52 in 52 – Week Eight Complete

I am particularly happy with the way this retrofit and upgrade turned out. It was fun going through a fixture I had made over 17 years ago, revisiting how I made things back then. This fixture is primarily brass and copper, soldered together to make the structures and shapes. This took a lot of filing to smooth corners and requires some patience, as heating metal to make solder joints often causes others to soften and fail, or melt out altogether. This design was also made without a drawing originally, not even a sketch, as is the case in a lot of one-off work I have done over the years.

The upgrade here blends the old with the new. I machined a new lighted section, which acts as heat sink/detail intended to look like a power source. The Two LEDs inside are Bridgelux 400lm arrays, and the 700mA driver is contained in the lower housing, along with a dimmer control.

Originally, this fixture utilized a 50W T2 halogen lamp in a somewhat poor performing and glaring reflector housing. The upgrade removed the old magnetic transformer, and uses less than 14 watts now, a reduction on consumption of 72%, while improving the amount of light generated and reducing unwanted glare.

The glass on this are wing windows from a Porsche 914, sand etched. I once thought these would need some form of support to endure, but find that this was unnecessary, so eliminated it.

52 in 52 – Week Eight Design

The problem with revisiting something one created many years ago, is that the underlying inspiration or idea has been lost in the winds of change we all go through as we experience ife, the universe, and everything. In my case, I even have a hard time relating to how the original “thing” was even made, having forgot what tools I was using and how I made things before I surrounded myself with tools and doo-daddery.

In the case of this weeks rebuild project, I had thought that a quick trip into the garage, slam through a few pounds of metal and viola! Finished update. Yeah… right. To really get a handle on this thing took drawing the whole thing up in 3D, so I could work through the ideas and concepts without making a mess of things. In other words, this little remodel job has taken more effort than a virgin design – in that it has involved starting with a reverse engineering of the original, then design of new component within the limits of its design vocabulary.

After several days of design and iterative thinking, I think I finally have a plan to proceed. The rendering is where I ended up. I like the almost alien quality of this lamp, and its odd semi-architectural structure, so wanted to make sure that was not buried in some over-thought, overly clean addition. I think this pulls that off. I’m going to fall back on use of (2) Bridgelux 400lm LEDs, as these will produce good light, and are easy to live with in color and soft edged pattern. I’m also employing a couple of finned heat sinks, that will be left black, augmented by some machined glare/reflector cups.1/8″ stgailess rods will replace the old saggy cables.

No, I am not sure about the clips at the glass, but that can be worked out as I get the rest of the parts made up.

Time to get to work now…

52 in 52 – Week Eight Project Brief

Okay, so I am going to make an exception to one of my a rules this week. I promised to produce all new designs each week, and intend that all of the designs be unique (okay, so its at least that). The problem is, this is a fixture I built in 1992 that I like a great deal and have intended to convert to proper SSL illumination as well as update some of its sagging wire structure and detailing. With the 52 in 52 work drawing so much time and focus, I find myself looking sadly at this old favorite, realizing that the only way I am going to get this done is to roll it into the progression. So, you’ll just have to overlook this one transgression from the program. Believe me, this is not from a lack of ideas for coming weeks work – it’s a matter of time availability and watching an old friend (this lamp) looking more and more dated as the new SSL products stand next to it. It once represented one of my most favorite works, but now looks like a sad relic. That just ain’t right!

The effort will include refining detailing of the support section for the glass wings (wing windows from an old Porsche project I had going many moons ago) and replacement of the old buzzy-buzz magnetic 12vac transformer and halogen to LED retrofit lamp (inadequate junk). I also intend to dump the wimpy cable system. The reflector is being completely remade, as it has never worked, except to make glare – even when it was lighted with 50W Halogen. There is plenty of room in this for power supply and driver, so the technical aspects of the project are fairly straight forward. The rebuild should be a significant improvement in performance and appearance.

Week nine will be something all new and the world can begin spinning properly once again. I just need  to get this one out of my head, so I can sleep at night knowing an old pal has been treated right.

