Introduction: Tripod Light

Picture of Tripod Light

These tripod lights work wonderfully for locating (and not tripping over) your tripod, as well as for reading maps, star charts, assembling gear, and making yourself visible to vehicular traffic.

I decided to build a lighting system for my tripod after "losing" my tripod while watching a meteor shower in a dark sky preserve, man was it ever dark! Even using my very bright torch flashlight, my cousin and I spent a lot of time wandering around, and almost found the tripod by running into it.

The red light functionality of this model does not have a major effect on your night vision, allowing continuous viewing of the stars. The LED's can also be set to flash to scare off animals and to make the tripod VERY visible (warning if your photos are not timed in sync with the LED's it can cause fluctuations in the light levels).

The music used in this video is composed by my good friend BrayX4, make sure to check it out on sound cloud!
https://soundcloud.com/brayx4/creative-inspiration

A huge thank you to Instructables, AutoDesk, MediaTek, and Penolopy Bulnick for sending me the Link It One used in this instructable.



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Step 1: Wiring Harness

Picture of Wiring Harness

The purpose of the wiring harness is to run all three LED strips in parallel. First split and strip the leads from the LED strip connector.

Then cut and strip three pieces of each color of wire (color coding is not required but it will save you a lot of hassle).

Twist each color of wire onto the leads of the strip connector, then heat shrink the joint together (you may wish to add solder to the joints for greater rigidity, but solder will also decease the flexibility and vibration tolerance).

Next bundle the wires into three groups of four (one wire of each color in each group) then heat shrink the groups together.

Finally place a large piece of heat shrink covering from the strip connector plug to where the wire groups split off from the main wiring harness.

Step 2: Wiring the LED's

Picture of Wiring the LED's

Cut the LED strips to length using side cutters or shears, make sure to cut the copper contacts in half (otherwise one end will be unusable).

Then use a knife to bare the contacts from their protective silicone coating.

Once the contacts have been bared solder on the hot and multiple ground leads (make sure not to mix up the colors, unless you want a multi color tripod).

Make sure to test the LED's before heat shrinking, incase there is a bad solder connection.

Step 3: A) Led Controller Wiring

Picture of A) Led Controller Wiring

If you are using a LinkItOne or other microcontroller please skip this step.

The supplied LED controllers require a 9 volt power supply to power the LED's and their own circuit boards. The simplest way to do this is to wire a custom battery connector.

Strip the leads on the 9 volt battery clip, slip heat shrink tubing over the wires, then attach the standard 9 volt plug.

Once you have tested the power supply seal the cord with heat shrink and electrical tape.

Step 4: B) MediaTek LinkIt One Wiring

Picture of B) MediaTek LinkIt One Wiring

For more LED control you may wish to use a microcontroller. If you are using the supplied LED controller skip the next two steps.

Place the three MOSFETS onto the development board, then run jumper wires from the center pins to two of the LED outs and one regular digital pin on the LinkIt. (I ran the blue to the digital pin, so my blue LED's will only have I/O control)

Next connect a split LED strip connector to one side of each MOSFET, and the hot wire to the power strip.

Then run jumpers from the other side of each MOSFET to the ground strip (NOTE: I mixed up the wires in my photos, if you do this just swap the battery leads to resolve the problem :-).

Next connect the 9 volt battery to the to the battery clip, and the wiring harness to the connector on the development board.

You are now ready to start programming.

Step 5: B) LinkIt One Programming

Mosfets can either be controlled by a PWM pin (its value may vary form 0 to 1023) for controlling the brightness of the LEDs or by any digital pin (its value may be on or off).

Define the chosen pins as outputs using the "pinMode" command ie) pinMode (D9, OUTPUT)

To send a signal to the pin use the "digitalWrite" command ie) digitalWrite (D9, 1023);

Step 6: Tripod Attachment

Picture of Tripod Attachment

The attachment method will vary depending on the type of tripod you own.

If your tripod does not have horizontal supports double sided Velcro strips do a wonderful job of attacking the LED's. Simply trim the Velcro to length, then bare portions of the adhesive backing on the LED strips, and secure to the legs of your tripod.

If your tripod does have horizontal stabilizers, you can simply bare the adhesive backing and stick the LED strips onto the stabilizers.

Step 7: Testing

Picture of Testing

These tripod lights work wonderfully for locating (and not tripping over) your tripod, as well as for reading maps, star chars, assembling gear, and making yourself visible to vehicular traffic.

The integration of a LinkIt one allows for many more options such as audio synced lights, WiFi or SMS control, and even smart functionality (such as adjusting brightness based on current light conditions).

Make sure to post suggestions and photos of your completed projects in the comments.

Have a great day! :-)

Comments

ItsGraGra (author)2017-01-13

Great idea, definitely need some light out there in the dark.

Being able to sync it with your shutter release is a great idea too.

But how long do you think that little 9v battery will last?

Each LED draws about 25mA. I'm guessing about 10-15 minutes, better to use a power bank or a larger rechargeable battery of some kind.

How are you powering the Linkit? Not off the same battery I hope.

Can you post the firmware?

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Bio: I am an inventive photographer, Pilot, and MacGyver. I love building and modifying things to aid in my adventures. Check out my Website! Have a ... More »
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