Portable light table
Portable light table

Have you ever wanted to trace something, but no tracing paper to be found? Need to be able to take your tools with you? There have been many times I have wanted a light table, many of those times in places that would not be able to take a big bulky item. I have created a lightweight, small but big enough for a regular piece of paper, & powerful light table. In this Instructable I will show you how to make one for yourself. This project is fairly easy, without needing too many tools or materials.

Step 1: Gather materials & tools

Portable light table
Portable light table
Portable light table

The first the materials you will need:

1. A shadow box picture frame

2. LED light strip 5 meters with 300 LEDs (I used a cool white 3528 SMD non waterproof strip)

3. Power supply (check the stats with the LED strip that you buy, mine needed 12v 2amps)

4. Red & black wire

5. Foam

6. Female connector for power supply

7. On off switch

8. A handle (optional)

9. Rubber pads also known as bumpers (optional)

Next the tools:

1. soldering iron & solder

2. wire strippers (a good pair will cut too)

3. drill with drill bits

4. Screw driver

5. optional tools: saw, exacto knife, hot glue gun with glue sticks

Step 2: Take a look at what you have

Portable light table
Portable light table
Portable light table

The shadow box I picked up was 14"x11", large enough for a full sheet of printer paper with room left over. It is also deep enough for the foam to fit inside. You can make this with a normal picture frame, but you might need to do a few upgrades. Take the frame apart, mine happens to be plastic & easy to do so. I was also pleased to see that the back was substantial enough so that I would not have to make my own. Take the back & inside part of the frame, use a marker or pen to mark the back with the space that you have to work with.

Step 3: Add the LEDs

Portable light table
Portable light table
Portable light table
Portable light table
Portable light table

Measure the space you have to determine where to cut the LEDs. The strips come with 2 copper pads every so often. Cut at those spots, in the length that you need. Peel the double sided tape that is already attached to the strip, & apply to the back. I have the srtips alternating with + & - next to one another. I did this so that I can solder the wires without crossing the wires.

Step 4: Drill & cut holes for power & switch

Portable light table
Portable light table

Drilling the holes for the female side of the power supply, & power on/off switch. If you opt for the handle, now would be a good time to drill the holes for that as well.

Step 5: Solder together

Portable light table
Portable light table
Portable light table
Portable light table

Prepare the wires. There are 2 lengths to cut. I have half of each length in red, & half in black. This way each side of the LED strips will look the same when done. Remember to keep one color for each charge. This will help keep things straight if you need to work on it again. Put in place the power switch, & plug. I used hot glue for this. Then solder these as well. I used some longer wires in between the LEDs & the plug & switch. I did this so that I could have the back off without strain on the wires.

Step 6: Finish up with final assembly

Portable light table
Portable light table
Portable light table

Put the glass in place, I added a little bit of hot glue to secure it. Next the inside part of the frame. Screw on the handle, add the foam, & put the back on. I added the rubber pads around the back of the frame, far enough around the clips that hold the back on so that I can still remove the back.

Step 7: Plug in & test

Portable light table
Portable light table

As long as all of the connections are fine, it should work. Have fun with your new light table. Take it to art class, keep it out in your dorm room, or wherever you need it. (Sorry for the quality of photos, my camera does not like taking pictures of it while it is on.)

 
 

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