Found the Timer

Posted: November 14, 2018 in Light Cure
Tags: ,

Update on the timer search:

While the response from the call-out here did not return anything from the lurking electronics gurus of the inter-webs, I was able to find a supplier here in the USA (Kentucky) able to make exactly what I needed. The company is called Curious Technology, and the individual that came up with the solution is Greg Cunningham.


The Timer

Greg delivered a working prototype in two days and a quote for additional copies within a few hours of my reviewing and approving the sample. The costs did not include any tooling or engineering fees, or minimum order quantities, so I could not be happier.

Other details: Greg was able to eliminate the original requirement for a battery, as the timer has no need for an internal power to keep its programming. In this hyper quick process, I also changed the display from LCD to LED. It fits the application and the lighted display will be easier to see, so that was a good revision to the original spec.


The timer’s location on the final product design. First article now being printed. The timer is activated by the light trigger switch, and counts up the number of seconds of exposure, for a ready reference by the operator.

Thanks to Greg at Curious Technology! If only all our problems and needs could be solved this quickly, from a domestic supplier no less.

There will be more work sent his way, as we work through other versions of this product.

The String of Light

Posted: November 9, 2018 in Art and Design
Tags: , ,

The lighting industry is a faceted and muti-layered universe. However, the bond that holds it all together is that lighting exists only to serve human kind. To the consternation of technologists and engineers behind the SSL revolution, humans (other than those in the are in the business of engineering and technology) are not particularly concerned with metrics, formulas, or objective measurement. Humans are emotional animals, that respond to light and shadow, who feel before they see, and absorb what they see as real, even when it isn’t. To this end, artistry in light remains a strong factor in the human condition, even when those experiencing it are unable to express its influence, or even acknowledge its impact. This underlying reality is what causes so many metrics addicts to go mad, as they attempt to quantify and control a market that is in fact, uncontrollable. The illusion of control is the fallacious reality we live in as humans. We cannot express our needs for an emotionally, soul energizing, comfortable or pleasing existence in metric terms. We use metrics to act as proxy for these needs, by slicing the qualitative into bits, in the hope that if we add them up, the outcome will be satisfying. The fact that so many quantitative lighting installation successes are such dire failures in delivering human satisfaction, is proof of the fallacy of placing objective measures in front of art. For example, no matter how hard the academics try to define the quality of color, we find the end result short of the mark. Why? Because the subjectivity of light and how it is perceived in the real applied world confounds the out-of-context metrics so coveted by those intent on making the art of light an engineering function.

But I am not an engineer-ist. I am more interested in the subjective, the art of light, even in working environments. I personally believe that you could literally toss the entirety of metric definitions of light, and create better results based on delivering what humans want in their spaces, through understanding how the art of light feeds their need for a visually satisfying experience – in all walks of life. In this, I’ve frequently wondered why I am even here at all.

Perhaps I figured that out…

An Epiphany of Sorts

During a recent visit to MOWA (Museum of Wisconsin Art), I was captured by a painting of a picnic in the shade, with dappled of light over the party enjoying family, with a few chickens thrown in to keep the kids busy. It was a wonderful work of expressing light that it inspired a moment where I saw the string that has connected my professional and personal path over time. I’ve traveled a road guided by passion for combining spur of the moment ideas, art, design, light, engineering, technology, and appetite for taking on new things and learning new forms of expression. The following is a reminiscence of  this, with a thumb nail early example to highlight each. My version of string theory.


Pen and Ink stippling, 1978

Roots in 2D – 1970 to Present

2D artists rarely draw or paint light into a finished piece. Light is the white background you start with. Onto that, media is applied to delineate shadows, darkness and shading that defines shapes and space. There may be instances where you add highlights or lighting effect details with an eraser, or white pigment, but for the most part, light is the ever present background, from which you use subtractive techniques to produce picture. Whether light is represented as direct, ambient, or reflective is generally irrelevant, as all art is a 2D reflective representation. The source of light is presented in context to the viewing plane the artist chooses, and brightness differences are within the constraints of the highest and lowest reflective qualities of the media employed.  While the light applied to a finished work is impacted by the light applied to it, the general terms of highlight and shadow, and contrast represented, are not changed significantly, as these are integral to the work itself.


