Go Light Your World

Let us capture your your memory with our cameras. This is our blog…

DIY Kubota Panels: Versatile and Portable Walls or Windows…

During the presentation Kevin Kubota gave on CreativeLive.com several months back, he mentioned DIY scrims he had built that were sized to fitPhotoflex Litepanel covers. He even made a video detailing the construction.

So, how could I help myself? I had to make some, but with some enhancements of my own…

Not having any Photoflex panels, I was not constrained to a certain size so kept things simple. I maximized the material usage by cutting all the 3/4″ PVC pipe to 39″ in length. I also used electrical PVC conduit because it was slightly cheaper than the same size plumbing PVC pipe. Instead of using a hack saw like Kevin Kubota, I used a PVC pipe cutter. They are much simpler to use and so much less messy than sawing – I highly recommend getting one. It’s definitely worth the money.

Seven lengths of pipe are required for each panel. Instead of running bungie cord through them, I opted to leave them separate. I just glued the elbows and Tees to all the horizontal pipes. This lets me know which joints come apart without having to mark anything. It also prevents the loss of any of the fittings while in transit or during storage. Additionally, no bungie means the panel pieces can be configured into a light tent using four end pieces (elbows) and four plain lengths of pipe, similar to the one detailed in this blog post.

One panel breaks down into these pieces:


In all, I built 5 panels. To connect the panels together, I cut pieces of thin walled 3/4″ PVC to about 2.5 inches in length. I used tin-snips to cut a “wedge” about half an inch wide out of the side of each short piece and then chamfered the corners. I drilled three holes large enough to fit zip ties through in each piece, then threaded two through the three holds thusly:


The business end of the zip tie is in between the two pieces (as shown above) which allows the “joiner” to be snapped snugly onto the panels pipes. One near the top and one near the bottom of two adjacent panels have enough friction to hold two panels together fairly well.

I made eight of these joiners so I could make a big wall of up to 5 panels. In fact, although no mention was made of it, these panels were used in the bottom two photos of my DIY Saberstrip blog post. During that session, the panels formed a large C-shape around the stool. Black sheets were hung from the panels for doing low key portraits.

I used these panels a couple of weeks back to build a light tent during the semi-annual artwork exhibit I’ve been shooting. I used two of the panel pairs formed the walls and the fifth panel laid across the top. (One of the left-over joiners can be seen on the bottom of the panel on the right.)


The diffusion material was translucent white material I picked up at Walmart for $1.50 per yard. (It was marked $1/yard but that was from a sale I’d missed the week before. They would not or could not over-ride the price.  I bought the whole bolt anyway, about 14 yards in all…) I cut them to the panel length plus about 8 inches. Then I had my daughter hem the ends to keep them from fraying. The material itself was 45″ wide, so it did not need any trimming in the width. The material can be used as shoot-through or bounce; in the light tent above, it was a combination of both.

And here is one of the resulting images. I really like the highlights on the plexiglass rod and the wood.


Tags: , , , ,

Posted in Behind the Scenes and diy and Specialties by david on February 28th, 2013 at 2:26 am.


3 Replies

  1. Michael Sep 29th 2013

    A couple of improvements would be to glue the sections together. The origin of the panels are Dean Collins. You can download a lo-res copy of his tinker tubes book from software cinema . com

    I have a few descriptions posted on flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/memoirs-in-digital/sets/72157632917141397/

    I also have a post in a tinker tube group about some of the mods done with the tinker tube idea.

    Thanks for the DIY baby-pin. Needed one “now” and the closest one was two days and 60 miles away. Stupid holidays.

  2. Thanks for the pointer to Flickr. I had seen the Tinker Tube book a long while back, which is certainly more developed. Kevin Kubota’s addition was the bungee cord holding it together. I’ve just bought some more bungee so I could thread the rest of the panels I made. They’re so much easier to assemble with the cord threaded through them.

    I’ve glued them together as much as I plan to since we use these out on location. They collapse into a small bundle this way.

Leave a Reply

Bad Behavior has blocked 52 access attempts in the last 7 days.