Introduction: 200W, CRI-97, 20000-lm Studio Light (Auto Fan Speed + Remote Dimming)
In this instructable/video, I will be making my most powerful and highest quality LED light so far. It is a 200W light that consists of 4 x Cree CMA1825 LEDs. They are from the Premium Color lineup and has a CRI (Color Rendering Index) of 97 and R9 (Strong Red) of 95. You can read why R9 is so important here: What is CRI R9 and Why is it Important?
The light has an active cooling system in which speed is controlled depending on the temperature. Also, you can dim, turn ON/OFF not only on the light but also with wireless remote control ( INSTRUCTIONS for the controller ).
If you need a general idea HOW TO SELECT A DRIVER FOR LED and what driver type is better (CONSTANT CURRENT vs CONSTANT VOLTAGE) you should check my DIY BASICS video.
Remember that projects like these require knowledge and experience when dealing with high voltage, if you don’t have it, mistakes can lead to a fatal injury!
Provided Amazon links are affiliates.
- 12V drill https://amzn.to/2U5QQmL
- 20V drill https://amzn.to/2MY3GRt
- Drill press https://amzn.to/35f93nO
- Speed square https://amzn.to/2Ee6lDh
- Forstner bits https://amzn.to/3azsfOZ
- Soldering kit https://amzn.to/2X0eCVq
- Multimeter https://amzn.to/2MTl4Xs
- Acrylic cutting knife https://amzn.to/2QZBmR4
- Tap set https://amzn.to/3bxb8yX
- Plastic bending tool https://youtu.be/romwNn7Qpgo
- 3D printer (optional) https://amzn.to/3bxb5mw
Main Components & Materials:
- Aluminum heatsink https://amzn.to/3304NI7
- 80mm fans https://amzn.to/356uNUY
- 80mm fan grills https://amzn.to/3jNiFfW
- 1 to 3-way fan splitter cable https://amzn.to/2Zb7plA
- Temperature fan speed controller https://amzn.to/3bvR14a
- 12V 1A power adapter (any 12W or more constant voltage driver)
- Cree CMA1825 LED https://bit.ly/2Dt4jla or https://bit.ly/2Dt4jla
- LED holders https://bit.ly/35bCSbf
- LED driver https://amzn.to/320B9n7 or https://amzn.to/320B9n7
- LED dimmer (Receiver: LSD-KL + Remote: LSD-RT1) https://bit.ly/3jQcsQk
- Thermal compound/paste https://amzn.to/2Z9pIr7
- Light stand adapter https://amzn.to/3lU5f3u
- Plastic sheet, wires, AC plug, metal strip, bolts, washers, screws.
You can follow me:
Step 1: PREVIEW
Preview shots of the light.
Like what I do? Consider becoming a PATRON! This is a great way to support my work and get extra benefits! https://www.patreon.com/DIYPerspective
For this project, I used four Cree CMA 1825 LEDs. One chip is rated at 61W max and has a high CRI (Color Rendering Index) of 97, as it is from the Premium Color (fidelity) lineup. As CRI consists of the average value of the different colors, you want to make sure that a manufacturer specifies the R9 or strong red value, as it is probably the most important color of the spectrum. Also, it is very hard to recreate it for LEDs and the low value of it can be hidden by the CRI average.
I took the 4000K color temperature LED variant as it gives that slightly warm feel without sacrificing too much illumination.
To cool them I chose one big aluminum heatsink (300x69x36mm).
To mount the LEDs – four solderless holders, they are more expensive, but wiring them is very easy.
As the heatsink is relatively small to passive cool LEDs, I need to actively cool them with three 80mm fans. Three fan grills are also a good idea if you like your fingers without cuts.
To control the fans depending on the heatsink temperature I used a fan speed controller, which increases fan speed gradually with a temperature. More about it and set up later.
To power the controller, I need a small 12V power supply. And to power the LEDs, I need a constant current driver with dimming support. On this one, I can control the dimming function with a potentiometer, 10V PWM signal, or 1-10V input voltage.
