52 in 52 – Design Two Complete

The uplight washes the wall behind or ceiling, while the downlight accents below.

Steam Punked!
A little late, but not completely lost. What a week this has been. I love working with the lathe, but forget houw time conuming it can be, shaving each layer off, until the final shape emerges, several minutes later. This design also presented several challenges in the head, both to control movement, as well as making connections. There are no wires in the stems, they are the conductors, and the horizontal pivot pin makes connection inside the head itself. Then, the control became an issue, as the driver 0-5V system defaults to full on when there is not connection across the reference voltage, which meant that changing light levels would go to full bright between settings, obviously not good. This meant integrating controls that short the control connection as the bob is moved between settings.

52 in 52 – Week Two Kickoff

01/07/10 – And now for something completely different. Ever heard of Steam Punk? It’s a design vocabulary founded on Victorian styling blended with technology as it might have been had we not moved into micro-electronics. Time machine movies are excellent examples of the aesthetic. Applying this to an SSL product just seems too ironic not to do, so this will be the week two project. This one is going to use Bridgelux 400lm LED arrays as uplight and downlight, within a pivoting head. Driver will be from Luxdrive, and operated at 1A. Control is going to be via placing a plumb bob in one of three sockets, which will control the driver dim level. Finishes will be powder coat red, powder coat black, polished aluminum and polished brass. This one is mostly lathe turnings, my favorite tool.

Bent part - tip of vertical members

01/11/10 –  Got a lot of parts made and some details figured out. Had a bit of an issue with the ball turner, which decided to grab a part and bend it over on me. Really a pain since the ball is the last thing you turn after cutting the rest of the part. Had to re-invent the tool a little before I trashed another blank, then started all over to replace the bent part. Been making a few adjustments in detail as I go through each part – some to fit materials I have in stock and to improve detailing, since there is nothing quite like having the metail in hand to fine tune detail. Working the light heads now – a lot of stuff packed into a somewhat small space. Last bit to work out is the swivel so it will hold the head in place and not sag, but will be easy to adjust. So far so good. The Bridgelux LEDs put out so much soft light, this one should make a nice general space illuminator, with back/uplight and down/tasklight.

01/15/10 – Been a tough week, but the project is progressing. Just finished the base plates, have the vertical conductor towers ready to finish, have figured out how to make the controls work properly, and have the head 90% complete, just need a couple of holes drilled and everything is ready to finish. While the target is to finish each of these on Thursday or Friday of each week, projects like this one are abit more complex, so will take a day or two longer. By the end of the day today, everything on this will be in finishing, with assembly tommorrow (Saurday), just in time to startweek 3, which has already beed designed. This is going to be tough to keep up with, and requires I think clearly and not make any serious mistakes that eat time.

52 in 52 – Design One Complete

Our kitchen island work light

So… the first week went well enough. Even with taking time off for the holidays, working in a deep freeze workshop, and managing to mess up several blocks of metal, I managed to get this one done. I’m also breaking in a new powder coat oven and learning to use a couple of new tools, like a virbatory deburring machine that works away at the sharp corners and file marks while I get on with other work. Generally this one worked out about as I had invisioned, except for shortening the arm a little. I’m also thinkin that the next iteration of this will use finishes a little differently. I’ve created a matte white powder finish I really like the look and feel of, will need to find more places to use it. In any case, with this in the done file, its time for a couple days to regroup and get into the next one.

I’ve got an idea in mind for use of Bridgelux 400lm LEDs in a steam-punk looking design that will light up and down, providing good ambient as well as accent downlighting. Something a bit less edgy, maybe use a lot of lathe turned parts and do a little polishing. Might even use some brass I have on hand for just such a purpose.

