52 in 52 – Designs 38 and 39

Design 38

Inspired by the ubiquitous bankers lamp, D38 is also a further exercise in working with very lightweight structure and use of White Optics as a paper shade material. Again, for simplicity, I used a 12″ LynkLabs SnapBrite strip with its 12 1W Tesla LEDs, and a BriteDriver power supply encased in one of the leg bases. The 14″H lamp produces both direct downlight and a subtle indirect shade presence.

Design 39

I call Design 39 a “GeoLite Festoon Sandwich”. It is essentially two slices of ABS plastic with 18 1/2Watt LynkLabs Festoon LED replacement lamps, ringing a 12V 12VA transformer, controlled by a simple pushbutton switch. The switches red knob and stem are intended to look like the little toothpick with decoration sandwich shops use. This is intended to provide a little accent light (it’s only 4.5″ square and 1.75″ deep), draw curious attention, and make one smile.

52 in 52 – Design 37

This is another experiment in ultra light elements that still serve a functional purpose. In this case, a vanity light for a small powder room.

The cantilevered light bar houses a LynkLabs 12w Tesla SnapBrite strip, while the wall box cover houses a BriteDriver power supply. The reflector elements are covered with White Optics material to optimize light from the LED strip and to diffuse the light throughout the room.

This replaced a 150W Halogen indirect reflector product, yet delivers roughly the same light into the space, saving a great deal of energy and the hassle of replacing the constantly failing halogen lamps.

One compromise I had to make here was the size of the wall plate. I would have liked it to be much smaller. However, in the application destination I needed it to fill, there was an existing wall condition and junction box configuration that required a 5″ square wall plate to cover. Ideally, I would have used a small vertical outlet box, with concealed fasteners… but practical reality sometimes demands these little sacrifices.

52 in 52 – Design 36

Had a thought to create something that produces the kind of light a conventional table lamp provides, with a little twist. In the middle of that I thought of a sailboat sail and how they fill with air. With these two seemingly unrelated images trapped in the skull, I sat down to design this little fixture. I had in mind something that was ultimately simple and uncomplicated, which immediately brought to mind the LynkLabs 12VAC SnapBrite strip. I have not found anything in all of LED-dom that gets me from wall power to LED light with less fuss. In this case, I used a magnetic 12 VA transformer, which is sized right on the money for the 12 1W LEDs on the 12″ SnapBrite strip I grabbed from the parts bin. Three parts: Switch, transformer, LED strip. Two wires between the parts, and done.

The sail/shade is made from White Optics material, which is over 92% reflective and 98% diffuse, creating a soft, blended light that is very nice on the reflective side. I also find the small amount of light that passes through the material nice as well, as there is a fabric like mesh pattern in it that is subtle and attractive. As a shade material it is really excellent, in that it transmits just a little light for presence, while reflecting the rest very efficiently.

The little lamp is only 16″ tall. One of the features I looked at carefully was visibility of the light source. The wrap around shade, closed top and bottom, and cutoff  geometry means that the light source is completely concealed from any viewing angle. Like a conventional table lamp, it can be oriented in any direction without exposing the light inside. However, in this instance, the decidedly asymmetric distribution provides more useful versatility than a conventional table lamp.

The idea here is it can be used in two ways:

  1. Aim the reflective side toward a wall to create a wide pleasant wash on the vertical surface. This is really nice for filling a corner with light and letting that reflect and fill a room, while the shade glow provides presence of the light source without being overly bright… or…
  2. Aim the reflective side toward the room and use the light to act much like a photographers soft light, emitting diffuse fill light into the space. The size of the shade and even distribution of the LynkLabs strip offer a bright, but pleasant glow. From the back, the shade produces just a little light behind on the wall, or if its viewed from behind offers a nice pleasant appearance.

This iteration of the design is decidedly minimalist, with the transformer visible from the lower housing and the switch exposed without any hint of refinement or attempt to conceal any of the components. The heat sink is nothing more that a 2″ wide strip of aluminum. The end product is low in cost and lightweight… and fun.  Oh yeah, since the transformer is a typical magnetic unit, dimming from a wall box dimmer designed for control of inductive loads will do the trick, at less cost than electronic load dimmer controls.

52 in 52 – Design 35

Some people fold paper, others doodle on the corners of note pads. I fiddle with metal, plastic, solder, wires and LEDs. Design often requires ignoring any practical uses or goals, and just let things flow, even when the result is odd and quirky. This definitely qualifies in this regard, and was pursued with little real regard for refinement or practical evolution.

This is a 3D sketch for all practical and impractical purposes. Actually it started as a pencil scribble on union skin tracing paper that was both goofy and compelling at once. The intent was to put that sketch into a physical form without spending a great deal of time fine tuning, refining, or iterating it into something practical. This includes rendering the surface finish as though it were sketched in air using a black crayon or charcoal stick.

