Super Bright / Variable Brightness LED PANEL

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I am creating step by step, do it yourself, complete build videos. My goal is to create something...

Intro: Super Bright / Variable Brightness LED PANEL

In this Instructable I am going to show you how to make super bright, very sturdy, properly cooled, variable brightness, accurate color producing LED PANEL for photography, video work or any general lighting.

This LED panel's design focuses on the lighting quality, durability of the panel and the LED strips longevity.

Full in depth build video:

TOOLS YOU'LL NEED:

MATERIALS YOU'LL NEED:

Step 1: Preview of the LED Panel That We Will Be Making

First, some different angles of the LED Panel.

Okay! Let's start!

Step 2: Preparing Aluminum Plate

First you need to cut an aluminum plate (ideal thickness of aluminum plate 3-4mm) to 28.4 x 21.2 cm size. Sand sharp corners.

Then drill three 5mm holes in each side for screws and wires.

Use 25 x 20 cm printed template of your LED strips or you can use mine (https://drive.google.com/open?id=1cRCqYTaRL_Kdp8ds...), mark and drill holes that individual LEDs won't end up under the screw holes.

Use countersink bit drill that flat head screws wont be sticking out of the panel.

Step 3: Plexiglas / Polycarbonate Sheet Cutting

You need to cut the Plexiglas to the exact same size as the aluminum plate (28.4 x 21.2 cm).

First you need to cut grooves into the Plexiglas. Groove depth should be about haft of the Plexiglas thickness. Now you need to clamp the Plexiglas and bend it until it brakes. Use level tool, wood board or anything similar to bend with.

Then drill 5mm holes in all corners of the Plexiglas in same places like on the aluminum plate.

Test that screws will fit in all corners.

Step 4: PVC U Profile Cutting

Cut the PVC U profile to length of 21.2 cm. Easiest way to do that is to do longer rough cuts first and then trim pieces to 21.2 cm of length.

Step 5: Placing Electrical Tape

Place an electrical tape on the both sides of an aluminum plate. This will prevent LED strips from short circuit.

Puncture holes with screwdriver where the tape covers all the previously drilled holes.

Then mark spots with interval of 1cm on both sides of the aluminum plate. This will help to glue the LED strips at correct angle and spacing.

Step 6: Choosing Good Quality LED Strips and Gluing Them

On build like this, you should only use good quality LED Strips. Cheap LED strips has really dull and unnatural colors compared to more expensive ones.

Cut 5 meter LED strip to 25cm pieces. Now you have 20 pieces of the LED strip, which you need to glue on the aluminum plate.

Just don't forget to add and tighten the screws, because you won't be able to do that later.

Step 7: Making Side Contacts

You need to cut two 20 cm length thick wires and mark 20 spots on each wire, where you'll need to cut protective material.

Also cut more protective material in the middle on both thick wires. There we'll be soldering other wire which will be routed to the back of the panel.

Then hot glue both wires to each side of the panel.

Step 8: Soldering All LED Strips

Cut protective material from the thinner wire, twist it and cut it.

Now you need to solder all the positive LED strip contacts to the thick wire in one side, and in another all the negative contacts to other thick wire.

Step 9: Finishing Soldering

Add electrical tape to protect contacts.

Cut away some electrical tape that you could solder the wire which will be routed to the back side of the panel.

Add hot glue around the wire that you couldn't pull it out.

Step 10: Holes Drilling in PVC Profile

Drill holes on the PVC U profile in the same spots like on the aluminum plate.

First just drill on the PVC profile's back side and place it on the panel.

Now use smaller drill bit and drill pilot hole (you can do it by hand, PVC profile is quite soft).

Finally, from other side drill full size hole (5mm). Do this on all other corners.

Step 11: Placing Plexiglas on the Panel

Place Plexiglas under PVC profiles. PVC profile is quite soft so it's easy to bend it. This makes placing Plexiglas on the panel much easier job.

