So, this isn’t at all about lighting, or solid-state, or technology. It’s just a gadget cat toy we call the Cat-apult.

The lever arm is sprung by rubber band and released by the trigger when depressing the pedal at the rear. The launch tube keeps the cat from stealing the treat inside, also protecting him/her from the lever when it is released.

Shown in the “cocked” position, the lever arm is sprung by rubber band. This is released by the trigger when depressing the pedal at the rear. The launch tube guides the snack projectile and keeps the cat from stealing the treat inside, while also protecting him/her from the lever when it is released.

Over a period of time (this being generation three, each iteration perfecting and strengthening the device), launches treats if the subject critter steps on the trigger pedal. Yes, cats can be trained for such tasks. In fact, this is but one of several toys our chubby Japanese Bobtail has learned to work in order to get his “cookies”. In this case, it took him a few months to understand the lever-trigger release reliably. This is one of my favorites, made using a 3D printer, it’s powered by a rubber band that can be adjusted to launch the treat to various distances and velocities. As you can see in the video’s below, Miko approaches this like he does many of his other favorite games – ones that can be played while laying down. The idea is to get him to get up and move around a bit… even if for one brief moment..

All right, back to work then…

 

I have an ongoing project in creating various lighted magnifiers to see small items, inspect surfaces, check tool edges, or just read the micro labels printed on electronic parts or other components. In 2010 I presented one of these gadgets, specifically a device for reading drill bits, using LEDs and a 9V battery. This time around I wanted to create something with more flexibility, more light, greater magnification and a larger aperture. The concept is pretty straightforward, using a light gathering lens with an integrated ring light component.

A multipurpose magnifier light ring tool.

A multipurpose magnifier light ring tool.

The LED light ring behind printed acrylic diffuser couples with the light gathering lens very well.

The LED light ring behind printed acrylic diffuser couples with the light gathering lens very well.

The housing was printed on our Dimension FDM printer, then smoothed and painted Blitz Black. The switch block/power entry and diffuser were printed on our Form Labs SLA printer to get the clear material for the lens and finer detail needed in the switch block that the FDM cannot produce. The LEDs are in the form of flexible tape light. It is powered by a remote 24VDC wall wart, as its final use will be in the shop where dead batteries are a constant irritation. However, a battery powered version would not be hard to create. Click on the images to get a larger view.

This shows a general idea of how much difference there is with the light and magnification.

This shows a general idea of how much difference there is with the light and magnification.

 

Drill bit without magnification

Drill bit without magnification

Drill bit with magification - note the print pattern on the laminate surface below

Drill bit with magnification – note the print pattern on the laminate surface below. I have other concepts in the works to reduce the highlight/shadow effects from 3D surfaces… more on that later.

 

Veiling glare is another problem when attempting to increase visibility.

Veiling glare is another problem when attempting to increase visibility.

The magnifier not only increase image size, but overcomes the problem of veiling reflection as well.

The magnifier not only increase image size, but overcomes the problem of veiling reflection as well. I am not entirely thrilled with the LED pips showing up on the surface, and while for most uses the convex distortion is tolerable, there are instances where that is not going to be acceptable… something to apply to the next project.

 

This is going to be a handy tool for a lot of applications around the shop, and will lead to other designs and improvements, which is what the exploration project has been about for some time. Cheers.

When I plunged into 2015 embracing another round of 52 Designs in 52 Weeks to celebrate the Year of Light, I had a dream that perhaps this time I might enjoy the company of others wanting to play along. But, as Einstein is quoted as saying… Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result each time. The first 15 weeks of 2015 started off exactly as 2010 – 15 designs completed and posted… with modest response.  That makes staying on top of the project very difficult indeed, and has led to a loss of momentum. I thoroughly enjoy the design and product making process, but am loath to pursue the work as a totally solo act.

Here’s a little insight into why this round has been harder to sustain, and why it took 5 years to attempt another 52 in 52 project.

