Introduction: Powerful Video Light Under $100
I'm not satisfied with the LED video lights out there in term of cost versus light output. I bought various LED video light but none live to expectation. So the only alternative is to build one myself. One that can run at 12V by battery belt or AA batteries. Here's what the final product looks like.
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The project takes about 2.5 hours to complete.
Before I start the steps, following is the list of material and tools:
1. On-camera ball-mount : http://nrgresearch.com/oncamballmount.htm
2. LED (MR16) light: http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.3264
3. Electrical switch: http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062502
4. Gaffer tape: http://www.amazon.com/Permacell-Gaffer-Tape-Yards-Black/dp/B0002GVVA0/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1261347874&sr=8-5
5. Project box: in my case, I use an iPod Touch box.
6. Two plastic zip ties
7. Power source: cig adapter for 12v or 8-AA battery box (http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062242 .
8. Tools: high temperature hot-melt glue gun; solder iron; clear electrical tape; drill wt circular cutting bit; drill bit; any spare box
For starter, scope around the house and find my wife's iPod Touch box more fititng for this project. I tried the iPhone box, but looks too fat. On to the build.
I have to make sure that there is sufficient clearance for mounting 3 LED bulbs. They will be protruding from the box for better heat dissipation, while providing a minimalist and industrial look.
Using 1-1/2" circular cutter, I make three cuts on the box. The holes fit exactly where the first ring notch on the light bulb which can stay put by itself.
Before permanently mount the bulbs, I masked the box with black gaffer tape for aesthetic. I wrapped the electrical wires around the bulb terminals; my portable solder iron useless for this one. Then I pour hot glue (high temperature) on the bulbs and the terminals to cover all exposed wires. At the same time, cover the exposed shoe mount with electrical tape. Two bottom bulbs are wired parallel, separate from top bulb.
Here's what it looks like for the first half of the project. I used hot glue in this case, because the light bulbs doesn't get hot enough to melt the glue. For higher wattage bulb, I will have to go with aluminum box and silicon instead.
Onto the second half.
From the bottom half of the box, I drill 3 holes (only 2 in this pictures) for the two switches and power lead. And cut a clearance on the edge for the shoe mount of the cover box.
I mounted two dip switches; soldered the terminal clips. The 12v cigarette cord is salvaged from a dead Apex portable DVD player; it's held together by plastic zip ties from both ends. I decided on the battery clips for ease of service. The outside is covered with gaffer tape. Aesthetic counts.
This is what the final product looks like. It takes me about 2.5 hours from start to finish. The top light is independent of the bottom lights. Instead of dimmer, I can choose the blend between 1, 2, or 3 bulbs. I made this so that I can use it with my battery belt which can last more than 6 hours. It will last about 2 on 8-AA batteries. This is cheaper and much brighter than the LitePanels Micro.
Next step, build the barndoors and gel holder el cheapo.
Here's what the light can do by itself, no other lighting source, with all 3 light bulbs on. This is shot at 15 feet up from the ground.
Step 11: Version 2.0
12/20/2009. This is version 2.0 with four LEDs in a row. The box used is a heavy plastic jewelry (necklace) case.