Not your ordinary LED book light

diy_led_book_light

[Steve Hoefer] is not a huge fan of traditional table lamps, so he set off to build a reading light of his own that was more aesthetically pleasing than the standard fare. He thought it would be pretty appropriate to construct his reading lamp out of a book, and we’re inclined to agree.

He stripped the pages from an old book he found at the thrift store, then built a plywood frame to fill in the recently vacated area. A second frame was built inside the first to support the installation of some warm LED strips as well as the acrylic sheet he used to diffuse the light. A whisker switch was installed in the corner of the frame, which turns the lights on when the book is opened. The lamp puts out about the light equivalent of a 40W bulb, and can be “dimmed” by simply adjusting how far the cover is opened.

It looks great on his bedside table, and like some of his other book-related hacks, it’s quite useful as well!

Be sure to check out the video of the light’s construction we have embedded below.

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Automated LED Hallway Lighting

If normal hallway lighting just doesn’t live up to your standards, this hack may be for you. When [Sean] fitted his kitchen, he replaced the flooring leading up to it.  In true hacker form, he decided to forgo (supplement?) traditional lighting and came up with his own solution.

This solution involved embedding the skirting used around his hallway hardwood with blue LED lights. Unfortunately, these LEDs were actually longer than the skirting was thick, so some plaster carving was also necessary.  It is all hidden very well behind the skirting, so you can’t tell. These blue LEDs give a really cool effect, similar to what can be seen at some movie theaters.

Although impressive in itself, [Sean] decided to also hook his setup up to a “Home Easy” device for control. A passive infrared sensor for this system has also been ordered so the lights can turn on without human interaction. We can see this being fantastic for those late night trips to the kitchen for a drink. With this low light solution, you won’t be wondering back to the bedroom without your night vision.

Turning spotlights into soft LED nightlights

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[Bob] had a couple of bright, 12V halogen spotlights in his hallway that didn’t get much use. Rather than toss them out or leave them sitting idle, he decided to replace the bright bulbs with dimmer LEDs that he could keep lit through the night.

He opened up the spotlights, removing the bulbs and the built in mirrors before fitting them with 350mA LED pucks. The pucks were mounted to a pair of L-shaped aluminum scraps, which serve as both a mounting plate and heatsink. When running, the underdriven LEDs barely heat the aluminum plates, so he is pretty confident that the lights are adequately cooled.

The orange LEDs provide a nice warm glow in his hallway, and he says they are perfect for late night trips to the fridge. They currently stay lit all the time, but [Bob] is considering adding a light sensor to turn them on them automatically, as well as a PIR sensor to increase the brightness as someone passes by.

DIY softboxes light your photos on the cheap

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Softboxes are often considered a must-have piece of equipment when doing any sort of portrait or studio photography. While they are not the most expensive photography accessory, they can be built far cheaper than you would pay for an off the shelf model.

[Don] needed a softbox for his studio, and he ended up constructing a fairly nice one out of a styrofoam cooler. He mounted an outdoor light receptacle inside the cooler after laying down a reflective backing, bolting everything to a piece of plywood situated on the back of the cooler. He stretched some white cloth over the front to diffuse the light, and then mounted it on a light stand. You can see a video of the construction process below, as well as additional softbox-lit images on his site.

[Aud1073cH] had a similar need for a softbox, but went about his construction a bit differently. He grabbed a lampshade and a white dress shirt at a thrift store, stretching the shirt over the bottom opening before securing it with Velcro. He mounted the lampshade on a light stand, inserting his camera’s speed light through the smaller lampshade opening. As you can see in his photostream, the softbox does a great job at softening the shadows in his pictures.

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Automatic trigger for lightning photography

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[Vicktor] has always been fascinated by photographs of lightning and decided to try his hand at capturing a few strikes on his camera. Every time he attempted it however, he didn’t have much success. Instead of trying to operate his camera manually to take the images, he decided to build a lightning trigger that would do it for him.

His circuit uses a large photodiode to sense when lightning strikes, triggering the camera via a hacked shutter release cable. A PIC micro controller is used to adjust the sensitivity of the device, as well as to send the actual trigger signal to the camera. His circuit is connected to the camera via a pair of opto couplers to ensure that his circuit cannot cause any harm to the camera.

When the box is powered on, it enters a calibration mode where the user can adjust the circuit to compensate for whatever amount of ambient light is present. Once armed, the box waits for a sudden change in ambient lighting, sending the exposure release signal to the camera.

A schematic is available on his site, and he will send you the code he use on request. There is currently no video of the trigger in action, but hopefully we’ll see one soon.

If you’re interested in seeing some other remote camera triggers, check out this one made from air freshener parts, and this one which uses lasers.

Shedding some light on your kitchen chores

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[Garret] over at Macetech wanted to supplement the lighting over his kitchen sink, which is always too dark at night. He says his house is a “geek house”, so a standard light socket just wouldn’t do – he would have to construct a LED bar for over the sink instead.

Since nobody wants to use a light switch with wet or messy hands, he did what anyone would do and rigged up a motion detection circuit to automatically turn the lights on and off for him. 16 bright white 10mm LEDs were mounted in some foam core board, along with a PIR motion sensor. He used an ATiny84 to handle the PWM fade-in and fade-out of the lights, as well as to keep track of the activity (or lack thereof) at the sink.

He does admit that the ATiny84 is way overpowered for this project, but he lacked anything smaller, and says that 555 timers wouldn’t give him the smooth light fading that he desired. Regardless, it works as advertised, and now nobody has to peel potatoes in the dark any more.

Continue reading to check out a quick video demo of the motion-sensing light system.

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NES game pad wireless light commander

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Annoyed that the new lights he bought for his apartment lacked power switches, Instructables user [p.arry.drew] decided to install a pair of wireless light switches. Not content to use the remotes separately, he decided to see if he could cram them both into an old NES controller, making for a nice all-in-one wireless light commander.

He disassembled the light switch remotes, cutting off a bit of the battery contacts to ensure they fit in the game pad. He then pulled apart his NES controller, removing the cord and adding some foam padding to ensure that the buttons fully contacted the wireless switches when pressed. A few bits of wooden dowel were added to keep everything in place, then the controller was reassembled.

His creation makes for a very convenient method of controlling several light switches from once source, plus the packaging is pretty handsome as well. These remote light switching solutions seem to be all the rage lately, so keep them coming!

Read on for a quick video of his remote light switches in action.

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