52 in 52 – Week Twelve Complete

If you are anything at all like me, you are getting older by the minute. This means your eyes are getting less sensitive to light and less adaptable to objects near or far. This aging thing has put to the test every theory I have ever had on lighting design in application – particularly my preference for low ambient levels (low energy consumption and drama), with task or accent lighting located at points requiring greater illumination to see detail, read, or execute tasks with high degrees of accuracy. This is the foundation of my personal affinity for portable lighting, as it allows me to adjust and orient lighting in my spaces to suit current needs, without having to hammer holes in drywall. I like spaces with a lot of small sources, some for visual interest, some for ambient illumination, and others for task lighting. Which leads to the weeks project.

Since jumping into this 52 in 52 project, with all of its soldering and detailing, I’ve needed a task light that is able to produce very high light levels (500+ Fc), that does not push heat at me, that can be located to produce very intense light in a very small spot, or a wide pattern over the work area for general detail work. With this in mind, the weeks design emerged. First, it uses (6) Seoul Semiconductor P4s I have a spool of these, so they will be appearing here and there.) In front of each I decided to use some optics I purchased from a vendor on Candlepower Forums, which generate a 35 degree beam pattern with a nice center focus and excellent cutoff at 30 degrees from vertical (60 degree field angle). I grabbed a trusty LuxDrive 1A driver with a pot dimmer, and it was off RhinoCAD to design the parts.

To orient the head anywhere I want, I adapted a knuckle design from a photography umbrella stand. In this case, it allows me to locate the horizontal arm anywhere I want on the vertical axis. It also allows the horizontal arm to swivel at any angle, as well as tilt at any angle. Finally, the horizontal arm can be located horizontally anywhere along its length. In other words, with a single knuckle and two wing knobs, I can put the light head anywhere I want within the X-Y-Z axis, as well as tilt the head to produce a tight focus (aimed level), to a wider pattern (tilted at an angle). With all of this, I can get as much as 1000Fc on a small area, like when soldering little wires on little pads.

The structural components of the light are stainless steel and aluminum, with a brass counter weight. I left all of the metals raw because I like metal and the way it patinas with time and abuse. The head body is made from ABS plastic, grown on my Dimension 3D printer, allowing me to create a complex housing I could not create using my manual machining equipment. The head houses the driver, conceals the wiring, locates the optics, locates the LEDs (mounted on star boards), and provides a foundation for the aluminum cube heat sinks. We just purchased the printer, which generates rigid ABS plastic parts that are usable as real components. In fact, it was installed on Friday of last week, so this task light had to be designed, printed, machined and assembled in a couple of days. Next week will be a more involved all-ABS design to show what this thing can do. The base plate and some of the first parts for week 13 are in the photo for this product in fact.

52 in 52 – Week 11 Complete

This weeks project is a little different and slimmed down. Each of the six tiers contains a Seoul Semiconductor P4 LED, all driven at 700mA with integral dimmer. the vertical array provides a nice pool of light with no visible brightness, while the top of each disc below the sources acts to produce a little indirect light.

Also included this week is my first attempt at making video in the process of building the product. If you have 4 minutes, take a look. I learned a lot from the process, so next attempts will improve as we go.

In the video you’ll see that each part takes several steps, from blanking to finished shape, then for multiple parts it has to be repeated several times. I enjoy the time spent in the shop, as its productive and is done quietly (other than the machine noise). Gives one time to think about what’s next, both on the project in process and the future of things in general.

Next week we should have a new capability on hand, which will change the shape of things to come. Stay tuned!

52 in 52 – Week Ten Complete

After last weeks push and work with massive materials (relative to others I have done) I needed to take a break from  complex machining and do something simple and straightforward. This small project is based on a request to create a small desktop item that was lower in cost, coupled with some ideas I’ve toyed with for making picture lights, from wall mounted to desktop. This is the first shot at a small desktop lighted picture frame.

