Note: This was written in 2017. Aputure’s later LED lights are built much better and don’t generally require modification. The AL-F7 is a slimmer, brighter bi-color alternative to the light mentioned on this page and it needs no modifications.
The Aputure Amaran AL-H198 is a small inexpensive LED light with great color. The build quality is pretty suspicious, as are some of the design decisions, but it excels nonetheless. Here are some fixes to problems I’ve encountered…
Replacing The Gel Mounts
The mounting system for the included diffusion and CTO gel panels is particularly problematic. They friction-fit onto plastic posts that protrude from the lights themselves … until the posts break! Then you’ll probably resort to gaff tape. Here is one solution, based on the magnetic gel mounts seen in other LED lights.
Parts List (for 1 light & 2 gel panels):
4x – Neodymium Magnets, 1/4″ square (.1″ to .2″ thick)
8x – M4 x 6mm Screws
8x – M4 Thin Nuts
The Flicker Problem
The dimmer circuit on these lights functions pretty well. The dimming range is smooth, and the PWM frequency is high enough that you won’t encounter flicker, even at fast shutter-speeds.
Unfortunately, the cheap dimmer potentiometer isn’t sealed and it eventually oxidizes and becomes unreliable. After a few months or years the dimmer might start to get “scratchy” and flicker violently at certain knob positions. I took apart the light and sprayed contact cleaner into the hole in the potentiometer, then wiped it back and forth a few times to clean up the oxidation. This works for awhile but the flicker might come back. I haven’t found an exact replacement for the potentiometer, but a similar sealed version probably exists.