Step 12: Screwing Plexiglas

Add screws and tighten nuts, but DO NOT over tighten, that will crack Plexiglas.

Step 13: Making Base

Cut some parts from 6mm plywood for the LED panel's bracket. Yours might be different, it depends on the DIY electronic component box (the box in which we'll need to put dimmer and 12V power socket) size.

Then drill holes for the screws which are in the middle of the aluminum plate. And also don't forget to drill holes for the electrical component box.

Now glue all parts and leave it to dry.

Step 14: Camera Shoe Adapter and Painting

After glue completely dried up, you need to cut hole for the camera hot shoe adapter with a fretsaw. Don't cut the hole too big. Camera hot shoe adapter should fit very tightly.

Then paint the bracket with any paint you like.

Step 15: Gluing Camera Shoe Adapter

Place the camera shoe adapter in the bracket and hot glue it from both sides.

Step 16: Placing Components in the Box

You need high speed PWM dimmer which can maintain at least 8A current (also you'll need 12V power supply which can deliver 8A).

And you need 12V power socket.

Drill holes in the box for these 2 components.

Step 17: Final Soldering

Solder short wires to the 12V power socket. Place dimmer and power socket in the box.

Solder + and - wires from the power socket to the dimmer where "power" is written.

Solder + and - wires from the LED panel to the dimmer where "motor" is written.

Add electrical tape on the contacts and screw the box to the bracket.

Step 18: Finishing Panel

Place the bracket on the panel, add washers, add nuts and tighten them.

You'll need 11 inch articulating arm, which will be holding the panel and allow for easy angle adjustments.

And you have done it!

Step 19: Results

Comparing to my old fluorescent light panel this new compact LED panel is super bright!

Also colors look amazing! No more that horrible color cast!

Step 20: The END

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    24 Discussions

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    Hume

    4 months ago

    Hi, I really like this project! I'm planning to make it, and have ordered the materials you list, but I have a question. Looking online, I find that 5630 LEDs require .4 watts per LED. Does that seem right?

    I ask because at 300 LEDs, that's 120 Watts, which at 12v works out to be 10 amps. So why then is the power supply you suggested only 8 amps? I think my math must be off? I'm a total novice with electrical stuff, so please forgive me if this is a silly question!

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    diyperspectiveHume

    Reply 4 months ago

    Thanks, I am glad you liked it. Maybe you are looking at single LED specification and not whole strip? Also in real life there is power losses at that high amperage.

    On amazon Marswell LED strip page it says:

    "Power Consumption (per 5m length): 60W"

    Max current what I could achieve on this build with high quality computer power supply (150$) was ~7.5A (~90W). But I doubt any cheaper portable power brick will achieve that high amperage. So you end up with ~6A ~72W, which is more that enough, like you can see in my comparisons vs florescent light panel.

    So 8A power brick will be enough. :)

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    nic.bryan.73

    Tip 6 months ago

    In the event that you can't find an 8A 12V power supply at your local store, multiple dc supplies can be placed in parallel to increase the amp availability.

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    Killawhat

    6 months ago

    Nice instructable! Just a couple of things I noticed. Although having the ends exposed for cooling, it will probably draw in dust as well making the plexi dirty (which scratches easy if you try and clean it). Maybe using a small panel of glass might be a better option? Then again, I suppose you could just replace the plexi, it's fairly cheap. With the bus wires you use, again with the heat it may shrink the insulation and cause a short on the back chassis. Maybe a better option would be to use copper tape over some left over plastic edging and solder to that. Or you could use some small strips of PCB board, silicon it to the back chassis and solder to that. All up, cool project

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    diyperspectiveKillawhat

    Reply 6 months ago

    Thanks! It's really nice of you that you provided detailed input of this build what can be improved. I just don't 100% sure about electrical tape shrinkage. I am using premium electrical tape which states that it can handle:

    Temperature resistance
    90 °C

    Dielectric breakdown voltage
    5000 volt

    But I guess time will tell. Again, thanks for the useful info. :)

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    Killawhatdiyperspective

    Reply 6 months ago

    It will be something that happens over time and usage. See how you go. What I probably would have done was just put a copper strip on top for the positive and ground all of the negative side to the back chassis.

