52 in 52 – Design Nineteen Completed

Okay, so this one is a little different. It’s an iodea I’ve had rattling around on occasion, so I took a stab at an iteration of it here. The idea is to have a little display light that can be configured to add a splash of light in a corner, to light a picture, highlight a table display, act as a reading light, and or all of the above.

The base of each stem is founded in a ball joint allowing each stem to be tilted and rotated all over the place. Each of the heads has a little 25 degree reflector in it to direct the light from the LEDs, which ar Seoul Semi P4’s, 3000K, 90CRI driven at roughly 800mA. In the base is the driver and dimmer. The stems and panel behind the LEDs are copper and act as heat sink.

As the photos below show, arranging the lights changes the light character and the appearance of the fixture.

Oh yes, this could esily be done in another color besides red. I just had the material on hand, and decided to use it. This would look nice in white or gray as well as black I am sure.

Molex and Bridgelux Take the Big Prize at LF2010!

The Molex Helieon module with Bridgelux array won the “Most Innovative Product” award, the highest honor one can achieve at Lightfair!

As a consultant to Molex on their entry into the SSL arena, specifically on the Transcend and Helieon projects, I can offer that the effort put into understanding the lighting market, and how SSL can be applied within it, has been impressive. Seeing them take the prize was a thrill for me personally, and certainly for the groups at both Molex and Bridgelux. Playing the role of “Lighting Guy” in this group of exceptional electronics and mechanical engineers, who tackle connector problems in everything from cars and consumer products to computers and spaceships, I’ve experienced a development pace unprecedented. The combination of optics, tactile feel, simplicity in application, and potential for further expansion of capabilities, the Helieon is just one more example of what a market leading connector manufacture can do for the lighting market.

In Architectural SSL we’ve continually pressed for modularity as an important and necessary component in the furthering of SSL deployment. In 2010, this appears to be the year for just such development. The Xicato, Cree’s introduction, Philips Fortimo, and GE, along with Sharp, and the GX53 socket for SSL by BJB, and the Helieon, all offer significant improvements in the way LEDs will be incorporated into products. On top of this, manufacturers, such as Solid State Luminaires, have incorporated modularity into the construction of their latest downlights and other products. Modules have finally arrived – with the Helieon taking top honors as the leader of the pack.

The snapshots below are from the show display, where Lumenique fixtures were used incorporating 45 Helieon modules used to illuminate the display.

52 in 52 – Design(s) Sixteen Complete

Teaching new dogs old tricks.

While LEDs are great stuff for optimizing the use of energy for generation of light, they are not immune to the issues of brightness and glare. In application, some of the newer LED products are downright glare bombs. In the over-zeolous pursuit of maxing out efficacy many of the most efficient products get that from lack of optical control. This is great for by-the-numbers evaluation, but can result in some pretty ugly field conditions. Other source using LEDs, have small luminous source areas delivering high light output. The result is an offending brilliance for those unfortunate to be in their focal path.

This is an exercise in taking a couple of these new LED dogs to training camp and applying some old tricks to resolve their issues. Since most LED lights and retrofit lamps are configured differently than the conventional sources they replace, grabbing off-the-shelf parts to apply is rarely possible. The combination of luminaos source area, orientation, and package dimensions means fixing any glare issues requires an equally unique approach. This is but the start of a process I intend to pursue, one source at a time if necessary.

The Cree LR6

For those sensitive to source brightness and in many applications where the proximity of the occupants is such that the aperture of the LR6 is close in hand, their can be a serious issue of glare and brightness. This is the result of this products overly wide distribution and field angles, often promoted as an attribute in generating high vertical surface illuminance. I appreciate the product, and the pitch, but… after living with the LR6 for two years now, it became so much an issue that we stopped turning them on to avoid them. The issue is that any time the viewing angles are shallow, the apparent brightness of the lens in the LR6 is, to put it bluntly, offensive. Even with the Cree accessory lower trims, the brightness from the too-shallow trim and exposed lens is unattractive.

The approach taken was simple. First, by encroaching on the lens perimeter a very small amount (about 3/16″), and increasing the depth of the baffle itself, I eliminated the high angle brightness. All light above 25 degrees is simply blocked off. The effect on illuminance in the desired lighting zones below was imperceptible, and measured less than 3% less than no trim at all. I feel the result is a much more comfortable and attractive lighting effect.

The LR6 without trim or baffles produces very high angle brightness than can be offensive at many viewing angles.
With a simple snap-in baffle that reduces the aperture slightly and increases the shielding depth, the high angle brightness is eliminated, resulting in a more attractive and comfortable application

Several LR6 Approaches

In the process of experimenting with various approaches to control the brightness from the large source area of the LR6, I also tried some louver designs, like were once used on big R40 lamps, which have the same problem in shallow housings. While these were even more effective in controlling brightness, the loss of total light output was more than I felt necessary. However, in some applications, these may be an even better solution.

