Directing Ambient Light For Some Extra Glow

[Yuichiro Morimoto] wanted to create a decorative lamp, one that wasn’t burdened with batteries or wires, but used just the ambient light in the room to create a directed glow effect. Using a coloured circular acrylic sheet, with a special coating (not specified) ambient light impinging on the surface is diffused toward the edge. This centre sheet is embedded in an opalescent sheet, which scatters the light from the center sheet, giving a pleasant glow, kind of akin to a solar corona. An additional diffuser cover sheet on the front covers over the edge to hide it, and further enhance the glow effect.

Details of the ‘special coating’ are scarce, with the coloured sheet described as a condenser plate. This clearly isn’t the same as diffuser plastic, as that cannot be seen through as clearly as some of the photographs show. So we’re a little stumped on this one! Please answer in the comments if you can, ahem, shed some light on this one!

When talking about ambient light, many people will think more along the lines of active lighting, for example, adaptive ambient light around a TV like this hack.

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Taking (Good) Pictures Of PCBs

Snapping pictures is not technically difficult with modern technology, but taking good photographs is another matter. There are a number of things that a photographer needs to account for in order to get the best possible results, and if the subject matter isn’t particularly photogenic to start with it makes the task just a little more difficult. As anyone who’s posted something for sale online can attest, taking pictures of everyday objects can present its own challenges even to seasoned photographers. [Martijn Braam] has a few tricks up his sleeve for pictures like this in his efforts to photograph various circuit boards.

[Martijn] has been updating the images on Hackerboards, an online image reference for single-board computers and other PCBs, and he demands quality in his uploads. To get good pictures of the PCBs, he starts with ample lighting in the form of two wirelessly-controlled flashes in softboxes. He’s also using a high quality macro lens with low distortion, but the real work goes into making sure the image is sharp and the PCBs have well-defined edges. He’s using a Python script to take two pictures with his camera, and some automation in ImageMagic to composite the two images together.

While we’re not all taking pictures of PCBs, it’s a great way of demonstrating the ways that a workflow can be automated in surprising ways, not to mention the proper ways of lighting a photography subject. There are some other excellent ways of lighting subjects that we’ve seen, too, including using broken LCD monitors, or you can take some of these principles to your workspace with this arch lighting system.

A segmented lamp made of circular slices of plywood. They are arranged as shutters around a long, skinny LED bulb in the center that gives off an incadescent-looking glow. A cord trails off to the left against the grey background.

Plywood Lamp Has Customizable Light Output

There’s something about light fixtures that attracts makers like moths to a flame. [danthemakerman] wanted something with a more configurable light output and built this Sculptural and Customizable Plywood Lamp.

In his detailed build log, [danthemakerman] describes how he wanted something “sort of like an analog dimmable light.” By using a stack of split plywood donuts hinged on a brass rod, he can vary the output and shape of the lamp. These shutters allow the lamp to go from bright to nightlight without using any electrical dimming components.

The plywood was rough cut on a bandsaw before being turned on a lathe. The light cover sections were then hollowed out with a Forstner bit and split in half. The tricky bit is the overlap of the cut on the hinge side of the shutters. Cutting the piece exactly in half would’ve required a lot more hardware to make this lamp work than what was achieved by patient woodworking.

If you’d like to see more ways to make light fixtures with plywood, check out this Hexagonal Lamp, these Upcycled Plywood and Glass Lamps, or this Laser-cut Sphere Lampshade that Packs Flat.

Honey, Did You Feed The Lamp? Company Wants To Create Living Light Bulbs

The BBC’s [Peter Yeung] had an interesting post about a small French town experimenting with using bioluminescent organisms to provide lighting. A firm called Glowee is spearheading the effort in Rambouillet and other towns throughout France, using a variety of biological techniques to harness nature’s light sources.

