Build UV LED Box for Cyanotypes

In this video and blog we going to make a Cyanotype image with UV LED box. Normally Cyanotype are traditionally developed in sunlight. The print are often called sun prints. But it is winter and it is cold! The UV light isn’t so strong and readily available as within the summer. Wouldn’t be great to make Cyanotype, Van Dyke Brown, Salt Papers at anytime during the year ? Even before the sun comes up or after it goes down!

This box will produce an  A3 or A4 size cyanotype print just after 5 minutes by use of UV LED lights. This box was design to be inexpensive and simple. The total should be no more than 70 euros.


The video demonstrates the UV LED Box in action and goes through the construction in detail.

The following video below is about preparing the cyanotype papers


Parts list

If you need cyanotype chemicals kit

UV LED KIT can be purchase from Amazon


When working with electronics and electricity use proper caution and safety. Ensure not to short circuit cables. I’m by no means responsible for any damage to anyone or anything. By building this kit your are responsible for UV exposure and electronics etc..


  • Make lengths of 50cm strips from the LED rolls.
  • The 60×40 box only requires 9 strips of 50com per side. 18 lengths in total.
  • Each is strip is separated by 1 cm – the width of strip. Use one of the strips as a separator when stick down each strip.
UV LED Box - LED Strips
UV LED Box – LED Strips

I have split the LED light into two side, for best current distribution and have the added advantage of controlling the light power – half power or full power.

UV LED Box - Soldering LED Strips
UV LED Box – Soldering LED Strips
  • Each strip is alternated soldered with a yellow or blue wire for positive and black for negative.
  • The yellow wire is for the left side and the blue for the right side.
UV LED Box - Wire Lengths
UV LED Box – Wire Lengths
  • In the middle of each side the wires come together into a connector block.
  • Once everything is wired up, test each side with the power supply from the UV LED strip kit.
UV LED Box - Testing LED
UV LED Box – Testing LED
  • If everything is working hot glue down the cabling and the connectors.
  • Bring the two main cables out through a hole onto the top of lid. Wire in the connectors and hot glue down the cables, connectors then seal up the hole.
UV LED Box - Power Cables
UV LED Box – Power Cables

Note: The box will get warm after 20 minutes of use which should be no problem. I’ve used it for hour without issue. However switch off the box when not using.

UV LED Box - Finished with the first print made with it
UV LED Box – Finished with the first print made with it

If you wish to make a more robust version, I recommend placing everything on an aluminum plate. This I may do in the future. For now everything work pretty well.

Strip Test

UV LED Box - Test Strip and Paper
UV LED Box – Test Strip and Paper

Download the strip test negative and print it out on A4/Letter size transparency on a laser or inkjet print.
[Download Strip Test]

The paper used for the test strip and the prints is the Daler & Rowney Acrylic Paper System 3.

Exposure the strip test page on the Cyanotype sensitized page for 2, 4, 6, 7, 8 minutes.  Use a book to cover the each section and slide it along at 1, 1, 2, 2, 2 minute intervals.

UV LED Box - Test Strip
UV LED Box – Test Strip

Washing and Drying

Then  leave the print face down in the slow flowing water. After 10  minutes inspect the results. Agitate the water with your hand from time to time. If there isn’t any yellow left on the paper it’s ready to hang up and dry.

UV LED Box - Band plays on Schmittgasse, Graz
UV LED Box – Band plays on Schmittgasse, Graz
UV LED Box - Book day Hauptplaz, Graz
UV LED Box – Book day Hauptplaz, Graz



I was super excited by the results of my Cyanotypes using the UV LED Box. If you happen to build this box please do let me see your results. Happy Printing!

UV LED Box - Selection of prints A4, A2, Tea Toned, Square Size, etc..
UV LED Box – Selection of prints A4, A2, Tea Toned, Square Size, etc..


I made a print box using these instructions and my exposure is extremely long. I’m wondering if it is because of the larger distance between the LED’s to the print?

Hi Nichole,

Thank you for your comment, How far is your distance roughly ? Did you use the right wavelength LEDs and not the outdoor ones ? How long is your exposure ?

Hi Gavin, thanks for the inspiration! I have almost finished my uv led alt process exposure unit – just one question about the PSU. I have split my two 5 metre strips and connected both strips to the same power supply unit in parallel. The power seems to drift of with the lights getting duller the closer to the end of 5m. Just wondering, did you use two power supplies or one?

Hi Gavin, I found your very helpful blog on building a light box for cyanotype. Love your work and videos which I only recently discovered. I just discovered this great process myself on a residency in Spain and worked with the products supplied there and direct sunlight. Now, back in Ireland, I am trying to set myself up for the conditions here building a lightbox and mixing the products. Just wondering if maybe you might be able to recommend a brand for the products here? Looking online there seems to be a great range in products and also prices, so not quite sure what brand would be best. Many thanks

Hi Els,

Thank you for you comments. I’m not sure how to answer your question. I put links to the LED strips in the description in the part list above. However if you are in Ireland, you can purchase from Amazon UK –

Hope that helps, if any question feel free to ask. I might do another tutorial on this which would be a solder-less version in a hard case suitcase.


Hi Gavin,

Meanwhile I have built the box but running into some issues. Somehow my images are not as sharp as I got them during the summer in Spain where I exposed them in tdirect sunlight. I seem to get blurry patches even though I clip them down underneath glass. I am also experiencing the LED’s not to be perfectly equal in strength, as if the further away from the power source, they seem to lose some power, so I am guessing the lighting is slightly uneven and therefore potentially causing the blurriness. Also not getting them higher than 11.8volt now, as I tried to use 2 plugs thinking that might distribute light better. Could that be the issue? Have you experienced blurisness and if so, what could be causing this? Or any thoughts on how to fix the lightbox to distribute light more evenly?

Many thanks,


Hi Gavin

I’m not sure you are still monitoring this post. I’m a sculptor, I make working sketches for my sculpture, I want to use the cyan-type method to make the drawings in the style of blueprints.

About the box – I will make a wooden box. I’m good with your instructions, But please help me with one thing; What distance should I use between the lights and the paper surface?

I like your YouTube on making the box – it’s well done.

Thank you, Terry

Hi Terry,
Thank you for your comments!

About 10cm should be enough. What important is the LED strip are equally spread, then you should have any problems.


Hi Els,

Sorry for the late reply. The voltage at 11.8 is perfectly fine.The UV LEDs are not the outdoor version ? i.e they’re are waterproofed, as this would make a big difference. Also try with out the glass and tape down the print.

Hope that might help.


Hi Gavin

I see you UK Amazon link gives you the choice of 24 Watt and 60 Watt strips.
Which strip would you recommend for Pd/Pt negatives

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