Building A “Dry Ice Light” With eBay Parts For $36

The ICE Light really looks like a great piece of gear. It is LED based, it is dimmable and it gives out a strong constant 5500K temperatured light.

Photographer Senad Begić set out to build a similar device built from parts he could find on eBay. Here is the report. Since it is not really an ICE light, he calls it Dry ICE Light.

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First the good news: the entire build is about $36. On the other side, it is not dimmable, accurate or slick looking as the ICE Light. But as the saying goes, light is light, and it does not case if it is coming from a shiny slick $500 device or a frugal garage hacked looking $36 device.

You Would Need

  • Two clear or translucent acrylic tubes, a long one (for the LEDs) and a short one (for the batteries). On this tutorial we used a 400mm one for the light and a 24mm one for the batteries, but that depends on your preferences. If you can only find clear tubes, sand them a bit with a super fine sand paper to make them translucent.
  • A 5 meter White LED strip (here we only use 1.2 meters, but, as I said you can make it as long as you want).
  • 4 3.7 Li-ion batteries. LEDs usually run on 12V +/- 3V so that will get you 14.8V which is a bit of an over drive but most LEDs should handle it just well (The diameter of the smaller tube should for those batteries).
  • 2 rocker switches for controlling the LEDs
  • Caps for the tubes, wires and such…

The Build

Place the 4 batteries in the smaller tube and make sure that are strongly pressed together.

Attach the caps and get wires going from both the caps – the (+) and the (-) sides.

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We are going to use 3 lengths of 40cm each from the LED strip. Two of them are connected together in serial, while the third one stays solo. Then glue the strips on a piece of plastic or PVC tube. The solo strip goes in the middle while the two connected strips go on either side of it.

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Wiring goes from the battery holder to the micro switches and then from one micro switch to the middle strip and from the other micro switch to the 2 connected strips. And then back to the battery holder. This provides control over the amount of light you can get. Switch 1 – one strip; switch 2 – two strips, Both switches – 3 strips. Not as good as dimming the ICE light but has about 2.3 stops of light control.

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Punch 2 small holes in the wider tube and place the micro switches. Place the battery holder tube inside the LED tube.

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Cap it and you are done.

2 SWICH

The white balance is a bit weird at 8100k, but if you shoot RAW or set your WB in advance you should be good.

Dry ice light

Optional Tripod holder with PVC snaps:

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Test Shots

1 strip on

1/3 POWER

2 strips on

2/3 POWER

All 3 strips on

FULL POWER

P.S. We do not take responsibility for your work day if you decide to play Jedi for days after completing this build.

P.P.S. here is a no solder version of a similar light device.

  • david d

    It’s a pretty simple matter to add a dimmer. They’re sold all over eBay. The only issue is that if you are doing video, or really short shutter speeds, there will likely be flicker with an unmodified dimmer.

    Here is what I did to make a non-flickering DIY LED panel that costs about the same as the Dry Ice:

    http://blog.sundayschildsnapshots.com/wp/2012/04/diy-228-led-panel-us35/

  • Successor

    Really nice! I just wonder what the diameter of the tube is…

  • John Cornicello

    I’m a studio person, so I went with A/C instead of batteries for about $25 per light: http://cornicello.com/itfigures/2013/5/8/led-light-stick

  • Senad Begić

    hi

    tube was 30 mm diameter.

    at all i not a studio person i like outdoor.

    i was just want to show that the price of real ice light is toooooooo much high.

    my next product will be dimmable led light.and longer

  • http://www.product-shot.co.uk/photography/jewellery-photography Anila Jain

    Not an bad idea it is!