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Old 06-17-2011, 01:54 PM   #1
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Wiring a photographic lightbox


Hello to all.

My companion built a lightbox 14" L x 10" W x 5" H out of wood. A lightbox is similar to the boxes used by doctors to view x-Rays. Mine will be used to view photographic negatives.

Inside will be two keyless sockets mounted horizontally on metal brackets and two spiral compact fluorescent bulbs that will draw 26 watts each, as per the label on the package. Holes on the bottom of the box will provide ventilation.

I intend to use an extension cord, after I cut off the connector and leave alone the plug that came with it, to connect the box to an electric outlet only while in use.

I don't know how to wire the box in a way that both light bulb sockets will be connected to the one cord that will be plugged into the wall outlet while making sure that both bulbs will glow at full intensity and not at 50% capacity each. I imagine that a couple of sections of cord will have to be used between the sockets but I don't know what gauge is the right one and how to inter connect the sockets.

Your comments and help with my little project will be appreciated.

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Old 06-17-2011, 02:45 PM   #2
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Wiring a photographic lightbox


if the 2 lights have a black and white wire per each just tie the 2 blacks together and the 2 whites together so now you have a pair of cut wires instead of 4. bring the cut cord up and wire one of its cut wires to each plug it in an your good to go .if you feel ambitious get a toggle switch at radio shack or HD and drill a hole on the side lock it in ...now take the cord one wire and connect it and one pair from the lights so you have ON/OFF..if you can keep it black thru the switch thats cool they are minimal loads just unplug if your going into the lighting sockets...OKi'll check back for any ???s

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Old 06-17-2011, 05:03 PM   #3
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Wiring a photographic lightbox


Thanks, Biggles!

The two sockets did not come with any wires. I will have to buy a small section in white and another in black just for organization purposes. I don't know what gauge, though. The sockets have a silver screw and a yellow one. I was thinking of connecting the black wires to the silver screws and the white ones to the brass screws. Then, as you wisely advice, take the two blacks together and connect them to one side of the cord and connect the two whites together to the other side of the cord. Shouldn't the wires coming from the silver screws in the sockets go to the section of the extension cord connected to the wider leg of the plug (the polarized one)?

As for the switch, that's an excellent idea! My small project would be quite complete and professional looking with that addition.

If I manage to make this installation without blowing the breakers in the house main panel and alerting the fire department, I will definitely apply for a job with NASA <GRIN>

Thanks again for your help, Biggles, and, please, assist me once more with my questions about cord gauge and connecting the part of the cord that comes from the wider leg of the plug.
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Old 06-17-2011, 06:20 PM   #4
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Wiring a photographic lightbox


same as the extension cord or just strip a piece from it and use those blacks and whites.so your going into light base screws..no big deal... gold/black white/silver wider leg of the plug in is the black hot 115Vs so keep the cord black wire nutted to the black pair from the lights and the same with the whites right into the lights.so now you plug it in and it lights..when you get the switch just remove the black wires wire nut and connect each side to the ON/OFF switch wires or screw terminal...even a push button would look and easy to work...HD has tons of switches and toggles.i was going to say a wall light switch and a utility box and cover,but the drill hole slip in switch would be plenty and less mickey mouse looking just always unplug the light box when doing anything within it...i'll check back if you have questions
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Old 06-17-2011, 06:53 PM   #5
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Wiring a photographic lightbox


Thanks again, Biggles.

All your instructions are crystal clear now. Much appreciated.

Great forum and great to have you to guide me through the steps.

Be well and thanks again.

Diana
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Old 06-17-2011, 07:04 PM   #6
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Wiring a photographic lightbox


cool enjoy it
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Old 06-17-2011, 07:06 PM   #7
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Wiring a photographic lightbox


Biggles I must correct you. The wider slot is the neutral / white wire on a plug. And "if you can keep it black thru the switch is cool" is a half truth. You MUST switch the hot wire, not the neutral. It's not up for debate. If you switch the neutral rather than the hot wire you have energy present at the fixtures when the switch is off...something that can pose a great hazard should you touch the socket while the cord is plugged in.
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Old 06-18-2011, 06:01 AM   #8
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Wiring a photographic lightbox


your right on that i must of had a wall socket backward read the wider to the plate screw and picked up 115V.if she stays with the blacks115V feed thru the on/off she'll be good i'm taking for granted she has a white/black wires within that Xcord and her socket is polorized for the neutral on the wide slot of the plug.Diana if you read this just stick with the blacks and the whites as i explained if you have a meter check the socket to the plate screw on the wall....narrow to screw 115V wider to screw no reading...sorry about that
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Old 06-18-2011, 06:24 AM   #9
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Wiring a photographic lightbox


You can use for wiring the interior of the box the same kind of cable you use for the plug. (There is common 18 and 16 gauge 2 conductor cable called lamp cord. This is 2 conductor cable usually with a thin rib running lengthwise down one edge which denotes the side used for the neutral)

What is a keyless socket?

