How to to make your own DIY LED panel for only $13
You know what it’s like, you’re walking through the local dollar store (or pound shop, for those in the UK) and you see some interesting looking cheap LED lights. So, you buy a bunch of them and turn them into a DIY LED panel. At least, what’s what Dave Knop (AKA, Knoptop) did, and it only cost him $13.
Designed to add a little extra light under kitchen counters, to help you read at night, or provide a little illumination when you go camping, these lights aren’t the brightest. Nor are they the most colour accurate. But, they are cheap. On Amazon, they’re a little under $4 each, but Dave found his at the local dollar store. He also picked up a cheap oven tray, with holes in it (that’s important).
Each light takes three AAA batteries (as Dave found out after he’d bought a crapload of AAs), and they’re attached to the baking tray using little velcro strips that come supplied with each light. The lights all turn on and off with a simple toggle, and when you’re using eight of them together they turn into quite a bright light source, which he then attached to a light stand using pipe cleaners (this is why the holes in the tray were important).
As mentioned, the CRI and TLCI on these aren’t going to be very high. So, I probably wouldn’t use them for serious work unless colour really isn’t important. But if you’re just starting out and you’re looking for a cheap option – or if you’re planning to convert it to black and white anyway – these are a fantastic way to get you going for as little cost as possible. That being said, they don’t look too terrible.
If you have to pay Amazon prices, then you may end up being better going for a cheap LED panel from somebody like Godox or Neewer. But hit up your local dollar store and see what hey have. You might be surprised.
If you’re handy with a soldering iron, I’d probably sort out an alternate power supply, though, so that you don’t have to deal with 24 AAA batteries.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.