All right, I haven’t written for a while and it’s because I’ve been busy designing my next project – a chandelier that will hang above my dinette table! This is so fun! I worked up an approximation of what I want in Googly SketchUp, shown in the picture to the left. The white parts are leaded glass crystal, the brown parts are wood, and the yellow and green parts are transparent acrylic. The butterflies hanging below are little fabric butterflies I got at a craft store.
That picture is a bit out of date – a number of design decisions have been tweaked as I’ve worked on this project. I ended up choosing clear glass teardrop crystals instead of the red ones shown in that picture. The arms I’m actually using are thicker and not quite as long. The cylinder that the arms go into (and holds the electronics) will be a bit taller, and the bottom-most wooden disk will be a bit thicker.
I’ve also changed the design of the flowers that surround the lights. Instead of the yellow flowers and green leaves each being 3/4″ thick acrylic, they will each be made of three layers of 1/4″ acrylic with some layers being smaller than others. The picture to the right shows a head-on rendering of my current plan for the flowers.
For the lights I’m using neutral white Luxeon® Rebel LEDs in LuxDrive’s Endor Star™ modules. Each of these three-LED modules emits as much light as one of the halogen floodlights I have lighting my kitchen and this chandelier will have six (one in each flower), so I’m guessing I won’t be running it at full power most of the time. And if I do my heat-sinking properly, I won’t have to replace the lights for 35 years!
My chandelier is a bit upside-down. Most chandeliers have the lights pointing upwards (often looking kind of like candles). I, however, have high concrete ceilings, and I don’t want to rely on light bouncing back off the ceiling, so my lights point down at the table. This does mean, however, that unlike most chandeliers, I won’t get much light going up through all the nifty leaded crystal and acrylic above the lights. So I’m going to wrap a bit of RGB LED strip around the top of the wood cylinder containing the electronics (the sme cylinder that the arms go into). This will provide accent lighting for the top parts of the chandelier.
The circuit boards I designed arrived last weekend so I was able to go ahead and build the guts of the chandelier. The drivers for the high-power LEDs and accent LEDs are controlled by a microcontroller and, like most of my creations, I threw an XBee wireless module into the mix so the chandelier will be part of my home network, controllable through my digital assistant and all that jazz. The pictures below show the two circuit boards (the most heat-producing components are on the top board while the bottom board contains the microcontroller, the XBee module, and the drivers for the main LEDs) and my digital assistant’s control dialog for the chandelier.
I’ll finish this article with pictures of all the other cool parts and raw materials that I’ve purchased for this project. It’s always exciting to have parts for makin’ stuff! muwahaha!