Only screw in sockets of the kind that accept incandescent lamps may be wired this way.

Compact fluorescent lamps with pins i.e. lamps that push into the socket require a ballast. To keep things simple you would buy a fixture that uses that kind of lamp, dissect out the socket, keep all the electrical components wired the way they came, and transplant those components to your project.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 06-18-2011 at 06:31 AM.
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Old 06-18-2011, 06:42 AM   #10
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Wiring a photographic lightbox


I've made light boxes for art from old scanners.
Gut them, put in lights and you're good to go!
My daughter loves hers.

DM
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Old 06-18-2011, 08:57 AM   #11
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Wiring a photographic lightbox


Thanks, Missouri Bound, for the clarification about which leg of the plug is neutral and which is hot. I must have confused Biggler when I wrote about the black and white wires that I was going to use but I was able to do a bit of research about the two plug legs after he solved most of my problems.

I am very grateful to you too.
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Old 06-18-2011, 09:03 AM   #12
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Wiring a photographic lightbox


Quote:
Originally Posted by biggles View Post
your right on that i must of had a wall socket backward read the wider to the plate screw and picked up 115V.if she stays with the blacks115V feed thru the on/off she'll be good i'm taking for granted she has a white/black wires within that Xcord and her socket is polorized for the neutral on the wide slot of the plug.Diana if you read this just stick with the blacks and the whites as i explained if you have a meter check the socket to the plate screw on the wall....narrow to screw 115V wider to screw no reading...sorry about that
Not to worry, Biggles. I probably got you all confused when I mentioned the white and black wires that I intended to use but I was able to find out the purposes of both legs in the plug.

Thanks again.
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Old 06-18-2011, 09:15 AM   #13
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Wiring a photographic lightbox


AllanJ wrote: "You can use for wiring the interior of the box the same kind of cable you use for the plug. (There is common 18 and 16 gauge 2 conductor cable called lamp cord. This is 2 conductor cable usually with a thin rib running lengthwise down one edge which denotes the side used for the neutral)

What is a keyless socket?

Only screw in sockets of the kind that accept incandescent lamps may be wired this way.

Compact fluorescent lamps with pins i.e. lamps that push into the socket require a ballast. To keep things simple you would buy a fixture that uses that kind of lamp, dissect out the socket, keep all the electrical components wired the way they came, and transplant those components to your project."

Thanks for the help, AllanJ.

A keyless socket is the screw-in type that accepts most commonly used light bulbs. They have a silver screw and a brass screw to connect the wires but they come without a key or other means to interrupt current flow since those sockets will be used in an enclosure that makes it impractical to switch them on and off (as is the case of my photographic lightbox)

I will be using compact spiral fluorescent bulbs that can be screwed into any socket, including the ones used on table lamps which, by the way, have a necessary "key" to turn the lights on and off.
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Old 06-18-2011, 10:00 AM   #14
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Wiring a photographic lightbox


DangerMouse wrote: "I've made light boxes for art from old scanners.
Gut them, put in lights and you're good to go!
My daughter loves hers."

I thought about it, DangerMouse, but when I gutted and old scanner I realized how shallow it was. Not enough room for the two 100 watts (rated in reality 26 watts each) compact fluorescent bulbs that I intend to use. Using smaller bulbs would not have been an option since they are not rated, at least, at 5000K daylight so crucial in obtaining true color when photographing slides and negatives to be processed later with Photoshop. Small bulbs and tubes are rated "soft" and they lack the brilliance needed for slides and negatives.

Consider also the fact that the bulbs I will use need a bit of room underneath to breathe hence the reason for having built a lightbox that's deeper in size than a common scanner box.

What you built for your daughter is perfect for art (displaying, tracing, etc.) I would have loved to have been able to use an old scanner for what I need! I used the glass from one, though, and the box was built around it.

I forgot to mention that the negatives that I will be photographing are large in size. My Dad was an amateur photographer who had a large format camera. Low cost scanners, commonly purchased for home use, can't possibly process those large negatives and professional scanners cost as much as a house.

Thanks for your input.
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Old 06-18-2011, 10:38 AM   #15
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Wiring a photographic lightbox


Yup! It works great for her to trace her art. I just thought I'd mention it since some of our readers may run across this thread searching for the same light box tracing unit is all. The cost is the best part! I made two, in the first one, I just hot-glued Christmas tree lights up and down. It lit up well, but was "blotchy" light. The second I used 4 12" tubes. More even lighting that way.

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