Most of the parts used in this effort were from spares bins and scrap metal that just happened to fit the loose scribble, including the collection of lighting parts. The uplight LED is a Lumileds K2, while the interior light is provided by a Seoul Semiconductor P3. The two odd neighbors are wired in series. I figure the two can fight it out for their share of voltage from the 700mA driver located in the base along with dimmer. The main power supply is a spare universal 12VDC wall wart. Paint is a combination of textured Rustoleum Hammer-rite that was then over-sprayed with John Deer matte black while still wet to produce a surface with a charcoal impression, like it was sketched in space, much like charcoal and crayon appear on paper. The white reflective areas are white optics diffuse material and provide a stark contrast, like an area of paper undisturbed. I thought about writing some message on the back panel, or signing it, or sketching a doodle on it, but couldn’t decide what, so will leave it blank for now.

As rough sketches go, this has a little whimsy to it, and for me is compelling and curious at once – just the sort of thing I like. It’s certainly not going to be found in a local lighting showroom, and will not be duplicated, so is a true one-off. For some that might be welcome relief, for me it’s just an exercise, and a way of letting things go, in an industry overly wrapped up with metrics and doom aversion to have fun with what it has in front of it.

52 in 52 – Design 34

While creating this small pendant I couldn’t help but think that had LEDs happened in the 1980’s, they would have exploded in popularity much faster than we are seeing today. Between hi-tech styling, the openness of the market to accept new design, remnants of disco, and the pace of construction then were strong, while the need for energy efficient products that were not wimpy little 9W twin tubes or gastly white energy saving tube fluorescents was high. Hi-tech and LEDs work so well together, its a shame that todays stripped clean, commercial kitchen aesthetic really throttles use of new technology to produce exciting new things, unless of course they are white with brushed white metal trim (yawn). Can you imagine what Disco would have been like with LEDs? Color Kinetics would have become the size of Microsoft!

In any case, this design is actually quite simple. It is a small pendant for over a kitchen sink or counter, using a Bridgelux LED in a 4.5″ ribbed and etched glass shade, and Dialux driver in the canopy. I am driving the LED at only 350ma, as this is all the light I need here, at 27Fc on the counter below. The ribs in the shade produce the impression that the light source is suspended inside the shade, when it is actually in the head above. The light piping into the glass causes the illusion, while location of the LED higher up creates some shielding. The result is their is more light provided on the surface below, and less brightness in the shade. The cable is shielded communications cable with internal wire, using the braided jacket as the negative conductor – very 1980’s.

52 in 52 – Design 33

This is by far the easiest design so far. No soldering, no separate power supply and driver to combine. Dimming can be done with a wall box control, so the product is clean if knobs. With only 4 watts involved, the internal backplate does the job for a heat sink. This was simply a matter of taking an off-shelf piece of Spanish glass, making a holder and backing plate with trim, add a little mounting box to hide the transformer, and snap it together.

This is an AC LED product, using LynkLabs sconce module. The module has Tyco wire trap connectors, which make wiring as simple as strip and push. In this case, the output from the LynkLabs Brite Driver is wired directly to the strip. I used a cord to connect the sconce to an outlet, since I don’t have any wall boxes handy.

A nice, simple wall sconce that was easier to build than a CFL sconce, and uses considerably less power, and looks very nice on the wall. Not bad for less than 9 hours work, no? If all of the designs so far had been this easy, I would be thrilled.

52 in 52 – Design 32

I like the look of theatrical lighting, especially the ellipsoids and zooms. I’ve converted several to SSL, including fresnels,  Kliegl and Colortran zoom ellipsoids. Unfortunately, being designed for 500-1000 watt halogen lamps and use in stage applications, even the small mini-versions of these fixtures are too large for small spaces.

This design takes its aesthetic cues from theatrical lighting, along with styling from the days when movies and theater were the center of the entertainment universe.

The design provides full rotation of each arm about the vertical standard, rotation of each fixture yoke at the end of the arms, and aiming of the fixture in each yoke. In other words, each head can be aimed pretty much anywhere. In addition to this, each of the heads has its own driver with dimmer control, so after its been aimed, balancing light levels can be set easily. At the base, a single on-off switch means that the individual dimmer settings can be left alone.

The light source used for each head is a Cree MCE LED with 25 degree TIR optic. The ehat sink is buring inside each of the heads. Future iterations of a design like this will likely include an adjustable zoom optic, as well as color adjustment. The total height of the stand is 37″, and the base include a 7 1/2 pound iron weight for stability.

52 in 52 – Design 31

For those in the business, LEDs can at times drive one from ones skull. This thought inspired this design – a physical representation of LEDs being driven from a skull. To represent how resistance is not only futile, but will be incorporated, I utilized resisters in the drive circuit, exposed at the rear of the skull. These balance the fV of the upper white Cree MCE LED with the lower (3) red Rebel LEDs, driving from a single constant current power supply. When dimmed, the result is the white (higher fV) dims down first, then the red after the white is off. producing a unique effect from a single control.

As a point of reference, this is not the first expression of this type. I like the subtle twist of phrase that can present a new visual result. For example (see images below), Alien Landings are a part of our pop culture… but what happens if they forget their parachute? Or, Butter Fly collections have been put together for centuries, macabre little collections of insects with pins through their bodies… why not collect Bar Flies then, very colorful and strange, with pins through their chests? The term “Gearhead” has been used to describe auto enthusiasts, but what might one actually look like? How about a portrait of Tim O’LEARee? Occasionally these strange but humorous thoughts inspire a work of expression. I also like 3D in art, even if it is hung on the wall.

