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Color-controlled LED Light Box
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TOPIC: Color-controlled LED Light Box
#53383
Color-controlled LED Light Box 1 Year, 6 Months ago  
As a follow-up of this thread, and being inspired by lecartomancien's light box that you can see on his blog, I built my own light box using RGB (Red/Green/Blue) LEDs (Light emitting diodes) strips. This change in design has a few pros and cons over using light bulbs.

Pros:
-Full control of color output without the need of colored papers/filters
-The LEDs are light weight, cannot really break nor burn and the overall light box does not have to be that thick. Furthermore, with strips, you can shape them into any shape of surface without any soldering.
-LEDs are really cheap!
-LEDs do not emit a significant source of heat. Therefore, you do not have to incorporate a cooling system in the light box as lecartomancien needed.

Cons:
-The amount of light emitted is definitively lower. You can see the light emitted by lecartomancien's light box in plain daylight! I have to use my box at dawn/night on a table lighted by a dimmable light. This is clearly a limitation, but we mostly play at night and I feel that the darkness adds to the mood of the game. It makes taking pictures of setups in the dark far more tricky as you will soon see.
biowizard
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#53384
Re:Color-controlled LED Light Box 1 Year, 6 Months ago  
Material needed:
2* 2"*4"*6' white pine lumber, $14
1* 24"*40"*1/2" masonite wood board, $10
4* metal corners, $2
small nails, screws, PVA/Wood Glue, Wood finish (dark walnut), Polyur floor sealer, Gloss varnish (2 coats)
1* 24"*40"*3mm translucent white acrylic sheet, $45
2*5 meters long RGB LED strips with Power supply, transformer/controller and remote control, $30
Spending an afternoon with your father in his garage making carpentry, priceless!!!

First, I made the box. I won't give the specifics (it involved a table saw, circular saw...) of this job as this forum is not about carpentry (unless someone asks). I made sure that my lexan sheets (described here) that have a 1 inch grid drawn on them could fit on top.



After staining/sealing/varnishing the wood and painting roughly the interior white to increase light reflection:



The LEDs strips I used were very cheaply bought on eBay (shipped for free from Hong Kong).



They came as 2 rolls of 5 meters with 300 independent LEDS per rolls. With it came a remote control with which I can control the light colors and intensity. The lights can blink and generate patterns worthy of Saturday Night Fever, but nothing that really fits RPG settings such as a pulsating light. I should have bought this set with a 5 amps Power Supply right away as available here:

biowizard
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#53386
Re:Color-controlled LED Light Box 1 Year, 6 Months ago  
I then stuck the LED strips at the bottom of the box evenly (they come with a sticker on the back with a strip of paper that peels off).



I had made sure prior to that that about 3 inches were sufficient for the light emitted by the red, blue and green LEDs would have enough distance to scatter and mix evenly before hitting the acrylic.

Here it is with the lights set to be white (all RGB channels at 100%) without any surface on it:



You will notice that the lights at regular intervals are not as bright as others. This is because I have not yet received the necessary 12V 5amps Power Supply (I regret now not buying the full kit); I'm using a 12V 2amps for now... When I receive it, it's going to be a little brighter and the light will be the same intensity for all LEDs (especially with the 2nd strip; bottom of picture).

When I put my white acrylic translucent sheet on it, the colors mix evenly and appears as one color and you can no longer distinguish individual LEDs as focal points.

Here it is in full Red:



Full Blue:



Full Green:

biowizard
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#53387
Re:Color-controlled LED Light Box 1 Year, 6 Months ago  
About photography...

I do not have a good camera. Furthermore, taking a picture of a light source in the dark is a task I just do not know how to achieve and I really think I do not have the proper equipment. For example, the Red appears pinkish in the picture above but to the human eye (mine anyway when I took the pictures), it shows as a darker red than the ones you can see on a Canada/USA/France flag!!!

Here's me playing with my new LED light box in making what could be a sewer setup with a very toxic and/or radioactive soup!





(Once again, it appears darker to the naked eye and you can actually see the DF pieces)
biowizard
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#53388
Re:Color-controlled LED Light Box 1 Year, 6 Months ago  
Great job, biowizard!
richens
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#53389
Re:Color-controlled LED Light Box 1 Year, 6 Months ago  
Would a sheet of tinfoil underneath the LEDs increase the brightness?
jackattack
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#53390
Re:Color-controlled LED Light Box 1 Year, 6 Months ago  
Most digital cameras will have a night portrait mode, where they will fire the flash and leave the shutter open long enough for ambient light. (On my $129 canon it is Slow Synchro and the icon is a lightning bolt next to a face with a star behind it). This is a great mode, if you use it handheld, you will get motion blur from the ambient light, which looks really cool sometimes and bad other (shoot lots - it's digital!).

Then all you need is a tripod or a clamp (gorilla pods are great and small enough to allow you to get low to your DF setup). If you don't have anything to hold it, just prop it on a sandbag (or a ziploc bag of rice from the kitchen) and use the self timer so the camera doesn't wiggle. Viola - you are a professional photographer!

You have a lot more control in manual modes, but i think you will like the results if you try this easy trick.

Awesome light box BTW - I am working on designing my dream game table, and i may have to incorporate this!
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#53393
Re:Color-controlled LED Light Box 1 Year, 6 Months ago  
If you like to use light effects, this is something you have to see. maybe inspiring for some lava effect...


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My new blog, with lots of decor and figurines inside : Aventures en 25mm

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#53405
Re:Color-controlled LED Light Box 1 Year, 6 Months ago  
biowizard - great that you are sharing your endeavours on this fantastic project. Really feeds all of our imaginations and collective ideas.

I look forward to full amp power and other lighting effects possible through that fancy looking remote !
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#53414
Re:Color-controlled LED Light Box 1 Year, 6 Months ago  
Bio wizard,
Wonderful work and detailed enough for all to do.

Thanks for posting.
dndgamer
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#53426
Re:Color-controlled LED Light Box 1 Year, 6 Months ago  
Gods man, I'm certainly glad you're on our side! Genius.
You players are very lucky.
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#53436
Re:Color-controlled LED Light Box 1 Year, 6 Months ago  
richens, dandare, dndgamer, LordTentacle

Thanks for the kind words!

jackattack,

Foil could have worked indeed! It's too late now since the strips are already stuck good. Also, since most of the light is projected up with something like a 90 degree wide angle, I'm not sure increasing light reflection from the bottom of the box would help at all.

kitenerd,

I will try taking pictures with a tripod and manual settings for long exposure. This will indeed help me see better the DF pieces. I'm not sure yet how I can make red appear as red and not pink. Maybe I can "cheat" in Photoshop to make the photos look more like reality.

rodenbach,

Nice trick! Where did you find this one?

dandare,

The fancy looking remote is quite disappointing for the applications of my project. It either cycles by flashing OR fading between 3 colors (red, blue & green) or it does the same with 7 colors (all possible combinations of the 3 RGB channels). It can also flash on and off all channels at once (white) or do completely random things between all colors. Other than having a specific color ON all the time, I don't see other applications for this remote for fantasy RPG.

LordTentacle,

Weirdly enough, I'm a player! I would then say that my two DMs (I play within 2 groups) are lucky to have me ;-). Usually, people I play with refuse to play anywhere else but my place when I show them my toys!
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