Glowing animals are reasonably common ranging from fireflies to railroad worms. In the case of the French street lighting, Glowee is using a marine bacterium known as aliivibrio fischeri. A salt-water tube contains nutrients and when air is flowing through the tube, the bacteria glow with a cool turquoise light. The bacteria enter an anaerobic state and stop glowing if you shut off the air.

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Modifying Lights For DIY Ambiance

The ESP32 and ESP8266 spread like wildfire a few years ago due to their small form factor, low price, and wireless capability. They didn’t just take over the DIY scene, though. Plenty of mass market products began to incorporate these tiny chips as well, which means that there are some interesting pre-made devices around that are ripe for modification. In this case, using an off-brand smart light bulb as a base for an semi-proprietary lighting setup.

The lighting in this build is a generic RGB light bulb with the ability to control its color over Wi-Fi. Since it has an ESP8266 chip in it, it can be made to work with Philips Hue lights with some minor modifications, allowing a much wider range of control than otherwise available. For this one, [Vadim] needed to pry open the bulb case to access the chip, then solder wires to it for reprogramming. It needed power during this step which meant plugging the resulting mess of wires back into a lamp socket, but after this step the new programming allows the bulb to be reprogrammed remotely.

After that step is complete, though, the generic bulb is ready for its inclusion into a Hue lighting system. In this case, [Vadim] is using diyHue, a Hue emulator that allows control of the bulbs without needing to use any cloud services, running on a BeagleBone. It’s a fairly comprehensive way of adding many different types and brands of bulbs to one system, and avoids any subscription models or the use of a cloud service, which is always something we can get behind.

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One Ring Light To Fool Them All Into Thinking You’re Well-Rested

We know you’re beautiful, but maybe that cheap web camera from 2007 doesn’t always project your best image. Although web cameras are starting to come back down from the pandemic price gouging days, you could just build yourself a ring light and go from there, because better light may be all you need to look great.

Of course, this isn’t going to be cheaper than just buying a ring light, but if you already have a Circuit Playground and 3D printer lying around, you’re about halfway to owning one that’s much cooler than anything you can buy. The only other major hardware is the RGBW LED ring, the slide pots that adjust the light color, and the clicky little button that exits out of Zoom calls.

The business part is made to mount right over the camera, so the only part that has a footprint is the control box. No need to make space for a tripod or another boom. If you’re worried about staring into a bunch of lights, there’s a diffusing ring among the print files. We think this setup looks great, especially since [Southern Fried Science] built a light guide into the enclosure so those LED on the Circuit Playground don’t go to waste.

Do you just wish you had a more satisfying way to leave Zoom calls? If there’s a stud near your desk, it doesn’t get much more satisfying than a pull chain. If the only stud around is you, then use a giant mushroom button.

Via adafruit

Hacking A Non-Dimmable LED Fixture

For most of us, the solution to having a non-dimmable LED light bulb but needing a dimmable one is a simple as a drive to the store to get the right kind of bulb. But that seems downright boring, not to mention wasteful, so when [Leo Fernekes] was faced with this problem, he looked for a way to make a non-dimmable bulb dimmable.

To be fair, there was a financial aspect to this hack, too. [Leo] had a bunch of cheap non-dimmable light fixtures he wanted to put to use. He started with a teardown and reverse-engineering of a light strip, which contains little more than LEDs and a small buck converter. His analysis of the circuit led him to a solution for dimming the light: inserting a MOSFET as a shunt around the LEDs. That and the addition of a diode to isolate the LEDs from the current regulator would allow for simple PWM-control of the lights via a microcontroller.

As is typical with these things, there were complications. [Leo] found that a timing problem resulted in flickering LEDs; the fix came from adding a sync circuit that cleverly leveraged a flip-flop inside the PIC16 microcontroller he chose for the circuit. His prototype incorporates these modifications, plus an interface that supports the DALI protocol for architectural lighting control. As always, [Leo] is quick to point out that mixing line voltage into your projects is not without risks, which he takes pains to mitigate. And as is also typical for his projects, [Leo] gives just the right amount of detail to understand the theory behind his design.

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