Articulating 70W Spectrum-Balanced LED Panel




Introduction: Articulating 70W Spectrum-Balanced LED Panel

About: I've been making Instructables since I was 13. Now, I mostly make videos of my projects, however I'm still active here, so don't hesitate to reach out! Sick with a deadly disease called DIY-itis!

In this Instructable, I will show you how to make your own 70W "Spectrum Balanced" LED Panel. It features a homemade wooden articulating arm, which consists of several different segments, and has 5 degrees of freedom, meaning that it can tilt, twist, swivel, and adjust to pretty much every possible way you can think of.

But... Why is it called "Spectrum Balanced"?

Ever wondered why you can't fall asleep quickly? Ever wondered why incandescent light bulbs make you feel "sleepy-ish"?

Did you know that different different types of lamps and spectrums (colors) affect your mood?

Cooler lights, and in this case, LED's that look bluer, are more efficient, and tend to improve alertness, attention, and wakefulness. So... Why aren't all lights blue? Aren't they perfect?

As with many things in life, when exaggerated, very cool lights have side effects. They affect your circadian rhythm and decrease melatonin levels, meaning that they make it harder to fall asleep (This is also why you shouldn't use electronic devices such as TV's/Phones/Computers several hours before going to sleep). They also tend to hurt your eyes, which can result in headaches!

Warmer LED's, however, tend to affect the circadian rhythm way less, and don't hurt your eyes as much.

For this exact reason, I built SpectrumLED - An Insanely Bright 200W Variable Spectrum LED Panel

Amazing, isn't it? To me, this is extremely interesting. If this interests you too, I recommend reading this article. If it doesn't, KEEP READING!

"Well...", You might ask: "If you already have a variable spectrum LED panel, why do you need another one?" When I work inside, I have a lot of light. I have SpectrumLED, my over cabinet LED strips, a 10W LED lamp, and more... However, when I work outside, all I have is a weak warm white fluorescent lamp. Not only is insufficient lighting a safety hazard, but it also makes the photos that I take for my Instructables awful! You'll see quite a bit of these bad picture in this Instructable...

In the summer, the sun would set pretty late, but now that the winter is coming, and by the time I get started making something, the sun has already set, and it's already dark in our balcony, which is where I complete most of my projects. Most of my projects produce either dust, or awful fumes, so working inside isn't an option. I refuse to work in the dark (not a lot of light, that is), so I decided that I would build another light panel.

Instead of building another SpectrumLED, I played around with SpectrumLED, and found that a mix of about 35% warm LED's and about 65% cool LED's produces a warm, yet not too warm spectrum, which looks great to my eyes, and to my camera!

Also, since I'm planning on starting to make YouTube videos for my new YouTube Channel, I've decided to take the dimmers to the next level, by using a high frequency "no flicker" rated dimmer. Little did I know how many problems I would have with this type of dimmer...

*Pssst! Make sure to check out my top comment (in the comments section) for a chance of winning several free PRO memberships to Instructables!

Step 1: What You'll Need

Below is a list for everything you'll need to complete this project. If you don't see something that you think should be here, please let me know in the comment section below. If you would like to know more about a specific tool/part that I used, feel free to ask in the comment section :)

Hardware & Materials:

4 Cool white 12V LED's

2 Warm white 12V LED's

High speed PWM dimmer

Big Heatsink w/ Fan

European Beech Wood (dimensions vary...)

12V 10A Power supply

Bolts w/ Hex nuts


Several zip-ties

Several screw connectors


Heat shrink tubing

Extremely fine sandpaper

Two shelf bracket

Alcohol swab


Chemicals & Adhesives:

Thermal adhesive

CA glue

Tools (+Attachments):

Drill bit set



Homemade Wooden Vise

Measuring tools

Speed square




Wire cutters

Electric/Power Tools:

Soldering iron




Subjects: Woodworking and Electronics

Recommended Safety Equipment: Ear Muffs, Respirator, Safety Goggles, Fume Extractor

Approximate Time: 10 Hours

Cost (for me): <$5

Difficulty: Fairly Hard

Step 2: Glue the LED's Onto the Heatsink

To begin the project, I sanded the copper surface with a very high grit sandpaper, and then cleaned it up with an alcohol swab. After that, I arranged the LED's the way that I wanted on the heatsink, and applied a bit of thermal paste on the back of each one, and glued all of them with the negative side facing one way. This will make the soldering process way easier. Here is a great video on how to apply thermal adhesive

I then clamped everything to my table with several clamps. This was done in order to squeeze all of the excess glue out. A couple hours later, I came back and removed the clamps. Little did I know how awful it turned out: The LED's twisted, and were totally out of their place. FAIL!

I had to repeat the whole step again...

Step 3: The Swiveling Head

As I mentioned earlier, the articulating arm consists of several different parts. This step will show how I made the swiveling head.

I started making the tilting head by camping a piece of wood in my homemade wooden vise. I used a hand saw to cut it to length, and then used CA glue to secure it firmly to one side of the heatsink. After it had cured, I made sure that the joint was strong, and added zipties, for even more strength!