To make this low in cost, I dug into a box full of unused phone chargers (from phones that have been long since abandoned) – all with voltage and current characteristics suited to LED application. In this case, the Nokia ACP-7U charger, rated at 3.7VDC, 350mA current is a decent match to a Seoul Semiconductor P4 (3000K 92CRI) mounted on a star board. As a test, I soldered the wires from the charger to the LED and stuck the LED to a heat sink and let it run for two days. The charger was warm, but not hot, and the LED seemed happy enough, so I set it aside and went to work on the frame.

Looking at it now, the frame is a little heavy handed, as was its intent. I had my eye on something more mechanical, so it’s made from solid stock, which is carved out to make a recess for the LED and a reflector insert. The switch is a pushbutton on-off control (no need for a dimmer here.

As a proof of concept and first iteration, it works very well. I like the picture lighted up, and the energy it uses is nothing – even with the charger, it’s less than 4W total.

Now, for those looking at that picture and wondering – yes, that is me on the ladder in the fatigues. This image is from 1978. As a graphic artist in the USAF, I painted the sign, which was placed on a little hut each group on base constructed as part of the annual open house. This was one of many signs, posters, flyers, handouts, and ad inserts I did that year. I look at this and think how appropriate it is that two senior NCOs, a Captain and a Colonel were required to install a 30″ x 36″ plywood sign on a bamboo hut. My fiancé at the time took the picture.

I have some other ideas for little picture frame lights and some new methods of making parts that will make them affordable as well. Future designs will be lighter for those who prefer such things.

52 in 52 – Week Nine Complete

Better a little late than never for Week Nine Business had me running elsewhere, so there was little shop time to be had, but its done now at last. This is a monster compared to most of the others. First, its heavy, as the thinnest metal used in the thing is 1/4″ wall solid aluminum. The glass is even 3/16″ thick, clear on one side and frosted on the back. It has a very architectural look and feel, and mass to it. Would look great in a corporate lobby or as a hotel desk accent.

The light source is a Philips Fortimo remote phosphor light module rated at 1100 lumens. The structure is 35″ tall and is 8″ square at the base. Gray wrinkle powder and a special textured finish on the aluminum vertical bars adds some sparkle, while the white reflective rings provide diffusion.

One of the issues I faced on this one is the massive scale of the light module and its related power supply. There is just no way to put these into a small product. This was obviously not the design intent for this light source, but it does produce a nice color at 3000K and 80CRI.

Now on to something a bit more sexy for Week Ten, perhaps something in Ferrari Red.. Oh yeah, bought a neat little camera for making  You Tube movies, so will make an attempt to capture some action to be included on future design projects.

52 IN 52 – Week Nine Kickoff

This week is going to be my first shot at putting the Philips Fortimo light module into a portable product. The design will incorporate the 1100 lumen module at 3000k. The design itself is going to be industro-architectural, with a combination of thick glass panels with exposed edges, textured gray powder coat, white, and hand finished satin aluminum. It’s going to be around 36″ tall and will be heavy, since the glass and metal work are robust, and the scale of the unit is rather on the large side.

To manage heat, I’m incorporating the usual tie to the aluminum structure, as well as a supplemental heat sink in the base.

This should be a great uplight/ambient contributor, as well as a significant presence. Could easily be scale up to a floor lamp model using the 2000 lumen light source – might have to try that later in the year.

03/07/10 – Sunday night update. Have all of the parts made – which has been interesting, since most of them are at the limit of what my machines can handle – and have everything finished and ready for assembly. Problem is, it’s 8:00PM Sunday night and I need to stop to get ready for a road trip Monday and Tuesday. The finished Week Nine project will be done Wednesday, leaving me to jump right into Week Ten over the weekend to get back on track. It’s no problem, just a stretch of available time. I think this weeks effort is going to be interesting, it’s massive and minimalist, yet has a very nice edge to it. so far so good. Also, ordered a camera to film some of the action here to post in future updates and to produce some LED/SSL lessons as well.

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.