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!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.