 

2010 was a very long and hard process, with all of the finished products being created primarily from air (excepting a few which were commissioned by customers.) The costs of that years work were significant, all coming from of my firms (Lumenique, LLC) revenues. Yet, while there were some very nice compliments paid for many of the designs (thanks again to those who expressed positive encouragement), and recognition of the effort from a wider audience than I had originally thought… their was little or no actual tangible return. The effort was pursued purely out of enthusiasm for lighting and SSL technology.

I recognized the designs presented in 2010 were not mass appeal type products. They were, by design, intended to be fun, whimsical, unique, esoteric, bespoke, one-of-a-kind, and different. This allowed me to expose ideas and uses of SSL without concern for being in conflict with customers (who, for obvious reasons, would not want me to expose work we were doing in the open, and I being not intent on coupling the project with marketing and PR campaigns), and avoid having designs simply knocked off and put into production. But, I did feel that there were several nice gadgets I thought individuals might like for themselves, who would inquire as to how one might acquire one for their own space. While there were a few that found homes with those whose components were included, like the good folks at White Optics, Molex, and LynkLabs… A few were actual customer projects presented with permission, and there were several that did indeed find homes in others lives. The rest were either put into use here at my office/home, given away as gifts, or cannibalized for parts over the last few years.

Had anyone at the time asked me to create something for them, a desk lamp, a wall sconce, a pendant or sculpture incorporating solid-state lighting effects or sources, I would have welcomed to request as a relief from having to be the sole author of that weeks presentation/release. What made 2010 so rough, and ultimately so draining, was not the effort of creating 52 fixtures – I love making things, and one fixture in a week is not a significant effort with the tools I have available – it was having to also come up with the idea for the design, the design itself – then create it and finance its production – all while satisfying customers demands, attending Light+Build, plus Lightfair projects, and making several presentations around the country on the topic of solid-state lighting.

2015 a New Start?

 

For 2015, I began with projects that I needed to address and experiment with in-house. This meant I would be putting each of them to use and could rationalize the time and expense. Perhaps, I thought, others might see this and put in a request for things they might want and the remainder of the year would be guided by a combination of my own needs and ideas, the ideas and needs of others, and a few customer projects along the way to add some practical spice. Unfortunately, one of the initial 15 was a customer project, which was pulled off the site by request. Then, I simply have run out of in-house needs to be filled. I’ve been making solid-state gadgets, art, lights, etc… for 11 years now, and non-SSL for another 20 before that, so there are few areas in my personal surroundings that have not already been saturated by past and present creations. In other words, with no demand to fill otherwise, my motivation to clutter more table space with homeless products is low, and inspiration to explore artistic expression at risk of silent rejection lower still. Thus, the 52 in 52 for 2015 project has stalled. I have a few upcoming bits to present, but they are again projects to solve my own personal problems.

So, that all in the air… Here is what I am putting on offer.

If anyone has something they would like to see made, a need filled, or an idea they would like to see expressed… I am formally offering to make that a part of the 52 in 52 for 2015 project.

I do ask only that a portion of the costs are covered in some way. Donation of parts, a token payment to cover material cost, a trade in kind for something I might want or need… with the company of others interested in participating that will ultimately take possession of the end product – put it to work, or just give it a home. I will retain the right to adjust the proposal/request to suit capabilities, time available, costs involved, and will retain part ownership of the final product in proportion to how much participation is involved from those interested. I really want to hear from those who have ideas they’d like to see materialize. All participants will be given due credit in the posting of the project. Keep in mind time constraints limit interaction time, so we’ll need to be brief in getting from concept to reality. It’s an exhilarating process for those brave enough to jump in.

Together, we can catch up and finish the year off with 52 products presented here for others to enjoy. You can contact me via email, or by responding to this post as a comment, or calling me. Contact information is all HERE

 

 

 

Welding creates a serious challenge to visual acuity. The light emitted from gas and arc welding is intense, and contains high levels of both UV and IR light in wavelengths harmful to the human eye. For this reason, welders (myself included) wear helmets and goggles that utilize filters to reduce brightness, strip away the harmful wavelengths, and protect us physically from welding splatter, which is very nasty. Unfortunately this seriously compromises visibility of the welding task and its surrounding. While the arc itself illuminates the surrounding, the contrast between the arc itself and the area around it is so great that this affords little clarity. When smoke and splatter are included, most welding is done within a very poor visual field. In some case, it is done almost completely blind.

