DIY 4x6 Multi-Panel

Here I built a 4ft by 6ft height adjustable multi-purpose panel. Using the clips it is easy to add or change the material.

Possible uses for this are:

Silk for when you need a large modifier/light source (you light it from behind with a softbox)
Scrim/ diffusion panel
Cookie or pattern lighting (i.e. stretch a patterened shower curtain on it and light thru it)
Background for portraits (light the back of it to easily achieve a blown out background)
and numerous other possibilities 


Components for this are:
2pcs 10ft 3/4inch PVC
4pcs 3/4inch 90* elbows
1pcs 10ft 1" PVC
2pcs 1inch caps 
2pcs 10ft 1-1/2inch PVC
1pc 5ft 1-1/2inch PVC
4pcs 1-1/2inch caps
4pcs 1-1/2inch T's
2pcs 1-1/2 to 1-1/4 drain adaptors
2pcs 4inch 1/4-20 carriage bolts with washers(2), star lock washers(6), and wing nuts (2)
PVC cement (primer not required)
Material of your choice.

Total cost as shown with a white diffusion panel (shower curtain) and silver/gold reflector (mylar survival blanket) is about $50


Overall the construction is pretty simple:

Cut the two 10ft lengths of 3/4" PVC into 4 and 6 ft lengths (cut 4ft off each one). These and the 3/4" elbows make the stretcher frame. No need to glue it together. Drill a 1/4" hole thru the long rails at the mid point and then make the inner hole slightly larger (so that the square part of the carriage bolt head can be driven in with a hammer and be "captive").

Cut the 10ft 1" PVC into two 4ft lengths. You could do two 4-1/2 ft lengths, but you need some left over to make the clips out of. Attack the 1" caps and drill a 1/4" hole thru the cap and pipe. Save the excess 2ft (or 1ft) of pipe for later.

Cut the two 10ft 1-1/2" PVC into two 3ft and one 4ft length each. The 3ft lengths are the "feet" and get a cap on one end each. Take the two 4ft lengths and cut 1ft off of each; these are the legs. 

Now here's the hard part. The 1-1/2" to 1-1/4" drain adaptor is a little too small for the 1inch PVC to fit into and it needs reamed out by about 1/8" inch. I used a sanding drum to accomplish this. Once finished, these will probably have to be glued in place w/ PVC cement.

Here are the pieces broken down. 

from the top:
Upper legs w/ drain adaptors (glued) and the 1" PVC risers w/ cap and drilled hole.
Cross brace w/ T's glued in place (we haven't made that yet)
Lower legs w/ T's glued in place and the "feet" w/ caps
Frame long sides w/ clips and carriage bolts 
Frame short sides w/ clips and elbows
Transluscent shower curtain ($1 @ dollar store) and mylar survival blanket ($3 ebay)


Here it is all assembled

Now you need to assemble all of the pieces on the floor but leave off the feet and leave out the cross bar pipe. I used a 3/8" long nylon spacer between the stretcher frame and risers but you don't have to. Once it's all assembled you can measure for the cross bar and cut that from the remaining 5ft piece of 1-1/2" PVC. You can now attach the feet and stand it up. Only the drain adaptors will probably require gluing, everything else is optional. The less you glue it together the further it breaks down for storage/transport, and the less stable it will be. I also glued the T's as shown in the breakdown picture. Keeping the lower uprights separate from the rest of the uprights (unglued) allows the feet to be angled wider/narrower as necessary.


Now we have to make the clips from the leftover 1" PVC. You want to cut it into 1" lengths and then cut about 1/3 of the tubing away to make a "C" shape as shown below. You'll want at least 12 of them. I would recommend sanding/filing the corners and sharp edges of the clips smooth as the mylar tears pretty easily.





Here it is extended with the panel rotated to the silver side. The risers reach to about 8ft.


The hardest part of this prodgect is making the adjustable height vertical risers due to the required modification of the drain adaptors. You could make the verticals not "height adjustable" as I have, but instead use short sections of pipe with coupler sleeves. That way you just add/remove sections to set the height.
Or, you could eliminate the entire lower assembly and just make the stretcher frame with "adaptor tubes" about 1ft long. The adaptor tubes are just the top 1ft of the risers which could slide over the top of light stands. Then the stands would be your supports and height adjustments. Of course, this adds the cost of two light stands if you don't already have extras.




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