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Old March 25th, 2005, 08:23 AM   #1
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Do your fluorescents get HOT?

I've nearly completed my seventh home-built fluorescent fixture and this time I REALLY went for it... I decided I wanted to build the best and most compact flo I could... and now that it's almost done I'm surprised at a couple things.

1) The ballast makes a HUGE difference. I used an Icecap 660 for this flo and the output is off the chart (compared to my previous flos). This one uses 4 x 2' tubes (Kino Flo Daylight).

2) The tubes get HOT. Not too hot to touch, but it FEELS like they are... you put your hand on 'em and then pull it away... then realize it's not going to burn you and you can keep your hands on the tubes... but at first you definitely feel like you could get burned. (I've noticed on some of the CF fixtures around my house that the tubes really ARE too hot to touch... so what do you think?)

On my previous "matt-o-flo" fixtures the tubes are always COOL to the touch... but then again it's no contest on the light output. My previous six fixtures (2 sold, 1 given away, still use the other 3) I'm using Kino 4' tubes... and I always thought that they were pretty bright... but when you put the two fixtures side by side the old one looks like it's emitting gray light! Before you turn on the new fixture the old one appears bright and perfect, but the new fixture just knocks the hell out of the old one. They are both 8 "lamp feet" and the total lumens rating for the bulbs alone is just a little higher in the 2' fixture... but because of the ballast it's no comparison.

I'm hoping that the heat is nothing to be concerned with... but considering the tubes on all my other fixtures are cool to the touch I'm wondering if I'm going to burn out these tubes in a few weeks. Even if I cut the life in HALF that's still 5000 hours... so I can live with that and be very happy about the whole project...

My old "matt-o-flos" cost me around $130 each (w/o stands) and the new one's run about $400 each... so you understand why I want to know if I should be concerned about the heat. If I gotta' just find out for myself I'm not going to build another one until I know that the tubes will last a reasonable time...
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Old April 2nd, 2005, 11:37 AM   #2
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Hi Matt,

I was just about to post a thread asking if people had built their own 'flos, and then I read this!

Top job mate - any chance yo can some pics and schematics of your designs (assuming you're not filing for a patent!) - also, what were the cost of the ballasts - presumably high given the difference in cost between the two designs?
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Old April 2nd, 2005, 03:47 PM   #3
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Dominic... there are updates galore to this project. I've got two different ballasts enroute to me right now. I decided the cost/heat/benefit ratio wasn't proper on my previous light. I'm a firm subscriber to the saying, "There 'aint no free lunch!"... so I decided to NOT accept the excess heat... even though it also gave me "free" light. I suspect the tubes would prematurely wear out and then there's always the alternative of 55w Compact Fluorescents... if it's outright lumens I'm after... which I'm not.

My goal with this project is to make serviceable location fluorescents that are convenient and versatile... plus "affordable". I've made flos in the past but the lack of convenience (due to size) has kept me from encouraging others to give it a go.

All it will take for me to effectively document this process is a few interested people OR somebody to tell me how stupid I am to be building home-built fluorescents... in EITHER case I'll be compelled to instruct the world on how to save some serious cash.
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Old April 2nd, 2005, 05:57 PM   #4
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Hey Matt,

Don't stop what you do Matt! You've been an inspiration for me, not only as it pertained to the how-to on home made flos you put up some time ago, but for the excellent mic advise you've posted over the years. You've been a tremendous help and have helped me make wise decisions over the past year and change when buying equipment, and for that I will offer up a sincere thank you.

I don't know where you are on price with your new flos, but an ad in Videography shows some new offerings in the $300 to $500 price range and may be worth a look.

http://flolight.com/

I'll be at NAB and I'll definitely check these out.


-Tim
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Old April 2nd, 2005, 07:20 PM   #5
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Tim - good tip - love to hear what you think of them in the flesh, so to speak, although they are 2700K and 5000K temps, which is a minor pain the the you-know-where (but far from incurable)...

Matt - definitely count me in on the interested parties re: building diy kino-flo's... Just built my own steadicam and eyeing up a dolly and track rig at the moment. Also been thinking about diy flos for a while, but unsure of ballast issues - would love the benefit of your experience. Also, what is this how-to that Tim speaks of - can you give me a url??

Cheers!
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Old April 2nd, 2005, 08:01 PM   #6
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Tim that is an EXCELLENT post! Now THAT'S what I'm talking about...

I'm not all about building my own stuff 'cause I simply want to build my own stuff... it's because so much of the crap we use for video is freakin' wacky high dollar! Some of it I feel is justifiably expensive... but some other stuff isn't... IMO. (Your mileage may vary...)

If I find something that looks great at a good price and it looks about as good as something I would build for myself... I'll try it out. This flolight is certainly worth a look.

