YOL D16 – Magnifier Inspection Light

I have an ongoing project in creating various lighted magnifiers to see small items, inspect surfaces, check tool edges, or just read the micro labels printed on electronic parts or other components. In 2010 I presented one of these gadgets, specifically a device for reading drill bits, using LEDs and a 9V battery. This time around I wanted to create something with more flexibility, more light, greater magnification and a larger aperture. The concept is pretty straightforward, using a light gathering lens with an integrated ring light component. It delivers over 1,740 Fc on the target, which makes seeing the tiniest details readily visible.

A multipurpose magnifier light ring tool.
A multipurpose magnifier light ring tool.

Continue reading “YOL D16 – Magnifier Inspection Light”

YOL 2015 – D15 Welding Task Light

Welding creates a serious challenge to visual acuity. The light emitted from gas and arc welding is intense, and contains high levels of both UV and IR light in wavelengths harmful to the human eye. For this reason, welders (myself included) wear helmets and goggles that utilize filters to reduce brightness, strip away the harmful wavelengths, and protect us physically from welding splatter, which is very nasty. Unfortunately this seriously compromises visibility of the welding task and its surrounding. While the arc itself illuminates the surrounding, the contrast between the arc itself and the area around it is so great that this affords little clarity. When smoke and splatter are included, most welding is done within a very poor visual field. In some case, it is done almost completely blind.

The concept is to use narrow spectrum green light, in this case 530nm Green, to more efficiently deliver visible light through welding glass filters. This increases intensity in the area of the task.
The concept is to use narrow spectrum green light, in this case 530nm Green, to more efficiently deliver visible light through welding glass filters. This increases intensity in the area of the task. It is very difficult to photograph exactly what one sees through the darkened welding glass, and impossible when an arc has been struck.

Most welding glass passes light in a narrow green centered bandwidth, which is why the view through them is green, to the point of being monochromatic. That means most of the light from any task light used that generates white light will be filtered out along with the welding arc emission. That seems inefficient and reduces the effectiveness of the lighting system to the point of being essentially useless.

To address this, over the last three years, I have been working on a task light that delivers a narrow spectrum green light, centered on the emission of the welding filter glass itself. This means that 100% of the light from the task light will come through the glass – a much more efficient approach. You can download a white paper WIP of my findings and concept at: http://www.lumenique.com/New_Lumenique/Files/Narrow Spectrum Welding Light KLW.pdf

An early test mule using three 5W green LEDs and medium narrow optics to create intensity.
An early test mule using three 5W green LEDs and medium narrow optics to create intensity.

This is a work in process. However, so far, with the same energy applied to an identical white light source, vs. a green light source, the amount of brightness visible through the welding glass is doubled.

There have been a few interesting discoveries in this process:

  • The early test mule (shown in the image above), utilized optical reflectors to intensify the beam pattern. I was hoping to amplify the effect of the focused task light into the visual welding field. This actually proved to be less useful than it might look, due to the creation of harsh shadows from the welding gun or torch, so later models have reverted to a more diffused, softer beam pattern, which reduces these effects.
  • LEDs act like low efficiency photo-voltaic sources when exposed to high intensity light. This creates voltage back into the driver during welding work. For the most part, this is not an issue. However, with a few drivers I have employed, this effect causes internal failures (not fully explained). I isolated the voltage from the welding area, electromagnetic effects, and all other factors, before testing the theory that some drivers cannot deal with this by applying a small external voltage to them in operation, which duplicated the failure mode. Now I test all drivers under a welding arc, on aluminum and steel substrate (each emit a different spectral power state), to insure this does not create undesirable results.
  • When gas welding under the green light, I find the appearance of the flame kernel (main heat source) more pronounced, which appears to be from the increased intensity of the surrounding field. This is a happy development, as it increases visibility of the location of that heat source to the weld zone. There is also an enhancement of the colors seen in the weld pool to a small degree I am working toward intensifying further.

I will be working on this more as time passes, so will update this entry as new discoveries are found. Ideally, working with a welding glass producer to create an idealized combination of glass filer and light source, coupled with a hood manufacturer to mount the light in the welding hood itself, activated by the arc itself would create an even more interesting result. The next phase for me is to prototype such an animal for my own use. Stay tuned.


