Introduction: Super Bright / Variable Brightness LED PANEL
In this Instructable I am going to show you how to make super bright, very sturdy, properly cooled, variable brightness, accurate color producing LED PANEL for photography, video work or any general lighting.
This LED panel's design focuses on the lighting quality, durability of the panel and the LED strips longevity.
Full in depth build video:
TOOLS YOU'LL NEED:
- Jigsaw https://amzn.to/2GxvuHL
- Clamps: https://amzn.to/2Gwzkkr
- Sanding paper: https://amzn.to/2qa42sX
- Small drill: https://amzn.to/2Gw1Fve
- Countersink drill bit: https://amzn.to/2GxqCGD
- Utility knife: https://amzn.to/2Jy9ApY
- Diagonal cutting pliers: https://amzn.to/2q4B8Lr
- Wire Stripper: https://amzn.to/2GJTtDD
- Scissors: https://amzn.to/2Jl3BEU
- Ruler: https://amzn.to/2Jgwcv3
- Soldering kit: https://amzn.to/2JjnAnp
- Fretsaw: https://amzn.to/2GAv6bE
- Hot glue gun https://amzn.to/2q3dpv4
- Screwdrivers (local hardware store)
- Hex bit sockets (local hardware store)
MATERIALS YOU'LL NEED:
- Aluminum plate ~3.15 mm, 0.125 inches: https://amzn.to/2ICoHNM
- Plexiglas / Polycarbonate sheet: https://amzn.to/2q5colf
- PVC U Profile: https://amzn.to/2GGlsEm (like this)
- LED STRIP 90+ CRI: https://amzn.to/2DVNdqp
- Camera Flash Hot Shoe Mount Adapter: https://amzn.to/2uq2eRV
- High-Speed PWM Dimmer 8A: https://amzn.to/2Gk4Thz
- 12V 8A Power Supply: https://amzn.to/2Ib7lao
- 11 Inch Articulating Arm: https://amzn.to/2Gj9Irk
- Similar DIY Project Box: https://amzn.to/2uzZd1r
- 12V power socket: https://amzn.to/2qlIj1g
- Electrical tape: https://amzn.to/2q1bTtt
- Wood glue: https://amzn.to/2JgST20
- Paint (local hardware store)
- Thick wires (local hardware store)
- Thin wires (local hardware store)
- Screws, nuts, washers (local hardware store)
Step 1: Preview of the LED Panel That We Will Be Making
First, some different angles of the LED Panel.
Okay! Let's start!
Step 2: Preparing Aluminum Plate
First you need to cut an aluminum plate (ideal thickness of aluminum plate 3-4mm) to 28.4 x 21.2 cm size. Sand sharp corners.
Then drill three 5mm holes in each side for screws and wires.
Use 25 x 20 cm printed template of your LED strips or you can use mine (https://drive.google.com/open?id=1cRCqYTaRL_Kdp8ds...), mark and drill holes that individual LEDs won't end up under the screw holes.
Use countersink bit drill that flat head screws wont be sticking out of the panel.
Step 3: Plexiglas / Polycarbonate Sheet Cutting
You need to cut the Plexiglas to the exact same size as the aluminum plate (28.4 x 21.2 cm).
First you need to cut grooves into the Plexiglas. Groove depth should be about haft of the Plexiglas thickness. Now you need to clamp the Plexiglas and bend it until it brakes. Use level tool, wood board or anything similar to bend with.
Then drill 5mm holes in all corners of the Plexiglas in same places like on the aluminum plate.
Test that screws will fit in all corners.
Step 4: PVC U Profile Cutting
Cut the PVC U profile to length of 21.2 cm. Easiest way to do that is to do longer rough cuts first and then trim pieces to 21.2 cm of length.
Step 5: Placing Electrical Tape
Place an electrical tape on the both sides of an aluminum plate. This will prevent LED strips from short circuit.
Puncture holes with screwdriver where the tape covers all the previously drilled holes.
Then mark spots with interval of 1cm on both sides of the aluminum plate. This will help to glue the LED strips at correct angle and spacing.
Step 6: Choosing Good Quality LED Strips and Gluing Them
On build like this, you should only use good quality LED Strips. Cheap LED strips has really dull and unnatural colors compared to more expensive ones.
Cut 5 meter LED strip to 25cm pieces. Now you have 20 pieces of the LED strip, which you need to glue on the aluminum plate.