Stay tuned!

52 in 52 – Week Seven Complete

This week found me on the road for 4 of the seven days, so in the interest of time I decided to put some interesting parts I had in the shop to work. I call this one a technorganic design, as it intentionally jams together high tech with organic visuals. In this case a stand of flowers or plants, rendered using five Tyco heat sinks, some acrylic rods, and a molten lead and brass ball base. The stems sprout from ball “bulbs” at the base, and support what are not so far off Orchid like flowers, with their lighted extensions. The sixth “bulb” at the base houses the driver and a dimmer control. The end product is candle like and produces a fair amount of ambient light for lighting up a corner, or just adding some sense of space. LEDs this round are Seoul Semiconductor P4s, driven at 700mA.

52 in 52 – Week Six Complete

Another busy week, but still managed to finish the project over the weekend. This is a design I will likely revisit in the future, as it’s something I’ve though about and struggled to bring to life for several years. In any case, this particular iteration follows a design vocabulary that is decidedly not industrial design. Rather, this is inspired by Air Force design, where engineering performance interests are priority, yet, aircraft, by their nature, have a flow and style to them, even if their is no intent to produce that end result. I combined this with my own interest in retro hot rods in this case. The satin fine sanded finish that exposes the edges of the metal through the paint add delineation of the form, and look as though worn from the wing shaped bodies movement through the air.

The body is high conductivity copper, acting as the form and heat sink. (2) Bridgelux 420lm LEDs with Luxrdive 700mA driver and integral 120VAC to DC power converter make this a robust package. The light level below the head is over 125Fc, making this an excellent task light. Full range dimming and an on-off swicth in brushed aluminum to match the base leg round out the design. Approx. 17″H, 26″D, 7″W.

52 in 52 – Week Five Complete

02/05/2010 – Week five included a week in North Carolina for the DOE conference on SSL. That does not mean that there will be no product. I have something in the works now. This week is going to resolve a problem I have at home – the need for a good reading light in our media room. The side tables are too small for anything large, so these are going to be thin and clamp on to the edge of a glass top. Need to make two of them as well. To fit in the space, and incorporate my wife’s interest in woodworking, I am including wood in this design. Rather that preview this, I decided I’m just going to put my head down and get them made, and spring them on those following this series.

02/08/2010 – Well here it is. We made a pair of these for our entertainment room, where the side tables were just too small for anything bulky, and reading tasks required good lighting. The body/stem is Tulip-wood with a wax finish made by my wife, who enjoys pen making as a hobby. For this reason, we have begun calling these our pen-lights.

Specifications: Fixture is 2″W, x 19″T, x 9″D. Utilizes Lynk Labs 12VAC Tesla LEDs on 7″ 6W SnapBrite strip with SnapDriver power supply. The reflector/heat sink extrusion was also provided by Lynk Labs. Clamp detail can accommodate tables up to 3/4″.

52 in 52 – Week Four Complete

02/01/10 – With a 31 year wedding anniversary on 01/31/10, I took a little break over the weekend.Not like this one did not have its problems…

On Friday, while testing the battery and electrical, I set a lump of metal (the baseplate) on some wires, and primtly shorted the batteries out, which destroyed the driver. Then, Saturday, in the process of loading the  main body with batteries and making the wiring connections, I got the brilliant idea to tamp the batteries down with a plastic rod. Idiot. The reason they were reluctant to go into the tube was that one of the wires was out of position… the result was another short, this time wiping out two of the batteries. After this I redesigned the connections and wiring, no more shorts. Something to keep in mind thow, batteries are always on, even when they are off.

In any case, this one is done. It really looks nice. The body is a bit heavy, between the Delrin material, an aluminum support tube, the heat sink head, and the batteries, it has some mass to it. A little heavier than a big D-Cell Maglite, but brighter and fully rechargeable. The batteries are the same as emergency lights use, so they will last for a long time.

I like the idea of a lamp that functions like a lamp, either on wall power or – unplug the charger and use the lamp where there is no plug or – pull the lamp from its base and use it as a portable light to find your way when the power is out.

