Skip to main content

RGB Photoflood - An Arduino Project

RGB LED Photoflood

Links to code and video at the bottom of this article

So, I was looking at the price of photo floods for photography and video production and baulking at the prices. I had previously used a battery powered one with 160 LEDs that cost around 20 GBP which was ok for basic photography lighting fill-in, that is to supplement room lighting. But for video you really need something more powerful. So my criteria was 

  • Must be mains powered

  • Must be RGB programmable for effects

  • Optional - can display scrolling messages

  • Must stand prolonged usage

  • Cheap enough to make several to provide multiple light sources, possible with differing tints.

  • Easy to construct and copy.

Common sense and available components said it should be Arduino based because

  • I have a drawer full (or did)

  • There are many variants as cheap as 3 GBP + postage and packing in multiple pack purchase

  • They are easy to program and have simple power needs, i.e. 5 volts the same as WS2812 LEDs

I have seen WS2812 256 LED programmable matrixes sold for as much as 70 GBP which makes me baulk! But a bit of research and some special offers on Ebay (other sources are available) had myself and my partner ordering one each on top of the one I already had sourced and tested some simple programs on. Now these are generally designed to have patterns, words and graphics displayed on them and I did buy a 8 GBP controller which can operate form a mobile phone and made some pretty patterns on one. I had heard a few people say that you should not run these 100% on all LEDs and it is also mentioned that the LEDs can become de-flowed, that is desoldered. Well you have been warned and the hobbyist is likely to be capable or soldering a few joints in the even of a problem.  I think this will put out 5 Volts x 7 Amps = 35 Watts. Probably equivalent to 150 watts of incandescent lighting but with RGB control!

As for cooling I will be installing a PC cooling fan in each box. I reckon they consume 6.7 amps when fully on. You will need substantial wire from the 5V power supply to the LEDs as I managed to almost melt mine when trying to drive 3 LED matrixes at once!

The circuit was proved using an Arduino UNO on breadboard and I initially mounted the controls and resistors on prototyping board, even though this was only a half sheet i knew I had enough space for an Arduino Nano or Arduino Every. The Every is pin compatible and available in three packs, well I did want to build three of these so I ordered them from

The completed circuit board

Not too many connections to the Arduino Every

The underside view

I used the component's legs to make the bridges between the dots, this helps to avoid using large blobs of solder which can short circuit between tracks.

The assembled electronics. Use extreme caution with testing using mains voltages, it can be lethal. I will add a mains switch and 1 amp fuse and fuse holder and build it all into a box for safety.

Parts List (Amazon links are associate links for which I earn a small commission, you pay no extra at all)

R1-4 100K linear potentiometer

R5-9 10k 1/4 carbon resistor

IC1 Arduino Nano or Every

1 x PCB or prototype board

PB1 momentary contact push button

USB lead to program Arduino

Assorted cable

Code on GitHub, just click download as zip or clone if you have Git.

YouTube video and instructions to modify code


Popular posts from this blog

DMR - How it works and how to get set up

And why you shouldn’t import too many repeaters to your codeplug like I did! I have made an accompanying video on YouTube at Setting up DMR takes some patience but once you access the repeaters and talk groups you will be rewarded with many QSOs from all over the world in glorious digital quality. DMR (Digital Mobile Radio) is a great transmission/reception mode, it is clear audio in a resilient wrapper that can withstand a lot of QRM - interference and fading. It is pretty much either working, or not with no real distortion. It has been developed due to the availability of cheap micro processors which can process audio into digital encoding and manage complex transmission systems. The DMR amateur radio system allows people to talk one to one or through a repeater in either simplex mode (same TX and RX frequencies) or duplex mode. You can probably access many DMR repeaters in your surrounding area and they provide access to hundreds of talk groups. Now mode

Getting started with the Anytone AT-D878UVII Super, making a codeplug

I passed my Foundation Amateur Radio Exam and have been using the Baofeng UV-S9 for over a couple of months (the first month just listening). I decided it was time for a better radio as a lot of activity seems to be on digital channels and links like Echolink, All Star etc. and the Baofeng scan facility is limited to either all channels, or all frequencies in one waveband. So I pre-ordered the Anytone AT-D878UVII Super as this is the only budget radio that seems to have enough memory to download the entire DMR contact list which now exceed 200,000 registred users.  My new Anytone AT-D878UVII Super The Anytone can hold upto 500,000 so it should be good for a few years. When programming a radio like this people refer to a codeplug, it is not a physical plug, rather it is data that is specific to your radio's frequencies, repeater channels, DMR contacts and personal settings. It will also contain your DMR Id so beware of exporting the data plug to other people without first removing

The Trident multi Band aerial for scanners and sdr reception and transmitting

I wanted a Discone type aerial, they look great! Then I read some reviews and people said that a dual band dipole worked better. I also wanted to be able to use it for different bands. So on YouTube I found the best dual band aerial design I could. Then I found this 2M ground plane aerial/antenna . why not combine elements of both? So why would this work? Well, when an antenna or aerial is resonant it's impedance falls to around 50 Ohms. When it is outside resonance the impedance rises to several thousand Ohms and becomes irrelavent as it reduces the signal. So when you are on 2M the other tripod elements are ignored and you can achive good power transfer and gain. The same is true for each other band. I have seen this on other aerial designs too. It does work I promise you! Antenna vs aerial, what is the difference?  An aerial is to receive radio signals only, there are other design considerations but an Antenna has to cope with high voltages and heat. An antenna is designed to