Here in the northern hemisphere, winter has wrapped us in her monochromatic prison. A solid deck of gray clouds means you need a clock to tell the difference between night and day, and by about the first week of February, it gets to feeling like you’ll never see a blue sky again. It’s depressing, to be honest, and the lack of sunlight can even lead to a mood disorder known as SAD, or seasonal affective disorder.
SAD therapy is deceptively simple — bright full-spectrum light, and lots of it, to simulate the sun and stimulate the lizard brain within us. Not surprisingly, such lights are available commercially, but when [Justin Lam] bought one to help with his Vancouver blues, he decided to analyze the lamp’s output to determine whether the $70 he spent paid for therapy or marketing.
The initial teardown was not encouraging, with what appeared to be a standard CFL “curly fry” light with a proprietary base in a fancy plastic enclosure. With access to a spectrometer, [Justin] confirmed that not only does the SAD light have exactly the same spectrum as a regular CFL, the diffuser touted to provide “full UV protection” does so simply by attenuating the entire spectrum evenly so that the UV exposure falls below the standards. In short, he found that the lamp was $70 worth of marketing wrapped around a $1.50 CFL. Caveat emptor.
Hats off to [Justin] for revealing the truth behind the hype, and here’s hoping he finds a way to ameliorate his current SAD situation. Perhaps one of these DIY lamps will be effective without the gouging.
Transparent plastic is nothing new. However, 3D prints are usually opaque or–at best–translucent. [Thomas Sanladerer] wanted to print something really transparent. He noticed that Colorfabb had an article about printing transparent pieces with their HT filament. [Thomas] wanted to try doing the same thing with standard (and cheaper) PETG, which is chemically similar to the HT. Did he succeed? Watch the video below and find out.
You can get lots of clear plastic filament, but the process of printing layers makes the transparency turn cloudy, apparently mostly due to the small gaps between the layers. The idea with the HT filament is to overextrude at a high enough temperature that the layers can fuse together.
[Thomas] wanted to create some clear parts and diffusers for lamps. The diffusers print using vase mode and the lamps he creates when them look great even without clear diffusers.
His first experiments involved layer height and extrusion rates. He tried to determine what was making things better and worse and modifying his technique based on that. There were also some post-processing steps he tried.
If you want to see what the Colorfabb HT parts made by someone other than Colorfabb look like, check out the second video below from [3D Printing Professor]. The prints he is making don’t look very clear until he does some post processing. Even after the post processing, it isn’t going to fool anyone into thinking it is glass-clear. However, the parts that Colorfabb shows on their blog post about the material do look amazing. Between the overextrusion used to prevent gaps and the post processing steps, [3D Printing Professor] warns that it won’t be easy to get parts with precise dimensions using this technique.
If you have a big budget, you could try printing with actual glass. There seem to be several ways to do that.
Blinky LED projects: we just can’t get enough of them. But anyone who’s stared a WS2812 straight in the face knows that the secret sauce that takes a good LED project and makes it great is the diffuser. Without a diffuser, colors don’t blend and LEDs are just tiny, blinding points of light. The ideal diffuser scrambles the photons around and spreads them out between LED and your eye, so that you can’t tell exactly where they originated.
We’re going to try to pay the diffuser its due, and hopefully you’ll get some inspiration for your next project from scrolling through what we found. But this is an “Ask Hacakday”, so here’s the question up front: what awesome LED diffusion tricks are we missing, what’s your favorite, and why?
Continue reading “Ask Hackaday: What About the Diffusers?”
[Connor] was working on a project for his college manufacturing class when he came up with the idea for this sleek desk lamp. As a college student, he’s not fond of having his papers glowing brightly in front of him at night. This lamp takes care of the problem by adjusting the color temperature based on the position of the sun. It also contains a capacitive touch sensor to adjust the brightness without the need for buttons with moving parts.
