DIY Moth Light

Due to the slippery slope of curiosity that iNaturalist has made for me around organisms I never even knew I could care about I've put a fair amount of time this summer into trying to build a cheap and effective moth light that could easily fit into a backpack and weigh a pound or less. The below link gets you to the blog of what I've learned and how to make your own for about $50 that you can also use to charge your cell phone with in the backcountry.

https://calnature.org/blog/2017/9/27/diy-moth-light

Thanks to @catchang for all of your encouragement and testing of demo units, including those that just melted and fell apart. Electronics is just as new to me as moths. Also thanks to @robberfly for all the lepidopterist stories and general enthusiasm around beautiful winged creatures. Thanks to @kueda @finatic @leftcoastnaturalist @leptonia @tiwane @seakangaroo for letting me hang around moth lights with you. Big thanks to all of the identifiers that have been brave enough to take those moth pictures closer to species level calls: @jimjohnson @k8thegr8 @hkmoths @gwark @cedarleaf @cedarleaf @ericwilliams @treegrow @loarie @leannewallisbiologist @sambiology

Posted by damontighe damontighe, September 28, 2017 10:12 PM

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@damontighe , this is really cool and something that might come in handy when traveling out of the US. Not only is it small and lightweight but you don't have to worry about electrical conversion.
I enjoyed spending the one evening with you a light here and hope to have the chance to do it again in the future.
@jaykeller you might give this a go when heading to Paraguay next time.

Posted by finatic over 1 year ago (Flag)
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awesome FYI @sterling

Posted by loarie over 1 year ago (Flag)
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@dcoldren, this is relevant to your interests.

Posted by vermfly over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Very cool, I will certainly give this a try! Thanks for involving me!

Posted by ericwilliams over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Sweet!

Posted by k8thegr8 over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Posted by damontighe over 1 year ago (Flag)
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I think there is a lot of potential for discovery where you mention documenting light sources (toward the end of the article.) "I am interested in accumulating data around what moths come to which lights so if you are running your home made moth lights, please think of contributing your data to iNaturalist and using the Observation Field Light Source:395-400 nm LED and Light Source: 365 nm." I'll tag some of my local moth-ers so they can keep this in mind as they upload moths, too. @sambiology @annikaml @cgritz @tadamcochran @pfau_tarleton

Posted by kimberlietx over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Awesome! thanks @kimberlietx

Posted by damontighe over 1 year ago (Flag)
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Sweet! With just a little modification to the equipment list, I might be able to make this work using my JBL charge bluetooth speaker. Thanks for the post.

Posted by tadamcochran over 1 year ago (Flag)
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This is so cool!!!.. I'm going to order this and try it out... I like that it is light and low impact on carrying around plus I need a charger for my phone and that is half the cost.

Posted by butterflies4fun about 1 year ago (Flag)
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@butterflies4fun - if any questions come up along the way, just let me know

Posted by damontighe about 1 year ago (Flag)
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@damontighe - i got all the pieces but my light won't power from the battery. Here is the battery I got Ravpower Model RP-P607 Capacity 10400mAh/38.4Wh Input DCV5/2A Output DC5V 2.4A/2.1A max. The light is USB Operated 395-400nm UV A-level. I thought I ordered everything from the links but something is not right.. Thanks for any help..Melanie

Posted by butterflies4fun 12 months ago (Flag)
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@butterflies4fun
1) check to see if the battery works - attempt to charge a cell phone from it.
2) check to see if the light works - plug it into the USB on a computer.
- the light i had linked has a funny on off button on the cord about a foot or so back from where it attaches (button is present in the image in the blog on the circled up cord) and it doesn't have the normal mechanical feeling of a button, but if you gently squeeze it the light will toggle on/off.

let me know how these tests went and I can trouble shoot from there

Posted by damontighe 12 months ago (Flag)
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Damon why aren't you coming to Del Rio? :(

Posted by kimberlietx 12 months ago (Flag)
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@kimberlietx - wish I was! The day job gets in the way of so much good fun, but if I'm lucky I'll be out in Fort Worth this November leading workshop at STAT-CAST http://www.statweb.org/events/event_list.asp

Posted by damontighe 12 months ago (Flag)
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November is still great iNatting time in North Texas! Keep me posted! I can pull a group together in no time if you plan some leisure time in your schedule!

If I say mothing out loud, the heavens move and suddenly @sambiology @brentano @tadamcochran @annikaml and @cgritz pop up out of nowhere!!

Posted by kimberlietx 12 months ago (Flag)
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@kimberlietx Did I hear you say something about mothing? I'm here for you!

Posted by annikaml 12 months ago (Flag)
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Pop!!

Posted by brentano 12 months ago (Flag)
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@damontighe .. It is working now.. Very strange... It would charge my phone and not the light. But I finally got it to work. I'm not sure what I did differently to get it to work but I did press the button even though it charges my phone without pressing the button. Thanks again. I look forward to testing it out in Del Rio although I will have to compete with all the bad boy lights !!!

Posted by butterflies4fun 12 months ago (Flag)
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Super! I've tried to get one together too for this year. I'll see if it works soon =)

Posted by k8thegr8 12 months ago (Flag)
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@kimberlietx - as soon as I know the work schedule, I'll let you know. I'd love to have some mothing and general iNat-ing in north Texas!

