Archive for June, 2010

This design is an exercise in just how simple can a product be and still serve a useful purpose. I started with an 800lm Molex/Bridgelux Helieon module, a heat sink that Molex provided me to play with, and a simple line voltage to 1A driver.

The housing covers the driver slot provided in the heat sink, and simply snaps into place after the wiring is completed inside. The gear shape on the back of the housing sets into a simple cradle, allowing the head to be aimed in any of 7 angles, from directly horizontal to directly vertical, by just lifting the body and resetting it in the cradles at the desired angle.

By using the Helieon module, there are no solder connections, just three screws to mount the socket to the heat sink. Everything else is done without tools, including use of in line wire connectors that are twist locked into place rather than crimped. After the plastic parts were made, the whole assembly took just a couple minutes to put together and light up.

The deep snoot and module cover conceal the light source from all but direct front view, making this a nice little accent light to fill a corner, highlight an artwork, light up onto a plant or sculpture, or even provide a little indirect light in a dark corner space from a shelf. I use accents like this all the time in fine tuning spaces, rather than trying to build every lighting component into the building. I find this is more interesting and adds accents that can be moved with the furniture. This is especially useful in accent sculpture work that responds to up-lighting effect. Another place where uplight accent is nice is in the corners of intimate spaces like bedrooms and entertainment spaces, where filling a dark corner expands space and adds interest, where a dark corner contracts space and detracts from the general feeling of openness.

More can be found on this on Lumenique 52 in 52 D24.

For those who are new to LED technology, it all may seem like magic. The best way to learn more about this new light source is to play with it. Of course one might do this on a lighting project, but that really doesn’t put your hands on the stuff. With this in mind, I put together this really simple little collection of parts, matched up and ready to assemble. This kit includes three pre-soldered 3000k, 92CRI LEDs with enough wired attached to have some fun making a little art project. Also included is everything else you need, from thermal tape to Velcro attachment fuzzies. There is no need for tools, as everything snaps together. The optics are diffuse for use in lighting close up objects. There is even a dimmer control, a power supply, and 350mA driver all ready to go. Wiring splices are very easy to make using the provided connectors.

I’ve also created a set of instructions for assembling the kit that explains the components and how they relate to architectural lighting products you might encounter. The instructions are very simple to follow, mainly illustrations in step-by-step format, with the additional educational materials in side bars along the way.

I used one of the kits to light a shadow box that houses a silver flaked demon skull, with a little uplight on top. I hung the driver compartment under the box along with the dimmer, hidden behind a little valence panel, then taped the wires to the back of the display.

Explore LED technology first hand and create your own little art project. If you do and send me a photo of the result, I will add it to this blog entry with a description and your thoughts.

For more images of the kit contents and a link to the product center to by it, check out the Lumenique 52 in 52 D23 page!

Standing out in the crowd is not always easy. Boring card holders don’t help. We all know that light added to any display draws attention. So, here’s the ultimate, non boring, lighted LED card stand.

With (2) 3K 92CRI LEDs behind 50 degree optics, there is no lighting condition that this display won’t overpower. An integrated dimmer allows you to tone it down for the more subtle moments. The cradle is also large enough to be used as a post-it not stand, or print up a small greeting card and light it up for the special occasion.

In a restaurant a little stand like this could mark a reserved table, identify staff, or display a very special special. Versions of this using an integral battery would not be difficult to achieve, so the cord could disappear.

For me, I’ll be using this to set us apart at Necocon ArchLED10 this coming week, where we will have a few examples from the 52 in 52 project on display.

As always, more can be found at Lumenique 52 in 52 – D22

This is a product for the anyone who wants to play with white light color shifts and the impact this has on surfaces. Designed as a desktop tool to check mock-up boards and to use in presentations to customers to show the differences in color response to light sources. It’s small, easy to use, and includes warm and cool white, plus amber and blue. This can be used to simulate full on daylight to dimmed incandescent or candle light, as well as high CRI (92) 3000k and 4000k white light, or any combination of the above. Mix warm and cool white with amber and a touch of blue and you’ll see surface colors richer than you’ve seen under any other light source. Use the 4000k white and a little blue and a touch of amber to create daylight, or take out the amber and crank up the blue to see pale moonlight.

I’d take this to the store when doing paint selection to make sure that the overhead lighting is not messing with my perception. Or, using a color chart to match a light source, one could take it to pick woods, tile, paint, fabrics, etc… whever they might be, looking at each under the same light.

I like having these kinds of gadgets around. I use the RGB version of this to play with shadow effects and look at what happens when you fiddle with the balance. This white light version is even more interesting and often surprising, as what one thinks will happen intuitively often doesn’t at all. For instance, white and black generally aren’t. Grays are also very reactive to incident light chromaticity. I also have a small battery pack that plugs into this to operate the light anywhere for up to 10 hours without a power source.

I posted 11 images of the effect of colors on a single object on the Lumenique D21 page, for those who want to seeĀ  more, as well as more detail and images of this design. It’s a compact little device, 4′W x 7″H, x 2 1/2″D, so is not too bad to carry into an office for customer presentations, or to use as an evaluator in finish selection meetings. As a light source, it could be table, wall or ceiling mounted. Another version might include an integrating function to remove color separation effects from the individual source.

More toys… can never have enough of them.

This design was created with the thought of placing a light/accent piece on a mantle, tall parsons or side table. It’s very narrow front to back, and its 20″ height is well suited to taller tables. The blades are solid copper and thermally connected to the main body, where an 800lm Bridgelux array provides enough light to add an indirect ambient contribution to the space. The Ledil 50 degree optic inside the head provides a smooth pattern, even at the edges, without color separation of striations, so placement close to a wall works well. There is a dimmer built into the base to control intensity of course.