To remotely control the brightness of the LEDs I will use a dimmer that has dimming support by the previously mentioned voltage method. It is a basic remote-controlled dimmer that is rated at 1.5A MAX.
Dimmers like these usually have AC IN and OUT, this lets dimmer to cut the power off when you press the button. And 0-10V voltage signal lets you control the LED driver, which changes the brightness accordingly. You can disassemble it from the bigger frame.
And finally, if you want to mount the light on a tripod, you will need a light stand adapter.
So, the first step I took, I marked the spots where bolts for the LED holders will be. Punching a drill start point is always a good idea. And having a drill press or a good drill guide (Making the ULTIMATE Drill Guide With CNC Parts) will help you to make perfectly spaced holes.
For taping the holes, I just used a drill with a regular M3 size tap bit. Cleaning the other side from the semi-loose chips will ensure that none of them come loose and tangle or short circuit electronic components.
After a quick test fit, everything looks perfect.
So now I started to mount the LEDs. Make sure you put them correctly, there are markings for positive and negative contacts. I cleaned the surface with 99% isopropyl alcohol and applied a very thin layer of high quality and long durability thermal compound. With LEDs secured in place this starting to get a proper high-power lighting look.
At this point I wanted to test it so, I cut some wires which can handle at least 3A and 200V, and connected LEDs in series. On solderless holders, you just push in a wire and it automatically locks in.
When connecting in series voltage is multiplied. In my case, this constant current power supply will deliver 1.4A, and at that current one LED voltage will be around 38V. So 38V multiplied by 4 is 152V!
And this is time for a disclaimer, as we reach high voltages, improper handling can lead to a fatal injury. So if you don’t have the required knowledge and experience, please don’t mess with it!
And if you are qualified for messing with it, you should check my video guide on how to choose a power supply and why constant current is the way to go for the LEDs. As it is easier to explain in a video format than with written words.
Next, I drilled and tapped two holes for the mounting of the heatsink. I also made two more holes – one for the temperature sensor and another for the ground wire.
I drilled more holes on the bigger holder, that previously attached brackets of the heatsink would fit here. With all these right angles connected I marked spots where the power supply will be secured. With more drilling and more bolting everything in place, I had a very rigid construction.
At this point, I needed to figure out how to configure the fan temperature controller. So, I connected everything for a testing session. The printed instructions look quite intimidating, I can tell you that for sure! Also, translations are quite bad and are hard to understand. So this is hopefully a quicker and more clear version to get you started:
- When you short press the button you enter the mode where you can set the minimum fan speed (the middle red LED rapidly blinks). By pressing once the same button, you increase the minimal fan speed. And by pressing two times quickly you decrease it. Wait 20 seconds till the LED stops flashing and the setting will be saved.
- To set the the desired minimum temperature at which fans will spin at your previously set minimum speed, you need to long-press the button until you see slow blinking one or few LEDs. Like before, if you short press - you increase and if you quickly press two times - you decrease the value.
- Now you look at the table (2nd photo) and to the blinking LEDs on the controller and match the pattern. For example, if I want a 40C degrees, I match that only the first and the second LED would flash. Now long-press the button and settings are saved and you now automatically entered the mode of maximum temperature (3rd photo) where fans will spin at a full speed.
- To select the value is the same as the step before, but keep in mind that this value will add up to the previously set minimum degree value. If I previously set 40C degrees as the minimum and now I select the 10C degrees as maximum, this means that at 50C degrees fans will spin at full speed. And anything in between 40 and 50C degrees, the controller will adjust the speed gradually from set minimum to maximum. Long-press the button to save.
- And the final option let you turn off fans completely if the temperature is 2 or 5 degrees lower than the minimum degree value you have set (by default this option is turned off). To do that, turn off the controller, unplug fans, press and hold the button. Now power on the controller while still holding the button. After few seconds you see quick double blinking LEDs.
- Now you select the desired option. If I want 5 seconds, which is option number 3, I press the button until the third LED is blinking. Long-press the button to save.
