Lïtbørd (more than some assembly required)

As you may have noticed, a global pandemics got many of us working from home. While one can argue that you can do accounting from home, it’s a lot more complicated to teach from home. Pretty much everyone is trying to figure that one out. For my part, I decided that zoom and the virtual whiteboard is not very interesting. Like many, I decided to use a lightboard.

So, the problem is, where do you get a lightboard on short notice? Well, you can build one. Let’s see how:

Basically, a lightboard is just a glass panel with legs; there are many way you can build one. I opted for something very simple: A frame, transverse legs and a 4’×6′ pane of glass:

What you’ll need:

  • 5 2×4 8′,
  • 6 quarter round 1/2″, 8′
  • 4 heavy duty shelving brackets,
  • 4 T-shaped “flat angle” brackets,
  • 4 “flat corner” brackets,
  • 4 4″ wood screws,
  • a large number of 1″ (¼) wood screws,
  • 4 lockable swivel wheels,
  • some black paint,
  • 20 ¼”×2½” rectangle felts.

It took a small afternoon to cut everything to size and assemble it:

The quarter rounds will hold the sheet of glass (as shown in the hand drawing). I also used felts between the glass and the quarter rounds (4 on 6′ lengths, 3 on 4′ lengths) to fasten softly the glass, as I feared that pressing the wood directly to the glass and then screwing it to the frame may break the glass. The assembled frame looks like this:

I painted the inside and the front of the frame black, to avoid glare and reflection into the glass. With the glass, it looks like this, with yours truly:

Total assembly time is about a week: an afternoon for the frame, another day for the paint, a couple of day drying and waiting for the glass to be delivered, a few minutes assembling the last quarter rounds to hold the glass in place.

* *

Aside from the lightboard itself, you need to light the glass. Some use in-sheet lighting, it seems to be marginally useful from my test. What works best are studio lights, placed in front of the glass and outside of view, (you can see the glare on the frame on the picture above). You can get some from your favorite online store for more or less 100$ apiece.

The curtains behind the glass and in front (to prevent reflection of the surrounding room) are from online. They are 10’×12′ black muslin.

To write on the glass, basic whiteboard pens won’t work, they’re too transparent to be useful. You’ll need some thick, preferably fluo, pens, such as Expo Neons and the like. Some use liquid chalk pens, I haven’t found any locally. I may order some later.

You’ll also need to figure the type of video you want, the general brightness of the scene, etc. Anyway, you’ll want to maximize readability, and I what I found worked best (for me) is to disable the camera auto-exposure and use a fixed ISO and opening. For my camera, ISO 400 and F/4 does the trick:

* *

For sound, a “lavaliere” (or Lavalier, or tie-clip,…) type of clip-on microphone works well, I’m still experimenting with a microphone above me on a boom… I’m not sure what works best yet.

* *

I’ll do another entry where I detail the rest of the “studio” more carefully. Until then, I’ll keep experimenting!

2 Responses to Lïtbørd (more than some assembly required)

  1. Lamine Ouadahi says:

    Thanks for sharing

  2. […] Last time, I gave the instruction on how to build a lightboard, but not much in terms of how you actually use it. Now I’ve been giving lectures from it (with graduate students as test subjects), I’ve started recording for the undergrad courses, and so I’ve tweaked my setup and learnt a few tricks. This week, I’ll discuss some of them […]

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