tools can be somewhat expensive).

- If you're keeping your wire lengths fairly short (less than 3 feet), 16ga or 14ga wire should be able to handle all the current these diodes will draw without any adverse side-effects (see this wire-size chart for reference:

- Instead of mounting the diodes directly to the heatsink, you could mount them on a plate (aluminum or steel) with the same thermal adhesive, which would allow you to create "arrays" of individual diodes in rows or patterns (much like you have), but then are easier to change out should some of them burn out over time. The plate itself could be mounted with bolts or some mounting hardware to the heatsink, and regular thermal paste applied accordingly between the two.

Yonatan24 (author)BrandonW862016-12-01

Awesome! I'd love to see them!

I tried unsoldering a connector from a motherboard, but it was way too hard. I think I saw one online, but the shipping took a really long time, so I thought it would be better to improvise...

Yes. These wires do get slightly warm. It isn't much of an issue, but if it will be, I'll replace them.

All of the LED's still work, one year later! :)

MarekWolf (author)2016-11-28

A couple of suggestions to improve this instructable.

Provide specifics on the heat sink. Like block size, fin size, count and weight. Being able to repurpose a heat sink from audio equipment is great, but not just any will do. As an example, the Phase Linear 400 is designed to dissipate 400 watts nominal, but would not be sufficient for 200 watts continuous.

A heatsink designed for the task (cast or extruded) would probably increase the price of the build 5X.

Making a heatsink out of aluminum bar and angle stock is possible but structural aluminum is not quite as good and you end up with lots of interfaces (mating surfaces) that reduce efficiency.

Consider using thermal paste and screw the LEDs to the heatsink instead of gluing them on. Thermal paste has better heat transfer properties and there is no worry of it popping off with screws.

Oh, and 5 watt resistors are surprisingly pricey. That cost was not included in this build.

Yonatan24 (author)MarekWolf2016-12-01

Don't have them. I've added a fan to help cool the heatsink.

Definitely. If you have a proper heatsink and a power supply, you'll be able to build this for pretty cheap.

I thought of using screws, but it is A TON of work, and you need to use thermal paste anyway, so you might as well use thermal adhesive. The cheap one that I used costs like a fiftieth of the expensive heat conducting epoxy, and works WAY better, for me. (from my comment here)

10W resistors are pretty cheap...

Thanks for the suggestions!

Rigel9 (author)2016-06-25

a Kelvin light meter can help you to set different temp degrees readings on unit. with a quick reference card as a guide. see if you can use a light meter app on your cellphone that can read candle foot & Kelvin. on a quick search i found iphone has an app & sekonic C-500R light meter can read for film & Dslr. you came up with the answers i have been search for. i was planing on using the inside case of a acer AL1714 flat panel monitor. the frosted screen with let you bring the light near the person's face. cutting down the glare on their eyes for a natural looking foto. if it works out. i can apply it to 32" sharp flat panel that fell on the floor. i give this instructable a 5x 7stars &

Yonatan24 (author)Rigel92016-06-25

Thanks. I'll check that out :)

I'd love to see it when you're done!

Mr AbAk (author)2016-04-10

Awesome job buddy!

Yonatan24 (author)Mr AbAk2016-04-10


Dustin Rogers (author)2015-12-08

Great work. I need to build one of these. As far as the cooling fan, it seems that everybody want's to jump to a digital solution as opposed to using an analog solution for the same purpose. Instead of controlling the fan with an arduino, why not use a simple bimetal thermal switch? It closes (turns on) once it gets to a certain temp and opens (off) when it cools down to a certain temp. They are used as thermostats for fireplace blowers and electric fan switches on automobiles to name a few. Seems like a perfect fit for this project. I'm not sure how hot your heatsink gets, but here's a 40*C (~100*F) switch which will turn off at around 30*C (~85*). You may have to find a lower or higher temp switch to fit your needs. You'll want to make sure and get a N.O. switch (Normally Open) though.

The N.C. switches are used to provide thermal protection for equipment/appliances by killing power to said appliance if it reaches a certain temp to keep it from burning up.

Yonatan24 (author)Dustin Rogers2015-12-08


I'll check for something like that, But I might need to use it with a relay if it can't deliver enough current

cts_casemod (author)Yonatan242016-03-19

No relay required. Only this:

I also use these for outside fanless (no fan) heatsink led's. They open (switching the LED off) if the temperature exceeds 60C.

Pick your choice.

