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A light-weight light box for deep sky sketching

by Carol Botha

Published: 2009 April 06.

As I developed a passion for sketching deep sky objects, it became inevitable that I would start thinking about more practical ways to do so than with a clipboard and red LEDs that were always too bright or too dim and shining all over the show except on the circle where the action was supposed to happen.

I tried a number of tricks but all were unsatisfactory. Eventually I started thinking of a hands-free, fully adjustable red LED lightbox.

Meurant (the husband) was ecstatic when I showed him the plan because it gave him an excuse to go out and buy a Weller soldering station. Our old soldering gun would have done the job just as well.

For the next few days I played the dutiful wife. I have not mastered the art of TIG welding and needed Meurant to construct a lightweight A4 sized aluminium casing (fully documented in the photo gallery).

The bottom looks like a baking tin. The inside has been sprayed white to help with reflection. The top is framed red perspex.

I have used two red wide-angle LEDs each attached to its own battery pack housing two AA batteries.

These have been glued to the "baking tin" with hot glue. The LEDs need to be slightly lifted off the bottom otherwise they cause bright red spots.

The lights can be switched on individually. Using one LED at a time will give sufficient lighting; the second is mainly for backup.

The lightbox is attached to a fully adjustable tripod by means of a quick release bracket which will make transporting easy.

Photo gallery

Step by step assembly photos of Carol Botha's lightbox

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