This lightbox was created for documenting small parts - less than A2 in size. It features an adjustable height mechanism and the ability to center different style cameras. The angles and height of the illumination can be set, as well as its intensity. The frame of the photos can be square and share a common scale and lighting.
It does not remove shadows - it makes more less intense shadows. For softer shadows see the softbox wrap extension Instructable.
It is made from 20mm water pipe and fittings, MDF, wiring/LEDs and 3D printed ABS parts. The construction of the ABS parts are documented at Thingiverse (links supplied).
The samples provided are quite rough. I will post updates as I configure the camera / lighting better. The images labelled "softbox" are taken with the softbox extension [here]. There is also a platform extension [here].
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Step 1: The Materials
- 20mm PVC water pipe (outside diameter 26mm) [buy]:
- 6 off 538mm
- 2 off 316mm
- 8 off 39mm
- 2 off 281mm
- 2 off 402mm
- 2 off 712mm
- 6 off 538mm
- 2 off 316mm
- 8 off 39mm
- 2 off 712mm
- 2 of 250mm
- 1 off 400mm
Step 2: The Tools
- Soldering iron with solder
- Drill bits
- Phillips head screw driver
- Tube cutter / dropsaw / hacksaw
- 12mm wide flat medium File
Step 3: Assemble the Base
- Assemble 2 off PVC T-Connectors to a 538mm PVC pipe using the middle opening on the connector.
- Repeat the process to have a front and back member.
- Attach the front member to the back member with 2 off 316mm PVC pipes.
- Secure 4 off 39mm PVC pipes into the remaining outer openings on the T-Connectors.
- Ensure all pieces are tightly joined and the whole assembly is "in-plane" (not skewed).
- Position the PVC base onto the MDF sheet; center it.
- Drill 4 off 2mm holes through the PVC into the MDF in the positions shown, careful not to go completely through the MDF (optional).
- Fasten 4 off #6 35mm button head screws through the PVC into the MDF.
- Drill 6 off 2mm holes through elbow and secured PVC pipe in the positions shown.
- Fasten 6 off 4G x 9mm button head screws through the holes just drilled.
- Join the corners to the 39mm PVC pipe,; push in completely; point loose bends upward.
- Place the cutting mat on the MDF base. It can be secured with double sided tape (optional).
Step 4: Assemble the Upper Box
- Slide 2 off ABS 90 degree coupler onto a 538mm PVC pipe; keep unfastened.
- Add a T-Connector to each end of this PVC pipe.
- Repeat the above steps so there are 2 off front horizontal members.
- Add a T-Connector to each end of another 538mm PVC pipe.
- Repeat this step so there are 2 off top horizontal members.
- One of these members will have a 8mm hole drilled in 1 off the T-Connectors to house the 2.1mm Bulkhead Male DC Power Connector. The area the hole will be filed flat (approx. 12mm wide) so the nut on the jack has a flat surface to tighten on.
- The vertical members are 2 off 281mm PVC pipes (front) and 2 off 402mm PVC pipes (rear). Drill 1 off 6mm hole in each PVC pipe (4 off) 30mm from one end - the hole will eventually be to the top of the box on the outer diagonal of the pipe.
- Add 2 off 39mm joiner PVC pipes to the front elbows on the base.
- Add 2 off 402mm riser PVC pipes to the rear elbows on the base with the holes to the top outer extremes.
- Fit a front horizontal member onto the (from #1 & #2) onto the 39mm joiners.
- Add 2 off 281mm riser PVC pipes to the front elbows on the base with the holes to the top outer extremes.
- Add 1 off ABS LED housing with collar to each riser PVC pipe.
Solder the 2.1mm Bulkhead Male DC Power Connector to a piece of 500mm Bell wire. The convention here is black stripe to negative (usually outer contact on your power supply - but check).
- The wiring gets threaded in from the top of the risers and through the 6mm hole drilled earlier. leave about 150mm of wire(s) hanging though the hole from the inside.
#1 1 off 1500mm Bell wire + 1 off 500mm Bell wire (from #13).
#2 1 off 1500mm Bell wire
#3 1 off 1500mm Bell wire
- Add 2 off 39mm joiner PVC pipes to the remaining front horizontal member (#1 & #2) T-Connectors from one direction.
- Join the front horizontal member (with joiners) onto the front risers. The wires will be threaded through the T-Connectors as you go. This will leave the 39mm joiners pointing up with wires hanging out.
- Add 1 off PVC elbow to each riser pointing inwards from forward and rear (threading wire through as you go).
- Add 1 off 39mm joiner to the 4 top elbows(threading wire through as you go).
- Take 1 off the top horizontal members from #4-#5 and thread the 1500mm wire from (1) corner in one end of the (drilled and filed) T-Connector, through the joining PVC pipe, out the other T-Connector (in the same direction). This wire will be threaded through (2) corner an out the (2) hole - you may need to dismantle the corner to do this. The wire with the power connector can be poked into the center of the T-Connector; the thread of the power connector can placed through the 8mm hole and the nut can be tightened.