Yonatan24 (author)cts_casemod2016-03-19

I think I might use the 60 degree ones in a future project. 40C is a bit low

Thanks for the link!

cts_casemod (author)Yonatan242016-03-19

Note that they do different things, so you'll have to change both (For example 50 and 80.

40C is ideal to turn a low speed fan on. At this point, we assume that the led will continue to heat a bit over that.

The 60C one is still there, ready to cut, should for some reason the LED temperature continue to increase (say a faulty fan).

Dustin Rogers (author)Yonatan242015-12-08

The switch linked is rated at 5A for 250v or 8A for 125V.. I'd imagine you'd use a small fan. I'm picturing an 80mm pc fan, which typically pull less than 0.5A. If there is a need for a higher wattage fan, you could similarly use a bigger switch like this which is rated 12VDC/30A, but it's about 2" L x 1.5" W x .75" H

cts_casemod (author)2016-03-16

Personally I find the 100W variants much
more efficient than the 10W ones, for the same amount of power and I
used to use them around the house before getting them replaced by some
Philips xitanium units. Mostly because of the 4000K neutral colour, but
also because these dont use heatsinks and are wider, so light is more difused. I
now use the 100W ones, mostly as compact portable or outside (halogen
replacement) lights.

Rulof maker version does make sense, since he
wants a round shape light, but for for all other cases I would go with
the 100W variants.

Also, if money is not an issue, these versions:

have the dual 6000/3000K emitters for a warm white, they offer a more
diffuse light (not warm/cold spots) and efficiency is higher (compared
to the 100W, so even more of the 10W).

Yonatan24 (author)cts_casemod2016-03-17

Really? Isn't more weak ones supposed to be more efficient?

I Googled it, And the Philips Xitanium is the LED's driver, Correct?

I've seen all of Rulofs' LED videos, They're pretty good :)

He used more LED's to eliminate the shadows (if we're talking about the ring light). Same with DIY Perks

cts_casemod (author)Yonatan242016-03-17


The xitanium are drivers, the LED's are the fortimo series:

Generally speaking for continuous duty I would power the 100W model with anything from 10 to 30W (each) and for light duty, about 60W max, hence the efficiency is much higher and heat losses drop accordingly . I used to grow tomatoes with them in late February, so that the plants were large when transferred outside in April and hence better yields.

That's what I meant 'for the same power, the 100W variant is more efficient' I didn't mean you couldn't do it with the 10W variants, you just need a hell more.

If you look carefully they are all the same. The 10W model has 9 LED's arranged in either an array of 3x3 (9v) or 9 (27V).

The 100W variant has 100 LED's arranged in a 10x10 array (27V)

The 100W model gives you a hell less trouble to assemble that 11 10W ones.

One other thing that I noticed, most 6000K leds are poor quality. I got best results with the 3000K ones, which are more consistent and have higher light output for the same power. The individual leds on the 6000K appear to be smaller.

That's not to say that all are made equal but I suggest if you ever get your hands on one you try it. This is the reason I changed to the Philips LED's. With the others either I would have 3000K light which I hate or a drop in efficiency from the 6000K and a custom light fixture to balance the color tone.

Yonatan24 (author)cts_casemod2016-03-17

How do you power it at a lower power, Do you give it less voltage, Or limit the current?

I think I've checked once, But I think on eBay, It's cheaper to buy 10pcs of 10W Led's, Than 1pcs of a 100W LED

I underpowered my LED's on my LED Desk light project, But everyone said this was very inefficient. I just underpowered them the wrong way. How to you underpower them?

cts_casemod (author)Yonatan242016-03-17

Shouldn't be:

Of course sometimes quality might not be the same. I know for a fact that with a current of 300mA a good 100W led will show a voltage of 24V, while a bad one will show 27V+ (and less light)

Never tested for the 10W, but should be similar.

The problem is that on eBay sometimes you can get a $3 good led and a $6 bad one or the other way round. You never know...

I underpower them with a constant current (rather than constant voltage) power supply. Power supplies made specifically for LED's maintain the current output to whatever voltage the led takes (the voltage varies with led type, temperature, etc). So for a 10W led you can power it with 9V at 1A or 9V at 300mA. A 0.1V difference may be enough to double the current, so you should not try to adjust the voltage for that purpose (unlike an incandescent) That's also why paralleling leds is a bad idea. if one led inside shorts, the resulting lower forward voltage will result in ALL the current flowing to it and burning it.