And this is all you need to know to fully set up this controller.
I cut pieces for the light’s outer shell from a 3mm HIPS plastic. By using my made old and trusty plastic bending tool, I formed the sheets into the right dimension parts. Then I cut out a few templates to check where I need to cut out holes on the cover.
I previously tested and find out that to make the holes in the right position, the best way is to first make tiny holes and only then drill with a forstner bit. This is because the middle tip of the bit doesn’t provide much cutting. This is fine on wood as it is a soft material. But as plastic is hard compared to wood, you need to press way too hard. Meanwhile, with a small hole cutting pressure feels more like on wood.
To connect the cover to the frame and the other covering part, I made more holes and right-angle brackets with threaded rivets. It’s a long alignment process, but if you take the time, usually everything will fit perfectly.
Next, I soldered LED wires to the power supply’s output DC wires and made custom brackets to hold the fans together and to hold them to the frame. At this point, I realized that heatsink became automatically grounded as I secured it with metal right angles to the power supply. This meant that I just need to secure the thermal sensor from the controller.
As I started this project a long time ago, I now finally own a 3D printer, which lets me make parts while I work on other things. If you still don’t have one, trust me, as it will change your life! The adapter is printed from a PETG filament and the controller just clicks in place and will be secured from outside with two screws.
I additionally made tiny holes in the dimmer’s frame that hot air could get out, as I will be utilizing 2/3 of its max power. Hopefully, it will run cooler and work longer.
To connect everything, it might seem it is hard, but actually, it is pretty easy:
- AC input wires (plug from the wall) go to the AC IN on the dimmer.
- AC wires from two power supplies go to AC OUT on the dimmer.
- To enable dimming support, DIM wires from the LED’s power supply (last photo) goes to the 0-10V OUT connectors on the dimmer.
- The OUTPUT wires from the constant current power supply to the LEDs.
- And 12V from the small power supply to the controller.
- Don’t forget to hook all fans and we are done.
I made a sturdy bracket for the light from a 4mm thick construction metal strip. You can easily bend it with a basic setup like in the photo. Of course, the first test what bending angle you are getting and calculate where you need to bend accordingly, to get the right size part. And with 3 coats of paint, this looks just perfect!
Meanwhile, printing finished, and I can heat the parts and press in the M8 size locknuts. You can find almost anything you need at www.thingiverse.com.
Before the final assembly, I additionally trimmed the wires and zip-tied them that putting everything into the frame wouldn’t be a huge pain.
I attached the ground wire to the LED’s power supply and AC IN on the dimmer. To prevent the cable from pulling out – few zip ties. A little bit of struggle to put everything in place, but after a few tries – success. I secured everything with bolts and added spacers where needed.
Finally, I can add washers then the holder, then washers again and tighten with previously made knobs. It holds firmly in place. What’s left is to add the dimming knob and adapter to mount on a regular light stand. And it’s done!
Few things that I will make later are some sort of a transparent LED protection cover and a light diffuser.
This is definitely the longest and most expensive project I have made so far. For me, do it yourself is about making something my way and learning from the process. If I can make something cheaper than I can buy, then it’s cool, but it is not always the case.
This time however I saved a perceptible amount of money because these studio-quality lights are so niche and they can charge insane amounts of money for it.
Try making high-CRI lighting solutions yourself. When you compare it and see how richer and natural colors can look you will never want to go back. It doesn’t need to be a 200W overkill like this, but it needs to be high-quality LEDs from a trusted reseller. If you want quality never buy those low-CRI no-name LEDs from China.
It also doesn’t need to be specifically Cree brand LEDs, use anything you like, just make sure there are detailed datasheets with in-depth specifications to get all the needed information.
Step 16: End
I hope this instructable/video was useful and informative. If you liked it, you can support me by liking this Instructable / YouTube video and subscribe for more future content. Feel free to leave any questions about this build. Thank you, for reading/watching! Till next time! :)
You can follow me:
You can support my work: