By Odin’s X-Acto Knife, I Will Do Better!

December 24th, 2005  |  Published in old and busted  |  1 Comment

Light Diffusion Box Mk II

If my first light diffusion box bore all the earmarks of an idea hastily executed in a blur of eyeball measurements, spattered glue and a guiding work ethic of “good enough,” the second is a marvel of patience and precision.

The first one had some problems:

  1. I eyeballed most of the measurements, eschewing straightedge and the nagging voice of Marlon McClintock, my seventh grade shop teacher, who instilled in me a fear of cutting edges and power tools and a guilt complex about shoddy craftsmanship that lives to this day.

  2. The cloth I used for diffusing the light coming in through the ports on the side and top was merely draped over the box, making for an extra step when it came to moving things around inside the box, and creating hassles and potential fire hazards when positioning the lamps.

  3. A gap in the back left corner tore a little, leaving an ugly black hole. I went to bed last night trying to rationalize the hole and imagining filling it in with something … white, but I woke up knowing that I couldn’t live with that.

So this morning, Al and Ben safely off to the grocery store and the contractor busily working on our leaky tub faucet, I sat down with straightedge, pencil, glue and a second file box and went to work on a more perfect diffusion box.

Features of the new one:

  1. The diffusing cloth in the light ports is now glued in place between the foam board and the box walls and top, which has the dual benefit of making it less of a hassle to deal with and covering the cardboard edges. If some of the white cloth somehow gets caught on camera, it’ll be much easier to Photoshop out. It’s also easier to open the top of the box and make a quick adjustment without having to undrape the box and risk moving the lamps around.

  2. The more precise measurements mean there are less noticeable seams where the walls and floor meet, and less risk of gouging the creases at the corners.

  3. The camera port in the front of the box is wider and more carefully positioned, so a camera on a mini-tripod will have an easier time getting a good angle, and wider angles are possible. The light port on top is also wider and more carefully placed to allow for more light and better placement.

So the total cost of the project, which involved what I’ll refer to from now on as a “trial run” or “prototype” and a finished project amounted to $7.50 worth of foam board, a $4 cardboard file box, and $12 in gooseneck lamps on sale at Fred Meyer. You could halve the material cost if you got it right the first time, bringing the whole thing in at just over $20. If you’ve already got the lamps, it’d cost under $10.

With the nagging guilt of a job poorly done finally exorcised, I can settle in to wrapping presents and figuring out where to take the Mensies, who are set to embark on a mind-bending crusade through time and space!

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