The concept is to use narrow spectrum green light, in this case 530nm Green, to more efficiently deliver visible light through welding glass filters. This increases intensity in the area of the task.

The concept is to use narrow spectrum green light, in this case 530nm Green, to more efficiently deliver visible light through welding glass filters. This increases intensity in the area of the task. It is very difficult to photograph exactly what one sees through the darkened welding glass, and impossible when an arc has been struck.

Most welding glass passes light in a narrow green centered bandwidth, which is why the view through them is green, to the point of being monochromatic. That means most of the light from any task light used that generates white light will be filtered out along with the welding arc emission. That seems inefficient and reduces the effectiveness of the lighting system to the point of being essentially useless.

To address this, over the last three years, I have been working on a task light that delivers a narrow spectrum green light, centered on the emission of the welding filter glass itself. This means that 100% of the light from the task light will come through the glass – a much more efficient approach. You can download a white paper WIP of my findings and concept at: http://www.lumenique.com/New_Lumenique/Files/Narrow Spectrum Welding Light KLW.pdf

An early test mule using three 5W green LEDs and medium narrow optics to create intensity.

An early test mule using three 5W green LEDs and medium narrow optics to create intensity.

This is a work in process. However, so far, with the same energy applied to an identical white light source, vs. a green light source, the amount of brightness visible through the welding glass is doubled.

There have been a few interesting discoveries in this process:

  • The early test mule (shown in the image above), utilized optical reflectors to intensify the beam pattern. I was hoping to amplify the effect of the focused task light into the visual welding field. This actually proved to be less useful than it might look, due to the creation of harsh shadows from the welding gun or torch, so later models have reverted to a more diffused, softer beam pattern, which reduces these effects.
  • LEDs act like low efficiency photo-voltaic sources when exposed to high intensity light. This creates voltage back into the driver during welding work. For the most part, this is not an issue. However, with a few drivers I have employed, this effect causes internal failures (not fully explained). I isolated the voltage from the welding area, electromagnetic effects, and all other factors, before testing the theory that some drivers cannot deal with this by applying a small external voltage to them in operation, which duplicated the failure mode. Now I test all drivers under a welding arc, on aluminum and steel substrate (each emit a different spectral power state), to insure this does not create undesirable results.
  • When gas welding under the green light, I find the appearance of the flame kernel (main heat source) more pronounced, which appears to be from the increased intensity of the surrounding field. This is a happy development, as it increases visibility of the location of that heat source to the weld zone. There is also an enhancement of the colors seen in the weld pool to a small degree I am working toward intensifying further.

I will be working on this more as time passes, so will update this entry as new discoveries are found. Ideally, working with a welding glass producer to create an idealized combination of glass filer and light source, coupled with a hood manufacturer to mount the light in the welding hood itself, activated by the arc itself would create an even more interesting result. The next phase for me is to prototype such an animal for my own use. Stay tuned.

 

While designing cool lighting products is fun and all that, there are other areas of lighting development I am involved with. Whether it is UV curing of resins and plastic parts, inspection lights, or special single spectrum light sources and task lighting, it all comes under the umbrella of lighting for me. In this case, it’s about light measurement, particularly in an easy to use, and simple to set up for gathering data for use during product development, as well as verifying and evaluating design changes in process.

This goniometer delivers a simple to use platform for in-house testing of a wide range of luminaire configurations

This goniometer delivers a simple to use platform for in-house testing of a wide range of luminaire configurations. The meter can be located anywhere from 24″ to 96″ from the optical center of the luminaire.

While large scale, accredited LM-79 photometry demands  the use of expensive and sophisticated test gear beyond the reach of most organizations smaller than a conglomerate, a great deal of accurate data can be gained from simpler platforms. In the past I created a simple desktop Type C goniometer for customers who were creating small light source scale products.

An earlier example of a bench-top system was designed for testing of small light engines and LED optics, shows the same basic configuration in smaller scale.