Restaurant Feature Mockup 1978

A Life of Graphics – 1977 to present

Graphics is a functional branch of 2D art, that adds a layer of direct message to a visual work. This is a more literal form of art, where, rather than allow the observer to draw their own conclusion or message from a work, the message is delivered in a way that eliminates personal interpretation to communicate a specific and targeted point. In this, many forms of graphics do not include a great deal of expression of light, other than to enhance the presence and attractiveness of artwork to capture attention.


Motorcycle Love 1980

Adventures in Photography 1978 to present

Cameras are light recorders. Film and/or pixel receptors begin in a dark state, where black is the underlying background representing an absence of information. Exposure to light of various intensities and color add information where there is none – to create images. This is the polar opposite of how pigment artists work, yet the end result is the same. The resulting images are presented in 2D, either as prints, restricted to the reflective qualities of the media employed, or displayed on a back-lighted screen, where illuminance presents a higher degree of potential contrast between highlight and shadow, but remain constrained by the light source employed and artwork itself.

Blue Eye

Blue Eye 2012

Tangles with Digital Artistry – 1996 to present

Digital artists have the greatest flexibility in how they approach image creation. The choice between starting from a dark background or lighted background is unique, and creates opportunities to generate imagery that is simultaneously photographic and 2D media in nature. However, the end product shares the same limitations as well. Printed products are limited in brightness and contrast to the chosen media, digital display products presented on lighted screens are equally constrained by the display’s capabilities and the settings end user have monitors set at.

Kart Cycle 2

Kartcycle 2002

Dabbling in Sculpture and 3D Arts – 1995 to present

As a sculpture artist, solid and translucent materials are employed to reflect and/or transmit light to produce an object that blocks, reflects, or diffuses light striking it, to produce a finished form that changes in character depending on how light is applied to it, and the viewing angle of the observer. In this case, the contrast between highlight and shadow, and presentation of color, are dependent on the lighting conditions under which the object is displayed. The artist, for the most part, has little control of this, adding a dynamic interaction that is under the control of the displayer of the art itself. This is an important distinction. The display and viewing of 3D works is dynamic and manipulable by the observer. One can choose to experience a sculpture from a single vantage point, or at fixed multiple angles, or by walk-around method, where every angle is explored. Applied lighting can also be used to control viewing perceptions, direct observers to select viewing angles, enhance or soften contrast, exaggerate detail, or obliterate it. None of these are within the control of the artist.


GNAC Spa 1988

A Love of Lighting as Art – 1980 to present

Lighting artists utilize the art form of shaping the perception of spaces and objects within spaces, by applying both light and shadow with specific intent to shape the visual environment for observers. The work of the lighting artist is to shape the finished environment by applying light to space as a digital artist might, in three dimensional space, to enhance, soften, exaggerate, guide, and clarify space for those who occupy it. This includes careful application of shadow and contrast, and control of visual confusion that detracts from the intended experience. Lighting art demands complete control of glare and brightness, dazzle, color interaction with surfaces, textural dynamics, visibility, and the dynamic experience of the final product as it is viewed from the intended range of experiences for observers. Since lighting artists can only add and subtract illuminance, they are dependent on tight coordination with those who are creating the surfaces targeted. This includes understanding architectural form and intent, as well as surface qualities, and the composite goals of the design team as a whole. In many ways, lighting artists provide the cohesive glue between the forms and surfaces presented by the physical objects placed in the environment, and the eyes of observers occupying the finished space. Further, since lighting has such a large impact on how people react emotionally, and lighting energy content (spectral) impacts human physiological response, the inclusion of such considerations is essential to lighting artists work. The goal of the lighting artist is to create imagery and sense of space, and objects within, that also generates a desired emotional response, supported by techniques that enhance the human experience, which includes feeling of well being as much as it does actual support of good health. The emotional connection to any space is more affected by the light applied to it than any other factor. For this reason, lighting-as-art is an extremely powerful discipline…. that is as rarely applied as installation of fine art in the spaces most of us experience on a regular basis.