52 in 52 Design One Specification Brief

24″ wide x 20″ tall
Lynk Labs 12W Snapbrite strip (12VAC) on SnapDriver power supply
Custom switch design and fabrication
Tumble finish aluminum with clear gloss topcoat, wrinkle black and matte white finishes

52 in 52 – Design One

12/30/09 – This is the first of 52 designs for the year. I thought about posting a drawing or rendering of the complete design at the start, but what is the fun in that? Instead, I’m including a few sneek preview details that will be included in the final design. To see what the finished product, both in-process and completed, you’ll just have to follow along, or wait a week. Design One is a fixed head architecturally styled task lamp for a desk or side table. It’s going to be around 20″ tall and extend 28″ horizontally. It will use a Lynklabs 12″ SnapBrite LED strip with 12 Tesla LEDs, powered by the companies BriteDriver 12VAC power supply, provided as samples to me by the company. This will deliver roughly 200fc onto the task surface. The finish will be black textured and matte white high reflectance powder coat (my own formulation), with satin and polished aluminum accents. I plan to get most of the rough cut parts machined this weekend, so stay tuned!

01/04/10 – All design, machining, and mock up of rough components completed. Ran into a little snag finding a proper switch, so made my own from a proximity control and Delrin block. Had to remake the block at the top of the main column three times due to the length of the drilling horizontally for the support rod which went in straight and came out off center. Also fussed with the length of the arm –  cut hree inches off it to balance the appearance of the assembly. Man, is it cold in the garage where my machining equipment is. Had to take a couple days off due to temps in the single digits, which makes the oil so stiff the machines struggle. The rest of the process can be done in the sheet metal and assembly area, which is heated. Going to have to get a better heater in the machining area.

52 New SSL Designs in the 52 Weeks for 2010

Starting the January 1, 2010, I will develop 52 new products at a pace of one per week. One new design, conceived, developed, built, finished and lighted, each week.

Self-imposed rules:

  • Each product will use parts purchased from readily available off-the-shelf sources for LEDs (most will be mounted on star-boards or packaged strips and arrays)
  • Drivers and/or power supplies and optics will be production products available off-the-shelf or made from scratch (optics).
  • Products will include white or color, or a mixture of both
  • Components will be made by me, in my own shop facility, including machining, metal fab, welding, polishing, powder coating, or other necessary operations
  • Each product will be as unique as possible, no iterations of a theme to stretch one design over several weeks
  • Each end product will be offered for sale through the Lumenique Product Center
  • While the primary focus is on portable products, this does not limit the development of products that are wall or ceiling hung, if the mood strikes
  • The primary focus is on indoor lighting, although this does not preclude the occasional outdoor concept from being explored
  • No cove lights, strips, recessed downlights, or retrofit lamps will be considered or included

Beginning on Friday, January 1, 2010:

  • I will post updates as to activities underway
  • Each design will be developed and rendered in RhinoCAD 3D as a “starting point”
  • Follow up photos of progress will be included in postings periodically through the week as parts are made
  • The finished product is to be completed and posted on Thursday of each week

Dose of reality: There will likely be occasions when scheduling of work and/or travel will preclude the completion of a product in a given week. These disruptions will not disrupt to deployment of products. To maintain pace, in the week(s) prior to and/or following the disruption, additional products will be created simultaneously to catch up and maintain a total rate of one per week by year’s end.

So, for anyone who thinks that LEDs are not “ready yet” – this is where I hope to demonstrate 52 uses, in hopefully interesting and unique forms, without no custom electronics, hard tooling, or expensive development processes. In other words, making LED products like we once made halogen low voltage toys – the simplest and most straightforward path to cool.

So, let’s get ready to rumble in the SSL jungle!

Oh and to make this a little more interesting – Anyone interested can suggest or offer an idea they would like to see included by submitting in response to daily postings. These may even be pre-purchased (at the option of the requester, with my acceptance) through the Lumenique Products Center as part of the request. Manufacturers may also offer samples of product to be included into the designs (with proper acknowledgement of course) as long as the products provided can be readily acquired.

