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Old June 5th, 2011, 11:51 PM   #16
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Re: My Home-built CFL light

Very cool stuff guys! I experimented with CFLs but eventually decided they were too fragile and fussy. Having to store eight CFL bulbs in their padded packaging meant the worst of both worlds: lots of space to store all the bulbs in their packaging, plus the need to install/deinstall all the bulbs every time I want to use the lights.

What I really like about Martin's designs is that they look like they can be stored away with the bulbs in place. And those flat octopods can handle any bulb size... imagine CFLs that use 75 watts each (actual), times eight. Two of those fixtures would be about the most light you could get out of a 15A breaker. That's really the best use case for CFLs: lots of light for cheap.

However when I tested CFL power usage with my Kill-a-watt meter, I found that they are all overrated. They use much less power than what they are rated to use. The worst used about half their rated power, and the better ones used a quarter or a third less than rated. So you don't get as much light as you would expect relying on the manufacturer's data, and you may need to use bigger bulbs.
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Old June 6th, 2011, 10:37 PM   #17
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Re: My Home-built CFL light

Tom:
I recently built two more of the eight-lamp fixtures simply because they put out more usable light than the nine-lamp units I built first (with the barn doors). While I was at it, I reworked the carrying cases (a pair of half-height under-the-bed footlockers)with a pair of 5/16" metal rods mounted inside. The lamp assemblies slip over the rod and are secured with the thumbscrew normally used for mounting the umbrellas, holding the unit with lamps firmly in place during transport. I had a couple assistants get a bit too frisky with the cases and break a couple of lamps. When mounted on the rods, the units "float" on top of the egg-crate foam with a good half-inch clearance between the lamps and the case walls.

I agree, at the end of the day it's just too much trouble to unscrew and pack away a couple dozen CFL tubes. It's nice just to drop them in the case, close up, and scram.

Martin
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Old June 6th, 2011, 11:37 PM   #18
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Re: My Home-built CFL light

I have several lights from cheap kits that use multiple 85w spiral CFL bulbs. Transporting my big ones which have 32" softboxes and 6 bulbs each is a pain.
When I was building my studio, I researched kino bulbed fixtures and decided they were a too expensive due to the fact I needed 4 of the 220watt (4 bulb) fixtures to light the greenscreen i was building.

I ran across a thread that discussed using fish tank ballasts from Compact Fluorescent Lighting Kits
I ended up buying one 2-ballast kit and 4 kinflo bulbs and used a 3"deep cake pan and bingo! My homemade light was born. I now have all 4 fixtures on a grid and they work unbelieveably well spreading even light across the screen. They are dead silent, generate very little heat and are instant-on which is nice. I built all four for under $1k which is less than one kinoflo fixture the same wattage would cost.
I now have all my video friends bugging me to build them some but my clients won't leave me alone long enough to do it! Check out the studio pics on my website to see them in place, I will post some closeup pics soon.
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Old June 7th, 2011, 07:24 AM   #19
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Re: My Home-built CFL light

DUDE, THIS IS AWESOME!

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Old February 22nd, 2012, 03:07 PM   #20
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Re: My Home-built CFL light

This is really great to see others inspired by my cheap-o lights. I'm building a new one right now. I should have pictures up tomorrow.
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Old February 22nd, 2012, 06:57 PM   #21
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Re: My Home-built CFL light

Good technology never rests...

Besides my four 800-watt CFL fixtures and the two 900-watt CFL fixtures with barn doors, I made a pair of 200-watt CFL fixtures I call "mud lights," because they use a polished stainless steel drywall compound pan for reflectors, commonly known as a "mud pan" in the construction industry. Essentially, it's two 100-watt CFL lamps mounted end-to-end. I put two mounting points where I can mount the lights either "tall" or "sideways," depending on the need. They've found a lot of use as hidden lights, placed out of view behind the arm of a sofa or shooting up from a low shelf to light a bartender behind the bar.

One overlooked source of off-the-shelf lights are the 8-1/2" utility clamp lights with the polished spun-aluminum reflectors. I found them on sale for $6.00 each at Harbor Freight, and bought five of them on the odd chance I might need them somewhere. They're handy because the reflector completely covers a 100-watt CFL, so no light leaks out the side. We were shooting in a dark bar with an overhead half-mezzanine, and needed more light along the bar itself. We just clamped all five lights to the upper floor railing and aimed them straight down and slightly away from the camera, and they worked perfectly. I was so impressed, I went out the next week and bought five more (at the normal price of $8.00).

The clamp lights are particularly handy in that the reflector unscrews from the socket-and-clamp assembly. You can stack the reflectors one atop the other, put them in a five-gallon plastic bucket, then put all ten socket-and-clamp assemblies on top of that, and still have room for several extension cords on top of that.

Martin
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Old February 22nd, 2012, 10:17 PM   #22
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Re: My Home-built CFL light

Hi Guys

My biggest pain in the butt was erecting and dismantling the softbox plus it was bulky...I made a fitting with 8 x 55W lamps is a circle and then one in the middle just to fill in the space. The head is fine but connecting to a softbox was annoying me so I removed the middle lamp and inserted a plastic tube and I now drop a bounce umbrella into the tube. Works really well and there are no reflectors needed and the umbrella is super quick to install. I also like the fact that the lights are pointing away from the subject as at weddings they are quick to complain about "the bright light in my eyes" Using 8 instead of 9 lamps didn't make a huge difference either

Chris
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