Machine your own Ring Light

[Alan] acquired a stereo microscope from eBay, and decided to save some more money by designing, machining, and assembling his own arc reactor ring light to go along. After finding an LED driver board sitting around as well as ordering some surface mount LEDs, he set about using a lathe to cut away a block of lexan, making sure to include slots for the lights as well as the microscope mount point. Follow the link to see the detailed build photos, as well as some comparison shots with and without the ring light.

A month or two earlier though, and [Alan] would have had a fantastic start to an Iron Man costume.


  1. dkavanagh says:

    Are you sure he isn’t building an ironman suit?

  2. Colecago says:

    People need to embrace other lighting options such as EL-Wire, CCL’s etc. LED’s no matter how well you diffuse them always have a spotty look to them because of their focus point.

  3. medix says:

    Sweet, now build one to fit inside the (outer) annular shell of a dark-field microscope objective and we’ll have something..

  4. Jeremy says:

    @Colecago: Yeah but they look so cool!

    I am personally impressed with his abilities here. Good Job!

  5. golddigger says:

    That’s cool for the throw-back suit, but the new one has a triangle, should be much easier to create.

  6. Glen says:

    Looks good. Nice machine job. But LEDs are very directional. they don’t spill much light out of the side. So most of the brightness will be directed straight down and I’m guessing the light should be directed inwards ? towards to subject under the microscope.

    If the LEDS were angled inwards or roughed up with sandpaper to diffuse the light the ring would appear brighter I’m sure. maybe it’s already bright enough though.

  7. Hackius says:

    LEDs are directional because they have lenses on top. Just get LEDs without lenses or SMD LEDs

  8. Bernhard says:
  9. Whatnot says:

    @Colecago You have a point of course but LED are low power and don’t need inverters and remain relatively cool and are light and can stand vibration, plus spotty can be nice actually, and you can as Glen says diffuse the light with some sandpaper.

  10. Brennan says:

    Those of you who are complaining about the directional light property of LEDs need to realize that this project actually required directional light, so LEDs were a good choice in this situation. EL Wire? Seriously? That would create hardly any light, and certainly not something useful for the end of a scope.

  11. Taylor Alexander says:

    I really should have posted the Iron Man chest piece i made two years ago… I CNC machined it and everything. I’m just too damn lazy. :-/

  12. barry99705 says:

    I like this line the best.
    “Oh hey, before you start a project like this, you NEED precise accurate, complete CAD drawings. You should start by purchasing AutoCAD or Inventor or something like that. I went the cheap way and used paper and a pencil and about 5 minutes.”

  13. James Munns says:

    @barry99705: True Hacker spirit.

  14. DieCastBlue says:

    People have modified camping lights for similar effect. $6 to your door, although their shipping is all backed up (been three weeks since I ordered mine) because of Christmas etc.

  15. Flying Finn says:

    A fairly long time ago I stumbled upon this similar guide: The end result is a much more powerfull and usefull ring light setup. I have built one for my 105mm Micro Nikkor with 3 individual LED rings and the end result is very good indeed. And just a little soldering required.

  16. Brett_cgb says:
  17. Diddle says:

    @Brett_cgb > I’m with you — I’ve had the 120mm model bookmarked for several months! Just need to find the time to do some tinkering. :(

  18. Brett_cgb says:

    Don’t expect rapid delivery from DealExtreme using “airmail”. Ordered 10/21/2010, shipped 10/23, left Hong Kong via airmail 11/15, not yet received in Arizona 11/20. Apparently, this is fairly common.

    Other shipping methods are available, and faster.


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