YOL 2015 – D12 Growth Starter Light

Plants are becoming big fans of LED light, thriving on the delivery of the light they need, without the waste of white light they don’t even see.

The use of LEDs in agricultural applications is expanding along side visual light and light cure technologies. The technology is even more compelling here for its reduction in energy consumption and lack of heat in the light pattern. The key element of LEDs in this application is the ability to create a specific spectral power profile, with none of the peripheral light unnecessary to get the job done. The light plants need is not the same as human vision. In fact, it is almost the opposite. While we humans with our juice camera eyeballs respond to light in the yellow-green spectrum to see by, our blind little green friends use light in the red and blue ends of the spectrum to activate various chemical reactions to generate food, build cells, and dispose of waste. Continue reading “YOL 2015 – D12 Growth Starter Light”

YOL 2015 – D5 Techno Task Lighter

Overall height is 19". The base is a salvage item from Goowill.
Overall height is 19″. The base is a salvage item from Goodwill.

I am a task lighting fanatic. I use them everywhere, so am always looking for something new to add to my collection. In this installment, I am addressing the need for a light that is compact, delivers intense light (1,200+ Fc) with no glare or brightness, and high color accuracy. The application is pretty straightforward, from soldering station use where a magnifying glass is used, to fine detail work inside or on the outside of models.  For good measure, I also wanted it to aim at the wall as a photo fill light, or straight up as am ambient fill light, and have a dimmer to allow me to set whatever level I want for the application in hand at the moment.

The wiring and components are left skeletal.
The wiring and components are left skeletal.

With all the practical specifications set out, I decided to let this design be expressive of the gadgetry involved. Let it all hang out. I also decided to incorporate the new Bridgelux Vero LED with its integrated Molex connector, and a Nuventix cooler, just to amp up the tech factor.  This is where things got interesting. The Bridgelux array operates at 33.7V (500mA). The Nuventix cooler at 12V. I am powering the whole thing with a 24VDC wall wart power supply. That meant I needed to employ a boost driver for the LED and a buck (24VDC to 12VDC) power converter for the Nuventix cooler. I used Recom components to attain this, and used a cut up experimenters printed circuit board to connect these two to the power supply, the cooler, the LED and the dimmer control. That’s a lot of wires to find a path for, so I decided to leave them to roam free, let everyone see the components as well.

The lever on the left of the head is the on-off slide switch.
The lever on the left of the head is the on-off slide switch.

This is a style of design I personally enjoy, and have been doing since the 1980’s, where we made little 12V lamps with fiber optics, MR16s, halogen burners, or automotive headlamps, often suspended from structures made of building wire. In this case, the stand I found at a Goodwill. It was a table lamp, whose shade was gone, and socket was cracked. I liked the cast iron base and single post stand, so nabbed it for a dollar and tossed it in the pile with my other finds, waiting this moment to be put to service.

The wiring at the driver and power supply are exposed as well as the mess of wires leading into and out.
The wiring at the driver and power supply are exposed as well as the mess of wires leading into and out.

If you look at the head, the switch is a sliding action, on the left side of the head. Pull it forward to turn it on, push it back to shut it off. A hole in the side of the housing allows you to see the action inside. No, there is no reason for this, other than it seemed more appropriate than an off-shelf toggle or twist switch.

The light on the task surface is at 1,425 Fc, the LED is 3000K, 97CRI.

The head can pivot 180 degrees from down to straight up.
The head can pivot 180 degrees from down to straight up.

YOL 2015 – D2: Organic Tower Study

D2 Front View

This weeks project is a concept model exploring an organic form of twisted and tapering ellipses. The height is 24″, and it measures roughly 3 1/2″ x 2 3/4″ at its base. The design is intentionally simple, utilizing a single LED strip concealed behind a valence to one edge. Total power at full brightness is 5 watts, and output is roughly 400 lumens total. The interior is covered with White Optic material to create a diffuse soft edged luminance from within. There is a simple stem dimmer control at the base circuited in series to the light strip, and a two position switch to the side providing full-on / off / dim settings. This model is powered by a wall-wart 24VDC power supply.

