Warm/Cold Adjustable Continuous Lighting




About: I'll post various projects, builds and creation using all kinds of materials and techniques.


After way, way, waaay too many crappy pictures in the dark, dimly lit room, with a flash or basically in any scenario which didn't involve bright sunlight, I decided that I needed a photo/film-light aka continuous light.

About the project

This is a continuous light panel that is adjustable between warm/white and cold/white leds independently to get that exact right color you want.

More ramble

Now there are loads of instructions on the interweb about setting up a light panel using leds, and I used a lot of these as inspiration for this project. The thing that makes this project slightly different however is the ability to adjust the light output between warm and cold. This gives you quite a lot of options and enables you to choose whichever kind of light you feel is the best suited for the moment.

So shall we begin? (if not then wait a minute and try again)

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Step 1: Acquire the Parts

First step in any diy build is to get the parts, at least when you know what you're gonna do

And for this project you'll need the following items:

For function:

  • 1m warm /white led-strip
  • 1m cold/white led-strip
  • 2x lm317 regulators
  • 2x10k potentiometers
  • 2x 1uF cap
  • 2x 0.1uF cap
  • 2x 240ohm resistors
  • some wires
  • an experiment board, unless you prefer to make your own boards

For beauty:

  • A sheet of plexi or any kind of clear glass like thingy
  • a backplate for the leds, I used a sheet of aluminium in case the leds got hot
  • a backpanel, I used a plastic lid from a printer/scanner machine (I'ts nice being creative) :)
  • a 1/4 Nut for camera tripod mount
  • and also a case for the electronics

Step 2: Led Strips

First step is cut down the strips to suitable lengths

I cut mine down to five strips of 12 leds each to create my panel

I then stuck them to an aluminium plate just in case they decided to get warm. Which they didn't. But better safe than sorry.

Now I don't believe that they would heat up to the point of destruction if no cooling plate is used but it could shorten their lifespan, so hopefully these will last for a while.

For the soldering part I cut away all the positive leads on one side leaving only negative leads. This way I could solder on a tab right across all the strips.

I then proceeded to solder on all positive leads of the cold strips together and all the warm ones together and that should leave you with three different wires.

Drill some holes on the backplate to lead the wires through.

Step 3: Electronics

Now for the electronics all you have to do is to connect everything according to the schematics.

It might look advanced to some but it's a really simple circuit that is just done twice and connected together.

Why lm317?

The reason for this choice is that lm317 is a linear voltage regulator (as opposed to swithcing) which is a better choice for filming and photographing. Using linear voltage regulator will give you a steady light output insted of a flickering light which might get picket up by you camera and result in dark and bright bars across the image, as can be seen on the picture.

Once everything is hooked up attach a suitable heatsink to the regulators because they are going to get really hot driving those leds.

Step 4: The Case

For the case I used a 3D printer from my local maker space, and this folks, is exactly why I love these machines. It helps me up-cycle stuff on a whole different level by printing out the parts missing.

Now this doesn't mean that you necessarily need a 3D printer to do this project. You could use just about any box that could fit all the electronics and drill out all the holes needed. which was actually my first thought before realizing I could 3D print stuff :D

Cut or as in my case break the acrylic (plexi) glass to the right size. And the way to break plexi is to make a nice grove with a sharp knife, place the glass over a sharp edge and preferably use something to break it evenly with to avoid cracks all over the plexi.

I also printed a small nut holder to hold the 1/4 nut that fits most tripods that I glued to bottom side of the case with hot glue. And I used a locking nut for this.

Step 5: Final Assembly

Now just assemble everything and start enjoying your now source of light.

Now you can get those cool cold or warm colorful pictures whenever you want with just some twists of knobs.

Above you can see some pictures I took using different warm/cool setting.

That's all for now folks, hope you pop in for more of my instructables in the future and if you like this instrucable then don't be shy and vote for this instructable in the contests... or don't... see if I care...

I do.

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    11 Discussions


    8 months ago

    How many lumens does it produce?


    3 years ago

    Nice article, with a lot of good ideas. But you could avoid most of the heat by using a pair of those inexpensive DC-DC step-down switching converters (e.g. $0.99 http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/28155060247). Even though these are "switching" regulators, their ripple Voltage is very low and won't produce the visual artifacts you mentioned, Those "bad" ones are the standard LED PWM lighting dimmers that "rapidly" (frequency typically unspecified) switch the power between full-off to full-on with a varying duty cycle to adjust the brightness by the average power delivered to the LEDs. And because of the DC-DC converter's efficiency, they won't get too hot and can make for a more compact and power efficient design (especially good if you want to run these on batteries like four 2.6AH 18650's in series). It might even be a bit cheaper than the LM317s + heatsink and resistors.

    1 reply
    Mixed Outputartmez

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks. Yea I know, linear regulators are hopelessly inefficient and I haven't really tried the effect of those cheap dc-dc regulators with a camera so you might be right. Anyhow I had to use my regulators for something and anyone that has ordered anything from ebay knows it takes its fair share of time to deliver the goods so I would most likely be too inpatient to wait for them to arrive anyways :)


    3 years ago

    So I count 60 leds on each color, and since they draw about 30ma, you are driving 1.8 amps through a LM317T which is rated 1.5 amp max, so yep, it gets hot. You would be better to use a LM350T which is basically the same regulator other than being able to handle 3 amps. It costs a few cents more but would be better suited for your power supply.

    1 reply

    I was afraid of that too but I actually tested the circuit afterwards and the whole thing draws around 2A on 15v (counting the voltage drop over the regulators) which results in 1A per color. So I'm not sure the actually draw 30mA, it seems more like 20mA each. Either way the regulators do get hot after a while on full power and it's definitly not a bad idea to go with a regulator with a higher rating. I only took these because these were the ones I had lying around :)


    3 years ago

    Wonderful! Thanks for showing/sharing! I put this into my Get-It-Done list.

    1 reply
    Mixed OutputNelsonI

    Reply 3 years ago

    You're welcome and please do post the result when you finish yours.


    3 years ago

    Nice! It's like a mini version of my "SpectrumLED", Except you made it with LED Strips. How many watts is it in total?

    I can totally see the difference between with the light, And without the light!

    1 reply
    Mixed OutputYonatan24

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks and nice build yourself
    I did measure it once and I got up to 1.9A on 15v so the whole thing draws roughly 30W. Although it is worth pointing out the voltage drop over the regulators of around 3V.