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Here's a peek at what I've been working on...

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    This looks hella cool, as does your description of the german connectors - you just can pop them in and they stay there via pressure or? Whatever, I hate fiddling around with lights and getting frustrated, sounds sexy.

    Keep up the good work


      Here's a little more video while I'm killing time waiting for my metal brake (for bends) and a few other parts that will wrap this first model up. By the end of next week I'll be testing the first 10 of 'em... and getting back to some of my more elaborate ideas.

      This clip doesn't really show all that much... I was going to show the pile of drawings, aluminum chips, and bent rejects... but I guess I'm just getting impatient after these past couple months... so I'm just posting video for the hell of it.

      One of the things that I really did want to stress in this clip is the superiority of the aluminum reflector that I'm using. This stuff wasn't cheap or easy to get... 'cause it is THE best stuff there is. The little video doesn't do it justice... you can see what WAS the best aluminum I could find on the left... then in the center is the professional reflectors that I ordered (planning to mod them)... and then on the right you can see what ULTRA pure aluminum anodizing looks like! It's in a league of it's own. The other thing I wanted to show was the toughness of these lights... I'm 200lbs by the way... but if you get a light from me there's no returns due to crushing it by doing something stupid... although what's more stupid then jumping on your lights?

      CLICK HERE for another pointless clip... as I count down the days until NEXT Friday.

      I just put up a couple pics for anybody that's having trouble with the video... the top pic is the fixture body... and under that is a pic I took to illustrate why I'm so impressed with the reflector material.


      LIGHTING for Film & Television DVD Excerpts Reel.................................................. ............................. SOUND for Film & Television DVD Excerpts Reel


        Thanks for the update. I'm sure that you'll do well selling these. But if you don't you could always market them as the next wave of exercise equipment.
        MY NEW PROFILE: Ryan E. Walters

        Ryan E. Walters
        Director of Photography - HD Indi-Filmmaking Blog -
        Specializing in HD Digital Cinematography


          Okay here are a few manufacturing questions. How much do you realistically think you can sell these for? Seems like a lot of time goes into making one. What about weight. all totaled how many pounds do you think these might weight? Seems like the diamond plate is going to make these awful heavy. And key question is about the ballast? Reliability is probably the most important factor in fluorescent ballasts. What's your plan on offering a reliable ballast? I say this because you will have a huge headache when ballast start to fail and you've got a garage full of fixtures that need to be fixed. Maybe the best bet is to make the fixture and tell folks to buy the ballasts from as their ballasts have less than 1% repair rate.


            Walter, you've been the first to chime in with negative input out of all three forums that I belong to... first in my other thread and now in this one. What do you have against me?

            I'll make it clear to any potential buyers of my stuff what they're getting... and considering that many people... myself included... have made due for YEARS with home-brew lighting I don't think it's a big risk to buy something that's way better then any home-brew stuff... and half the price of the pro stuff.

            This project is about bargain-priced alternatives that kick ass... I'm not doing this to hurt (fill in the name of your favorite light company).

            If you're hesitant about the quality/competence of my work then by all means please don't buy anything from me! I don't want any customers that I have to convince to try my lights! I can't stress that point enough... to EVERYBODY.

            I will not use any sales tactics what-so-ever... I will ONLY show what they do, explain what they are, and let people make up their own minds. If somebody indicates they are "on the fence" between my light and another brand I will PUSH them to the other brand! I'm doing this for my own enjoyment and to HELP people... and if the customers I get take the fun out of it then I'll keep a few for myself, make them to order only for people that "find me" through these threads.

            I know that it looks like these lights are a lot of trouble to build. You know why? They ARE! I won't be making any money on these anyway... I'll have to sell something like 40-50 of 'em just to break even. Nobody else would consider doing this! For the prices I'm planning to ask it's a BAD business idea 'cause it's not worth it unless you LOVE it... but I do, and I'd like to see my little ideas used by other DV enthusiasts. (Note that I didn't say "professionals"... I honestly don't think somebody of your professional caliber will even consider my lights.)

            In case I haven't made this clear previously... these will be some of the LIGHTEST weight flos out there. The material I'm using is under 1lb per square foot and there's just over 2 square feet of material in the first model's shell... All together we'll be under 6lbs on this unit... INCLUDING onboard ballast... I won't know the exact weight until the first one is 100% done.

            When I get the first one totally done I'll post the exact weight.

            LIGHTING for Film & Television DVD Excerpts Reel.................................................. ............................. SOUND for Film & Television DVD Excerpts Reel


              Matt you are making it up in your head. I asked reasonable questions based on having manufactured numerous products in the past and am called on to consult for numerous companies that make various products today. My hope was to offer help. Not condemn you.

              So I'l try again:

              How much do you think these will sell for? A reasonable question as I see from what you've said so far that you will be putting a bit of effort into the construction.