Visa Lab 1995

Work in Lighting Design as Lighting Engineering – 1980 to present

Lighting artistry contrasts starkly with lighting engineering, which considers light a utility, to be applied as a fill of spacial volumes to achieve a metrically computed, prescribed illuminance value on target surfaces – within the constraints of energy budgets – controlled to produce utilitarian functionality. The majority of “Lighting Design” today is not artistic, it is an engineering function, regardless of how “creative” those involved believe themselves to be. Even in the case of those practicing “human centric” design, there is very little actual art involved, just more parametric requirements to be included in the design assignment.


Tasca 2005

Lighting Product Design and Engineering – 1989 to present

Lighting product serves multi-faceted purposes. Lighting products must deliver the light needed to create art and serve quantitative and qualitative engineering functions. Products must survive use as intended. Products must also be usable to the intended users, and be honest to their purpose and intent. The art of product design combines sensitivity to the user experience, as much as to manufacturing processes, and the need to derive a profit from the effort.


Timberline SDL2a 1997

Industrial Design – 1995 to present

Venturing away from light completely, but founded on the experience of connecting the visual impact of a product with its function and interaction with the end user of the products in mind.


Face of Liberty 1988

The Freedom of Choice – Always

Above all else, the reason I have had these experiences, is founded on exercising a freedom of choice. Rather than bind myself to a hard line career of escalating income pursuits, collection of toys and cash, I’ve remained open, to this day, to the pursuit of new and different. To that end, while I derive my personal joy from making things for myself and others, and helping others find light to fulfill their own pursuits. Were all this is leading is in the shadows, where it belongs. Somewhere along the way, I just stopped asking what I would be when I grow up, and allowed myself to just be. Yet, I do  find it intriguing that light has emerged as the connective string, whether pursued directly, or indirectly by its inescapable influence. Perhaps that is my own secret sauce and value add for those I work with? That string does include a strong bond to use of metrics, research, and quantitative measures as much as it has connections to qualitative and subjective considerations. The trick, from my view, is not in establishing one as superior to the other, but to define when one or the other, or the composite of both, is most appropriate to the task in hand. In balance, I believe there are greater opportunities in taking a chance on artistic expression, over adhering to strict objective measures. But, that should be obvious at this point – even to me.


Pulley – first sold work 1987

It Never Ends






Are you an electronic wizard looking to solve a small problem in your sleep? Well, this might be just such a project for you. I need help solving a problem for a product we make under our “Tasca” brand.

We are in need of a basic, robust circuit design we can make (potentially using through-hole devices) to create a simple timer as shown below. Read the rest of this entry »


The Great Blue Light Panic Keeping Some Folks Awake

If you read alarmist comments on the inter-webs about the dreaded “Blue Light Hazard”, you may come away thinking that your TV, tablet, phone, and LED bedside lights are depriving you of sleep. Yes, the spectral power content, including blue light, can produce amplified melatonin suppression that can indeed disrupt your ability to fall asleep. And, yes, LED lights and many LED based displays do produce blue light at the wavelengths of greatest concern. We’ve been all over this, like here, and there have been thousands of other discussions on this everywhere, including in mainstream media – which for the most part get it all wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

EMF: Another Outrage Fizzle?

Posted: September 18, 2018 in General Commentary

There has been a bit of a to-do about EMF emission from LED products on the usual outlets carrying SM punditry.  The alarmist assert that EMF from lighting products is harmful to human health, and the EMF emissions from LED light sources is damaging to the eye.

Some of this may be founded on studies like ‘Electromagnetic Field Radiation and Your Eyes‘, published on the EMF-Health web site, which references ‘Scientists Link Eye Cancer to Mobile Phones‘ and ‘Cell Phone Radiation May Cause Visual Damage‘.  Another expert warning of EMF and electronic devices is Dr. Mercola, who wrote ‘The Real Dangers of Electronic Devices and EMF’s‘. While none of this mentions LED lighting, the association of electronics and solid-state lighting is apparently too attractive to avoid for some. One such reference to this, with a list of additional references to weed through, is the article ‘Replacing CFL, Halogen and LED Light Bulbs‘, in which they point out that some LED GU10 bulbs produce radio frequencies of 30MHz-300MHz. The remainder of that article continues the blue light critique, with not more mention of EMF. Anyone in the industry might have furrowed a brow at the claim of 30MHz to 300MHz, since most products, even those driving LEDs with PWM, use far lower frequencies, with the 2KHz to 20KHz very common, although some may be as high as 1MHz. Microwave Induction lamps may operate at these extreme frequencies, but not LEDs. The exception to this might be LiFi technology, which operates at around 43Mb per second (something around 4GHz), with future development in the 10+Gb (9+/- GHz) range. However, this operates as a carrier within the existing EM range of light, which spans 400THz to 700THz- which is just what it is. If we want to see, we have to expose ourselves to this, as this is what light is – Electromagnetic Radiation. That said, LiFi is hardly used in a broad enough context to make this a central issue, even in street lighting applications. But, I’m getting ahead of myself, as the real topic here is EMF from LED products, not the larger discussion of the increase in Radio Frequency EMF we find ourselves surrounded in from a wide range of products, portable and fixed within our environments.