Dragonfly (1993)

Some designs happen for a reason, some with a specific purpose and some from an ongoing pursuit of an idea that recurs in various forms and may never be fully satisfied. This is one of those that has elements I like to toy with, but have never found the ultimate issuance of it in final working form.

The first use of the flying blades in a previous design was in the Dragonfly (image to the right) several years ago, which now function as the heat sink for three LEDs in its remodeled head. These are also of copper, but much thinner. In fact the whole structure is a bit thin and susceptible to bending if not carefully handled.

The Design Twenty iteration of the blades element is pleasant and interesting, but still does not satisfy whatever it is that causes me to come back to the detail. I’ll likely have to come back to this again at some point.

In the meantime, this version is far more robust and considerably higher in light output, so does represent steps forward, which is often as important as any other result.

More at Lumenique

I have had a few ask what the process is for the designs presented in the 52 in 52 project. Well, you asked for it, so here it is. I will keep this very brief so as not to bore anyone with details that are irrelevant. If you need more, email me and I’ll share what I can. The process is decidedly abbreviated in order to facilitate theĀ  pace of development within the time available outside completing customer work. This does not mean I short cut or bypass good design practice, it just means I go at this with a very lean process, where any and all work that can be set aside, well, is.

First and foremost, every product starts in 3D CAD. I use Rhino 4.0 with several apps added in for rendering and other functions, but the core program is where I live. Every design goes through a fairly quick progression of design iterations. Often the end result is an order of magnitude from the original thought, other times the iterations are primarily in detailing to make the design real. I may not draw every single component in precise detail. I have stored blocks for drivers, most LEDs, reflectors, switches, connectors, etc… Some are crude volume blocks with little or no detail to simplify the process and to establish the space around the part necessary. Other components, like LED arrays, might be more completely detailed and tightly dimensioned, as these tend to land in places where alignment tolerances are tight.

From the raw drawing files, I extract the dimensions I need to make the parts within the design itself. If the parts is going to be produced in plastic from prototype equipment, I generally won’t bother dimensioning them, as the machine does not require it.

All designs are developed in 3D CAD and dimensioned to aide in machining and fabrication.

With the drawing file completed, I often explode sections and assemblies where the order of parts is not obvious from a section drawing. Even though I design the products, the process of building the finished piece often occurs over a few days, or evolves as changes are made to improve details. These exploded views help me see and stay focused on the original intent. If something changes, I will update the drawing and recreate the exploded view.

Exploded views are handy reminders and assembly aides

With all of this rough engineering complete, the fitment between parts set, and the final configuration realized in virtual space, I will create a rendering for my own use. This often results in another series of evolutionary steps, exploring color combinations, or adjusting dimensioning, as the rendering reveals design inclusions that are not always apparent in the raw drawing and engineering phase.

The rendering phase reveals surface and aesthetic appearance issues not obvious in the engineering phase.

Once this is completed, it’s finally time to invest in materials to create the finished end product. I rarely waste materials in the production phase, unless I have a case of brain fade somewhere or a machine eats a part during cutting and or fabrication steps.

One final mock-up verifies fitment prior to finishing

With the finished parts in their roughed out state, I test the assembly of the major components. This is part of the step by step production process, as well as the last step before committing time to finishing everything for final assembly. In the case of designs that have questionable thermal or optical properties, I might assemble all of the working components and test the products performance at this stage, before finding out I have a problem after all the finishing is complete.

During the various phases of production, I do test the LED, driver, power supply, and optic in some form of mock-up state, usually involving gaffer tape and scraps of metal and plastic. I’m mostly looking for how the light output is going to look, where glare might rear its ugly head, or other unattractive performance issues that require correction as things progress. In some cases, I might mock up a rough version of the thermally involved components and do a test of assumptions. This is usually accomplished in the design phase in order to establish the materials to be used, or surface area, or other factors involved. In many designs this is redundant, as the surface area is larger than necessary. Once the core light generating and supporting hardware components are tested, I put them in a bin for later assembly into the finished product.

With finishing complete, all of the final parts and internal components tested and set aside earlier are brought together. At this point, everything comes together as a final product, wired and ready to go. Once complete, every light is plugged in, wired to a thermocouple, and left to operate for at least 8 hours. I check temperatures every hour or so, and check light output a couple of times along the way. If all checks out, I will often run the fixture for an additional couple of days and check light output against the first reading, just to see if things are acting as expected. There are occasions when an LED is not seated properly, resulting in a good initial test, but a rapid failure as the heat destroys the device inside. This will usually show up in the first 16 to 24 hours of operation, as long as the rest of the product is functioning well.

Designing products around LEDs and solid-state components is really not that difficult. Once you get the hang of the basics, the process is similar to any other product design. My largest failure point has nothing to do with solid-state, and has plagued me for twenty years in designing portable fixtures – that is balance. I don’t like big fat base-plates and stands, so tend to suffer issues of products that are a little unstable at times. Of all the aspects of design that cause me to engage in rework, this is the one that bites me more often than any other. While I’ve had a few LED fixtures require that I tune the current back to avoid over-heating, this is rare. Another area I screw up is designing components so quickly I miss that assembly is impossible. This usually involves a part that must be installed before another, that cannot be done in the necessary sequence. Nothing improves vision of such issues as much as actually making things directly. Things hide in CAD programs that will jump out and bite whoever ends up making the final product.

So, that’s the underlying process in brief. In prior entries, I have shown videos of a couple of the processes involved, and will do so in other areas again soon.

Oh yes, you are looking at Design 20, which will be finished in a day or so. Stay tuned!