For the cynics – this could be perceived as a blatant self promotion effort, where I draw attention to myself by taking on such a scheme. So what? In the storm of SSL as we live it today, at least this will be more fun than another announcement of legislative hurdles hurdled, grand trillion dollar projects completed, or world record performance attained in some dank lab somewhere. I also have a bit at stake here, as it requires I can actually spawn 52 interesting designs that I can actually build in the time allotted at my own expense. You could also look at this for what it  really is – an enthusiast exploring the technology at a moment in time when such exploration is the most exciting. There is not likely to be another confluence of conditions in the lighting market like we have in hand going into 2010, so now is the time to take the deep dive and just see what happens. I can warrant that I do not have a library of ideas from which I will tap. This will be a real-time process of ideation, development and realization in its raw unrehersed form. Call it what you wish, its going be hard work no matter which way its sliced.

A little History…

Stay tuned...

Design Is Key to Efficiency and Quality of Illumination

In response to a growing sentiment that “playful” design is doomed due to the demand to cut energy use, that we must give up quality to cut watts quantity. I could not disagree with this more. In fact design plays a much larger role in cutting energy use than anyone is, giving it credit for. In fact, I contend that design of an application plays a larger role than reaching for some ultimate efficiency number. The two renderings shown here were created in AGI32 using photometric data from available LED products. The effect of design on the quality of a space and its energy use are clearly illustrated. The only factor changed between these two renderings is the lighting system applied. All other factors are identical.

72Watts – This “efficient” design uses (6) 12W”high efficiency” luminares rated at 52 lumens per watt to meet the illuminance requirements necessary for the space – an average of 12 Fc throughout. Yet, there is not a lot of interest here – the space just looks flat. There is very little focus or dimensional definition beyond the physical objects themselves.
40 Watts – This space uses more luminaires with narrower beam spreads, and lower efficiency – but of smaller wattage each. The result is greater definition of the space, more visual interest, and an energy savings of 48%!

Don’t buy into the baloney that energy conservation requires one must eschew design. Instead embrace the use of artful application of light to reduce the amount of light being thrown into a space from luminaires with poor control but high efficiency – use less light, with greater focus onto target surfaces. The art of lighting design is about design for vision, not meeting prescribed illuminance levels on some plane above the finished floor. The best designs create the most interesting and visually attractive space with the least amount of energy. We do not want to live in a world where the only qualifier of efficiency is the luminaire manufacturers data sheet above all else. Not only will this lead to greater energy consumption, it will reduce the quality of space we all live within for no reason. We need more design, more interest in the application of light, and less influence of purely empirical calculation.

Design has been devalued by those who believe lighting is something to be applied to meet minimum standards, that “effect” is a luxury that we can live without. This is why we live in offices with uniform illumination levels and flat surface rendering that gives us all headaches and eye strain. We know we don’t like it, ut live withit it. Why? Dynamic vision is created as much from the design of dark releif within a space, as it is from applying light onto horizontal planes within a calculation tool. The difference in these renderings are subtle in 2 dimensional presentation. In the 3D space we all live within, the effect is far greater and more readily felt and seen. With a greater degree of design expertise, we can realize greater energy savings AND an improvement in visual performance and quality.

More 120VAC LED Experimentation – The Frankenstein PAR20

In the process of retrofitting lighting into new and existing designs, I come across particularly problematic situations that no products on the market seem to exist. The most recent was a single head pedant I needed a light source with a light pattern somewhere between an old R20 spot and a PAR20 Flood, at around the R20 flood light output. The fixture was designed around the R20 and its soft beam.

I tried a couple commercial R20 LED products, and found them all to be too harsh and splashy, and too narrow in distribution. So, I figured, how hard can this be? I was impatient and tired of buying stuff that don’t work…

Igor! gather me up some parts!