For purposes of this exploration, I am not going to get into inclusion of volts, or frequencies – other than the range of between 30Hz to 300Hz most refer to when discussion non radio frequency EMF. I am also going to skip over Stetzers or other peripheral metrics, for purposes of clarity. For the most part, EMF issues are discussed in units of µT (Microteslas) or mG (Milligauss), so that is what I will remain focused on here.

A Lot to Consider – None of it Very Damning

Excessive EMF radiation in our environment is suspected to be the cause a wide range of health issues. However, what levels are causing what damage is not yet fully defined or understood. The WHO has created ‘The International ELF Project‘ with the intent of creating more solid data and conclusions with which to create recommendations, establish limits to work from. The National Radiation Laboratory (NZ) has also published an informational brief called ‘Electric and Magnetic Fields and Your Health‘.  The IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer), has published as statement ‘IARC Classifies Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields as Possibly Carcinogenic to Humans‘, which is not fully relevant to LED Lighting.  Another comprehensive review of the topic of EMF and human health can be found in ‘Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields‘ by the Expert Group of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Dublin, Ireland. The Hawaii Department of Health has also issued a very informative booklet on the topic of EMF ‘Electromagnetic Fields Associated with the Use of Electrical Power‘, that is work reading through for anyone interested in this topic. Hindawi (UK) has produced an interesting paper as well, ‘Health Implications of Electromagnetic Fields, Mechanisms of Action, and Research Needs‘ that outlines the concepts involved as well as the limits of knowledge at this point. For those completely obsessed with this topic, the IEMF Alliance offers a collection of books on the topic. However, none of these references have mentioned LED lighting specifically. In a few, CFL products, particularly the earliest versions using magnetic ballasts, were found to be somewhat offensive little EMF sources.

As a side note, if you read these papers and articles, you will find LED lighting not mentioned, but will find several references to the effect of Radio Frequency EMFs on men’s testes and brains. Before reading any further, or worrying about turning off the lights, it appears the first plan of action is to never put a cell phone in a pants pocket, or try to talk with it stuffed in the front of your drawers. Not much can be done about the brain thing it seems… Moving right along….

One group attempted to link EMF to LEDs – the EMF Safety Network – published their broad condemnation of LED street lighting in ‘The Perils of LED Streetlights‘. In this article, they eluded to the potential for damage from EMF, but actually did not make the case, as presented no data, then indicated queries to PP&G on the topic were unanswered – ominously indicating some effort to conceal the truth through power of suggestive writing. The rest of the article forwards all of the other well rehearsed issues of blue light, flicker,  CCT, dark skies, etc… unrelated to the EMF topic. One article commenting about the issues of artificial illumination, including LEDs, is ‘Make Light Healthier‘, by the International Journal of Science, which describes the issues and actual concerns very well. Meanwhile, contrasting that, is the work of an LED detractor/incandescent lamp advocate, Dr. Alexander Wunsch who published his thoughts on Mercola ‘The Dangers of LED Lightbulbs‘, recommending removal of all LEDs and use of incandescent lamps and candles in their place. He not only extols the dangers of blue light, but piles on with the argument that the absence of red light is a further danger to LED lighting. He does not mention EMF, so this reference may not be appropriate, but it is still interesting.

