YOL 2015 – D4 Color Changing Deco-Tech Stairway Light

The 3D printed shade was an interesting experiment. Can also print in red or blue plastic.
The 3D printed shade was an interesting experiment. Can also print in red or blue plastic.

In playing with the Philips Hue system, we found wireless controls to be an effective means for solving lighting issues we have around the house. One area is the main stair. While the overhead track lighting system does a fair job lighting the art on the walls, it is a bit much when all we want to do is have a little light to navigate by. I also wanted to have the light turn on and off automatically, to provide a level of ease, and to get rid of the issue of forgetting to turn off the stair lighting on the way to bed.

The view from the floor below.
The view from the floor below.

Applying a wireless light, programmed to turn on-off and dim is a great addition, and an opportunity to create a new fixture while I was at it. The added feature of color changing to suit the lighting mode is a serious bonus and a lot of fun. Since the light from the stair itself is visible through a window facing the street, the effect of color here creates an interesting effect from outside as well. This design explores printing translucent materials for creating the shades, in addition to printing the rest of the fixture from ABS overall. The design itself is a bit freestyle, mixing a little Art Deco with Hi-Tech, influenced a little by American Indian… The light source is the Philips Hue A-style lamp, which has been modified through the addition of a bottom shade closure to hide the light source from below. The challenge with this design was to hide any direct view of the light itself, as at night the brightness was too great. I would like to have eliminated the cord connection, but tearing the stair railing apart to drill a wire channel through it was not on the agenda.

The 3D printing process (FDM) adds texture to the shade material.
The 3D printing process (FDM) adds texture to the shade material.

Now, we let the light run its program, and don’t have to remember to turn things off when retiring. We can also use the light to create a visual presence when we are out and away by setting different on-off times, color effects, etc… which from the outside, looks like things are moving and changing inside.

Deco-Tech is the best I can come up with to describe the design vocabulary used. It's really just freestyle.
Deco-Tech is the best I can come up with to describe the design vocabulary used. It’s really just freestyle.

Interesting note about color in this application. The very low blue light level makes seeing things in the stair when no other light is present very easy, so the level can be set low. Yet, this setting is easily ignored, and does not feel like a light on in the hall. I’m not concerned about the blue color interfering with sleep or melatonin suppression in this application, simply because the total energy we are talking about is so low (<.1 Fc).

Unfortunately, digital cameras have a hard time dealing with saturated colors, so this photo fails top show what this actually looks like (blue lighted portion). You can get the idea though, and having it cycle slowly through different shades is very pleasing.
Unfortunately, digital cameras have a hard time dealing with saturated colors, so this photo fails top show what this actually looks like (blue lighted portion). You can get the idea though, and having it cycle slowly through different shades is very pleasing.
I was hoping to get a better image of this with the setting at 2200K and some saturated colors. Unfortunately the camera is fighting me, so I’ll just leave these with you to suggest how the fixture looks in other than white settings.


Tasca Custom Retrofit

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.

For more details on this project, check out the summary and full technical specs at Lumenique 12 in 12 for 2012 – January.

For additional details on how you might procure a similar product from one of your own favorites, visit TASCA.

Also, as an update, the Lumenique Product Center now accepts all major credit cards, making your purchase experience easy and secure.

Stay tuned for additional news and updates on the 12 n 12 for 2012 review, and other interesting SSL information.

52 in 52 – Design 51

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.

52 in 52 – Design 49

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.

More images of this can be found at Lumenique 52 in 52 – Design 49

52 in 52 – Design 43

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.

52 in 52 – Designs 41 and 42

Design 41

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.

Design 42

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.

52 in 52 – D40

Here’s another take on the theatrical theme, this time with a zooming feature that allows it to be adjusted from spotlight to floodlight, or anything in between. Just slide the forward snoot body in and out. The single element lens and a unique internal optical mixing chamber using White Optics and Rosco diffusing film that blends the light and diffuses it before it is sent through the lens creates a soft edged pattern without pattern edge color fringing, with a soft drop-off surround. The Bridgelux ES array inside produces a very nice color, working perfectly as the source for a diffuse pre-mix optic system.

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.