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:
European Beech Wood (dimensions vary...)
Bolts w/ Hex nuts
Several screw connectors
Heat shrink tubing
Extremely fine sandpaper
Two shelf bracket
Chemicals & Adhesives:
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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