Summary of Threats

Probably the most interesting of all papers on this topic, is ‘A Summary of LED Lighting Impacts on Health‘ published by the Building Research Establishment, which included the following statement regarding EMF from LED products:

6. Electric fields generated by LED lighting: Lamps and control gear include electric and/or electronic components through which electric currents flow so that light output is initiated and maintained. These electric currents generate magnetic and electric fields of low frequency (50 Hz and harmonics thereof, eg 100 Hz, 150 Hz) and high frequency (30 to 60 kHz) depending on the type of lamp and control gear [14]. Above certain intensities, the magnetic and electric fields may induce electrical currents in the human body that can stimulate the nerves and muscles at low frequency, or even cause tissue heating at high frequency. Improvements in lighting technology have enabled a reduction in electromagnetic fields. For LED lighting, several studies have shown that the intensities of magnetic fields generated by LED lamps were significantly below the limits recommended by the International Commission for Nonionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). Therefore LED lighting does not appear to generate electric or magnetic fields that can damage human health.

The paper also includes references to 39 other papers on the topic worth reading to those concerned about the technology. These include papers by two of the most well published experts in the field, Dr. Veitch, JA and Dr. Wilkins AJ, who serve on numerous study groups and committees discussing light and human health – so searching these two names will also produce even more to read about. However, if the focus is on EMF and LED lighting concerns, they have haven’t mentioned it, so you can save time in this regard.

Real World Observation and Metrics

As far as objective testing of LED products, an article on the Healthy Building web site ‘EMF from LED Lights – Magnetic Fields and Recessed LED Lights‘ reflects what most of us in the obsessive world of lighting have found when breaking out meters and turning them onto on various lighting products. The levels found were simply too low to be of any concern. Move 24″ away, and the readings drop to zero.

While the USA has no standards of exposure for EMF, individual states do, as does the EU, the UK, and other countries, which use the ICNIRP recommendation of 100µT (Microteslas), which equates to 1000mG (Milligauss). Switzerland has set a limit of 1µT (10mG). That said, a common standard for what is called “prudent avoidance” (see the NZ brief mentioned earlier) is set even lower at 0.4μT (4mG), which is what I would personally consider a goal for any long term exposures within any working or living environment.  Note that in the Healthy Building article, the highest reading was 2.72mG at 2″ from a Lutron dimmer. This is well within acceptable levels, even at 2″ distance.

My own experience mirrors that of the Healthy Buildings article. Here is a summary of results from products I have around the shop, office and home, taken at a distance of 12″, and 24″ which are closer than I experience when using most of these items:

  • LED task lights, table lights – 0.0mG @ 12″, 0.0mG @ 24″
  • Collection of (3) Wall wart power supplies used for task lights – 5.4mG @12″, 3.8mG at 24″
  • LED Recessed 2 x 4 troffer –  0.0mG @ 12″, 0.0mG @ 24″
  • LED Retrofit PAR30 lamp – 0.0mG @ 12″, 0.0mG @ 24″
  • OLED Light Panel Lights – 0.0mG @ 12″, 0.0mG @ 24″
  • 360W LED Driver with 300W Load – 0.3mG @ 12″, 0.0mG @24″
  • Microwave oven – 1700W – 77mG @ 12″, 18mG @24″
  • IR Sauna panel -0.1mG @ 12″, 0.0mG @24″
  • Street light at street level – 0.0mG
  • Philips Hue Light – 0.0mG @ any distance
  • T12 HO fluorescent shop lighting mounted at 12′ AFF – 0.0mG measured at 48″ A.F.F. (not going to climb a latter to prove they emit EMF at close distances, as that’s dangerous and the point is moot.)
  • Vu1 ESL Lamp – 0.0mG @ 12″, 0.0mG @ 24″ (to my surprise)
  • Very old coiled bulb CFL – 0.4mG @ 12″, 0.0mG @ 24″
  • Kim Wall Grazer LED Fixture – 0.0mG @ 12″, 0.0mG @ 24″

At this point, I gave up, as the exercise was not causing me to believe there was anything to see. I even included readings of non-LED sources, to see if there was anything of concern. Other than the Microwave, I found nothing. And from LED products – nothing.

