I was recently shooting a music video with a friend of mine Brent Bolinger. We decided that we wanted to use a ring light for a close up of our music artist. There are very few ring lights available on the market to buy. Since we consider ourselves fairly handy, we decided that we would try and build our own. 

Our first attempt consisted of using a small 16” fluorescent kitchen light. We modified the wiring and cut a hole in the center for the lens. The results looked really good on extreme close ups. However, once the subject got more than two feet away from the lens, you lost the ring light effect. In order to maintain the right light effect on the subjects eyes, we knew we needed to make the ring light much larger.

We had seen several examples of large ring lights that people had built online. In most of the examples the light was constructed out of either plywood or OSB. The problem we saw with those, were they were very heavy and not portable. We took a trip to the local hardware store and started looking for an alternative way to construct the ring light. Brent found a piece of PEX tubing that he was able to bend into a circle. We then were able to connect the PEX using a coupler. With such a light material we knew we were on the right track to building a lighter and more practical ring light.

Materials used:
  • 10ft PEX ¾ tube
  • ¾ tee couplers
  • ¾ right angle adapters
  • Plastic lighting fixtures
  • 60 watt light bulbs
  • Male Edison plug
  • 15ft electrical wire – 14 gauge
  • Zip ties
  • Liquid electrical tape
Tools required:
  • Drill
  • ¼ drill bit
  • Pliers
  • Screw driver
  • Wire cutters
  • Saw
  • Liquid electrical tape

We had seen several examples of large ring lights that people had built online. In most of the examples the light was constructed out of either plywood or OSB. The problem we saw with those, were they were very heavy and not portable. We took a trip to the local hardware store and started looking for an alternative way to construct the ring light. Brent found a piece of PEX tubing that he was able to bend into a circle. We then were able to connect the PEX using a coupler. With such a light material we knew we were on the right track to building a lighter and more practical ring light.

Directions:

Start with the tube, measure in 5 inches and create a mark. Then measure and mark every 10 inches from that line (ex. 5”, 15”, 25” etc.). This will keep you from having a fixture placed on the coupler later on.

Now, cut the PEX tube in half, creating two 5ft sections. Then attach the two sections together using the tee couplers (do not use any type of glue on PEX tubing). Attach by drilling a hole through the tee and the tubing and running a zip tie through it at both ends.

Next, drill out two holes in the bottom of the fixtures. These are used to attach the fixture to the tubing by running zip ties through the holes and fasting to the PEX tube.

Before attaching to the tube, wire all the fixtures together using the 14 gauge wire. Cut the wire so that the fixtures are exactly 12 inches apart, center to center, after the wires are attached. The center of the fixture should line up with your marks on the tubing.

Attach the Edison plug to the end of the last fixture. Then test all the fixtures with a light bulb to ensure they are working properly. After testing, apply liquid electrical tape to the exposed portion of the wire and fixture to prevent getting electrocuted. Apply several coats to cover any exposed wire. Allow the proper amount of time to dry.

After the liquid tape is dry, attach the fixtures to the tubing. Do this by lining up the center of your fixture to your marks and attach using zip ties. Use a pair of pliers to pull the zip ties tight.

Place the right angle adapters into the tee couplers. This is used to mount the ring light to lighting stands.

The last step is to screw in your light bulbs. You could also attach a dimmer to control the brightness of your ring light. We recommend the Router Speed Control from Harbor Freight.

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