Introduction: Build UV LED Box for Cyanotypes

About: Black and White Artist Photographer, who loves the great outdoors and adventures.

In this article we going to make a Cyanotype image with UV LED box.
Normally Cyanotype are traditionally developed in sunlight. The print are often called sun prints. But it is winter and it is cold! The UV light isn't so strong and readily available as within the summer. Wouldn't be great to make Cyanotype, Van Dyke Brown, Salt Papers at anytime during the year ? Even before the sun comes up or after it goes down! This box will produce an A3 or A4 size cyanotype print just after 5 minutes by use of UV LED lights. This box was design to be inexpensive and simple. The total should be no more than 70 euros.

Step 1: Get Started Video

The video demonstrates the UV LED Box in action and goes through the construction in detail.

Step 2: Parts List

  • 60 x 40 x 12 cm Box Black
  • 60 x 40 cm Box Lid Black
  • 2 x SMD 5050 LED Strip 5 metres
    (which are not IP rated for outdoors!) UV 395mm-405nm Wavelength.
    Do not purchase the SMD 2835 LED strip there not powerful enough for printing
  • Hot glue and glue gun
  • Cabling and connectors

Step 3: Disclaimer

When working with electronics and electricity use proper caution and safety. Ensure not to short circuit cables. I'm by no means responsible for any damage to anyone or anything. By building this kit your are responsible for UV exposure and electronics etc..

Step 4: Construction

  • Make lengths of 50cm strips from the LED rolls.
  • The 60x40 box only requires 9 strips of 50com per side. 18 lengths in total.
  • Each is strip is separated by 1 cm - the width of strip. Use one of the strips as a separator when stick down each strip.

I have split the LED light into two side, for best current distribution and have the added advantage of controlling the light power - half power or full power.

  • Each strip is alternated soldered with a yellow or blue wire for positive and black for negative.
  • The yellow wire is for the left side and the blue for the right side.
  • In the middle of each side the wires come together into a connector block.
  • Once everything is wired up, test each side with the power supply from the UV LED strip kit.
  • If everything is working hot glue down the cabling and the connectors.
  • Bring the two main cables out through a hole onto the top of lid. Wire in the connectors and hot glue down the cables, connectors then seal up the hole.

Note: The box will get warm after 20 minutes of use which should be no problem. I've used it for hour without issue. However switch off the box when not using.
If you wish to make a more robust version, I recommend placing everything on an aluminum plate. This I may do in the future. For now everything work pretty well.

Step 5: Strip Test

Download the strip test negative and print it out on A4/Letter size transparency on a laser or inkjet print.

Exposure the strip test page on the Cyanotype sensitized page for 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 minutes. Use a book to cover the each section and slide it along at 1, 1, 2, 2, 2 minute intervals.

[ Download Test Strip]

Step 6: Washing and Drying

Then leave the print face down in the slow flowing water. After 10 minutes inspect the results. Agitate the water with your hand from time to time. If there isn’t any yellow left on the paper it’s ready to hang up and dry.

Step 7: Conclusion

I was super excited by the results of my Cyanotypes using the UV LED Box. If you happen to build this box please do let me see your results. Happy Printing!

Original Post for updates and improvements