After last weeks push and work with massive materials (relative to others I have done) I needed to take a break from  complex machining and do something simple and straightforward. This small project is based on a request to create a small desktop item that was lower in cost, coupled with some ideas I’ve toyed with for making picture lights, from wall mounted to desktop. This is the first shot at a small desktop lighted picture frame.

To make this low in cost, I dug into a box full of unused phone chargers (from phones that have been long since abandoned) – all with voltage and current characteristics suited to LED application. In this case, the Nokia ACP-7U charger, rated at 3.7VDC, 350mA current is a decent match to a Seoul Semiconductor P4 (3000K 92CRI) mounted on a star board. As a test, I soldered the wires from the charger to the LED and stuck the LED to a heat sink and let it run for two days. The charger was warm, but not hot, and the LED seemed happy enough, so I set it aside and went to work on the frame.

Looking at it now, the frame is a little heavy handed, as was its intent. I had my eye on something more mechanical, so it’s made from solid stock, which is carved out to make a recess for the LED and a reflector insert. The switch is a pushbutton on-off control (no need for a dimmer here.

As a proof of concept and first iteration, it works very well. I like the picture lighted up, and the energy it uses is nothing – even with the charger, it’s less than 4W total.

Now, for those looking at that picture and wondering – yes, that is me on the ladder in the fatigues. This image is from 1978. As a graphic artist in the USAF, I painted the sign, which was placed on a little hut each group on base constructed as part of the annual open house. This was one of many signs, posters, flyers, handouts, and ad inserts I did that year. I look at this and think how appropriate it is that two senior NCOs, a Captain and a Colonel were required to install a 30″ x 36″ plywood sign on a bamboo hut. My fiancé at the time took the picture.

I have some other ideas for little picture frame lights and some new methods of making parts that will make them affordable as well. Future designs will be lighter for those who prefer such things.

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