I then used my Drill Press to drill a 10mm hole in the piece of wood that was previously glued onto the handle. After making sure all of my measurements were correct, I drilled another hole in another small piece of wood. To finish making the swiveling head, I chose a bolt with a small knob, and a hex nut, and assembled everything, as shown in the pictures.

Step 4: The Swiveling Base

I started by cutting two pieces of beech to pretty much the same length with my handsaw. The length doesn't really matter. Similar to the swiveling head, I then used a 10mm drill bit to drill out one hole in each piece, as shown in the pictures.

I finished it off by assembling, again, with a bolt that has small knob, a hex nut.

As you can probably see, my Drill-Press is far from drilling 90 degree holes. If someone has a tip or two for aligning it correctly, it would be really appreciated!

Step 5: The Big Swiveling Arm

I cut down to length two long pieces of Beech wood. Make these as long as you like...

Next, I clamped both pieces on top of each other, and drilled a 10mm hole. I then thought that the first piece of wood that was cut, in a previous step, wouldn't be strong enough, so I cut another bigger piece of beech with my handsaw. Better be safe than sorry!

I drilled a 10mm hole in the big beech piece, as shown in the pictures, and then added a big threaded rod, and a nut, and assembled everything. When I saw that it fit exactly like I wanted, I drove in three screws from the bottom. Don't forget to drill pilot holes! :)

Step 6: More Swiveling Arms!

For some unknown reason, the other two articulating arms didn't want to make themselves, so I had to do it myself :)

I disassembled what I had done in the last step, and drilled a 6mm hole in the other side of the huge pieces of wood. After that, I cut to size another piece of Beech, and drilled a 6mm hole too. I assemble it with another bolt and a screw

I repeated this step again to make the third articulating arm.

(I decided to create another step for this, since the previous one already had several pictures...)

Step 7: Mount the Heatsink Onto the Articulating Arm

A lamp needs a light source, right? Remember the heat-sink that I used in a previous step? In this step I will mount it onto the articulating arm.

I started by positioning the heat sink, until I found a way that it looked right. I then took a shelf bracket, and used a pen to mark where I needed to drive in screws. I drilled pilot holes, drove in the screws, and then repeated the process, so it was almost identical on the other side.

You DO NOT want a heatsink like this falling. While I got this one for free, these are pretty pricey...

Step 8: Solder the LED's in Parallel

These LED's will have to be soldered in parallel, since I'm powering them with a 12V power supply... These LED's are sold as 10W each but I measured them, and they're actually 12W. This is in case you're wondering why the title says 70W...

I started by tinning the leads on the LED's with my 40W soldering iron. After that, I removed part of the insulation from a stranded core wire, and soldered it directly to the LED's. This is the same type of wire that I used for SpectrumLED. I did this 2 more times. In total, twice for negative, and once for positive, and then soldered the wires, as shown in the pictures. Remember to pay attention to the polarity.

I also soldered both negative wires together, so they would form one wire.

I recommend going back to make sure that none of the wires to touch the heatsink with a multimeter.

As always, the fumes from the solder flux give me awful nausea, so I used my high power 3,500 RPM fume extractor. After finishing everything, I accidentally stuck my finger in my fume extractor. Here is my explanation, in case you're wondering why I have only half of my fingernail... Ouch!

Step 9: Attaching the Dimmer

The was the most most complicated and annoying step of all. Not my fault!

I quickly soldered longer wires to my LED's, because I had cut them to short...

After waiting 33 days for the dimmer to arrive from eBay, I connected the longer wires to the screw terminals that were on the dimmer, and zip tied the dimmer to the first articulating arm. I then used CA glue to secure the Potentiometer (knob) too.

The dimmer didn't work. It didn't work. Not at all. After wasting a ton of time, I still wasn't able to figure out what was wrong. Not my fault!

After being extremely mad, I remembered that my DSLR isn't really affected by PWM (unlike my phone), I decided to use the same dimmer that I used for SpectrumLED. I'll replace these as soon as another dimmer, which I bought now, will arrive. I decided not to wire the 12V fan, since this heatsink can dissapate quite a bit of heat even without the fan, and because I'm going to replace the dimmer soon anyway... I'll leave it for next time :)

YouTube, unfortunately, you'll have to wait...

Step 10: Use It! (Examples for Positions Below- Click on the Images)

Congrats! You've built your own articulating 70W spectrum-balanced LED panel! I had a ton of fun making it, and I hope you will too!

Other than the annoying problem with the dimmer, the panel has turned out WAY better than I thought it would! You'll see it in (the background of) many more of my upcoming Instructables. I definitely do recommend making it!

UPDATE!: See the comments section. I've added some more examples of pictures that were taken with this awesome thing! (Top comment)


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LED Contest

First Prize in the
LED Contest

Lamps and Lighting Contest 2016

Participated in the
Lamps and Lighting Contest 2016

2 People Made This Project!


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5 years ago

HUGE thanks to everyone that voted! I've won first prize in the LED Contest!


