DIY Lamps Brighten Winter Blues

As you know, winter is coming. For a lot of people this means that Seasonal Affective Disorder is beginning to set in. [Luke]’s mom already has a light therapy box. It’s one of those commercially available ones that uses fluorescent bulbs and leaves a lot to be desired in the full-spectrum light simulation department. [Luke] jumped on the opportunity to design a better one.

The standard of quality for light therapy units is a rating of 10,000 lux. While lux definitely matters, the rating is a misleading selling point when given on its own. One of the other important factors in mimicking the sun is the Color Rendering Index (CRI). CRI is basically a rating of the bulb’s ability to imitate the color reproduction of natural daylight. The ratings run from 0 to 100 but in reality, the highest-rated bulbs of any kind top out around 98.

For all the fluorescent bulb-bearing light therapy units out there, those bulbs have pretty low CRI ratings. [Luke]’s project page provides emission spectra graphs for a number of bulb types, and we can see how his choice of ceramic metal halide bulbs stacks up against fluorescent, incandescent, and LED bulbs. One of the few downsides to this type of bulb is that they have long startup times.

He ended up making two light therapy lamps, one of them directional and the other omni-directional. They both use ballast-controlled ceramic metal halide bulbs. The ballasts are necessary to provide the high starting voltage that these bulbs require. The omni-directional light is built into a large hurricane candle holder. A lamp holder is fixed into the base and wired to an external ballast box. The directional lamp is a self-contained unit, and [Luke] is happiest with this one. It’s flat and rugged so it can be placed on top of a bookcase and the light bounced off of the ceiling for pleasant, indirect coverage.

We’ve seen a couple of alarm-clock wakeup light builds here, and we’re thinking this would make an awesome mashup.

Built-in Coffee Table Lightbox

diydollarstorelightbox

[Flyingpuppy] sent us this tip about her cleverly-concealed pull-out lightbox drawer. Her resolution for the new year was to make more art, so she filled this coffee table with art supplies and decided she’d draw while relaxing in front of the television. She also wanted a lightbox nearby, which originally involved hacking the entire tabletop with some acrylic, but she eventually opted for a simpler build: and it’s portable, too! The drawer’s lights are battery-powered, so you can pull the entire thing out of the table and drag it onto your lap, if that makes drawing more comfortable.

[Flyingpuppy] sourced seven inexpensive LED units from her local dollar store, which she mounted to the back of the drawer with some screws. The rest of the drawer was lined with white foam board, the bottom section angled to bounce light up onto the acrylic drawing surface. Because she needs to open the case to manually flip on the lights, she secured the acrylic top magnetically, gluing a magnet to the underside of the foam board and affixing a small piece of steel to the acrylic. A simple tug on the steel bit frees the surface, providing access underneath. Stick around for a video below.

Continue reading “Built-in Coffee Table Lightbox”

Portable light box for small photography needs

[Paulo] needed to photograph small objects on the go. Since you can’t always depend on ambient lighting conditions he built a battery operated light box which is easy to take along on his travels.

We’ve featured portable light tents before, but they still tend to be a bit too bulky for his tastes. He chose to go with a white plastic storage container from Ikea. It’s lightweight, and acts as a diffuser for the light sources. Four strips, each hosting three LEDs, were mounted on the exterior of the container. Half of a PVC pipe protects the boards while providing a way to fasten the strips in place using nuts and bolts. The driver board and batteries find a home inside of a travel container for a bar of soap.

He likes the results, especially when a glossy white piece of paper is used as a top reflector.

PCB light box in a scanner shell

scanner-exposure-box

[Kizo] repurposed a flatbed scanner to use as an exposure box for making printed circuit boards. Exposure time is controlled by an AVR ATtiny2313 microcontroller. The device is connected to a separate display board to control four 7-segment displays using one shift register for each. Time is set in ten second increments and once started, switches on the lights with a relay. Once the right exposure time has been reached, the lights are switched off and a piezo speaker is buzzed. There’s no mention of they type of bulbs he’s using but they look like compact fluorescent with tin foil beneath as a reflector.

If these are just CFL bulbs, how will the performance compare to a light box based around a UV light source?

[Thanks Jake]