Just don't forget to add and tighten the screws, because you won't be able to do that later.
Step 7: Making Side Contacts
You need to cut two 20 cm length thick wires and mark 20 spots on each wire, where you'll need to cut protective material.
Also cut more protective material in the middle on both thick wires. There we'll be soldering other wire which will be routed to the back of the panel.
Then hot glue both wires to each side of the panel.
Step 8: Soldering All LED Strips
Cut protective material from the thinner wire, twist it and cut it.
Now you need to solder all the positive LED strip contacts to the thick wire in one side, and in another all the negative contacts to other thick wire.
Step 9: Finishing Soldering
Add electrical tape to protect contacts.
Cut away some electrical tape that you could solder the wire which will be routed to the back side of the panel.
Add hot glue around the wire that you couldn't pull it out.
Step 10: Holes Drilling in PVC Profile
Drill holes on the PVC U profile in the same spots like on the aluminum plate.
First just drill on the PVC profile's back side and place it on the panel.
Now use smaller drill bit and drill pilot hole (you can do it by hand, PVC profile is quite soft).
Finally, from other side drill full size hole (5mm). Do this on all other corners.
Step 11: Placing Plexiglas on the Panel
Place Plexiglas under PVC profiles. PVC profile is quite soft so it's easy to bend it. This makes placing Plexiglas on the panel much easier job.
Step 12: Screwing Plexiglas
Add screws and tighten nuts, but DO NOT over tighten, that will crack Plexiglas.
Step 13: Making Base
Cut some parts from 6mm plywood for the LED panel's bracket. Yours might be different, it depends on the DIY electronic component box (the box in which we'll need to put dimmer and 12V power socket) size.
Then drill holes for the screws which are in the middle of the aluminum plate. And also don't forget to drill holes for the electrical component box.
Now glue all parts and leave it to dry.
Step 14: Camera Shoe Adapter and Painting
After glue completely dried up, you need to cut hole for the camera hot shoe adapter with a fretsaw. Don't cut the hole too big. Camera hot shoe adapter should fit very tightly.
Then paint the bracket with any paint you like.
Step 15: Gluing Camera Shoe Adapter
Place the camera shoe adapter in the bracket and hot glue it from both sides.
Step 16: Placing Components in the Box
You need high speed PWM dimmer which can maintain at least 8A current (also you'll need 12V power supply which can deliver 8A).
And you need 12V power socket.
Drill holes in the box for these 2 components.
Step 17: Final Soldering
Solder short wires to the 12V power socket. Place dimmer and power socket in the box.
Solder + and - wires from the power socket to the dimmer where "power" is written.
Solder + and - wires from the LED panel to the dimmer where "motor" is written.
Add electrical tape on the contacts and screw the box to the bracket.
Step 18: Finishing Panel
Place the bracket on the panel, add washers, add nuts and tighten them.
You'll need 11 inch articulating arm, which will be holding the panel and allow for easy angle adjustments.
And you have done it!
Step 19: Results
Comparing to my old fluorescent light panel this new compact LED panel is super bright!
Also colors look amazing! No more that horrible color cast!
Step 20: The END
YOU CAN FOLLOW ME:
We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.
In the event that you can't find an 8A 12V power supply at your local store, multiple dc supplies can be placed in parallel to increase the amp availability.
Do you know if there could be a problem with heat issues with placing the plexiglass that close to the LED's? It looks like it could trap the heat in there. I know the aluminum plate takes a lot of the heat away but I made a LED panel with them mounted on a aluminum plate but the front of the LED's get pretty warm after running for a long time. I want to add a plexigalss cover as well but am afraid it could trap in heat and cause problems. If yours stays cool then it will give me confidence with adding it to mine.
Mine stays cool because there are gaps in the bottom and top of the LED panel (between aluminum plate and Plexiglas). Cold air goes from the bottom and on top hot air escapes (automatic natural air circulation). If you are not planing completely trap air, it will be fine.
Is there any reason one could not use plastic in place of the aluminum? By plastic I mean polystyrene or persplex/plexi-glass.
The main reason that you shouldn't use plastic is - overheating of the LED strips. Aluminum absorbs heat way better, and prevents LED strips from overheating.
If you running LED strips at 12V then you need some sort of metal heat sink.
If you don't want to use any heat sink then you should run LED strips at lower voltage, like 9V.