An earlier example of a bench-top system was designed for testing of small light engines and LED optics, shows the same basic configuration in smaller scale.

Since then, I’ve built others with similar purpose for manufacturers setting up in-house test facilities on tight budgets. Having access to a goniometer, where tests and experiments can be carried out as part of in-house design operations can be a very valuable tool. It is also an excellent tool for quality inspections, and establishing variations on test results obtained from accredited labs.

For this specific instance, the requirement was for a system for testing fixtures that might be as large as 24″ in height, and up to 48″ in length, with intensities ranging from small low power sources to high intensity optically focused products. The design is basically the same as for the desktop unit, but scaled up to accommodate the larger scale of the luminaires to be tested.

Note that this is a horizontal Type C, which rotates the fixture around a fixed vertical axis, as well as the horizontal axis. This is a common approach to general lighting products, and can produce Type B results as well. However, since every test fixture is mounted with the light source aimed horizontally, including downlights, the results need to be revolved in creating usable IES files to reflect the actual luminaire orientation in use. Further, with SSL products, care must be taken to avoid including errors in light output that might result from thermal effects of mounting a vertically oriented product in the horizontal position for testing. However, in the 9 years I have been testing fixtures in this type of lab setup, I have not found this to be of significant concern. I have also devised methods for revolving the output data to create the appropriate IES formatted file for end use lighting application studies.

The other aspect of making this type of lab setup affordable, is the use of inexpensive light meters. While those in the business of accredited lab testing will scoff at the idea of using footcandle meters or hand held spectrometers for this type of application, I have found, in back-to-back testing, the results of tests done in house are within a maximum range of between +2% to -10% of those attained by independent lab testing services. Meanwhile, tests accomplished back to back between accredited labs using the same luminiares, has returned variations of +5% to -8%, while the variations in actual installed applications have been far greater due to the variance in surrounding reflective surfaces, condition of fixtures, variations between fixtures manufactured, and other factors outside the confines of the fixture designs themselves. So, while I am not saying this simple lab gear will replace independent test lab results (it won’t), I am saying that, if the operator is careful about setting up the test, diligent in detailing the data, and verifying his/her results, tests completed in-house, during design and between designs, can be reliable and valuable, and a significant cost and time saving advantage. The single largest variable that independent and accredited test labs bring to the table is consistency in process, and independent non-biased reporting for end user application. This is not always necessary for every test completed during and after designs are completed.

Rotation of the vertical axis is accomodated using a CNC rotary table and ring bearing base.

Rotation of the vertical axis is accomodated using a CNC rotary table and ring bearing base.

 

Fixture mounting is the a second CNC rotary table with T-slots to attache adapter plates.

Fixture mounting is the a second CNC rotary table with T-slots to attache adapter plates.

The meter attachment post can accomodate any instrument the customer might want to use, from simple light meters for quick tests, to more involved spectroradiometric testing.

The meter attachment post can accomodate any instrument the customer might want to use, from simple light meters for quick tests, to more involved spectroradiometric testing.

I have applied a wide range of meters to these types of test rigs. This includes the $100 Probe Fc meters through the more sophisticated Orb Optronix Spectrometer. The more expensive meters do deliver greater fidelity, the ability to capture multiple reading samples for averaging to eliminate error, etc..  However, I have also found that instruments like those I covered in the meter review, all delivered very similar end results. The use of the UPRTek, or Asensetek meters deliver the layer of reading color over angle in addition to standard footcandle readings, which is very useful in LED fixture evaluation. To create a candela distribution table, I use MS Excel and some simple inverse square law calcs.

For this latest creation, I have includes a rail based meter mount, as well as a rail for the vertical fixture platform. This makes setup much easier, in that moving the meter and the luminaire mount along the rails maintains alignment of the two to one another. Rotation of the luminaire in the vertical and horizontal axis is accomplished using CNC mini-mill rotary tables, actuated by remote control. These can be rotated in increments as small as .006 degrees, with 2.5, 5 and 10 being the most commonly used. The vertical axis rotation table is mounted to a large diameter rotary bearing, which can support 600 pounds.