With a heat sink from an older project salvaged from a spare parts bin, a PAR20 cadaver, a tortured to its death screw-base CFL lamp, a fresh 4W 120VAC Acriche LED and my precious collection of epoxies (glue is what holds the world together) – I headed to the lab. The surgery started with cutting the PAR lamp apart with a glass-cutting band saw to separate its optic head from the body. Next was to cut the socket off the plastic CFL ballast compartment, leaving its remains on the floor. After soldered the leads onto the LED, it was glued it to the heat sink with thermal epoxy, then joined to the PAR 20 optic with standard 5 minute epoxy. Wires lead through the heat sink into the socket, grafted to the internal lead wires left from the CFL separation. I filled the socket with epoxy putty to stabilize it and keep the nervous system in its place, then pressed it onto the back of the heat sink. It was done… and not a drop of blood was spilled.

Continue reading “More 120VAC LED Experimentation – The Frankenstein PAR20”

The Efficiency Thing – Why an Artist Would Care

LEDs bring a lot of creative potential to the lighting market. At this creative front will be artists who apply them in unique ways outside the mainstream general illumination marketplace. I’m one of them in fact. Gone are my days of fooling with halogen lamps and transformers – now its LEDs, drivers and power supplies… and heat sinks.

The first wall hit in application of LEDs is their output and thermal dynamic. In halogen lighting, the fixtures got hot, no big deal. As long as it wasn’t peeling flesh or raising a blister, its was fine. LEDs don’t work that way. Long before the lighting portion gets hot enough to raise a blister, the LED is fried, game over.

Ultimately, the goal of an artist in creating a new work of light is to generate as much light as possible in the smallest, most innocuous package. That makes LEDs at once attractive, and a problem. To illustrate, a 350mA 1W LED requires very little thermal management to survive. Glue or screw it to plate of aluminum or copper and its happy. Problem is, the amount of light is pretty weak, between 35 and 60 lumens if you want 3,000k color with good color rendering (yes, artists do care about color – a lot.) That’s a long way from the 600 to 800 lumens we were used to in halogen sources. Optimally, for a task light with a good optic (wide smooth beam), gettting to around 350 to 500 lumens is optimal. This means more energy. At 700mA, 100 lumens is attainable, and lands us in the 3 to 4 watt range. Three is always better than 10, so this sounds like the way to go. Problem is, a 3W LED is exponentially more demanding thermally than that 1W device. These higher energy devices demand heat sinks, real life thermal management, with airflow and everything.

Continue reading “The Efficiency Thing – Why an Artist Would Care”

My First LED Task Light Sculpture – Vintage 2005

This is my very first functional LED task light, completed at the end of 2005. Construction is welded steel. Originally, the main components of this fixture (2004) were designed for a 12V/20W Halogen bi-pin lamp that created an overheating of the lighting head and poor light output. This was changed to (12) 1/2W Nichia HB LEDs (2800k) mounted to PC board with through hole thermal connection to the heat sink, as an experiment and proof of concept for the application of LEDs to provide greater light output for the same or less energy. Light on the task surface was either 70FC or 150FC, with a very wide distribution, as there is no secondary optical control. An aluminum heat sink inside the lighting head maintains reasonable operating conditions for the LEDs (under 60C TJ), while remaining cool to the touch. The horizontal arm ratchets up and down, the red arches are fiberglass springs that tension the ratchet. The parallel link on the head and arm keep the head level when it is adjusted up and down.

This “Ratchet” fixture was my first attempt at an LED sculpture design.
Continue reading “My First LED Task Light Sculpture – Vintage 2005”

Opportunities in the Lighting Universe for True Masters

Some wonder why I am such an enthusiast for lighting in general. That’s easy – Lighting is COOL! As an artist at heart, lighting is appealing, as it shapes the visual experience of observers as much as an oil painting hung over a couch. Lighting is both ethereal (it exists, yet is untouchable), and mechanical (requires hardware to manipulate and generate illumination). There is nothing else in the universe of human endeavor that blends art and science in this way. If this were all just about illumination of space to enable and excite human vision, there is enough meat here for anyone to enjoy a lifelong pursuit of it. But, this no longer the case. Continue reading “Opportunities in the Lighting Universe for True Masters”