In general terms, when I look into arguments against LED technology, I will find a few references from legitimate sources that point to the conclusions or support the voracity of claims on some level. In this specific case, I find nothing to back the claims of alarmists that EMF is an issue in LED Lighting. This correlates with several other reports, and is summarized nicely in the aforementioned BRE report, paragraph 6.

Okay, so what about RF Then…

When it comes to WiFi and Radio Frequency EMF, I will only say that these devices do not emit RF energy any longer than it takes to impart a control function. All of the transmitters and receivers I tested in house emit nothing unless a control is activated. In my opinion, this transient nature is not going to cause any harm at the energy levels involved, over the very brief and infrequent periods that they exist.

That does not mean that devices do not emit any RFI. In fact many do, and it can interfere with communications equipment. However, the RF energy levels even the worst of these products generates, is very low, well below wireless communications, so the risk of exposure to humans is not an issue. The issue is one of quality, where RF emissions is not fully considered or included in the design. RFI is not EMF.

Confusion of terms – EMI vs. EMF

I did note that there are references and videos on You tube, like ‘Dirty Electricity and LED CFL Light Bulbs Stetzeriser Filter Placement‘, indicating issues of EMI, which is Electromagnetic Interference, not EMF, caused by various lamps. The noise these products creates on the AC power system within a building is indeed a potential issue, as it can interfere with other electronic devices that do not include line filtering, controls, and radio receiver devices. Most products operating from line voltage sources include filters to eliminate this, but some older products don’t. Utilities have also employed methods of filtering this out of metering systems.  Modern electronics, including lighting products also have features to eliminate this as well. Regardless, this is not EMF, and I could not find any objective evidence that this interference is in any way creating emissions in the delivered light of products that will have any impact on human health.  It should not go un-noticed that the largest collection of articles on “dirty electricity” is on the Electra Health web site, and that the majority of those articles are on RF and Microwave radiation concerns, where links to the actual .pdf papers are 404. Also noteworthy, is that the Electra Health web site is a product of Stetzerizer US, which sells filters for cleaning up dirty electricity. One of the more entertaining videos linked from the site is ‘Don’t use curly bulbs (CFL) compact fluorescent or LED bulbs‘ which asserts that EMI is emitted from the lamps and wires into the air, but uses a plug-in meter to show the EMI present from the samples they chose. No proof of any of the EMI frequencies escaping the wires or fixtures is provided, except using a low end AM radio placed near the sample lamps, which distinctly emitted a 60Hz buzz on the transistor radio. The viewer of the video is obviously being asked to set aside any experience they have in spaces illuminated by fluorescent and LED products, with no incandescent, and no Stetzerizer devices, yet experienced no radio interference.

Perhaps the most revealing information attached to the video is the following statement: highly recommends using only regular incandescent (old fashioned) light bulbs or as a better alternative the Clean Halogen energy-saving bulbs like the kind we carry in our store. They work just like incandescents, but use 30% less electricity.

Case closed.

Additional Reads on the topic:



Flicker is a persistent and frustrating issue, and has been since the first fluorescent and HID lamps were put in service. Complaints of headache, migraine, feelings of ill health, and eye strain are the most common complaints. For some, flicker at 100Hz (Europe/Asia) or 120Hz (North America) is debilitating. Studies have shown that flicker creates reading errors from rapid eye movement changes under sources flickering at under 200Hz – NCBI The effects of flicker on eye movement control, Energy Focus Presentation ‘Lighting Flicker: Effects of Flicker in the Classroom’, including roadway effects – Lux ‘Street light flicker is a new hazard, says watchdog’, CBC – ‘Calgary seizure sufferer worries flickering LED street light will break down again‘.

I will not go into a great deal of detail here on the effects of flicker on human health or the environment. There are hundreds of articles on this topic, by experts in human Read the rest of this entry »

According to marketers of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, et al, social media is the engine of change, the foundation for bringing information and real transformation to the people. With Social Media, we will see the world connected and refreshed through the voices of the previously unheard. Social Media is the new light, the symbol of freedom and ultimate new world order founded on the concrete foundation of the first amendment, the true voice of “the People”. It has enabled revolution and advanced the human cause. It all sounds so… amazing and spectacular, if not completely incredible.

Behind the scenes, social media is actually just a software/app product that generates Read the rest of this entry »