LED Panel Light

OK, Let’s start this off by saying I have had a bad feeling about this project from almost the minute I started it.

  • I’m not happy with the rigidity of the backing plate (Walmart cookie sheet).
  • I’m not happy with the stickiness of the LED strips.
  • I’m not happy with the bazillion jumper wires and solder joints.
  • Last but not least I have a feeling this thing is not going to be able to dissipate enough heat so that it can work for more than a few minutes.

But here we are. I’ve gone this far and I’m a little curious if I can pull this off and how long it will last.

cookie sheet with hole and grommet
Hole and grommet

First step was to drill a hole in the center for the wires to pass through. Behind this hole I want to mount an enclosure for the switches and have a place for a tripod mount. Thinking about using an oversize aluminium project box to add rigidity, surface area for heat and for a solid mounting point. Original plan was for a small plastic box.

box of strip lighting
One of two spools of lights

Next step was to cut strips of lights to cover the back plate. I decided to use two different strips one warm white and one cool white. I thought this would give me the option of either one or both depending on the photo needs. It also massively complicated the wiring to tie the strips together. They all can share a ground but now I need to jump every other positive end to every other row, alternating ends each time. That way each color can have its own switch. My brain is starting to hurt just thinking about this again.

The strips don’t fill the width exactly but that make it easier to solder

Cutting enough strips of each was the easy part. I decided to alternate rows and offset them to help with the soldering and keeping whats what in my head.

partially assembled panel
About half the strips attached to the back panel

I was careful to rough up the surface of the back plate and to keep it clean by wiping it with isopropyl alcohol.

isopropl alcohol and abrasive  sheet
I’m gonna need a different kind of alcohol before this is over

Panel is ready to start soldering the jumpers now. I’m not going to fill the small gap around the wire port. Once the diffuser is on the front I don’t think it will matter.

led strips attached and ready for soldering
Ready for soldering

There are a few videos I shot while getting this far. I will post them at the end, there are a lot of obscenities that need to be edited out.