I thought a lot about what to focus on in 2012 for this series, and decided that I had plenty to share from regular activities of Lumenique, LLC and Tasca. So, the plan is to select something completed in each of the 12 months of 2012 and feature them here. This will generally be products or projects completed for customers, but may also include a report on research work in process, when it adds value.
January Feature – TASCA Renovar Floor Lamp
This is a refitting of a Dazor table lamp, applying the TASCA lighting head, and adding an extension stand to convert a desk lamp to a floor lamp. The product was commissioned by a customer who provided the table lamp, purchased used. From the GSA and other government markings present on the original, it was obviously from a government facility. The table lamp made by Dazor has been around since the late 1930’s, where the fluorescent lamp version graced the GE display at the Worlds Fair.
ArchLED’11 will be marked as the official coming out for Tasca, my work lighting product offering. We presented examples of the base Uno line, as well as several Renovar and one Accent light. If you are wondering what these are, and are curious to learn more, you can visit the Tasca web site now. The sitre is fully populated with pictures and a specification download at:
While I do not intend to make this blog a commercial site promoting products and pitching our offerings, I do need to make a living, so there will be occasional updates to share where we are and what we are doing in this regard. This is how we pay for the fun side of being in the business, and afford the time to invest and share with others information on solid-state lighting.
A Little More on Tasca
Tasca is primarily focused on the work environment. Whether this is a machine operation, an assembly work station, an inspection station, or administration workplace, my intent is to offer the most effective light for enhancing visual performance with a durable product. I’ve invested decades experimenting with task lighting. My personal approach has been to lower ambient surrounding light levels to the minimum required to support the low acuity activities in the space, supplemented by localized task lighting to enhance visual performance in critical work areas. I have applied this in lighting designs over the last 30 years to reduce energy consumption, and live under it on a daily basis. In other words, I am passionate about this approach and believe it is a superior approach to achieve high visual performance. I strongly believe we are over-lighting our work spaces to some compromised light level, which is too high for ambient requirements and too low for effective task performance.
Over the last few years, the idea of creating a work light for hard service environments, bringing the advantages of SSL technology to work spaces that require high visual performance to support safe, accurate, and efficient work tasks. For over a year now I have been investing considerable time building a product I feel satisfies the demands of work environments, with an efficient product that will survive harsh environments. Tasca is the product of this effort, and just the beginning of a larger effort to produce desirable performance SSL lighting products for niche work space demands. We’ve already provided customized versions of Tasca for UV curing applications, and will be releasing specialty products, such as a 98CRI sourced heads for color critical inspection (like printing presses, millwork, textile and paint inspection), as well as a unique welding light that will bring welders vision of their welding field that has never been possible before.
Tasca is also founded on the concept of sustainability from durable products that are recycled either by dismantling, rebuilding, or re-purposing at the end of service life, not just thrown away. Unlike products that are filled with potting materials and irreversible assembly techniques that make recycling too expensive to be practical, Tasca fixtures are heavy duty assemblies designed to be reworked, rebuilt, or dismantled easily for recycling of materials content, separate of the electronics components that must go through a separate recycling channel. This includes the use of glass for the lens cover, which can survive decades of use, or be recycled easily through existing waste management channels economically. The Renovar and Accent line take all of this one step further by harvesting old task lights for their arms, refinishing the devices, recycling the old lighting heads, and converting them to Tasca lights by adapting our lighting heads, before a complete refinish and refurbishing.We will also refit your existing task lights, bringing old favorites back to life by bringing them up to date, or through Accent, create a custom design to suit your specific taste.
This is just the start of a great deal more to come. Sort of pulling the plug out of a dyke and letting things flow. This is an exciting niche opportunity for me, where I can add value through design integration assistance, and provide customization to suit unique customer needs. Unlike imports which must be marketed in large batches of off-shelf products to move production inventories – Tasca is made here in the USA, to order, to meet individual customer needs – even if that means building something completely new and unique that has a total customer market of one.
