Impressive lighting console offers professional features for a fraction of the price

diy_dmx_lighting_control_panel

Hackaday reader [Michael] wrote in to share the build details of an impressive lighting console he has been working on for some time. He says that the 36+ channel console is on par with lighting rigs costing upwards of $5,000, but his was constructed for just around $1,000 – quite the substantial savings.

The console was constructed around an old IBM desktop computer, which handles all of the DMX output as well as preset management. An array of 20 ATMega 328Ps running the Arduino bootloader are scattered throughout the device, 18 of which are used to manage the six fader panels, while the remaining two handle management tasks. Aside from the fader banks, the console features a main control board featuring several LCD screens along with 17 capacitive touch buttons used for menu navigation and console control.

While [Michael] is finished building the board, he has just begun the documentation of the construction process. His blog should be updated regularly with more details, so be sure to check back often. Code, as well as hopefully tons of pictures and videos are all forthcoming.

[Edit: Cost comparison update]

Workshop lights so bright, they will give you sunburn

workshop_led_lighting_control

There are few things more frustrating than trying to tinker at your workbench with suboptimal lighting. [Jeremy] was toiling away in his workshop one afternoon when he decided that he finally had enough, and set out to overhaul his lighting setup.

His workshop is incredibly bright now, sporting a handful of under the shelf CCFL tubes to complement the mixture of cool and warm LEDs that are mounted on the ceiling. One thing we really liked about his setup is that he added a handful of LEDs to the bottom of his workbench, aimed at the floor – perfect for those times when a tiny screw or SMD component goes missing.

Everything is controlled by an ATMega 328 that he shoved into a project box, allowing him to tweak the lighting to suit his needs using a few simple buttons and a small LCD panel.

[Jeremy] says that the entire thing is “overkill” and that it is decidedly the messiest wiring job he has ever done. For something that was put together hastily in an afternoon, we think it’s just fine. The only thing we’re left wanting is some schematics and source code.

As far as the overkill comment goes, say it with me: There. Can. Never. Be. Too. Many. LEDs!

Stick around to watch [Jeremy] give a demonstration of how the system operates.

[via Adafruit blog]

Continue reading “Workshop lights so bright, they will give you sunburn”

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.

Continue reading “Not your ordinary LED book light”

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

led_spotlight_retrofit

[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

diy_softboxes

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.

Continue reading “DIY softboxes light your photos on the cheap”

Automatic trigger for lightning photography

lightning_trigger

[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.