              How much do you think one will weigh? I'm concerned because the rule of thumb is after about 15 pounds a light stand can't hold much. Already you are using diamond plating. Add the guts , a balast, a clamp to fasten it and I thought this might be a heavy fixture and that will be a problem for most folks. Worst kind of fixture is one that falls and breaks constantly. Especially when you've sold twenty and twenty people called you and said your design sucks as it knocks all the stands over unless you bag them real well.

              And finally, I want you to have success but can tell you if you think you can put a cheap ballast in these and get long life, you will learn something the hard way. The key ingredient to a successful fluorescent is the ballast and in these portable types of fixtures that ignite a lot and travel a lot ballasts can be trouble. So I figured it would be economical for you to make a head and let someone that has a reliable ballast fill in the blanks. TRust me, you don't want things returned as maintenance can kill the best designs. I'm watching you make a huge effort to make a fixture and already you seem to have bought eh farm on connectors, and I don't know what else (but the video shows you spent some money as yo have bags of connectors). My best suggestion for you is to make one, see if it works, put it in some folks hands and then see if they want it. Only then should you make a big purchase. There are rules to manufacturing whether you are a major corporation or a mom and pop garage outfit and regardless, if you break them you end up loosing money, not make it. You're making a few mistakes as I see it and I'm simply trying to help. I have nothing against you, just don't want to see you fall on your face just because a few posts said "looks great". Looks great and sells are two different things. I have no allegiance to any company. I simply use lots of equipment and think some is crap and some good and when folks ask, I tell them what has worked for me. YOu asked me about why I stopped making my fluorescent. One of the reasons was that I could not make the profit margin that I needed to make a successful product and cover the overhead (three times the cost to manufacture is standard bottom line). Spending eight hours building a single fixture and selling it for $150 is a loosing proposition. So I'm just asking you questions to make sure your venture is rewarding both monetarily and professionally. And if its just because you want to make them and sell them and don't care about making money, then all the best.


                From what I can see, Matt has been pretty thorough in sourcing high quality components for his lights--and that's pretty unusual for someone trying to come up with a low cost product. I'm sure the ballast will be equal or better than the quality of the other components. I mean c'mon, the guy is excited about the quality of the aluminum in his parabolic reflector. Most low cost manufacturers outsource everything to a low cost labor source and cut every corner possible on materials.


                  <From what I can see, Matt has been pretty thorough in sourcing high quality components for his lights--and that's pretty unusual for someone trying to come up with a low cost product. >

                  I'd use the term "rugged" over "high quality". Lightweight is an important factor in manufacturing such equipment today. Regardless of cost, no one wants to lug around a piece of metal that needs a big case to carry. There is no reason he could not make a fixture body easily out of many materials such as Coroplast and still use his nice shiny reflectors saving himself hours of molding aluminum and welding, let alone raw material costs which ups his manufacturing time and cost considerably. I just want to see him make a fixture that is comparable to what's out their while being able to charge less. Yes diamond plate looks great on a pickup truck as a runner but realistically it's a bulky thing to carry around in a kit shaped as a light when its easy enough to design a fixture that folds up into something easily transportable, that cost a third to make so you can sell it at a reasonable price yet make a reasonable profit for your time and effort.


                    Wow... I was stuck on page two and I didn't realize we had more replies. Please read my edited post from page 2. I was a little offended and I'm sorry that I probably came across harsher then I intended. I edited it down a bit.

                    Walter, I have no problems with criticisms... and frankly, I'm not going about this as a good businessman. I'm doing this because I enjoy creating things and problem solving. The creation is the light and the problem is the lack of affordable options for guys at my production level and below. A few months ago I started shopping for a set of three location flos (again) and I was reminded of why I developed some home-brew stuff years ago. Modern location flos are high dollar!

                    From a logic standpoint I've looked at the problem in it's simplest terms. Are there functional and practical lighting choices out there? YES. So why build something? What can I provide that's not already available? I think that people (without a budget) are encumbered by two realities. 1) For any decent production you NEED lights. There is no way around it... and 2) If a person has virtually no budget but wants to continue to PRODUCE then they will need their OWN lights. Renting isn't a practical option for a guy who's continuously working for little cash just because he/she loves video... but they still need lights!

                    So what can I bring to the table? I'm a creative person with numerous skills and I enjoy sharing my modest abilities with others. Those little posts of "looks great" make my day... Perhaps I'm delusional, but I expect the handful of people that try my lights to really enjoy them. If you show me a person who needs lights, doesn't have much money, and appreciates the look and feel of something that's hand-crafted (meaning nicely built, but visibly "made by somebody")... then that person will feel like a kid at Christmas when he/she opens this box for the first time.

