May 14, 2015

DIY: Build the 'Sun-Blaster', a 1000w LED Adjustable Flashlight for Just $40

If you've got some know-how and a little time on your hands, this DIY tutorial from DIY Perks shows you how to build the "Sun-Blaster", a portable and powerful 1000w LED light that doubles as a spot and flood, complete with dimmers and battery/AC power -- all for $40.

This build is not for the faint of heart. It's going to take a bit of time to not only build the thing, but to gather all of the materials, so if you're looking for a quick no muss no fuss activity, you might want to pass on this one. However, if you're looking for a fun weekend project that will result in you having a powerful 1000w LED flashlight, this might be right up your alley.

Now, obviously you're not going to find the materials you're going to need lying around your house. You can find the material list here (complete with links), but just a few of the parts that go into building this thing include a voltage booster, a CPU cooler, and a 10k Potentiometer -- whatever the hell that is. 

The great things about this light is that it's cheap to make, it's portable, and it's powerful enough to light an entire outdoor scene, as well as delicate enough to serve as a hair light. 

What do you think about this DIY LED flashlight? Could you see yourself using something like it on your films?      

Your Comment

23 Comments

V! Thank you for turning me onto this! A 4-light kit of these would be incredible in a pinch.

May 14, 2015 at 3:29PM

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Seth Iliff
Director, Cinematographer
91

It's fantastic that people design and share these DIY projects. But six minutes in, I remembered why I buy equipment!

May 14, 2015 at 3:29PM, Edited May 14, 3:29PM

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This looks great -- I wonder what the spectral response of an LED bulb like that one would be like?

May 14, 2015 at 3:39PM

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Philip Heinrich
Director, Producer
759

At a photography and video convention I attended several years ago, a high-end lighting company had a pocket spectroscope as part of their display.

Spectators like myself were invited to look at their LED system through the spectroscope, then compare it to the fluorescent tubes and metal halide lights overhead.

Their LEDs were beautiful and flat, while the house lights were very spiky, with noticeable gaps and spikes.

While playing around with the scope, I remembered that I had a cheap, dollar store LED flashlight in my pocket. So I examined the light output from the flashlight and compared it to the 5 figure price tag system the company was showing off.

The spectrum from the $1 flashlight was the same.

Moral of the story: LEDs give off nice light.

May 15, 2015 at 6:45PM

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kyleclements
Artist / Photographer
954

Be careful, however. Not all LED systems give off smooth spectra. That requires some extra-intense engineering - balancing the ultra-violet LED underlying the white phosphor layer - to produce a flat, properly balanced luminary. You pretty much get exactly what you pay for. The big manufacturers were slower bringing LED to market exactly because they needed the time to engineer a solution that wouldn't undermine their brand.

Litepanel instruments were very spiky and green when they first came out. They have progressively improved the spectra of their instruments over time.

Michael

May 18, 2015 at 5:30PM

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Michael Morlan
Director / Director of Photography
168

"HP sauce" at 18:20 lulz

May 14, 2015 at 4:43PM, Edited May 14, 4:44PM

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The parts list says 100w, not 1000w. Just sayin...

May 14, 2015 at 6:55PM

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Eric: The description says 1000w "equivalent" which I'd say is "spot" on... ;)

Here's another DIY fun lighting project - a little crude but effective...

https://youtu.be/jLia59KfkSw

May 14, 2015 at 7:20PM

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Armando Ruggeri
President - Techmation
74

Some guys attached 8x 10W super brite LEDs on a drone, it makes for some serious power. Real UFO scary stuff. Unfortunetely I cannot attach a picture.

May 15, 2015 at 5:00AM

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Tulio Campregher
AV coordinator
154

Link? I'd love to see that.

June 10, 2015 at 2:50PM, Edited June 10, 2:50PM

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The $40 price tag is innacurate. The fan/heatsink new is around $55 and the battery is around $50. You have to be able to find these parts used in order to come even close to $40.

May 15, 2015 at 2:52PM, Edited May 15, 2:54PM

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It could use some ruggedization before I'd rely on it for set work, but this is a damn cool project!

