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Old March 18th, 2010, 11:55 AM   #1
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My Home-built CFL light

I needed a cheap light that wouldn't throw a lot of heat or tax my breakers. I spent an hour wandering around Home Depot and built this monstrosity.

http://www.kirkdraut.com/lighting/spider_softbox.jpg

Eight CFLS on a 4" PVC clean-out housing, attached to a reducing tee for mounting on a light stand. My PCB Octobox attaches to the back and gives a nice, even output.

http://www.kirkdraut.com/lighting/spider_tapped.jpg

I used 1" lamp nipples threaded through the wall of the pipe to mount the sockets. PVC is soft enough that a steel nipple can be used to tap the pipe.

http://www.kirkdraut.com/lighting/spider_wired.jpg

All of the wires are connected with twisties so that I can replace sockets with out any tools.

http://www.kirkdraut.com/lighting/spider_lit.jpg

It's not the most elegant fixture, but it works and cost me less than $50 (not counting CFLs).
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Old March 18th, 2010, 10:37 PM   #2
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Very inspiring. :)
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Old March 18th, 2010, 10:57 PM   #3
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You might check here:

D.I.Y. 900-watt CF Lighting Units

They've come in real handy for me on several shoots. So handy, in fact, I've picked up some larger stainless steel trays to make some 1.5 KW versions when I get the chance.

Martin
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Old March 19th, 2010, 12:08 PM   #4
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Martin - I saw your light and was very impressed. I thought about adding some switches to vary the output of my light, but all of my shoots are at a fixed distance and setting.
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Old March 20th, 2010, 05:57 AM   #5
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Very nice work Kirk. I have 2 fotodiox housings that use (9) 100 watt CFLs and I often wondered how much increase in output would occur if the bulbs were mounted sideways.
The upside to my setup is that it is only 8 inches square and is easy to put into a case. I made a housing frame with mylar on the inside to help through the light a little more efficiently. What I really like about your fixture is that you are not limited to bulb size of wattage. You could easily put in any kind of wattage bulb to increase the output more.
I'm particularly impressed with your clean work.
Gary
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Old September 1st, 2010, 06:15 PM   #6
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Thought I'd resurrect this thread for a bit, and let Kirk know I found his design an inspiring starting point. I made a pair of 800-watt CFL umbrella lights, shamelessly copying Kirk's basic design and methods. They should complement the two 900-watt units I made previously.

The pictures pretty much speak for themselves. Starting point was a 3-1/2" PVC pipe adapter and a handful of spud sockets. I bought a pair of 36" silver umbrellas and a pair of inexpensive light stands to complete the kit. The last photo shows the carrying case, made from a half-height footlocker I picked up cheap because it was scratched. I decided to make the case large enough to hold the heads with the lamps installed, because usually when it's time to strike the set, I'm too beat to want to take the time to unscrew and pack away sixteen CFL lamps. Everything is held snugly with foam packing.

The umbrella lamps are great for lighting large areas evenly, freeing up my other lamps with the barn doors for specific lighting.

Regards;
Martin
Attached Thumbnails
My Home-built CFL light-stand01.jpg   My Home-built CFL light-cu01.jpg  

My Home-built CFL light-lit01.jpg   My Home-built CFL light-case01.jpg  

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Old September 11th, 2010, 04:50 PM   #7
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Nicely done guys. Do you know a source where one can get high CRI rated CFLs?

Dave Burckhard
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Old September 11th, 2010, 07:50 PM   #8
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I use the 100-watt Daylight CFL lamps from Bright Effects, rated at 6500K, bought from Lowes Hardware Centers. They sell them in packs of four at around $12.00 a pack, bringing the cost per lamp to a shade over $3.00 each (the cheapest I've found). No color issues at this point. I white-balance off a card once everything is set up. They mix well with natural daylight coming in from windows, no gelling required.

The box says Bright Effects 100W Replacement, #0076275.

Martin
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Old November 20th, 2010, 01:08 AM   #9
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This is amazing. I've been looking for a low-cost CFL, and this seems perfect. I'm a bit worried I don't have the DIY skills necessary I've never done anything like this. What would you rate the difficulty of a project like this? Is there anyone who makes things like this for sale?