Okay the ONLY gripe I have is why are they using 84 CRI bulbs? Kino Daylight tubes are 94-96 CRI... as are Studio Supreme PL 55 watt tubes... as are StudioLine tubes (StudioLine tubes are the same as Kino tubes... so I've been told.)

So the FIRST thing I'd ask 'em is how much they'd sell the fixture for SANS TUBES. 84 CRI versus 94 CRI? I'll buy my own tubes thanks... but STILL that is a fantastic link.

Also look up the Paterson Digitlite... CLICK HERE for the B&H Link

This portable little job has some really interesting things going for it. I plan to get one so I can check it out... again just to be sure that building my own stuff isn't a waste of time. For some reason all the video guys have ignored this light... while American Photo and Shutterbug loved it. Well proper lighting is the same for video as for still photography... so I don't get it.
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Old April 3rd, 2005, 08:59 AM   #7
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Ah, someone mentioned this light elsewhere - they were very pleased and said they used two to great effect for small scenes - definitely looks interesting at the price.

I entirely agree about the infalted prices of much video gear - like you say, some stuff is well worth the $$$s, but a lot ain't (and kino-flos may well fit into that category, imho)...

Have you got a website with any of your creations on it?
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Old April 3rd, 2005, 10:50 AM   #8
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Sorry, but my site is really crappy with a hodge-podge of junk... mostly audio clips that I put up for one reason or another.

I'm going to get it sorted and also add some stuff worth checking out... "for those on a budget".

Soon to come on there will be DIY Lighting, Dirt Cheap Boom Cradles, and Dirt Cheap Windscreen/Shockmount Combo... other cheap-arsed stuff to follow.

The guy trying to make his vision with a Handicam and a couple hundred bucks isn't going to see my ideas as an alternative to all the other high-end gear out there... so I've decided that it's of no consequence to these companies to give the little guy some options.

Feel free to correct me if you think I'm wrong about that.

You'll need broadband 'cause I think it would be much better to present these ideas as 1-2 minute videos rather then show a bunch of pictures and type out an entire story... plus it IS video we're into isn't it?
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Old April 3rd, 2005, 11:17 AM   #9
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Lol, yup! Broadband no probs, and I think you're bang on - like I said, I've built a fair few bits and pieces for smaller projects that have worked very well - I'mm very happy with the Steadicam I built for about 50 (maybe $90!).

I've never attempted lights, but I'm seriously interested in building a couple of 4x4 "cheap-o-flos" in the near future, and I'd *love* to get the benefit of your experience mate...

Keep up the good work - no need to apologise for your stance, you're spot on!...
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Old April 3rd, 2005, 01:44 PM   #10
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There seems to be a lot of high output compact flo lamps coming on the market.

You see these with fixtures in the aquarium and hydroponics fields such as

http://homeharvest.com/hydrofarmcompactfluorescents.htm

Where you can get a 200 watt lamp and fixture for $300. Of course those fixtures are for overhead installation.

The problem is low CRI and nonstandard color temp. Just look at the nasty green spikes on the charts on the homeharvest page! Of course given what people are probably growing with those lights they may not care :).

I have found an improvement on the color temp issue. I came across this 5600k 85 watt lamp.

http://www.topbulb.com/find/Product_Description.asp_Q_intProductID_E_49368

It still has a CRI of only 85 however. At $27 a piece I may order a couple and try them out with a bit of minus green gel. It would be great to have the raw material for a softish daylight color light that fits a standard edison fixture. And if they dont work out because of the CRI I can just use them in my garage.

The Digitlite certainly seems like something to check out also.
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Old April 3rd, 2005, 03:25 PM   #11
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If any of you decide to build your own FLO fixtures you may benefit from this bit of info I can give you so far...

Everybody tells me that Kino Flo and Lowel are using Osram/Sylvania tubes... the PL 55w tubes, like in the Divas or CaseLights, are either Studioline (85 CRI and either 3200k or 5600k) or they are Dulux (90+ CRI and either 3000k or 5300k)...

On the CRI chart only the standard T12 tubes actually do better. I've been using the Kino True Match tubes and they are usually around 95 CRI in the Daylight version. Tungsten versions are often times a lower CRI, but they're still really good in the T12s... also it often is reported that even the 3200k rated Kinos tend to be closer to 2900k in use... so if you like things warm all is good... if you don't then be sure to do a manual white balance.

There is a site www.naturallighting.com which claims a 55w (same type as Kino) of 96 CRI... but since I can't find any "Studio Supreme" biax tubes anyplace else I suspect that these are actually the Osram Studioline tubes.

I gotta' run but I'll be back in a few to add some more info...
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