A laser alignment tool insures the fixture rotational center is aligned with the meter sensor

A laser alignment tool insures the fixture rotational center is aligned with the meter sensor

A laser line tool attachment alingns the fixture rail with the meter rail to assure squareness of the setup

A laser line tool attachment alingns the fixture rail with the meter rail to assure squareness of the setup

With the meter post/rail aligned and the fixture center aligned with the meter sensor, the rig is ready to mount and test the actual luminaire sample.

With the meter post/rail aligned and the fixture center aligned with the meter sensor, the rig is ready to mount and test the actual luminaire sample.

This latest rig I also includes alignment tools. One is mounted to the center of the fixture horizontal axis  (a modified rifle bore sight) aimed at the center of the meter’s receptor window. The other (contractors laser line tool) is located on the rail below – emitting a vertical line for checking the zero position of the vertical axis rotating table. With these two in alignment, the rig is set to go. Mount the fixture using adapter plates to the horizontal axis, set the optical source to the center of the vertical axis, light it up and the temperature to stabilize, and start testing.  A typical test for in-house use can take less than 20 minutes after the fixture has reached its operating temperature (2 to 24 hours to taste).

There are other small additional components involved. I personally like to connect the test products to a reliable power source. The easiest way to gain this is using a UPS generally used to connect computers to. They are affordable, and offer much more reliable and consistent voltage output than wall plugs do. I also add temperature measurement (a simple Amp two position meter works for most applications – one for ambient, one for fixture hot spot), and in some case room heaters or coolers to attain a stable ambient temperature where this is not inherent to the lab itself.

So that’s it. An affordable in-house Type C test rig. Not a light source, but related to development of them. I use a similar setup for my own product development, along with a cannon style integrating chamber, a small integrating sphere, and  some other cobbled together test rigs that have proven to be accurate for relative comparison of results to a known standard.

The Lumenique main web site has been completely refreshed and revised to create a cleaner appearance that is easy to walk through. The original site was created (read evolved) over a period of 20 years, from its first appearance in 1995. The content was built up over that time to include a wide range of topics, from lighting and art, to BMW tuning mods and go-karts and our SCCA racing endeavors. That was before the days of blogs taking over that sort of activity. The new site is more focused and directed at our core business interests and competencies – and no longer requires a gamer’s commitment to navigating twists and turns to get an idea of who and what we are. The Lumenique Product Center has also been freshened up to match the new graphic design.

New Site

 

The Navy utilizes red task lighting at night to preserve vision of bridge occupants during certain operational conditions. I was asked to provide a version of the Tasca work light to be used on the bridge for map lighting, to replace incandescent products with filters they had available to them through the GSA. They wanted white light for supplemental daytime use, and red for operational conditions where red light was employed. They also wanted dimming for both conditions. To accommodate this, I added (2) Ledengin 625nm Red LEDs to the standard Tasca head, which employs a Bridgelux 4000K ES COB array, with a custom diffuse optic. One driver is all that was required, with a three position toggle switch that selects white-off-red. This allows one dimmer to be used as well for either mode. In addition to these light output modifications, they also needed the arm system to be extended vertically 6″, with a swivel mount to a bolt down base. I added a swivel lock as well as an adjustment for setting swivel resistance while I was at it, for extra measure. This is now used on two ships, with more on the way.

The head includes dimmer control, and 3 position toggle switch for color selection and off.

The head includes dimmer control, and 3 position toggle switch for color selection and off.

The bolt down base swivels and can be locked and adjusted for resistance in the pivot.

The bolt down base swivels and can be locked and adjusted for resistance in the pivot.

The arrangement of the LEDs places the red sources lower in the cup, overlapped and under the main white array. The system tested perfectly, with no issues of over-heating.

The arrangement of the LEDs places the red sources lower in the cup, overlapped and under the main white array. The system tested perfectly, with no issues of over-heating.

The diffuse reflector is part of the mixing chamber, which included Luminit diffuser material to blend the light from the two sources into one controlled output with no spots or variations on the lighted surface.

The diffuse reflector is part of the mixing chamber, which included Luminit diffuser material to blend the light from the two sources into one controlled output with no spots or variations on the lighted surface.