There are many things I keep around me for perspective, my way of keeping time. I find the passing of technologies interesting, and attempt to understand how the transformations came about, and where they add real value – and where they don’t. For example, I have this great little carboard calculator issued by GE (dated 1973.) It describes incandescent lamp bases on the front, and shapes on the back, with instructions on identification of lamps by model numbering. Note that there is no reference to the MR16 lamp or base, as this was not yet in the market. Inside this little gem is a calculator that shows the impact of operating voltage on light output, power use and lamp life. I used this in customer presentations for years, as well as calculating dimming effects of light output and lamp longevity. So, today this is nothing more than a relic, a novelty from the past. CFL and now SSL is rapidly putting the lamps involved out of the market, and the government is aligned for the kill shot.
Another item I have in my care is a GE Model DW-48 light meter, this one a 1940 model. It has a dual purpose. It reads footcandles for general illumination use, and provides F stop data for photographers. This was left to me by my father when he passed, and remains a favorite of my lighting instruments. Interestingly, this meter reads LED light levels just fine. Unlike some of the modern meters I have, this meter remains within a 5%+/- range of true readings. I recently purchased an Amprobe LM-200LED meter for a field device after discovering other meters were giving me odd readings. The Amprobe device is really good for the $100 asking price, and provides reading in line with what I see using a full blown sprectroradiometer. So does the DW-48, reading virtually the same as my Amprobe, and with less variability than my Minolta T10M and Testo meters. I also like the deco styling, metal and glass enclosure. However, its not very useful in low light conditions, as the meter face is not illuminated and black, making it more a curiosity than a functional meter for daily use. Besides, if it gets damaged, it would break my heart, since it is more than a meter to me personally. As we rush into the future of lighting, I can’t help but smile at the thought that one day we will look back at what we have in our hands today and feel nostalgic at its crudeness and simplicity. We are heading into a bold new future, that will be obsolete at a rate that will embarrass all prior technologies that have swept through this industry. Just look at one of the original K series LEDs mounted on a star board – it’s got nostalgia written all over it! I have bins full of LEDs, drivers, power supplies and circuit boards that are so far out of date (made just 5 years ago BTW) that I can’t see using them on anything, regardless of their expense. I can get more for so much less today.
For the real cynics out there (I be one), I find it truly entertaining when I am exposed to the myopia of techno-philes now in SSL, who actually believe that LEDs are the ultimate end-all to general illumination. The future is not that predictable. We can be certain of but one thing – that there is someone out there today or in the near future, with ideas beyond LEDs as we know them, that will eclipse what we are able to imagine today.
Okay, so I couldn’t resist. When I posted designs 49 and 50 last week, I received a note from Kevin Dowling (of CK fame), who also has an old South Bend lathe. He made a comment about a technique called “cloudy day” lighting, where shadows and highlights are removed in a viewing chamber for seeing detail on specular materials. The concept was that this might work as an aide for reading drill bits, which often have very small letters, laser etched on the cylindrical surface. I was intrigued, so created this small gadget.
This is a small chamber with concealed LEDs (Cree XRE’s) at the sides behind shields. The interior is lined with White Optics material to produce indirect light around the subject. It is powered by a 9V battery, with a simple momentary pushbutton switch. It will accept objects up to 3/4″ in diameter. To enhance vision I have added a 1.5X lens at the view window. The combination of bright indirect light and optical enlargement makes reading small drill bits, mill tools, and markings on the side of thin wires significantly easier. I have also found it works very well in viewing the condition of lathe cutting tools, which often look and feel sharp, but aren’t. Looking at them in this viewer reveals flaws impossible to see otherwise. This can also be used to thread needles, read a thermometer of a sick kid, and other surfaces that will fit through the port.
While this is not a perfect cloudy day viewing system, as it does not completely eliminate the dark stripe one sees on cylindrical surfaces due to the opening window, the fault is minor, and does not detract from the significant improvement it offers overall. It also costs a LOT less.
Well, here we are at the end of the year, the last days of the last week. Design 52 is the official conclusion of the 2010 challenge, and is another task and work light. This design is a work in process I have been toying with all year in use of color and white LEDs to produce color and white light, using simple controls. The first effort has been in finding the right mix of LEDs to produce the best result. This represents one version I have found works very well – specifically the GE Vio 830 white LED with two Lamina RGB Atlas light engines. This produces a wide range of white values with CRI greater than 80, and as high as 92.
