Want a nice and soft light for capturing elegant photographs? Or a nice daylight like light panel, hanging on the wall in your room? Take a look at this DIY!
Tools and supplies needed
- A bunch of LED strips. I used approximately 4 meters.
- Wooden slab as the base of your panel
- Some acrylic glass to put on top for a nice finish
- Soldering iron
- 12V power supply
- Glue gun
- Potentiometer and a knob (optional)
STEP 1: OBTAIN A WOODEN SLAB
I went to my workshop to scavenge for a properly sized wooden slab. I could not find any of the right size, so I took a plank from a shelf, and cut it down to the size I wanted using the circular saw. I ended up using 20 x 30 cm sized slab, or 7.8 x 11.8 inches if you use the imperial system.
STEP 2: SLICE THE LED STRIP
In order to make a light panel we must fill the wooden slab with LED-strips. My LED strip is 4 meters long, and there’s not way I can fit it onto my small wooden piece. Luckily, it is possible to slice the LED strips for every three centimeter or so. Look for a copper joint, with + and – indicators for the right place to cut. For me, a perfect place to cut it was after 25 cm. That gives me 2.5 cm of margins on the sides of the panel. Since I have 4.5 meters of LED strip and each strip has to be 25 centimeters long I can slice it into 18 strips.
STEP 3: MEASURE THE MARGINS
To make the light distribution more even, I didn’t want my LED-strips to be aligned all the way down. Doing that would make all the LED spaces appear on the same spot, making vertical light “holes”. Instead, I want to offset one a little bit to the left, the next a little bit to the right, then to the left again and so on. I started by measuring out the average margin of 2.5 centimeters, drawing a line vertically down the slab to trace it. Then I drew a new line 0.5 centimeters to the left of the main margin line, and then another line to the right of it. I repeated the step for the other side of the slab.
STEP 4: SPACING THE STRIPS
If you have plenty of led strip, you can just stick them onto the panel right next to each other, and it will give you a stronger and possibly more even light. I was not that lucky, and as I wanted a larger surface of light, I decided it was acceptable to have spaces between the strips. My LED-strips are 0.8 cm high, and the total height of the panel is 20 cm. Having 18 strips, that makes the ideal height of a LED-strip: 20cm / 18cm = 1.11 cm. As the actual height is 0.8 cm, the spacing has to be 1.11-0.8cm =~ 0.3 cm. I drew lines across the panel with 1.1 cm big spaces, giving me guides for where to put my strips. After that, I just stuck down my strips on top of the guides. If your LED-strips does not come with adhesive on the back side, you could apply hot glue to stick them down.
STEP 5: TYING IT ALL TOGETHER
Time to put that mighty soldering iron to use! So the way this works is that on each joint, I am actually just inserting an extension where I cut the strip before. From the top strip, I have the electricity entering on the left side, connecting the red power wire and the ground. It flows from the left to the right, until the end of the strip. From there I want it to flow to the next strip under it. To get to the cable under, I solder a wire from the + to the +, and the – to the -. Now that the power gets to the second led strip, the electricity flows all the way from the right side of that one, to the left side. When it reaches the end, I need to solder it to the one beneath it, and so on. Repeating that until I have reached the very end of my panel. When I was done, I figured this would be a good time to connect my 12v power supply, and test if everything is working as intended… and it did. On the first attempt! Yeah… I was in shock too.
After some intense repetitive action
STEP 6: MORE POWER
Time to connect the power. I wanted the LED-panel to be dimmable. As I had a potentiometer available, I brought it forth to the workbench. I used my Dremel to carve out a little slot in the side of the panel for the potentiometer. Then I drilled straight into the wood to make space for the power cables. I connected the power to the input of the potentiometer, the ground of the potentiometer to the ground of your power supply. Then I soldered a cable from the negative input of the LED-strip to the ground of the potentiometer, and a cable from the positive input of the LED-strip to the output of the potentiometer. Connecting the power now I was able to dim the light of the panel. Woop! Don’t mess with me, I have a dimmable light.
STEP 7: ACRYLIC GLASS FOR PRESIDENT
To make a nice finish, I cut out a piece of the acrylic glass (using my manual glass cutter. It was a mess – don’t ask) to fit on top of the panel. I glued some sort of sheet that diffuses the light (found inside any LCD screen) on top of the acrylic glass. After that, I drilled four holes on each corner of the led panel. I inserted 4 plastic spacers, because I didn’t find my metal ones (the kind you find inside computer cabinets, to separate the motherbord from the cabinet wall). I placed the sheet of acrylic glass on top of them, and marked with a marker the position of the spacers. I drilled holes in the marked positions, and used 4 metal screws to safely stick the acrylic glass to the LED-panel. Now for me, all I had to do was to connect the power and behold the beautiful white light that illuminated my workbench.
Using my new LED-panel to create some great, soft light, we took some pictures of some of the Game Boys we have customized. Check it out here!
Thanks for reading through, I hope it was enjoyable and useful. Please leave a comment to tell us what you think, or to suggest future builds and DIYs!