Posted by damontighe 12 months ago (Flag)
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@butterflies4fun - glad to hear it is working! I look forward to seeing what you find with it

Posted by damontighe 12 months ago (Flag)
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@damontighe Hi, Damon. I put together your 'plug and play' model a couple of months back and hadn't had a chance to test it out until last weekend at a Bioblitz in South Texas. I (and all of us I think) were extremely impressed with its efficacy. I usually haul around a 400w metal halide setup with a very heavy ballast that requires an electrical outlet. It's very effective, but kind of a pain (literally and figuratively). I think I'm going to retire that setup in favor of the one you've designed. Thank you again for sharing your ideas with us!

Posted by tadamcochran 11 months ago (Flag)
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I'll second Adam's comment! @butterflies4fun also tried hers out in Del Rio and it worked great in my opinion! Within a couple of minutes she had a White Lined Sphinx show up. It was interesting to see how something simple is still incredibly effective. (We are still uploading observations, espec the moths, but you should see what came to visit us! https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/southwest-texas-inat-a-thon We had so many different types of light sources though it would be hard to tag them since we moved from sheet to sheet all night.

Posted by kimberlietx 11 months ago (Flag)
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I used the moth light and it really worked well. We got the big moths and smaller ones I've not gotten to my moth uploads and although I thought I could tell which sheet I took pictures on, I think it may be more complicated then I thought. I've got another event coming up where I will try it again as well.. So more to come.. Got behind with the nature challenge and Life in general. Going to share you ideas in a moth presentation I'm doing as well. Thanks for sharing the low budget and easy set up ideas with all.

Posted by butterflies4fun 10 months ago (Flag)
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I'm planning to buy the easy 395-400 nm "DJ light" and I've already got a large external USB battery, but before I check out... anyone have any new updates or tips? I love the simplicity of this. Thanks for writing such a useful post, @damontighe! I was just about to text you when I googled a little harder :-)

Posted by carrieseltzer 9 months ago (Flag)
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@carrieseltzer - no major up dates to the light, for the screen I've been using a shower curtain liner similar to this:
https://www.amazon.com/InterDesign-12054-Mildew-Resistant-Gauge-Shower/dp/B00WWBN2CS/ref=asc_df_B00WWBN2CS/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=198091997188&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=13065604496317979531&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9032066&hvtargid=pla-320707303903&psc=1
I've run some fishing line in between all of the holes and tied it off at both ends, so I can usually just pull a branch etc through the fishing line to hang it. I also bring a few thumbtacks just in case its easier to tack it to a wall, tree trunk, etc.

Posted by damontighe 9 months ago (Flag)
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Thanks, Damon! I'll be sure to use the observation field for light source when I post the moths.

Posted by carrieseltzer 9 months ago (Flag)
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I've used the moth light a couple of times a home (nothing too exciting yet) and I'm headed to a cabin in the woods this weekend. Looks like there's rain in the forecast, so I'm wondering what people's experiences have been with the what I'm calling the "Damon DJ light" set up in the rain. Has anyone tried putting the light in a clear plastic bag? I might also be able to set it up in a protected area, but I haven't been to this place before so I'm not sure what to expect yet.

Posted by carrieseltzer 8 months ago (Flag)
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I've run it in the rain before - I place the USB battery in zip lock bag and put a little plastic wrap on the connection between the USB cable and the Light. I didn't have any problems. My light was hanging on a tree close tot he trunk, so it also wasn't getting the brunt of the storm.

Posted by damontighe 8 months ago (Flag)
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Thanks Damon! I'll be sure to pack those extras just in case, and report back if I have any rain experience worth sharing.

Posted by carrieseltzer 8 months ago (Flag)
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Also this is where using a shower curtain liner has proved to be nice as well since it doesn't really get wet ;)

Posted by damontighe 8 months ago (Flag)
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I made one of these last week. I have built a couple of other light sheet stands, but this is much easier to set up and take down. I think it will be great for those nights we only have a couple of hours between rain showers. I went with the 395 nm set up, but the referenced light was not available at Amazon. I went with this light from the same manufacturer: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B073Z77VRC/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 . I like this light because it is very flat (only .3" thick) and lays against the shirt without tending to rotate. This light is listed as 395-400 nm, has 30 LEDs and is 6 watts just like the referenced light, but I notice that 10 of the 30 LEDs are visually a different color -- more blue than pink. That makes me think the wavelength is probably more of a mixture and probably beyond the range of 395 - 400 nm. I dispensed with the USB extension. The unit has plenty of cord to allow me to knot the cord around the hanger to support the light and place the battery pack in the shirt pocket. I am also interested in efforts to waterproof the installation. Thanks for the good suggestions.

Posted by polkcountymike 8 months ago (Flag)
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@polkcountymike Thanks for all the great notes! I'd love to hear any progress you make on waterproofing. Its not something I originally though with on the design, but now that a lot more people on the east coast of the US and some tropical regions are starting to use it a good protocol for how to make this with stand a deluge would be really helpful to the community.

Posted by damontighe 7 months ago (Flag)

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