                    Truly, I realize there's no "real money" in this for me. There is NO way I plan to triple my investment even though I know that's normal for something like this. If you want to know the God's Honest Truth of this there's NO way I'll be making even double on materials cost... forget triple (which I know is the norm) and after accounting for LABOR I'm making these for free! So why do it? Hell if I know... I just want to. At the very least I know that when I'm done with this I'll have some really cool lights that I'll enjoy using myself... and if I get a following then maybe I'll raise the price later so that I AM making some money?

                    I've got a book about Soichiro Honda... and how he built the very first scooters called [the Honda] "Dream" in his garage... maybe that's what this is about.

                    The bottom line is this. These lights will look cool to me... they will be lightweight (under 7lbs at the most and probably under 6lbs... including onboard ballast)... they will be functional, and practical, and tough... and most importantly they will be cheap.

                    Now to expand on the bottom line. For a light to be cheap you have to give in the places that you can. Obviously a $200 light isn't going to COST me $200 and take me all day to build... so these will NOT have Kino Flo ballasts or Go-Easy ballasts in 'em... Those ballasts ALONE will cost what my entire light costs! Also a $200 light won't have an "any position" mounting because that also adds $65 to MY cost. This is why I said I'll have to sell these at a couple levels and price things out... I'm not going to do this and have it actually COST me money each time I sell a light. I am NOT a wealthy guy... by any means. All I can guarantee for now is that I WILL have a model that's built with the components you've seen so far... for UNDER $200. Now just how many features I can pack onto that light and maintain that price remains to be seen.

                    I also wanted to mention that the ballasts have a 5 year warranty... but that's from the date of manufacture... so if you buy one of my lights you're probably looking at 4.5 years... and maybe they'll last 10-20? It depends on how much you use the light and how much abuse it gets... but these ballasts were made to go in a fixture and since the ENTIRE fixture is aluminum it will operate as a heatsink as it lights... so all things considered I'd expect the best... but I'll tell you right now that if I'm selling lights for peanuts I'm not going to offer 4 year warranties... but if the purchaser ships the light to me and pays for return shipping then I'd bet the business on replacing ballasts in the first year... 'cause I don't think it's gonna' be an issue.

                    LIGHTING for Film & Television DVD Excerpts Reel.................................................. ............................. SOUND for Film & Television DVD Excerpts Reel


                      Originally posted by MattinSTL
                      I'm not going about this as a good businessman. I'm doing this because I enjoy creating things and problem solving.
                      now it makes sense. I was looking at it from a business perspective. Thats where we weren't seeing eye to eye.


                        Walter's cool... As I always say in the audio forum, I'm just some guy... and I mean that.

                        I am not a major company like Kino Flo or any of the others... so if anybody thinks I'm a CEO or something... here's where you get it straight. I am just a guy... not a company.

                        I'll have some lights done by the end of next week... I'll post about it and I'll send something out for the moderators and friends to check out...

                        I'll put something that's 95% done together tomorrow and I'll be testing the hell out of things between now and next Friday... maybe I'll so some more step aerobics with the light ON this time... and the testing sessions will only get worse from there. By Wednesday I'll be in the J's... Javelin throw and Jazzercise...

                        LIGHTING for Film & Television DVD Excerpts Reel.................................................. ............................. SOUND for Film & Television DVD Excerpts Reel


                          I agree completely that these fixtures need to be lightweight. If it comes in around 6 pounds with ballast, I think that'll be fine. It sounds like the diamond plate stock is thin, but rigid. I recently bought a Kino Flo Diva 400 and that light weighs about 14-15 pounds which seems a little heavy, especially since the shell is corrugated plastic--but it is a 4 lamp fixture. The Diva 200 comes in at 8.5 pounds, so I think these are reasonable targets to shoot for. A Lowel Caselite 2 weighs 10 pounds with lamps. If Matt's 2 lamp fixture is less than 10 pounds, I think it would be great. The Divas require a fairly beefy case for transport because of their lightweight construction. Something sharp could really tear up that plastic. Matt's lights could probably use a lighter soft case for transport.


                            Fine... you're just gonna' give me a "fine"...?

                            Seriously, I'm trying my hardest to make these the lightest weight and highest durability... simultaneously. If I can pull that off... and still have something "cheap"... I'll say that is fine indeed.

                            I don't know about a case, but you could clamp two of them face-to-face and throw 'em into your van like Bret Fahvre.

                            LIGHTING for Film & Television DVD Excerpts Reel.................................................. ............................. SOUND for Film & Television DVD Excerpts Reel


                              Fine? Did I say fine. I meant ducky..that would be just ducky. Now clamping them face to face is a cool idea. If you had some sort of clips that could lock a pair together for transport, that would be insanely great.


                                Holy crap; ducky. I havent heard that in ages. I love that term.

                                I am just ducky.