The light head includes an optical mixing chamber lined with White Optics material and a fine prismatic diffuser lens. Thermal management is through the use of a Nuventix Synjet PAR20 cooler/heatsink, allowing the LEDs to be run up to the total of 24 watts without an issue of over heating.
The challenge so far has been LED selection, the next is driver design. This design is a step forward in that it is designed to use the Verde Designs 4 channel programmable current driver package. This driver can be controlled with 0-5V, 0-10V, and DMX, which will facilitate incorporation of a controls system that will add greater fidelity to color selection, as well as eventually including a feedback loop to make corrections as things heat and cool during operation.
So who cares about color in task lighting?
Well, the inspiration came when working on a wiring harness for a motorcycle project. There were more than 40 color combinations in the harness, including stripes and solids. Some of these combinations were giving me fits. For example, the faded old black wires, brown wires, and dark purple wires all looked the same to me. As an experiment, I threw together a simple RGB light and pointed it at the harness. With a little fussing around, I found a color combination that made the wire colors jump, no more mixed wires.
Since then, I have found instances where adjusting the CCT of white, or amplifying one color or another came in very handy for either matching colors, seeing color, or simply improving task visibility. This has led to the product you see here.
I also have a theory that for men with color blindness, the ability to either amp up or tune out green and/or red balance in light will be useful in aiding differentiation of reds and greens in tasks where this is important – like electronic wiring, or other color tasks where red and green differentiation is difficult, but important to performance.
So, this is the conclusion of 52 in 52. It’s been quite a year. The project did what I had hoped in getting me deeper into the technology, while enforcing constant state of design exploration. While I do not plan to attempt to repeat this in 2011, there will be new designs presented here, so please drop in and take a look now and again.
Thanks to everyone who has been following along and offering support and encouragement.
For the most part, LED work lights on the market today are useless, low grade junk. While there are one or two (literally) fair performing products, none actually replace halogen or CFL lights at all. In fact, the good old incandescent/metal cage shop light can kick the latest tecnologies tails any time. The drawbacks of a scalding hot lamp and metal shroud, lamps that pop at the slightest banging about, and the lack of any directional control are big liabilities for that old incandescent. The fluorescent lamps are not that durable either, with any rough handling resulting in a popped lamp, while start up in cold temps is sloooooooow, or not at all. Color is also pretty sad, making identification of color coded wires under a dash a bit challenging. Optically, the fluorescent stuff just blows light everywhere, often right in your eyes when your working too near one of them, with no way to control it. The LED crap on the market is poor in light output and harsh with their multiple light sources, also of really poor color. They are essentially bad copies of cheap CFL twin tube junk. The only thing to say good about them is they are pretty cheap, and won’t burn your face when lying next to one under a car or in a foot-well.
Design 51 is a work in process effort intending to create a real LED based shop light that can kick the incandescent and fluorescent products out of the tool box, and put the LED stuff from the catalogs to shame. I started with the LED, in this example using a 1200lm Bridgelux LED. I applied a Lidel 50 degree optic to this. In all, at full operating temp, the light head produces over 911 lumens, with a CBCP of 1300. That’s enough power to put 134 footcandles at the center of a worksurface 36″ away, over an area of 72″ in diameter. It also delivers over 1400Fc at 12″, so there is a hi-lo setting to the power switch, to trim light on close up tasks.
Next, since the LED operates at roughly 20 Watts, thermal management was an issue without making the head the size too large to be useful. Not only that, but shop lights tend to be used in a wide range of positions, and in various ambient temeratures. To address all of this, I used a Nuventix Synjet active cooling system. This little gadget generates moving air over a small heat sink to significantly reduce package size and thermal controllability. In this case, after operating for over 4 hours steady in the high mode, the LED never saw more than 70C, and the outer surface of the light head remains cool to the touch.