This was printed on a 3D printer, sanded smooth and painted matte white. In a production version casting the body in ceramic with a matte glaze would render a more finished end product. Low power LEDs don’t require much thermal management, can be circuited with on-board micro IC current control driver, creating a very simple to assemble and economic end product. Even in this plastic concept model form, the costs of the entire assembly were under $200, with the power supply.

D2 3/4 View
D2 View 2
D2 View 2
D2 Back
D2 Back
D2 Top
D2 Top
D2 Base
D2 Base


YOL 2015 – D1: UV Cure Cube

The Purple Light ‘UV’ Cure Cube

The Cure Cube is used for curing SLA 3D Prints created on the Form Labs 1+ printer. Exposing SLA prints to 405nm "UV" light increases strength and creates a harder surface for final finishing.
The Cure Cube is used for curing SLA 3D Prints created on the Form Labs 1+ printer. Exposing SLA prints to 405nm “UV” light increases strength and creates a harder surface for final finishing.

While not particularly visible to everyone in the SSL universe, over the past few years one area of interest in LED product development for me has been in use of 405nm LED light sources to cure various plastics materials. The advantages are lower power requirements and reduced overall heat in the cure zone over conventional fluorescent or HID light sources. This has been of particular interest in curing fiberglass resins manufactured by Sunrez. The typical demand is for between 200 and 1,000 µW/CM² at 400-405nm wavelength. The use of LEDs allows us to generate exactly that without the waste of visible light, and longer wavelength power the resins are not reacting to. In one project, we were able to replace a 1,500W HID light source with a 120W LED light system that produced faster cure times with less than 10% of the total power, and virtually no heat added to the heat generated by the resin’s exothermic reaction to the curing initiator. Since then, we’ve built 405nm light cure fixtures ranging from 1,200W to 25W.

In this case, I needed to cure 3D prints we generate on a Form Labs 1+ 3D SLA printer, and do so in an office environment without exposing other materials and occupants to UVA light output. The material used in the print process is acrylic based, with chemistry that is photo-reactive to 405nm. The actual prints are made using a UV laser source. When the part is removed from the printer it is washed in alcohol (91% IPA), rested for a few hours to dry the alcohol off, then placed in this cure cube for an hour or more, depending on the thickness of the final component. The end result is a hard first surface for finish sanding or painting, if necessary, and a more rigid part as a whole (less flexible).

The cube is simple, with vent reliefs top and bottom to encourage ariflow. The flush switch on the top cover was created using 3D printing processes for the slider and body, as well as top and bottom cover.
The cube is simple, with vent reliefs top and bottom to encourage ariflow. The flush switch on the top cover was created using 3D printing processes for the slider and body, as well as top and bottom cover.

The cube utilizes a simple aluminum housing, with FDM 3D printed top and bottom covers. The top cover houses a single Recom 500mA driver, slide switch and wiring terminal block on a Tasca LED driver circuit board.

5mm 450nm LEDs with a FWHM distribution of 60º, 25 per side and top (125 total), operating at 20mA each, mounted to custom circuit boards sourced at Express PCB. Each board connects the LEDs in parallel, while the boards are connected in series, resulting in a 500mA, 15.4V circuit, totaling 7.7W. The boards and internal exposed surfaces inside the box were then covered with White Optics 98 matte material to increase total light energy and diffuse The light energy at 405nm is roughly 600 µW/CM².

The bottom surface includes a glass plate where the product sits in order to make any possible stickiness of a part from adhering to the White Optic material below.

The interior of the cube is covered with White Optics 98 material for optimizing light energy re-cycling.
The interior of the cube is covered with White Optics 98 material for optimizing light energy re-cycling.

The housing was powder coated matte black polyester to make clean up easy and the box look nice. The overall interior dimensions of the box are 1″ larger than the total build volume capacity of the printer itself (5 x 5 x 6.5), as any over-sizing is unnecessary. This produces an optimal match between the location of the LED sources and any part the printer can produce.

The Cube is powered by a remote plug mounted 24VDC power converter.

The operation of the box is simple enough. The box is lifted up, the part is set on the base, the box is set over the part, and the light is turned on by sliding the switch to the on position.