If you need dimming you can either use a driver with a dimming feature or just parallel drivers. For example one driver would be 300mA, two would be 600mA and so on. I use this on my living room with a 2 switch setup. Same led bulb, two power levels.

Generally speaking these supplies have a very wide output voltage range so leds in series result in the same current but more voltage. The power supply therefore pulls more or less energy from the mains as required, not a lot of waste.

Yonatan24 (author)cts_casemod2016-03-17

It is cheaper, By &0.50! (Compared to what I bought)

I'l see if I can buy a 100W LED, Only yesterday I bought 20pcs of 10W LED's.

I'm not even sure if I have a power supply for them, But I can always use a Switched Step-Up Converter (Hopefully with a constant current source).

Thanks for the link!

Yonatan24 (author)Yonatan242016-03-19

Oops, I meant "$", Not "&"

tjohnson-2 (author)2015-12-03

You can use a capacitor in line with the AC hot leg. This is called capacitive reactance limiting. Little to no loss and no need for a power supply or resistors. Use a 200 volt (on standard 120VAC single phase line) non-polarized capacitor in the 1uF range, then step by step move up in capacitance until you reach the power level desired.

Yonatan24 (author)tjohnson-22015-12-04

What do you mean by capacitor in line with the AC hot leg These LED's are powered on 12V DC voltage from an ATX Power Supply

tjohnson-2 (author)Yonatan242015-12-04

You can place a capacitor in series with an AC line to pull the line voltage down to 8-15 volts and rectify. Current limiting with an AC capacitor (non-polarized) in series with the line. A few dollars in parts and nearly failproof with little loss. I will draw you a schematic, but it will be similar to this:

You can switch caps in and out in order to dim, but will not have infinite control of brightness. BTW, an LED is a diode and will rectify.

TonnyC (author)tjohnson-22015-12-08

as far as i know capacitor droppers of capacitive power supply only good for low power application,like 0 to 10 watts led,i try to drive a 50 watt led with capacitor dropper once,but then i regret it because i killed my 50 watt led,in less than a second

cts_casemod (author)TonnyC2016-03-19

This is wrong. The only drawback of such a circuit is the low power factor for low output voltages. If it blew your LED wither the capacito value was wrong or it wasn't an AC rated capacitor. Standard fluorescent tubes and HID bulbs with magnetic ballasts work under this principle. An inductor is used instead, because of the high voltage starting requirement of the tube.

In fact, if your led voltage matches that of a florescent tube (about 90V) you can directly retrofit an older florescent fixture with magnetic ballast, just make sure to rectify the output and remove the starter first.

tjohnson-2 (author)TonnyC2015-12-08

I've used them since the early 1990's and up to 900 watts. You can also soft start them using a triac on the Hot leg.

cts_casemod (author)tjohnson-22016-03-19

You should not use the LED to rectify. The reverse voltage will blow it. make sure only pulsating DC is applied to it, never a reverse voltage higher than the LED nominal forward voltage

cts_casemod (author)Yonatan242016-03-19

Basically you use a bridge rectifier and power the leds straight from the output of the rectifier. On the input, in one of the legs (preferably the hot leg), you add a series capacitor to limit the current.

For anyone wanting to know exactly how it works:

Under the effects of Alternating current, the capacitor is essentially a resistor, limiting the current.

Say your LED forward voltage is 12V and your input is 230V. Also say you want to feed the LED with a current of 500mA.

Well in that case we know that the average voltage across the capacitor is 230-your LED voltage, say 9V = 221V.

Now that we know the voltage and the current, we can calculate the resistance

R=V/I = 221/0.5A = 221/0.5A = 440Ohm.

If we were to use a resistor, then the losses across it would be

P = V* I = 221*0.5 = ~110W plus the power feeding the LED = 9*0.5 = 4.5W

Your total input would therefore be 114.5W

With a capacitor those 110W are returned to the grid as reactive power. You therefore only pay for the 4.5W the led is using and a little loss for the capacitor, so about 5W. Note however that as a series circuit you are pulling 0.5A from the mains, so your total power is only 5W, but you're consuming 0.5A*9V = 4.5W + 0.5A * 221V = ~110VA. This has implication to how much power one can pull and it is called power factor, for further research.

To improve the power factor, one has to increase the real power and reduce the reactive power. Imagine you would use 10 of those leds in series:

The new calculation would be

0.5A*9V*10 = 45W. For reactive power 230-(9V*10) = 176V*0.5A = 70VA

This is a batter circuit, with an increased power factor, so the more leds in series the better.