May 15, 2015 at 3:34PM

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Chuck McDowell
1st AC
520

I got almost everything to try this, but with a different approach in terms of heatsink, plus I won't be needing a battery since this is going to be used as a studio light with a massive diffuse in front of it.

May 15, 2015 at 6:23PM

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Isaac Alonzo
Photographer / Cinematographer
342

I'd be interested to hear about how your heatsink modification turned out.

May 17, 2015 at 7:30PM

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What an amazing light and an equally amazingly well done instructional video. I will never build one of these but the video gives me the information and the confidence that I COULD do it.

Also learned a few soldering tricks just from watching.

May 15, 2015 at 10:44PM

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mlitty
88

Retrofitting this LED with an appropriate cooler into an old baby fresnel light would be cool (literally). The Mole Teenie 4.5" LED goes for $1500. Ugh. It would not require building the frame and would have the spot/flood lens, light stand socket and barn door capability already there. A good battery could run it for hours.

As usual, the real problem is light quality. Many LEDs tend to be green and are insufficient in red, leading to poor skin tones. The LED engineer at the Mole booth at NAB2013 told me they worked very hard to develop a tiny mineral red filter to put over the LED to make sure the reds stay true throughout its long life and not fade.

This 100w LED says it is 6500 kelvin. Nothing about CRI spectral output.

Still, a terrific project.

May 16, 2015 at 12:52PM, Edited May 16, 12:52PM

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It's 100W, not 1000W. Fix your headline.

May 16, 2015 at 8:12PM

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Will this do the same without having to build? The $400.00 HiViz LED flashlight:

YouTube vid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjheBmUE8pU

Or is this $199.00 flashlight, through a diffuser, enough? The ThruNite TN36, with 6500 lumens. The best demo of the flashlight starts at 1:07 of the vid:

(it's in German) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bw3kDeIhMCo

May 17, 2015 at 9:02AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1099

A second video, this one in English, about the $199.00 flashlight, the ThruNite TN36. It's a review. There's far more detail about it in this video. He does talk about the temperature of the light. And he demos it, outside at night, at the end of the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZCKYCZX7i8

May 17, 2015 at 9:17AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1099

What about using a CPU cooler with a fan already built in? There is a hyper 212 EVO cooler on amazon with a fan for 35$....Would this unit work the same way? Would like to build this!!

May 18, 2015 at 12:24PM

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Whew! I'd hate to start with that much green in a light source. I'd cut the luminance in half, correcting it with minus-green. :-D

(I'm presuming he has his camera set to daylight color balance for the nighttime tests against the house.)

May 18, 2015 at 5:26PM, Edited May 18, 5:26PM

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Michael Morlan
Director / Director of Photography
168

These DIY projects are always fun because I'm exactly the kinda guy to build such a device. (I'm a cinematographer and electronics tinkerer.) I've been considering LED retrofits for my Mole heads for some time.

However, the spectral output of a $10 100W LED is extremely spiky and very low CRI. And, no two LED's at that price point have the same spectral output because they are drawn from the cheap bins at the manufacturer.

Color is where LED instruments are most challenged. To date, only a very few LED technologies have been developed specifically for the RGB spectral needs of film emulsions and digital video chips. All LED instruments utilizing phosphor-white LED’s must choose their luminaries from a spread of price and color accuracy (as described in Guy Holt’s excellent on-line paper):

http://bit.ly/guy_holt_high_power_leds

Add to this, the other engineering challenges; passive or silent forced cooling, package size and fit in an instrument, weatherproofing, color management over various dimming ranges (LED's don't "dim", they just blink at high frequency over various duty cycles to simulate dimming) and you have quite the engineering challenge to produce a usable cine light.

Best,

Michael

May 18, 2015 at 4:40PM

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Michael Morlan
Director / Director of Photography
168

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLia59KfkSw

I think this ^ video is another solid DIY tutorial on building your own lights. Think I'm gonna give this one a shot

May 19, 2015 at 12:58PM

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