The base is made from two sheets of aluminum and a bar of aluminum. These were cut and milled to the final shape. [Connor] found a nice DC barrel jack from Jameco that fits nicely with this design. The head of the lamp was made from another piece of aluminum bar stock. All of the aluminum pieces are held together with brass screws.
A slot was milled out of the bottom of the head-piece to make room for an LED strip and a piece of 1/8″ acrylic. This piece of acrylic acts as a light diffuser. Another piece of acrylic was cut and added to the bottom of the base of the lamp. This makes for a nice glowing outline around the bottom that gives it an almost futuristic look.
The capacitive touch sensor is a pretty simple circuit. [Connor] used the Arduino capacitive touch sensor library to make his life a bit easier. The electronic circuit really only requires a single resistor between two Arduino pins. One of the pins is also attached to the aluminum body of the lamp. Now simply touching the lamp body allows [Connor] to adjust the brightness of the lamp.
[Connor] ended up using an Electric Imp to track the sun. The Imp uses the wunderground API to connect to the weather site and track the sun’s location. In the earlier parts of the day, the LED colors are cooler and have more blues. In the evening when the sun is setting or has already set, the lights turn more red and warm. This is easier on the eyes when you are hunched over your desk studying for your next exam. The end result is not only functional, but also looks like something you might find at that fancy gadget store in your local shopping mall.
This is just one example of several pairs of spooky eyes which light up [Vato Supreme’s] bushes this Halloween. The quick and inexpensive build process make it a perfect diy decoration.
Each eye is made up of a ping-pong ball and an LED. But that alone won’t be very spook as the entire ball will glow rather brightly. So he spiced things up a bit by masking off the shape of a pupil and spraying the balls black. The vertical slit seen in white above will glow red like a demon in the night.
The LEDs are driven by an ATtiny85 running the Arduino bootloader. [Vato] found there was plenty of space two write code which fades the eyes in and out using PWM. This happens at random intervals for each of the four pairs he is driving.
We’ve seen a similar project that used oversized LEDs as the eyes. But we really like the idea of using a diffuser like this one. See it in action after the break.
Continue reading “Halloween Props: Spooky eyes light up the bushes”
[George] started with an 8×8 grid, but just couldn’t help himself from upscaling to this 32×16 pixel ping pong ball display. That’s right, It’s a 512 pixel array of fully addressable RGB LEDs diffused with one ping pong ball each.
We featured the predecessor to this project back in January. That one was an 8×8 display using a Rainbowduino as the controller. [George] took what he learned from that build and expanded upon it. The larger display is modular. Each module starts as an 8×8 grid which connects back to the Arduino using a breakout shield with some Ethernet jacks used as quick connects. The LEDs are driven by 595 shift registers, with transistors which protect the logic chips from the currents being switched.
He had a lot of help soldering all the connections for the display and ended up bringing it to show off at the Manchester mini maker faire. See it in action in the video after the break.
Continue reading “A much larger rainbow board of many ping pongs”
This chandelier keeps the light source hidden and uses fiber optics to illuminate the acrylic diffusers. It’s the second attempt [TheCreator] has made at building his own. Bother projects are interesting in their own way.
The first attempt used marbles as diffusers and had a much different look to it. This time around he’s using what he calls acrylic dowels. They’re not round, but square (which is why we’re not sure dowel is the right term), and he says they work better than marbles for several reasons. The marbles weren’t very heavy so they didn’t really weigh down the glass fibers to keep then straight. They were also difficult to attach to the fibers and prone to breakage.
To attach the dowels he drilled a hole in the end and epoxied a fiber optic strand in place. To direct light into the other end of the filament he built his own frustum (a pyramid with the tip cut off) of inward facing mirror. This helps to focus what is coming from the RGB LEDs in the appropriate direction so that as much light as possible makes it into the fibers.
He didn’t really give any final thoughts so we wonder if it puts out enough light for his needs. We’re sure that if it’s purely a mood piece he’s satisfied.