Articulated Computer Lamp Lights up your life

[Samimy] raided his parts bin to build this articulated lamp (YouTube link) for his computer workstation. Two pieces of aluminum angle form the main body of the lamp. Several brackets are used to form two hinges which allow the lamp to be positioned above [Samimy’s] monitor. The light in this case comes from a pair of 4 watt LED bulbs.

[Samimy] used double nuts on the moving parts to make sure nothing comes loose. The outer nuts are acorns, which ensure no one will get cut on an exposed bit of threaded rod. [Samimy] wired the two bulbs up in a proper parallel mains circuit. The switch is a simple toggle mounted in a piece of Plexiglass on the end of the lamp.

One thing we would like to see on this build is a ground wire. With all that exposed aluminum and steel, one loose connection or worn bit of insulation could make the entire lamp body live.

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Incredibly Simple Stage For Product Photos

If you’ve ever tried to take nice photos of small objects in your home, you might have found that it can be more difficult than it seems. One way to really boost the quality of your photos is to get proper lighting with a good background. The problem is setting up a stage for photos can be expensive and time-consuming. [Spafouxx] shows that you don’t need to sink a lot of money or energy into a setup to get some high quality photos.

His lighting setup is very simple. Two wooden frames are built from scraps of wood. The frames stand upright and have two LED strips mounted horizontally. The LEDs face inwards toward the object of the photos. The light is diffused using ordinary parchment paper that you might use when baking.

The frames are angled to face the backdrop. In this case, the backdrop is made of a piece of A4 printer paper propped up against a plastic drink bottle. The paper is curved in such a way to prevent shadows. For being so simple, the example photo shows how clean the images look in the end.

Fail of the Week: Hair Dryer as Light Switch

Home electrical, it’s really not that hard. But when you’re dealing with the puzzles left for your by someone else things can get really weird. [Daniel’s] sister and her husband ran into this recently. The video demonstration of their fail includes a lot of premature laughter, but it’s worth hanging in there… you’ll quickly see why she can’t contain her amusement.

The project at hand is a replacing a bathroom fan with a simple light fixture. Once the swap was made the light switch works just as anticipated. But a second switch which used to control a different light now behaves strangely. It doesn’t activate the original light, but instead switches the new fixture. Even stranger is that the original switch apparently now acts as a bizarre dimmer when the second switch is on. That’s odd, but the coup d’état of the fail is when they plug in a hair dryer and switching it on illuminates the light but doesn’t activate the hair dryer.

As with all Fail of the Week segments, the goal here is not to criticize but to commiserate. What do you think is causing this? We can’t wait to see what you come up with. Posting simple diagrams is encouraged (you can use HTML img tags in the comments). Ladies and gentlemen, start your conjecture.

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Light Ring Allows Precise Dremeling

Whether you are working at home, in the office or in the shop, proper lighting is pretty important. Not having proper lighting is a contributor to fatigue and visual discomforts. Prolonged straining of the eyes can result in headaches, eye twitching, blurred vision and even neck pain. [pinomelean] likes to make chemically etched PCB boards and he was having a hard time seeing while drilling those boards for the through-hole components. So, he did what any good hacker would do and came up with a solution: a light ring for his Dremel.

Yes, [pinomelean] does prefer to drill his PCB holes by hand with a Dremel. Since he was already a competent PCB board maker, he decided that it would be an appropriate method to make a light ring. The light ring itself is round with a center hole just over 0.750″ in diameter. This hole slides over the 3/4-12 threaded end that most Dremels have for attaching accessories. The stock Dremel decorative  ‘nut’ secures the light ring PCB to the tool. There are pads for 9 surface mount LEDs and through holes for a current-limiting resistor and pins to connect a power supply, which in this case is an old phone charger. In the end the project worked out great and [pinomelean] can clearly see where those holes are being drilled!

If you’re interested in making one of these light rings, [pinomelean] graciously made his board layout available in his Instructable. If you think one would go well with a soldering iron, check this out.

Mood Lighting with LEDs and an Arduino

Regular candles can be awfully boring at times. They can only produce one color and the flicker is so… predictable. They can’t even be controlled by an infrared remote control, not to mention the obvious fire hazard. Now, however, [Jose] has come up with an LED candle that solves all of these problems. (Original link to the project in Spanish.)

The heart of the project is an Arduino Pro Mini, which is especially suited for this project because of its size. [Jose] put the small form-factor microcontroller in the base of a homemade wax enclosure and wired it to a Neopixel WS2812b LED strip. The strip can produce any color, and has some programmed patterns including flicker, fade, rainbow, and fire.

The artificial candle is controlled with an infrared remote control, and all of the code for the project is available on the project site if you want to build your own. [Jose] has been featured here before for his innovative Arduino-driven RGB lighting projects, and this is another great project which builds on that theme!



The $50 DMX Tester


Despite being around for about as long as MIDI, DMX, the industry standard for controlling stage lighting and smoke machines, is still an astonishing expensive protocol to work with. Where MIDI can be banged out with a simple microcontroller – with odd bit rate requirements, no less, DMX testers cost hundreds of dollars. Of course this means the market is wide open for a DIY DMX tester, and over on the projects site [Tony] has just the thing.

For the hardware, [Tony] is using few 4×4 matrix keypads for user input, and a character LCD for the display. With this, he can set any of the 512 lighting channels in a DMX setup to any one of the 256 intensity values. Setting a range of channels to any intensity is a snap, with an extremely cut down command protocol. All the processing is handled by an Arduino, which seems more than capable of handling the DMX protocol thanks to the Conceptionetics DMX library.

While it’s not a full-blown lighting console you’d find in the back of a theatre, it’s more than sufficient to test a lighting rig. It also seems pretty simple to use, just the thing if you’re trying to wrap your brain around some theatrical lighting.

Autonomous Lighting with Intelligence


Getting into home automation usually starts with lighting, like hacking your lights to automatically turn on when motion is detected, timer controls, or even tying everything into an app on your smart phone. [Ken] took things to a completely different level, by giving his lighting intelligence.

The system is called ‘Myra’, and it works by detecting what you’re doing in the room, and based on this, robotic lights will optimally adjust to the activity. For example, if you’re walking through the room, the system will attempt to illuminate your path as you walk. Other activities are detected as well, like reading a book, watching TV, or just standing still.

At the heart of the ‘Myra’ system is an RGBD Sensor (Microsoft Kinect/Asus Xtion). The space in the room is processed by a PC running an application to determine the current ‘activity’. Wireless robotic lights are strategically placed around the room; each with a 2-servo system and standalone Arduino. The PC sends out commands to each light with an angle for the two axis and the intensity of the light. The lights receive this command wirelessly via a 315MHz receiver, and the Arduino then ‘aims’ the beam according to the command.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen [Ken’s] work; a couple of years ago we saw his extremely unique ‘real life’ weather display.  The ‘Myra’ system is still a work in progress, so we can’t wait to see how it all ends up.  Be sure to check out the video after the break for a demo of the system.

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