Desk lamp project

idleprocess

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I recently moved to a new work location and found the lighting over my work area unsatisfying - particularly after I removed the wall-mount cabinet with its under-cabinet florescent fixture. I purchased a desk lamp for one side of the desk that partially alleviated the problem, but it still left the other side a bit dim. I wanted something mounted a little higher than the existing desk lamp that was a bit diffused.

Recalling that I had plenty of decent 4000K LED strip, miscellaneous aluminum extrusion, and a number of other potentially useful bits on hand, I set to work designing something that would be at least a step or two removed from pure utilitarian.

I did some crude raytracing for an upward-firing design striking some glossy reflective material (dry erase sheet I got somewhere some time back), but decided that the effective yield would be low, the light pattern a bit weird, and the fabrication annoying. Most importantly I didn't have any material suitable for making a mounting bracket.

The second time I went searching my garage for bracket material, I again came across some interesting extrusion that would not be useful for rigid upward mounting, but would indeed suffice for suspension hanging. It also solved the reflector/diffuser problem - simply cut straight strips of differing widths that dangle from the light channel.

Some 72 hours from conception, it was complete.

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The light bar in situ. Somebody was watching the OSIRIS-REx launch when the photo was taken.

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Overview. Note that the bracket neatly fits over the pin board. This is roughly the perceived environmental brightness.

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A better representation of the perceived brightness of the fixture itself when you look at it. The reflector/diffuser facing me is shorter to encourage light to be distibuted in that direction.

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Bracket detail. The power cables for the two LED strip channels also suspend the whole affair. Not going to claim the best soldering skills by any means. Took some experimentation to find the optimal means for arranging the cables since I made them several inches too long.

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The business end - a pair of ~21" long high-density 3528 4000K strips.



I'm overall quite satisfied with the result. It solved a problem, does so with some modest tinkerer aesthetics. The aluminum channel does get a tad warm after the lamp has been on for some time; while it's good that heat is transferring to something other than air or plastic, it suggests that the LEDs are hardly going to last the oft-claimed 25,000 to 50,000 hour operating life ... and I'm OK with that.

Some nitpicks on myself:
  • I should have cut the LED wires about 3" shorter
  • The reflctor/diffusers diffuse appreciably more light than I wanted; they could also be cut down a little and straighter
  • Used a 2-pole switch but failed to install a resistor for a low mode
  • (Not readily apparent) I should have purchased smaller-OD bulkhead jacks - 1/2" thru-holes take an annoyingly long time to drill out
 

Steve K

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Peoria, IL
nice work! Always good to see someone come up with a new and interesting design.

The bigger question.... how do you keep your desk so clean and uncluttered?? (only slightly kidding)
 

idleprocess

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nice work! Always good to see someone come up with a new and interesting design.
Thanks. I was aiming for something reasonably clean but still hacker-ish. Or mostly because of self-imposed limits on time and material.

The bigger question.... how do you keep your desk so clean and uncluttered?? (only slightly kidding)
The clean desk is a function of job role, industry, and times. I support a major software automation platform for a telecommunications provider. It is not a stretch to say literally everything that matters about what I do happens tens to hundreds of miles away from my office in locations I will likely never be.

Those two (was supposed to be three) screens represent my view into the hands-on part my work: the software's main GUI, the many CLI consoles to monitor the software, SQL console for the platform's database, the web GUI that most users see, the various equipment vendors' manual provisioning/disagnostic/management applications, and countless other web applications.

There is no printed job/company-specific reference material, nor dissemination of printed material. Movement of physical work articles is shockingly rare - a shipment of new-model modem/routers was literally the first semi-consumable work-related thing to be moved to our group. I have a scratch pad and a few on my desk, a few general technical reference books, and that's about it for paper. I have no real need to install the drivers for the single multi-function network printer on my floor: there is scarcely any material worth printing.

Years ago in a different career as a mechanical designer, things were different: physical artifacts were the lifeblood of my job and my desk was littered with prototypes, piece parts, printed spec sheets (1 monitor and a lot less information available on the net), and other accouterments of the industry.



This does beg the question - why desk the lamps at all? Because it does get randomly dark at my desk whenever the sun is down or at the wrong angle, my touch-typing style is decidedly *******ized, and I occasionally need to look at things other than the screen (such as technical books).
 
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Steve K

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It's interesting how the world of work has changed over the decades. It used to be that I worked only with people who worked in the same large room as me. Now, I deal with suppliers that are located all over the world as they design stuff for my employer's products. Design reviews are conducted by teleconference instead of in person.

At the same time, the use of software grew exponentially (figuratively), so more features were implemented in the code and more of the design effort focused on that area. Even the electronic hardware became more integrated, with faster clocks, etc., and became a bit more common, standardized building blocks. All in all, as an electronics designer, some of the fun went out of it.

For all of those reasons, perhaps, it is fun to get back into the basic hardware and mess around with LEDs and building one's own desk lamp. :) There is something satisfying about having something physical as the end product of one's labors instead of a file or document.
 
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