Making Your Own Astro Sketching Light

IMG_6820If your sketching light has an uneven glow, is too bright, cumbersome, or if you’ve had to hand hold it or hang it from your eyepiece holder, this easy-to-make sketching light might be useful. I pulled Jeremy Perez’ idea from our Astronomical Sketching, A Step-by-Step Introduction book and after a quick trip to Lowe’s, I made this light in less than 15 minutes.

I use a dual-beam flashlight. The white light works well for lunar and planetary sketches and the red light for all other nighttime observational sketches.

Materials used

  • 7/16 to 29/32-inch stainless steel clamp
  • Plastic spring clamp
  • Orion variable brightness, dual-beam LED flashlight
  • 3.58 x 21.9 x 38.7 cm lamp with movable neck and a clamp base
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Clear cellophane tape
  • Crescent wrenches
  • Utility knife

Remove the lamp’s light apparatus and wiring using a screwdriver and crescent wrench, leaving only the adjustable neck and clamp base.

Cut a groove out of the bottom of the spring clamp’s handle with the utility knife so that the neck end of the lamp fits snugly in the clamp’s handle. I used a plastic clamp instead of a metal one to keep the overall weight of my light to a minimum. The sharp end of the clamp was folded under to prevent me from cutting myself when using it at night.

Use the stainless steel clamp to secure the spring clamp the neck of the lamp.

Remove the lens from the variable brightness flashlight and place a piece of clear cellophane tape over it. This will even out the glow of the LED lights. Replace the lens and attach the flashlight to the lamp using the spring clamp.

The new sketching light securely clamps onto both my sketching board and my clipboard. If yours has excess movement where it clamps to your clipboard, an empty CD case between the clamp and the bottom of the clipboard, as Jeremy suggests, will eliminate that.

If you have suggestions for improvement, please feel free to share it here!

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~ by Erika Rix on June 8, 2013.

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