Simple and compact is the order of desktop manufacturing, and this fits that model perfectly.

A look into the box lighted up and ready to accept parts.
A look into the box lighted up and ready to accept parts.

Testing so far has shown the cube can cure raw resin from liquid to fully hardened in less than an hour, and strengthens prints in that time or less. The heat generated from this arrangement is so small, there is no chance of any part being warped or affected by the process, other than the desired results of becoming stronger.

For parts to be left unfinished, that are desired to be used over extended periods, we coat the finished parts in either acrylic or polyurethane UV inhibiting clear coat, gloss or matte. This stops ambient room light or daylight exposure from making the parts brittle over time. I am building a second copy of this cube for completing extended testing of samples of the materials we are using to verify clear coat effectiveness, behavior of the print material over long exposure periods, and the behavior of these low cost LEDs over time. A commercial version of this cube could be made using more robust LEDs, but the costs would be significantly higher as well. In the current configuration, the LEDs only cost $0.60 each, so should they last a couple of years in use, replacement of the populated boards is a simple task, while the cost of higher power LEDs would have increased the cost of the entire end-product by as much as three times.

There is also an additional version of this same approach in using Red/Blue light sources for use in plant seedling starts. We’ve found tests with common rye and barley grasses, the time from germination to hearty growth ready for planting is accelerated significantly. Using an enclosure like this allows the plants to be exposed to intense light for extended periods of time (18 hours or more) without polluting the surrounding environment with the ugly light, just as the enclosed cube protects room occupants from exposure the the UVA light. In either case, the cube can be used in any room environment comfortably and safely.

So this gets us off the ground and is D1 of 52 in the series. As I’ve noted at the start, this is an exercise in making progress, and putting SSL to work. This is not a particularly exciting product in and of itself, but it is one that will be used regularly, which more than makes up for its lack of marketing sizzle for the masses – at least in my book.


YOL 2015 – Celebrating the Year of Light – Updated

2015 is the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies – a United Nations observance to raise awareness of the achievements of light science and its applications, and its importance to humankind. 

Edited 12/10/2015:

The concept of pursuing another round of 52 designs in 52 weeks was the original intent for this series. However, the time involved was not available, nor were we able to rationalize the costs involved. The work of the 52/52 2010 was a significant effort, that never truly delivered an ROI, either directly or indirectly. It was a lot of fun and reflected my exploration of SSL technology on a fast track. I’d hoped to attract others in playing along this time around. This never materialized. Faced with going it solo again, I came to the realization I just couldn’t get it done, so abandoned the project. It is a serious disapointment, but did free me the time to refocus on our business and move us into a larger and more productive state and facility, so not all was lost. The original 52/52 designation for the projects has been re-titled YOL, for the Year of Light. Yes, it is a bit of revisionist history, but its my blog and I have that right.. literally and figuratively.

With that in mind, I am still sharing projects being worked on within Lumenique that are exploratory, experimental, or customer project related (when we are allowed).

In 2010, we explored everything from steam punk to toys and practical tools. 2015 will be more of the same with a 3D twist.
In 2010, we explored everything from steam punk to toys and practical tools. 2015 will be more of the same with a 3D twist.

I combine work with solid-state light sources with another emerging and revolutionary technology we started working with in 2010 – 3D printing technologies. I now have (3) such printers on hand, including a commercial FDM printer, a desktop FFM printer, and a desktop SLA printer. With these, we can now make translucent and transparent prints, including simple optics, flexible parts, and smaller, highly detailed components and mold patterns for casting in metal and urethane. I’m anxious to put these to work in creating interesting final forms. I’ll also be firing up the glass kiln a few times, and hammering out a few pieces in the blacksmith shop to keep things interesting.

In the next few days, I will be posting my first entry to start the ball rolling with something for my shop, that others in the 3D print business may find useful.

That all said, I hope that 2015 has been a great year for everyone!


Retrospective: My First Ever LED Light Fixture – a Collaborative Work

My first LED fixture - 2004-2006
My first LED fixture – 2004-2006

This is my last bit of housecleaning from blogs being shut down, for the archives. KLW

This fixture is my very first LED light. It started life to be a halogen fixture in 2004, that sat on a workbench waiting completion. The first head got so hot from the 50W 12V light source, it was dangerous, so it sat as I decided what to do with it.