With a head in hand, I incorporated the LED driver and the Synjet power supply in the main body. Ideally this will be a single electronic assembly, but for this version, its a combination of parts. I also used a remote 24VDC power supply so the cord presents not potential shock hazard, and can be made from very flexible, fire retardant materials. The mounting attachments snap onto the main body, and provide a hook, a magnet base, a floor stand/stabilizer, and a 5/8″ tripod mount for mounting to any lightweight tripod stand. The head itself tilts a fill 270 degrees, so aiming can be made as precise as one might need. I’m going to fool with mounting gadgets as I put this to use in my own shop.
While this is by no means perfect, or economical, it is infinitely more powerful and useful as a professional tool. Something I cannot say for the rest of the LED stuff I have tested and have on hand. I need light more than I need to save a few dollars. I think D51 delivers not only usable light, but new value not available in other work lights of any source.
Back when many things were made here in the States, so were the tools we used. Today machinist/hobbiests and small custom shops have come to revere some of the most iconic of these tools. In lathes, South Bend holds a special place in history (the company has longs since died and become a brand for import stuff). These machines occupied machine shops, went to war, and schools. The one in this picture is a 10″ x 42″ tool room lathe. It has all the good stuff of the day, from taper attachment to driven cross slide. For me, restoring this lathe and putting it to service in our prototype shop is like restoring a classic car. There is a great deal of timelessness about this tool, and they are as tough as they come. This particular model was purchased in the 1960’s, and was worked hard for its entire life. I rebuilt it in 2009, and have just updated the task light with the design you see here.
LEDs with high performance DC drivers make excellent machine task lights. With no flicker, there is no strobe effect, and with LEDs not minding a little vibration and getting banged around a little, the issues of burned out incandescent lamps is ended. CFL retrofit lamps in this application are awful. They take too long to warm up, most flicker when lighting moving objects, and the beam intensity is miserable. Halogen is not a lot better than incandescent, and is hot.
The rework essentially replaced everything on the work light except the flexible stem and mount to the lather bed. I used a Molex/Bridgelux Helieon module and a 1A driver mounted at the base. The replaceable module allows me to change the light distribution by snapping in different modules. For example, when doing long taper work, a wider overall light pattern is great. But when working on small detail work, a spot distribution is better. With a couple modules in the drawer, this is just a quick swap.
Looking at the status of the 52 in 52 project, and wondering how I had come to be so many products short was baffling. It felt as though I had been producing a great deal over the year, yet there was something missing. Then, it was brought to my attention that during the period of heavy trade show activity – Frankfurt Light+Build through Lightfair and then ArchLED 10 – I did not present any new 52 in 52 works here. That made sense, but in fact, there were designs completed in context to the 52 in 52 project, they were just commissioned by a customer at the time. While I initially had these designs set aside outside the context of the 52 in 52 project, they were actually completed as part of it, by request of a customer. Specially commissioned for display use, these are indeed designs, specifically utilizing SSL, exploring the technologies use. Moreover, these designs and the projects involved, included involvement in the displays they were used within, showcasing the use of SSL products.
How about a table lamp without the “lamp”. I’m not talking about LED retrofits made to look like incandescent lamps, or those offensive screw shaped CFLs with the lump of plastic on the base. I am talking about tossing all of that and concealing the light source altogether, allowing the shade to produce a soft indirect light. No glare, no heat, and energy efficiency all rolled into one.
This design utilizes a 7.2W GE Vio LED, operated at 350mA, with an integral dimmer in the base. The LED is hidden in the cup at the top of the stem, over the heat sink. Yes, the heat sink could have been hidden completely as well, but for this exercise I liked the way it looked, so left it exposed. The shade is a simple paper shade made from White Optics material to demonstrate how effective a shade can be with the right reflective material in use.
The main body of this particular design is English Walnut, with polished aluminum and white accents.
This slender design is intended to be located at the rear of a table near a wall. By selecting a 3 light or 7 lights on configuration, the light generated into the room is changed, as is the light pattern on the wall.
D42 is an experiment in an up-light style picture light that is very small in scale, with a glowing presence. With the light source facing upward, there is less chance of the light source being reflected in the art, while the upward light pattern creates a nice ambient light in the space.