Now thread the original wire from (2) corner straight through the right hand T-Connector of the top horizontal member. Join the top horizontal member to the 39mm joiners on (1) and (2) corners. You should now have a wire that runs from (1) corner 6mm hole, through the joining PVC parts, to (2) corner 6mm hole, and the (2) corner wire hanging out of the closest T-Connector of the top horizontal member.
- Take the other top horizontal members from #4-#5 and thread the wire from (3) corner in one end of the T-Connector, through the joining PVC pipe, out the other T-Connector (in the same direction). This wire will be threaded through (4) corner an out the (4) hole - you may need to dismantle the corner to do this. Join the top horizontal member to the 39mm joiners on (3) and (4) corners. You should now have a wire that runs from (3) corner 6mm hole, through the joining PVC parts, to (4) corner 6mm hole.
- Take 1 off 316mm PVC pipe and thread the wire from (2) corner through it. The wire then gets threaded through (3) corner out through its' 6mm hole - you may need to dismantle the corner to do this. Then join the 316mm PVC pipe to the T-Connectors coming out of (2) and (3) corners.
- Take the other 316mm PVC pipe and join to T-Connectors on (1) and (4) corners.
- Now there should be Bell wires from (1) corner 6mm hole to (2) corner 6mm hole (and to the DC power connector fastened to the closest top T-Connector), from (2) corner 6mm hole to (3) corner 6mm hole, and from (3) corner 6mm hole to (4) corner 6mm hole.
- Push all pipes solidly into connectors and ensue the box is square in 3 axis.
- On each side drill 14 off 2mm holes in the positions shown and fasten with 4G x 9mm screws.
- On the front drill 4 off 2mm holes in the positions shown and fasten with 4G x 9mm screws.
Step 5: Assemble the Camera Positioning Frame
- Join 2 off PVC elbows with a 39mm PVC pipe joiner.
- Repeat to create 2 off vertical adjuster ends.
- Add 1 off 712mm PVC pipe to each (2 off) openings on vertical adjuster ends.
- Add ABS 90 degree locking coupler with the knob facing down.
- Place the lightbox on the edge of a table so that the vertical adjuster can extend downwards.
- Take the U-section created above above, and feed the loose ends into the upper ABS 90 degree couplers.
- Before passing through the lower ABS 90 degree couplers, add the other ABS 90 degree locking coupler with the knob facing up.
- Continue feeding the loose ends into the lower ABS 90 degree couplers.
- Use remaining joined elbows in #1 & #2 to fix onto the bottom of the U-Section (closing the loop).
- Slide 90 degree collar onto the 250mm PVC pipe. Ensured it is fully inserted (without obstructing the cross pipe) and fasten with 1 off 4G x 9mm self tapper pan head screw.
- Repeat #10 to create 2 off camera horizontal adjusters.
- Slide 1 off 400mm PVC pipe into the remaining openings of the 90 degree collars.
Step 6: Finishing the Wiring
At this stage there should be:
- a 2.1mm Bulkhead Male DC Power Connector soldered to a piece of 500mm Bell wire connecting from the top T-Connector on (1) to the 6mm hole on (1).
- a Bell wire from (1) 6mm hole to (2) 6mm hole
- a Bell wire from (2) 6mm hole to (3) 6mm hole
- a Bell wire from (3) 6mm hole to (4) 6mm hole
Its best not to trim the wires to size as the collars will be moved up and down the risers. Just feed any excess wire back into the tubes via the 6mm holes.
- Thread the two wires poking out the (1) 6mm hole through the hole on the LED Surround collar and through the hole in the surround that does not have the connecting bell wire already.
- Where there's a single wire (1) and (4) the wires will be soldered to 2 LED strips. On (2) and (3) both LED strip will be soldered.
- Solder the black striped wire to the negative terminal.
- Solder the unstriped wire to the terminal paired to the negative the just soldered.
- If using a dimmer, connect it to the pipe frame with cable ties and double sided tape. Plug the dimmer into the Bulkhead Male DC Power Connector. Plug the 12V power supply into the other end of the dimmer.
- If not using a dimmer, Plug the 12V power supply into the Bulkhead Male DC Power Connector.
- Ensure 12V DC 2A power supply.
- Ensure positive (generally center-pin but check) is is soldered to non-striped Bell wire on Bulkhead Male DC Power Connector.
- Check all solders; black stripe to negative is he convention used here.
Step 7: Fitting the Camera
- Print or buy the camera mount that suits your camera.
- Temporarily slide the 400mm vertical PVC pipe upwards out of the lower 90 degree collar.
- Slide the camera mount on the 400mm vertical PVC pipe.
- Replace the pipe into the collar.
- Fasten the camera on the mount.