Tag Archives: diy - Page 3

DIY steampunk-style iron pipe Edison fixture

I’ve been seeing these types of steampunk black malleable iron on the net for years; it was only a matter of time before I went and made one. The texture of the iron combined with the warm vacuum-tube glow is quite an amazing effect, and they certainly look easy to make. Previous trips to the hardware store had only resulted in the question of what socket will fit into these types of pipes? I found myself with some spare time this past Saturday, so I went to the local hardware store and laid out 15 or 20 iron gas pipe fittings in the aisle and designed a 4-bulb fixture — roughly designed that is.

While designing the fixture be careful not to screw the fittings together too tightly as they can bind, also keep in mind these fittings will turn your hands black and the sharp threads can easily shred your hands if you slip. This being my first attempt I kept it relatively simple, keep in mind that you will have to thread wiring through all the bends and turns at some point.

I used the largest malleable iron piping I found, which had an inner diameter of 1 inch on the female threaded sections. I then purchased some basic keyless (no switch) brass sockets. These did not fit in the pipes, though I didn’t mind the look of the brass sockets extending from the fixture so I started with that.

The rounded base of the sockets became a problem as when they were wired and threaded into the fixture they lolled this way or that rather than extending straight from the fitting. I tried bulking up the base of the sockets with electrical tape, but they still slipped. I then tried removing the rounded bottom section yet the upper brass part was still too large in diameter to fit in the pipe.

Then I discarded everything but the bare socket with its bakelite base, the middle portion in the exploded image below (not the exact socket, but very similar). These almost fit, I had to crack/shave/cut off some protrusions from the bakelite base. Discarding the brass and cardboard meant that the socket had no protection or isolation for the wiring leads, for this reason I wrapped the hot lead with some electrical tape to isolate it and then ran one wrap of electrical tape around the entire socket. This extra bulk meant I had to twist and fiddle but they still fit in the pipe. If you fiddle so much that you think the electrical tape may have shredded, take it out, replace the tape and start again. It’s better to be safe.

Even though the sockets had no ground lead it was important when wiring be sure to wire all sockets in the same fashion and keep track of which wire is hot as they will all be combined at some point and you don’t want to short the wrong lead to the iron fixture structure.

While threading wire through the fixture you can unscrew fittings but be careful not to twist the wiring too much inside around elbows.

With the sockets wired and the wiring threaded through the fixture the next step was mounting it to the ceiling or wall. The wall mount fitting, pictured right, is not large enough to cover a junction box. For this reason I used a white plastic cover, however screwing the wall mount fitting to the plastic cover would not be strong enough to support the fixture (iron is heavy).

Another problem was that the wall mount fitting’s screw holes would block the plastic cover’s screw holes. I decided to use a steel junction box cover on top of the plastic cover to support the fixture. I drilled a center hole in both covers, two holes to line up with two of the iron mount’s screw holes and ensured that one of the remaining two screw holes in the iron mount fitting lined up with one of the plastic cover’s screw holes. This meant that the iron fitting would not be centered on the plastic cover, but it did allow access to both of the plastic cover’s screws even after the iron fitting was secured.

In this manner the iron fitting could be bolted to the steel cover, through the plastic cover and still allow access to the plastic cover’s screw holes in order to affix the entire assembly to the junction box.

The photo above shows the steel cover which has been drilled, in this photo the white plastic cover has not had the center hole drilled for the wires yet. I’m confident this system would have worked with a full sized junction box, however once I removed the old fixture I realized my desired location had an old-style smaller junction box and this system wasn’t going to work.

As it turns out, mounting to an old-style smaller junction box is even easier as the two junction box mounting bolts do line up with the iron fitting and therefore there wasn’t a need for the steel plate after-all. I put bolts right through the iron mount fitting, the white plastic cover and into the junction box, which allowed the junction box to directly support the weight of the fixture.

