Aug 19 2012

The A2 lightbox for the A class art student

A very long overdue post from a long list of impending things that shall be posted!

I have a fabulous luxury at the moment of living with the love of my life, a person who both appreciates me and lets me live and breathe whilst also asking only the same of me. We have mutually enjoyed hobbies and interests as well as the other mutually different hobbies and interests as all couples do. We are both creative people but where my skills are lacking, hers don’t; she a fabulously talented artist.

I’ve also recently managed to hit a milestone with another project for which I’m very lucky and shall also be writing about soon; my workshop.
The result of having this workshop (and the ongoing process to build said workshop) is the direct reason for my lack of posts, I have indeed been busy with it.

While I had the time, and the reason for building it, I built my good lady a lightbox! She is due to start an art course in the next few months and is now frantically finishing projects, commissions, presents and also building her portfolio so it’s something which she very much needed.

After having a look around the net at packaged lightboxes, guides to build your own and digging around in my section of creative brain, an idea was formed. As with most of my projects, everything was either donated, found, reclaimed, upcycled or occasionally bought. In this case, only a switch, an A2 sheet of 2mm perspex and the lights where bought, everything else was donated or recycled.

Total cost to build, £20 (ish).
£8.99 for a 5m reel of 12V LEDs
£8 for an A2 sheet of 2mm clear perspex
couple of quid for the switch

The frame of the lightbox is made from thin MDF sheet and a little bit of 2×1 pine baton for central reinforcement. I added a light diffuser from an office ceiling grid light for better dispersion of the light.

5m reel of 12V white LEDs

These LEDs where an eBay special and just seemed so much more fitting for the job than the usual setups most people have with a couple of normal incandescent lamps. The full reel of 300 LEDs can be cut every 50mm giving an nice 3 LED strip than is just wired up to a 12V supply so I split this reel up to evenly use 297 of the LEDs for full coverage in the light box with no area over or under lit.

Laying the LED strips

Laying the strips out in 550mm sections, evenly spaced as you can see. The LEDs already have a sticky backing on them too which made things even more easy.

First wired lighting test

I decided to use some surplus CAT5e cable I had laying around to actually wire them up as it is more than capable of holding the power needed but also has the advantage of being able to be bent into the correct shape and not flexing. This makes things much easier to solder and also just looks that little bit nicer in my opinion…not that anyone will really see it but at least I (and now you) know it’s there.

Fully wired

The supply I’ve used was actually from a hard drive adapter. It was built into a mains plug but the useful cable end had sheered off at the transformer end so it made sense to pull it apart and recycle the perfectly serviceable 12V supply. I’ve just got it running from a fused IEC C13/C14 (kettle lead) socket.

Final sanding

A little bit of sanding and TLC before the artist leaves her own distinctive mark on the framework.

Testing - just diffuser

Fully complete and ready to use

This just illustrates the difference between having only the diffuser, then with the addition of the perspex sheet over the top. I’ve left one side of the protective film on the perspex just to keep the light level a little lower as it’s overwhelmingly bright after a while of staring down at it.