The skull seemed appropriate topically, as well as timely, since this is October, with Halloween coming just ’round the corner.

52 in 52 – Design 30

Okay, so this week has a real practical, need it for a job purpose. I needed a neat light source with a narrow <10 degree beam pattern, reasonably uniform across its output, and around 500 Fc intensity on the target surface. I also needed it to have no appreciable spill light, and in a configuration that allowed me some latitude to shield any stray light from a light sensors location. The application is for measuring the transmission and reflective properties of lens and surface materials. While there are lab sources around, between the cost and the fuss, I decided to have a go at one for myself.

This design is based on the idea that if you take the center beam energy from a narrow optic reflector, the inner most 10 degree zone is pretty uniform. All I needed to do was find one, place it on the smallest point source I had with the necessary intensity, and trim away the part of the light distribution I didn’t want. In this case, I found a Lamina MR16, which had a star board style LED mounted inside it (after you pry off its optic – which was too wide for my use.) I used an off-shelf narrow spot reflector, which generally produces a 15 degree pattern, although it has a fat field area around it. I used the Lamina LED, as it has good light output and a decent heat sink design. In front of this, I created the baffle components to produce the finished output I wanted.

While one could argue that I could have simply cut a hole in a piece of black cardboard and accomplished the same result, one would be wrong. First, a large flat board with a hole in it is a pain in the tail to work around. Second, the reflected light from the back of the board just scatters everywhere, making control of it difficult. I am speaking from experience here, as that was the first thing I tried, along with black foil and other cheesy messes of gaffer tape and foam core.

This little gadget first uses a short snoot to hold the reflector over the LED and to provide cutoff to about 80 degrees (full width). The first cone strips the beam down to 20 degrees. The second cone cuts the beam down to its final 10 degrees included. The geometry of each outer edge of each cone provides complete cutoff from the perimeter light of the layer below it. The aperture edges are kept as thin as practical to eliminate any potential scatter, resulting in a nice tight pattern.

While there is no way to absorb 100% of the light inside the baffle or from the rear of each cone, the remaining light is emitted from within the confines of the gadget, so shielding it from the light sensor’s view is very easy to accomplish. I use either a baffle panel, some foil and a little tape, or just increase the distance from the background so any light reflected is so diminished by the time it reaches the sensor it is within the noise of the target reflectance and scatter, so is irrelevant. It’s easy enough to test how much is being contributed by simply placing a little tab of tape over the final aperture and taking a reading. This can be subtracted from final readings where it is found to be of importance.

The whole assembly snaps together, so I can change the configuration. For example removing the forward cone produces a larger 20 degree pattern. I can make custom cones, add cones, make inserts to reduce the aperture size, or add mounting features where they might be handy. The base of the unit has a 1/4 x 20 threaded boss for mounting to a small tripod. With this and a couple of first-surface mirrors, I can complete a wide range of tests, from transmission of materials to reflectance of surfaces, including specular reflection testing. If I find I need a little change here or there, it’s pretty simple to make a new part and snap it on where its needed. I can also swap the LEDs out, and the optic, to produce more light, test single color responses, or test an LED against another using the device as a convenient holder/beam angle trimmer.

Not the most exciting thing in the world, but its simplicity belies its usefulness and utility. Works for me…

52 in 52 – Design 29

The summer months bring with them all sorts of new time demands, while customers requirements cannot be set aside. Because of this, I found it necessary to simply take a few weeks away from the 52 in 52 project. This has been a good few weeks, with what little time I had available allowing me to work on something outside lighting in my spare time and recharge and refresh. During this time, I have been collecting a few new samples and some new hardware to work from. D29 is built around just such a component, this time from Cree.

This pendant utilizes the new Cree LMR4 lighting module. It produces roughly 700 lm, and consumes 12W, and includes the same basic color maintenance system as the core Cree LR series of products. The module has a large emitting surface area, which is very smooth in appearance. However, for this pendant, I wanted some light directed onto the ceiling. To accomplish this, the lower shades have internal diffuser baffles that trim the beam pattern of the module, directing it upward onto the ciling and the body of the pendant itself. The result is roughly 5% uplight, with the rest a more controlled downlight onto a work/kitchen table below.

I like the LMR4 module. It works very will, is completely self contained and ready to connect to 120VAC. It dime very well using an incandescent dimmer, and the light it emits is very pleasant in color – although a little bit worm for my own taste, but that’s just the module I was sent.

In this pendant, I used the Cree provided (sample kit) heat sink, but made my own heat spreader ring to couple it to the module. I was surprised that the module body, painted white, is an aluminum die casting, which helps dissipate heat. The pendant is barely warm after three hours operation, so it appears the thermal design around this module for other uses should be very easily to manage.

With this under my belt, I will pick up where we left off. Completing the remaining 23 designs before years end will not be a simple task, but its doable. I hope you’ll continue to follow the effort!