In 2005, as LEDs became viable for lighting, I pondered using them to replace the halogen source, but they delivered so little light, the end product was useless as a desk lamp, so it sat some more. One idea was to insert a Lamina BL3000 LED into the head, but the driver was huge, the light output too little, and the heat still an issue.

Then, in early 2006, while at Visa Lighting, Don Brandt (an engineer working with me at Visa, formerly from Emteq, now working at Cree I believe) were talking through ways of applying the latest mid-power LEDs using a simple PCB. We decided to give it a shot and built a board populated by a vendor with 8 Nichia LEDs. The inspiration struck to power these LEDs with two Xitanium drivers, which at the time were un-potted prototypes, so cutting them out of their housing to be installed in clear tubes to show their interiors off was easy enough. Two push-button switches activated the drivers for a high-low effect, and a heat sink was made up of a machined aluminum block installed in the head where the original halogen lamp and reflector once lived. More details and images of this can be found on the Lumenique archives for the Ratchet fixture.

The fixture itself is made of welded steel structure with a brass head and fiberglass tension springs. The head can be raised an lowered with a ratcheting action, staying level at any height. In the end, I left this fixture with the owner of the Oldenburg Group (owner of Visa Lighting) as a parting gift as I moved on to focus on Lumenique and SSL exclusively.

An Update and a Mod

The coming of spring demands a great deal of concentration when you live in an area that is frozen half the year. For April and May this has meant new projects progressing, outside interests fighting for attention, and the progression of older projects resulting in resolution of old issues. Unfortunately, due to the fact that there are those who feel it is their right to knock off ideas they find from others without attribution or recognition, I am struggling with how to proceed with this effort going forward. I enjoy exploring new ideas and sharing discoveries. I despise finding the results integrated into others offerings without so much as a nod to its source.

That said, for this installment of the 12 in 12 project, I focused on making progress in development of portable light originally introduced in the 52 in 52 project in 2010, and a spring project that is personal and fun.

The Battery Project

In week 4 of the 52 in 52 project, I presented this combination table torch/flashlight. At the time, I relied on lead acid emergency light batteries in an effort to create a reliable light for emergency use, using readily available components. Unfortunately, since then, I have found the approach flawed. The batteries were not reliable when connected in series to generate 12VDC, the charging components were not able to keep the batteries conditioned, and the discharge characteristic of the batteries produced an unacceptably short on-time when removed from the stand. Further, the batteries were far too heavy to be practical, and were expensive. Continue reading “An Update and a Mod”

Tasca Uno Test Mule Birthday

The Test Mule passes 12 months in continuous operation.

In the process of building Tasca, there has been numerous iterations, prototypes in metal and plastic, tests to failure, drop and impact tests, electrical and electronic tests, and lighting application tests. As we found what worked, and what didn’t, and collected tooling for components, like the heat sink, I build the first functional products, using production level components. The first one made was what we affectionately call the Mule. It has been lighted 24/7 for one year as of the end of March, or a total of 8,841 logged hours to date. In that time it has been tested under operating conditions, attached to the side of a milling machine head, sprayed with lubricating and cleaning fluids, dropped, dunked, draped with rags under high ambient conditions, and frozen. As shown in the images here, this head has had a few hoods and shields attached to test effectiveness, and the mounting adapter has been changed a couple of times as I’ve experimented with the machined attachment hardware. This head has a thermocouple lead installed, so at any time I can plug it in to see what the temperature of the LED is, while there has been numerous output tests to check lumen depreciation, which has been less than 1% to date, right on track with the LM80 data for the LED (Bridgelux ES array).

This fixture has also been used as a baseline for testing the finished product as it has evolved. For example, we found that black anodizing og the heat sink lowered the LED temperature under identical operating conditions by as much as 10°C. We have also evolved the use of spring washers in the hinge, made small adjustments in the use of fasteners, and added the disconnect power connection to replace the Heyco cord entry – all found from actively working with the product and improving every detail. Continue reading “Tasca Uno Test Mule Birthday”