Thank you for sharing this, it really seems like exactly what I've been looking for!
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Old November 20th, 2010, 06:31 PM   #10
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While the construction phase isn't particularly difficult, the PLANNING phase can make or break you. The biggest issues are when you get around to actually wiring the lamp sockets up. You need to leave enough room to make the connections safely and securely. Doing things in a half-assed manner will mean either your lights don't work reliably, start falling apart, or they will shock the crap out of you.

Other than that, it's just a matter of patience and reasonable hand-to-eye coordination with tools.

Martin
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 06:10 PM   #11
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"The pictures pretty much speak for themselves. Starting point was a 3-1/2" PVC pipe adapter and a handful of spud sockets."


Where did you get the 3-1/2" PVC pipe adapter? The Home Depot and Lowes in the SF Bay Area doesn't have these...
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 09:53 PM   #12
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Jaime:

Try going to a "real" plumbing supply store, one that specializes in (mostly) plumbing supplies. Some of the smaller non-chain hardware stores (forget anything from Ace Hardware) might have them as well. If you were local here, I'd send you either to Turner Hardware or Apex plumbing, but since you're not, you'll have to look around.

Nothing says it HAS to be a plastic pipe adapter. You could cut a short section of 4" PVC pipe and use that instead. I went with the adapter because that was what Kirk used ( I may steal my ideas, but I steal from the truly inspired) and because it had eight flats on the flange that made it easy to drill eight perpendicular holes, evenly spaced. Anything ring-shaped and suitably sturdy would work.

Start hunting. What you need will be where you find it, and probably in a very unlikely place when you DO find it.

Martin
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 10:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martin Catt View Post

Try going to a "real" plumbing supply store, one that specializes in (mostly) plumbing supplies. Some of the smaller non-chain hardware stores (forget anything from Ace Hardware) might have them as well. If you were local here, I'd send you either to Turner Hardware or Apex plumbing, but since you're not, you'll have to look around.

Nothing says it HAS to be a plastic pipe adapter. You could cut a short section of 4" PVC pipe and use that instead. I went with the adapter because that was what Kirk used ( I may steal my ideas, but I steal from the truly inspired) and because it had eight flats on the flange that made it easy to drill eight perpendicular holes, evenly spaced. Anything ring-shaped and suitably sturdy would work.

Martin
I figured I had to go to a real plumbing store. The 8 flat flange idea makes the job of installing the sockets a lot easier.

BTW...Where can I get those silver supports for the light stand and the umbrella?

Thanks to you and Kirk, you have inspired me too!

Jaime
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Old November 25th, 2010, 05:41 AM   #14
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The mounting hardware I made from aluminum. The bracket holding the umbrella is made from 1" wide x 1/8" aluminum bar (which you CAN get a Lowes). The actual mount to the light stand is made from a chunk of 1" x 2" aluminum bar (which you CAN'T get at Lowes, unfortunately), along with a threaded knob. I just threw the mount together out of what happened to be handy in my scrap box.

Martin
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Old June 1st, 2011, 12:34 PM   #15
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Re: My Home-built CFL light

Hey all,

Great thread and some wonderful posts!
Just wanted to share my completed design based off of your light, Kirk. Here's a picture, I can take more if anyone wants but I've just finished it so I only took a quick snapshot before I started in on some video tests.
This is taken with my 5DmkII @ f/5, iso 100, 1/2500th:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3406/...afb86604_b.jpg

I've been wanting to use my PCB 47" octabox as a video light with CFLs for a while and couldn't figure out how until I stumbled upon this thread. I have the newer version of their octa and so had to work around the hardware used to keep the thing open.
The light has 4 medium sockets, placed so the bulbs can be angled up and out through the 4 sides of the square cage and past the umbrella poles.
I can put any bulbs in with a medium base that I want as long as they fit. In the picture, you can see I have 4 105w CFL bulbs rated at 5000K in the light, putting out the equivalent of about 1600w of tungsten. This thing is bright!
The sockets don't extend past the side of the light housing and so I only need to unscrew the lights to be able to pull it out.
I wired in 4 switches (one for each socket) so I can up the power by a quarter with each light.

I haven't used it for any work yet but my tests are very promising. This thing is wonderful! Thanks so much for the inspiration, Kirk!
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