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    IJustLikeMakingThings

    Question 6 months ago

    Do you know if there could be a problem with heat issues with placing the plexiglass that close to the LED's? It looks like it could trap the heat in there. I know the aluminum plate takes a lot of the heat away but I made a LED panel with them mounted on a aluminum plate but the front of the LED's get pretty warm after running for a long time. I want to add a plexigalss cover as well but am afraid it could trap in heat and cause problems. If yours stays cool then it will give me confidence with adding it to mine.

    1 more answer

    Mine stays cool because there are gaps in the bottom and top of the LED panel (between aluminum plate and Plexiglas). Cold air goes from the bottom and on top hot air escapes (automatic natural air circulation). If you are not planing completely trap air, it will be fine.

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    RyanK44

    6 months ago

    I very much appreciate the style of your narrative, in that you obviously know what you're doing and you address the reader as if they do as well. You've kept it simple, clear and concise, and as someone who has experience with tools, hardware and electronics, you waste no words on useless disclaimers, obvious explanations, etc that seem to plague a lot of this site. The use of appropriate technical language is likely a pretty decent filter for discouraging most of the clueless types from attempting and failing/hurting themselves anyway.
    In the end, this is pretty basic stuff, so anyone that doesn't understand your instructions should probably not be anywhere near power tools anyway. I wish there was more content available of this quality. (I'll check out what else you've got available now.. Followed!)

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    diyperspectiveRyanK44

    Reply 6 months ago

    Thank you! :) I just don't like wasting people time, so I am trying to narrate key points of the build and go little in depth where needed. I am just starting out, I don't have huge amounts of experience, I just have huge passion for DIY. And I am kind a perfectionist, so I take my time on every project I make. I always prefer quality over quantity. And on my scale, my Instructables/videos are quite far away from perfect, but over time with more experience I hope I will achieve higher quality that satisfies my standards. Again, thank you. :)

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    RyanK44diyperspective

    Reply 6 months ago

    You're very welcome. I'm just wanting to pay tribute to the quality and effort put in, and (hopefully) inspire and encourage many more like it.
    I thought it was an outstandingly well done instructable & I shall be watching with interest to see what you come up with next. Take care.

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    6312CWR

    Question 6 months ago

    Is there any reason one could not use plastic in place of the aluminum? By plastic I mean polystyrene or persplex/plexi-glass.

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    diyperspective6312CWR

    Answer 6 months ago

    The main reason that you shouldn't use plastic is - overheating of the LED strips. Aluminum absorbs heat way better, and prevents LED strips from overheating.

    If you running LED strips at 12V then you need some sort of metal heat sink.

    If you don't want to use any heat sink then you should run LED strips at lower voltage, like 9V.

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    diyperspectiveaakbulut

    Reply 6 months ago

    Thanks, to be honest I have no idea. I don't have any light meter. I can only tell you that those comparisons (new vs old panel) in the end was filmed with Canon SL2 / EOS 200D at ISO100 + 24mm f/2.8, 50fps 100 shutter speed and panel was 2.5 meters from the monitors. :P

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    wirekat

    6 months ago

    Great project. I like the fact that you didn't just daisy chain the strips but each one is powered so you get consistent output.

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    diyperspectivewirekat

    Reply 6 months ago

    Thanks :) Yea, I thought that was proper way of doing it.

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    jgoad1

    6 months ago

    What is your estimated total cost of materials?

    1 reply
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    diyperspectivejgoad1

    Reply 6 months ago

    For me it was around €60/75$, but I had aluminum plate (~€12 /15$ new) and few other cheaper components. If you would need to buy all the parts I think it would be around €80/100$, but it depends how much materials cost where you live.