On the charger, the light will remain at full brightness for over 9 hours continuously before dropping in light output at all. On batteries alone, the lamp remains at full brightness for 4 hours, which is extended dramatically when you dim it.

The combination of white and polished aluminum is always nice too.

52 in 52 – Week Four Kickoff

01/22/10 – This week is going to explore another new direction. How many times have you hunted around the house for that flashlight that just isn’t there? When the power goes, how are you going to find it then? What if that flashlight was also a great looking table torchere? Would it not then be easier to find? If it also included a constant battery charge, maybe even getting its juice from a solar panel – the frustration of finding that precious flashlight only to find it’s batteries are dead vanishes. This week we’ll see if we might solve this, and have some fun with the design of it all to boot. White Acetyl body and polished aluminum seems appropriate. Nice to look at when the power is on – easy to find when its dark.

01/26/10 – Batteries in hand. Had to find a drill bit for boring a 1″ hole through a 10″ long lump of plastic to start to body sections. That’s not a cheap tool, and looks like something from a gore flick. Got the main bodies roughed to size and bored out. Have some material coming today for the base and center shaft sleeve. The plastic I’m using is Delrin, or acetyl plastic. This is food grade stuff and has a really pleasant translucency to it. Unlike modled plastic, this material is warm to the touch and feels solid as a brick. It’s also fairly good to machine, making big piles of spiral strips.

01/28/10 – All the rough in stuff is done, now for the gritty details. Going to have to wait a little, as I’ve got to hop off to Tennessee to do a rough-in inspection of a project site I’m working on. Will get back into it this weekend. Have some cool flat wire stuff coming as well. Got the batteries and charger, 6 2V batteries in series will give me 12V to work with, and 2.5Ah to run the light. That will work out to be around 3 hours at full brightness on batteries alone. The charger is 500mA, so when the lamp is plugged in an running, it will operate at full brightness for around 8 hours before the batteries are depleted, dropping output to the 500mA charger rate. This all seems reasonable. Since the light operates always on the batteries, and any time it is in the saddle, its being charged, this will be the perfect decorative accent for any place that looses power periodically, or where someone wants a bit of security. Hear a bump in the night, grab the light and have a look, this thing wiull put out more light than any flashlight you have ever owned. It’s also a little heavy and built like a tank, so should someone get too near for comfort, it can function as a weighted bat. Now THAT is putting an LED product to good use!

52 in 52 – Design Three Complete

Give me some color!

I know, there are those spending millions to blend RGB light to eliminate color separation. I prefer in this case to embrace it, and enjoy the effects. By placing these devices at different angles and distances in relationship to a subject, the effects on walls and ceilings is interesting and painterly (odd word, but fitting.)

Each of these modules includes a 1A driver, 3 Lumileds Rebel LEDs, 25 degree optic and individual intensity control. Just aim and adjust the balance between the colors and dig the results. I chose to use the Red-Orange, Green, Blue combination, as it produces the best whites in blended areas, and can make yellow.

The heat sink is thermally bonded to the aluminum body, while the end caps are Delrin. The little diffuser surrounds are Teflon and produce a nice glow.

The pattern areas will be a combination of mixed light background, or can fade from one color to another. Shadow patterns can be intense, and are magenta, cyan and yellow. The light the three modules delivers is impressive, totaling around 650 lumens total.

52 in 52 – Week Three Kickoff

01/18/10 – Week Three
I like gadgets and toys as much as anyone. I particularly enjoy clever little doo-dads that put out. This week I’m going to indulge myself with a trio of little gadgets in matte black, powered by Lumileds Rebel R-G-B LEDs, producing around 150 lumens per gadget, with a 25 degree optic to get things under control, the individual control  and aimablility will create interesting mixes and special effects in the corner of a room. Rather than hide the hardware, I’m thinking t them hang out and be seen, all black oxide, black anodize and a little italian gloss red to create a touch of contrast. Stay tuned!