12v DIY LED Filmlight – without soldering.

DIY-builds and hacks, Film, Photography

More than once I’ve been planning a shoot (both film and photography) and stumbled upon a big problem. No electricity. If you’re documenting your urban explorations, or shooting a scene at night in the woods, a flashlight isn’t always going to cut it. This has bugged me for quite some time and I’ve been wanting a battery-powered LED-panel for ages. But as you know, these come with a pretty juicy price tag. I’ve been checking out tutorials where people build their own panels using LED-strips which are cut up and soldered back together with wires. Soldering is a thing I have yet to master, so I started to think about alternative solutions. This is what I came up with.

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I built this lamp using 10 meters of (5050) RGB LED-strip which I got dirt cheap from eBay. RGB-strips come with a remote, which lets you mix your own colours so the possibility to get various coloured lights, from the same lamp, without filters really got me going. Soldering RGB’s would be even harder for me since there are more connectors (four instead of two) so I started to think about how to line up the strips without cutting them apart.

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I live nearby an IKEA, and I really like to walk around the shop to see if there are things which can be modified into filmgear. Cue the wonderful TROFAST box. This box is cheap, lightweight and comes with a lid in frosted plastic. Perfect if you want to soften your light. The edges are rounded so I figured I could just loop the strip (folding is a big no-no) around the inside walls of the box. But looping them on the sides probably weakens the output a bit since it’s not shining directly out of the box. I thought of it for a bit, and realized a reflective surface could give me an extra needed push. So I went to the hardware store (Hornbach is my home away from home).

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Here I found aluminiumtape (my new spiritanimal). I roughened up the walls of my box with P120 sandpaper to make sure the tape would really stick. I found a nice place at the top where I could put the beginning of my strip (a small box-reciever for the IR-controller with a DC input). The alutape was fun and easy to work with and the LED-strip stuck to it perfectly as i began looping it around the walls.

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I attached an adjustable flagpoleholder made out of metal to the box. These are easy to find online and most of them will fit onto a C-stand. On the back of the box I put some industrial strength velcro so that I can attach my Anker Astro Pro II powerbank (12v output) and fire the lamp up wherever I may end up shooting.

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As I mentioned before, the lid for the box is frosted plastic so it works like a diffuser. To make sure the lid doesn’t fall of when the light is angled, I drilled four holes in the box so that the hooks of the elastic SKÅDIS straps from IKEA would stay put.

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The lamp lit up beautifully when I tested it in a pitch black room, and I’m really happy with the way this build turned out. I can store all the cables and the remote inside the lamp, (since it’s a box), and there are no delicate parts on the outside of the lamp which could become damaged when transported.

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I hope you found this useful and that you’ll have your DIY-eyes with you the next time you set foot inside an IKEA. The place is packed with objects just waiting to be transformed. If you have any questions about this build, let me know.

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By the way! What is your best IKEA-based build when it comes to creating filmgear?

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