The baffle is 1 1/2″ deep, snaps onto a lip on the LR6 lens
These louvers will be familiar to anyone who has done a church using R40 or R56 lamps. They do a great job of brightness and glare control, but impose a loss of light that is not always desirable.

The MR16 Retrofit Lamp

The MR16 lamp has always been a little glare grenade. LED versions that make enough light to be considered viable replacements, like the ones here from LEDengine, are just like their halogen forbearers in this regard, and worse. With an optical source size of just 1″, the brightness of the source is really offensive.

To avoid cutting into the light pattern, while creating a reasonable cutoff takes a little effort in working out the geometry of a very simple and familiar snoot. Further, since most all retrofit lamps have their own geometry and rarely match conventional lamps, mounting standard MR16 accessories is not an option.

The snoot here cuts off all light outside 45 degrees from the furthest edge of the light source. However, the design is also wide enough not to cut into the beam pattern, so applied light levels are not effected. The result is an elimination of glare from most vieing angles, just as this approach has done for halogen lamps of the past.

The brilliance of an efficient LED optic can be offensive and distracting if left uncontrolled.
The snoot cuts off light outside 45 degrees, eliminating the visibility of the optic, yet retains the main beam angle and most of the field distribution, so lighting effect is the same, just more comfortable to live with.
Not a new approach, just one designed specifically to this lamp. Unlike the standard halogen lamp, every LED retrofit lamp will need tweaks to the design to suit its unique geometry and optics.

52 in 52 – Week Thirteen

This weeks design is intended to evoke the impression of a flame, or an accent candle, with a sci-fi twist. The base includes a dimmer. A radial heat sink under a Seoul P4 3000K LED gets the light and heat out. The ABS body reflects and captures light softly.

Overall height is only 8″ with a diameter of around 4″, this is a small accent source. However, with a 700mA driver, the LED emits around 100 lumens, which is roughly equal to 100 candles of old school burning wick type. The power supply is a small wall wart unit, which one might find powering a Panasonic phone system.

52 in 52 – Week Thirteen Preview

This is a teaser for what’s in store for this week. This design is an exploration of the use of 3D printer work for creating form and providing structure in plastic. The first components (black) took over 30 hours to print, with the second set (red) half way through its 36 hour process time. While this sounds silly, the machine runs unattended –  all that is involved is designing the parts and letting it run, through the night and all day, so the hours are continuous, not restricted to working days. Part of the reason for the extreme build time is that the product is almost solid plastic,with only the voids needed to run wires and contain electronics. This drives the cost of material up to around $400. Sounds nuts, but this design is a research project to see just how far this can be taken. Besides the physical time it would take to create similar forms, using carved wood for example, would be impossible to consider. CNC machining from billet aluminum, wood or plastic could be used, but the process time would not be a great deal different, plus material cost, not to mention the pile of scrap created. CNC machining centers also cost many times that of the 3D printer and requires considerably more space – and cannot run unattended, so the point is moot. If I were to attempt to duplicate the design employing a shell design using welded or soldered materials, I would need to change the shape and invest so many hours in fab and finishing, that the $400 material cost seems outright cheap in comparison, not to mention the time required, all on my clock, since I don’t run 24/7.

In the fixture head created in week 12, the material cost was just $21, and the FDM (fused deposition modeling) process time only 6 hours total. For a one-off design and/or short run, this is certainly reasonable and an indication of what a smaller hollow shell involves.

The video here shows the machine at work, for those who have not seen one. This particular machine is a Dimension 1200es, which can build a volume of 10″ x 10″ x 12″H. What it does is lay down layers of .010″ of plastic by extruding it in a thin line tracing the form. It lays down both model material (in your choice of color for the part), and support material to allow it to create negative space and overhangs. The internal structure of the parts can be solid, semi-solid (small air spaces) or a semi-open structure of webbing to hold the part together. The material is ABS, and can be easily sanded and painted, as well as glued, and is available for this machine can be had in red, black, blue, yellow, green, white, ivory, and gray.

This is one of the coolest tools around – for product people anyway. It can be used to make working prototypes, finished parts, or for forms to be used with other processes, like sand casting, fiberglass layout or vacuum forming.

Since installing it on Friday, I’ve had it running continuously. The printer que, with parts for my projects and customer projects, extends will into the weekend. Along that time, I will have entered more work for it, meaning it is unlikely to see any idle time in the near future. The result is like having a production person making parts while I do other things.

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 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 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.