Introduction: DIY 200W Indoor Light W/ Sturdy Aluminum Frame
If you know me, then you know that I love making all kinds of lighting solutions. I made lights that had plywood frames, ones that had plastic, others fully 3D printed, and more. But I never made one that was made mainly from metal. Until now! It has so much METAL (wink wink) and the open frame gives that special homemade look, which you can love or hate. :)
If you are not interested in the light itself, then I suggest at least take a peek at the frame and how to make one from aluminum. It is insanely rigid for its weight and you can adapt it for your other types of DIY projects.
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- 3D printer https://amzn.to/3syckJk
- 12V drill https://amzn.to/2U5QQmL
- Jigsaw https://amzn.to/2rg4uXx
- Clamps https://amzn.to/2YKWmRS
- Soldering kit https://amzn.to/2X0eCVq
- Multimeter https://amzn.to/3bLuEIx
- Wire strippers https://amzn.to/2ZR3KJp
- Cutting pliers https://amzn.to/3qTLNWC
- Center punch https://amzn.to/3neEeuG
Main Components & Materials:
- 36V 150W PSU https://amzn.to/2YDDiWv
- Cree CXA2530 CRI90 4000K ~100lm/w LEDs https://bit.ly/CXA2530
- LM2596 DC-DC buck converter https://amzn.to/3jSpM9B
- 65W CPU heatsinks
- 80mm fan grills
- 20x20x2 aluminum L profile
- M3x8mm pan hex head bolts
- M3 nuts, locknuts
- Acrylic transparent sheet
- AC cable
- Wires, pair of silicone wires, heat-shrink tube, small zip ties
Step 1: Components Overview
To make the light, the first thing that you need is of course a light source. I am using four ~100lm/w 65W (MAX) Cree CXA2530 90CRI LED chips. Two of them are 4000K and the other two 5000K, and it is because I just had those types at the moment.
To hold LEDs I used two TE Connectivity Z50 1818 LED HOLDERS (2213401-2) and two basic holders from China (again, as I just got that stuff laying around). And honestly, those Z50 solderless holders are nice but as they cost half of the LED price they are just not worth it in this case. Generic or even 3D-printed (from ABS or any other more heat-resistant filament) ones will do the job.
To power them the ideal variant would be a constant current power supply (if you don't know the difference between constant current and constant voltage powering methods check this video). I made a high-power and quality studio light with that method, but for LEDs that don't cost that much and will have a very good cooling with an open frame, the regular constant voltage power supply is my choice. Also, they cost way less in the 200W+ range. As I managed to find an excellent deal I bought two MeanWell LRS-150-36 150W power supplies instead of one ~300W and that cost me less (it is a very rare case). Two PSUs will fit way better for my project.
To cool the LEDs I will be using the cheapest ~65W coolers that I could find - Deepcool CK-AM209. They use 80mm fans.
To reduce the power from 36V to 12V of those fans I will be using the LM2596 DC-DC buck converter.
To make the frame I used a 20x20x2mm aluminum L profile of 2meters.
Step 2: Making the Frame
Making the aluminum frame is a process that requires only basic tools (drill+jigsaw), but it can take a while. That is because you just can't drill all holes at once through multiple pieces. Instead, you need to:
- Mark and drill holes on the bottom parts that will go on top of other bottom parts.
- Now you can place that piece and mark where to drill on the other pieces.
- When you are done with the bottom, you do the same with the sides and the top. It is a lot of marking, drilling, and temporary assembly, be patient when making.
To temporarily assemble, I used M3 bolts and regular nuts. For the final assembly, I changed to the locknuts. I drilled holes slightly wider than the bolts - 3.5mm for an M3 bolt. If you don't have that size drill bit just use 4mm, but never 3mm as you will have a really bad time when trying to align everything.
Step 3: Placing LEDs
To mount LEDs to the heatsinks you need to mark, drill the holes, tap them to form a thread, solder wires to the LEDs, add thermal compound (thermal paste or thermal pad), and secure them to the heatsink. It is a simple and not hard process if you do it with care and the "measure twice cut once" motto. So it takes a while to make one and we need FOUR OF THEM :D (yes, I know, heatsinks are different in the final build because I borrowed the first five photos from my previous project to better show the process).
To connect all LEDs together I printed holders (attached the STL file if you want them) that connect fans together. And for another side, I made more holes, taped them, and secured heatsinks to the frame.
Same with the power supplies, I drilled holes in the frame to secure them and used a tiny piece of aluminum to connect them together. That forms a rigid connection despite not having a complete frame.
Step 4: Wiring & More
As I am using not fully closed power supplies, I added an acrylic sheet to cover the tops and glued it with double side tape to the bottom of the fans. But why? Well, it only goes under fans and not the heatsinks. The heatsinks will force the air inside, providing an active cooling that will be exhausted at the end. And yes the hotter air will be recirculated but as this is an open frame it is a non-issue (I tested for hours and power supplies with LEDs run very cool).
The wiring here is basic but again takes a while to make it. As I have two power supplies I powered two LEDs from one power supply. Also, power supplies like these have small potentiometers for voltage adjustment. So before connecting LEDs make sure to adjust them to correct voltage for your LEDs (the last three pictures).
Same with the buck converter. First, don't forget to connect it to the power supply and adjust the output voltage before connecting it to the 12V fans. I also printed a neat cover for the converter that also covers the left power supplies contacts.
As I am using two power supplies and I want one power cable I routed the AC contacts from the left power supply to the right side with silicone wires that have a good heat resistance (as they will be inside of other PSU).
And finally to secure the power cable and hide the contacts of the right power supply I printed two very specific parts. Just make sure to use a cable with ground wire, because the frame is from aluminum, which is electrically conductive. So, yeah no switch, no dimmer, because I will be using it as a work light. And when working I need all the light I can get!
You can see that I am not going in-depth with the wiring and not showing how to wire. This is because it involves AC voltage from the mains. If you don't know how to wire this kinda very basic circuit then probably you shouldn't do it. I am not trying to insult you or anything, I just care about your safety. <3
Step 5: Finishing Touches
For the final touches, I glued a sheet of acrylic sheet in front of LEDs with a 3M VHB double side tape. Those sheets usually have ~92% of light transmission percentage, so no it will not melt. If at that distance where the cover is LED produces 100C of heat that roughly means 8% or only 8C will be absorber. If you don't place any objects close in front of the light and sometimes clean the cover it will be just fine.
And for the fans, I added fan grills. It is never fun to accidentally put a finger into a fan!
And this is pretty much it! A very bright 20000 lm (100lm/w x 200W) LED light with a high color rendering index of 90. So not only a lot of light but also good natural color light!
And if you think you can find a similar 20k lm light with CRI90 to buy for a similar price, well you just can't. You either can find work lights at a similar price to this DIY one that has horrible color rendering like 70, or you can find CRI90+ studio lights that cost A LOT more. There is nothing in between. That is the reason why I made this light.
Even when I am working, I just can't go back to "dead-looking colors" that low CRI lights make. It is a similar feeling for me as going from a 120Hz monitor back to 60Hz, haha. Who tried that, knows what I am talking about!
So I hope you liked the project and have a better understanding of why I made this very raw and cool-looking light. :)
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