Reply 5 years ago

Congradulations on that! I was excited to see that you won first place with this. Indeed I'm back here taking a look at the parts needed. Will likely be ordering them today to make this! Yay! I'm excited. I'll share with you when finished.


Reply 5 years ago


I'm working on V2.0! Really excited to make it too-- I just ordered parts from eBay yesterday! :)


Reply 5 years ago

Are you using that heat sink fan at all? Have you needed it?


Reply 5 years ago

Yes(-ish), a few days ago.

I've installed a (non-flicker!) dimmer than works. Most of the time I don't use it on the strongest setting, so it doesn't generate as much heat.

However, sometimes I do, and the heatsink does get quite hot. I had to consider several other things while installing the heatsink, but one thing that I forgot is arranging it so it dissipates the heat correctly. Instead of letting the hot air rise, like it is supposed to, it needs air to flow from the side to cool it down (the fins of the heatsink are parallel to the ground).

In step 3, I glued the heatsink the wood, and while I was doing that, I too the opportunity, and added a bit of CA Glue to strengthen the connection between the heatsink and the fan.

I knew that this fan is really strong, but I only made sure that it worked while building the project. After finishing everything, I tested the fan, and saw that is was way more powerful than what I needed, and was also EXTREMELY loud. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to remove it, so I had to come up with a way to slow it down:

After a lot of experiments, I installed a voltage converter, and adjusted it so the voltage that comes to the fan at around 5V (I think). Now, when I adjust the dimmer/LED's to full brightness, the LED's will be pretty warm (a good temperature), the heatsink will be a bit warmer than room temperature, and I will be able to concentrate without the annoying loud noise if the fan...

Right now, the air is pretty cold, but in the summer, I will probably need to turn it up a bit.

Hope this helps! I can add a picture if needed :)


Reply 5 years ago

Good things to know. Frankly I've never made a lamp before, so this will be a good experience for me. I was originally planning on re-using an old heatsink and fan from a PC we have here not being used, but when I went to look at it, the surface is flat just enough for the CPU it was made for, so I ordered something else with a flat surface and 12v fan. I was thinking about actually screwing the leds to the heatsink instead of gluing them. I do know a thing or two about PC's and thermal compound needs to be replace eventually, so I think this would be the best way to go. I've seen people do this on YouTube. And I ordered this dimmer: I will be wiring in parallel as you did, so this should work, we'll see. It will be awhile yet though, some of the parts are coming from out of country. This will be fantastic though once done. I've offically moved my "electronics learning/play area" to a room with very poor lighting.


Reply 5 years ago

Unfortunately most CPU heatsinks are like that... I've been having a bit of trouble finding a good one for V2.0

For SpectrumLED, 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.

I've heard that thermal paste dries out, but I don't think this adhesive will. We'll see... :)

Quick tip: Before you glue the LED's onto the heatsink, make sure all of them actually work. These are super cheap and normally, quite a bit of them have a few LED's that don't work...

Are you going to hang it somewhere/put it on an existing lamp, or build the articulating arm? If you're building an articulating wooden arm, it might be worth waiting for V2.0's I'ble, as I'm planning to do several improvements. I'm not sure when I'm going to publish it, though probably around the middle of January.

(Unless I find a proper heatsink, it will sound like a million and a half years from now.)


Reply 5 years ago

Here's the heatsink/fan I picked. Maybe that will help.

No, I won't be making the arm. I don't have tools really for woodworking so instead I will be repurposing an old gooseneck lamp that's been sitting around unused and just jerry rig the setup in place... lol

Zen Innovations
Zen Innovations

4 years ago

This is extremely good project!

Sun's CCT is roughly 4800K which can be achieved by a healthy mix of cool and warm LEDs.

Zen Innovations
Zen Innovations

Reply 4 years ago

Hello and yes,
I have seen almost all of your projects. They are quite neat!
Here are mine-


Reply 4 years ago

Just saw you Laptop lamp I'ble. :)


Reply 4 years ago

Thank you!

I didn't get notified for both of your comments, but have seen them now! It appears to be some kind of bug so far...


5 years ago

This is going to be very helpful to me as regards the articulating arms and clamping, etc., though I have zero skills in soldering or electrical stuff. But it is sturdy and looks like what I've been wishing I could set up if I had the design ability! Thanks!


Reply 4 years ago

Wow, thanks for remembering me! That's quite a setup you have there. I haven't done much of anything in the way of making stuff as most of last year I've been fighting health problems. Now I've got this bookmarked, too. It's a bit bigger than what I would need in my dining room, which is where I do my crafts etc. but the concept is attractive. I like the circular disks for rotation! Thanks again!


Reply 5 years ago

Glad you liked it!

The articulating arm is really stable. I was planning to use this as a tripod, but I am a bit to picky about taking pictures... :)

I don't think you need a lot of experience with soldering for a project like this, but I don't think it's for "beginners". If you need any help, feel free to contact me :)