Obviously for a 115VAC input the values would be:

0.5*9*10 = 45W. For reactive power 115-(9V*10) = 176V*0.5A = 12.5VA

This is a very efficient circuit, and in fact one would be better using a resistor than a capacitor here, as the capacitance would be impractically high. The total consumption would therefore be 45+12.5 = 57.5W with an efficiency of 45/57.5 = 78%

Considerations: This type of circuit is live. There is no mains isolation and therefore the leds should be isolated from the heatsink with some thermal mica. If you cant isolate them, use a maximun of 10 leds in series attached to each heatsink.

And lastly, how to calculate the right capacitor to use:

Just as above calculate the resistance. For example, for 5 leds in series on a 230VAC supply it would be:

R=V/I = (230-(9*5))/0.5A = 185/0.5A = 370Ohm.

Go to this page:

Insert your line frequency (60 for America, 50 for Europe)

On the capacitor field try a few different values in steps of 1 uF.

9uF gives approximately 353Ohm which is idea, however the closest capacitor value is 8uF. This results in about 400Ohms.

185V/400Ohm = 462mA which is very close to 500mA (0.5A).

Marcos_El_Malo (author)2016-03-11

Really nice! I appreciate the work and thinking you put into this.

I've been out of the movie business for a while, so I'm not up on LED photo products, but I will tell you this. When I managed a movie equipment rental company (in the 90s) we bought the $10,000+ units because they were reliable, durable, and of course, powerful. Durability is a bfd. The lighting units have to survive a lot of punishment.

Around that time I also started to build my own lights for cheap, so I really appreciate what you're doing here. You're taking what I used to do to a much higher level.

Yonatan24 (author)Marcos_El_Malo2016-03-11


Each lighting (tent, I guess) costs over $10,000! WOW!

Were they LED's?

laith mohamed (author)2016-02-13

Your work charming.

Yonatan24 (author)laith mohamed2016-02-13

Thank You, I have V2.0 coming soon... :)

JohnLobster (author)2015-12-03

Excellent work - I really like the amount of detail you put into the instructable and the description of what didn't work and how you debugged it

A couple of ideas for improvements - there is a golden rule (well, good EE practice) of never have a connection that makes a mechanical and electrical connection. In step 15, the large red and black wires should have a mechanical connection (i.e. clamp onto heatsink) in addition to the soldered joint. So if someone pulls on the wires then they don't break the soldered joint, which is a little brittle due to the nature of solder.

The reason commercial LED lights cost so much is that they are spectrum balanced, so that the light spectrum matches sunlight as well as the temperature. Research CRI (Color rendering index). It's would to be hard to analyze your own setup

The other thing you could learn about is LED drivers. Once an LED turns on the voltage doesn't matter any more, but the current is what determines the brightness. So circuits that control current will be a bit more sophisticated. There are resources on the web for this kind of thing. Honestly if what you have works, don't mess with it, but hopefully this will stimulate your interest in electronics.

I see a lot of absolute <insert bad word> at Science fairs. To my mind, your work is perfect because it shows, research, practical problem solving and a "document as you go" mentality.

Yonatan24 (author)JohnLobster2015-12-18

Just fixed the wires (picture below), It's not perfect but you can probably agree with me that is is a lot better

Yonatan24 (author)Yonatan242015-12-26

Here it is :)

Yonatan24 (author)JohnLobster2015-12-04


I'll fix the wire connection, And I like that rule!

I am thinking of changing the drivers soon for something...

What do you mean by <insert bad word>?

JohnLobster (author)Yonatan242015-12-04

It's kind of an old computer nerd joke - in some software you can fill out fields with <> around them with specific information, so it's a way of cursing without saying anything bad

Good luck

Yonatan24 (author)2015-11-30

After over a month of working on this Instructable, IT'S DONE!

seamster (author)Yonatan242015-11-30

Nice work! This looks really good, and SUPER bright!! :)

Yonatan24 (author)seamster2015-11-30

Thanks Seamster! Thank you for comment!

About This Instructable




Bio: 15 year old, sick with a deadly disease called DIY-itis!
More by Yonatan24:IKEA Hack: DIY Flexible Arm Tripod!Unusual Uses for Broken & Dull Drill BitsImpossible Screw in a Block of Wood
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