If you’re confident wiring fixtures, outlets, sockets and such this should be right in your comfort zone — if not perhaps enlist a friend who is to help out.

If you’re interested in other Edison-style lighting ideas check out DIY reclaimed lumber hanging Edison bulb chandelier and the reason I have so many Edison bulbs kicking around, Maker Wedding: Rustic Edison-style hanging light fixtures.

A Maker Wedding

Initially I wasn’t sure how much our wedding was truly going to represent my fiancée and I, after all, we wanted our family and friends to enjoy themselves and feel included — as with any large event there are a lot of expectations to manage. After deciding to craft my own Edison-style light fixtures for our reception I realized that the occasion was, in addition to a celebration of our life-long commitment to each other, an opportunity for us to showcase our creativity and perhaps introduce some of our family and friends to aspects of ourselves they may not have known existed.

In retrospect we probably took on too much, but it allowed us to feel the occasion was a true reflection of ourselves — for me this meant soldering, stripping, crimping, twisting, programming and no small amount of brow furrowing. None of these projects could’ve come together without the help of my wonderful wife Ester, who not only said yes, but also collaborated throughout and trusted me to deliver on some very important aspects of our big day. In addition, a big thanks to my dear old Dad who took time to help me with the lengthy task of wiring the Edison fixtures and to the friends and family who helped us setup and teardown these, and other installations.

Animated Arduino LED matrix lounge table top

Vinyl “flexi” record wedding invitations

XBee remote relay as photobooth RF camera trigger

Bachelor party wireless Arduino accelerometer Stab-O-Meter

JQuery Animated Wedding Website


Various puppet arms available at Obscura Antiques & Oddities, New York

Maker Wedding: Animated Arduino LED matrix lounge table top


Finally got around to making an LED table top, as it turns out — for my wedding reception. We decided to have a lounge area and an LED coffee table seemed like the perfect centerpiece for it. I decided instead of making a full table that I would make a table top that fit onto an existing ottoman. I affixed the LED strips to a plywood board which had a 2″ raised frame with aluminium duct tape, to help with brightness.

Arranging the LED’s in a proper matrix turned out to be quite a job as the strips I used came pre-wired and there isn’t all that much length between LED’s on the strip. I ended up having to cut and re-splice the connection leads for each row of the 7 x 7 matrix, after that the construction went quickly. You could get around this by using a more modular LED strip solution, I initially had ShiftBrites slated for this project, but I made something else with them and when I got around to this table top there were much less expensive options available.

I created an outer frame with a bevel to support a glass top. Initially I went with plexiglass but it would bow in the middle with anything of weight on the table, I didn’t want to add supports as this would disrupt the light diffusion, so I opted for a piece of tempered glass (actually intended for table tops to boot).

Adding adhesive obscuring film to the glass didn’t have the diffusion effect I’d hoped for so I sandwiched a sheet of white tracing paper between the tempered glass and a similarly sized piece of plexiglass and this gave the soft white diffused look I wanted.

The issue of programming the animations took a little longer. I wanted to use the disco(esc) animations available from the fine folks responsible for the 1E Disco Dance Floor — which I also used in my ohDisco! app for iPad. These animations are 32 x 16 and can have hundreds of frames — too much to load completely into the Arduino’s memory. But I didn’t want to have to deal with reducing the animations to 7 x 7, or reducing their total frame count, as this would affect the quality and overall impression. Instead I opted to add an SD card reader to the setup which stores the animations. The 7 x 7 section of each frame is loaded on-demand from each animation file and displayed on the table, with this setup the Arduino has no memory problems whatsoever and with a little more code it could index and play animations from the SD card without the need for code changes.

Worth noting is that the SdFat library used to interface with the Seeedstudio SD Card Shield wouldn’t run reliably (or at all sometimes) on an ATmega128 so be sure to use a more powerful Arduino running an ATmega328.

Parts

Arduino Sketch


const int chipSelect = 10;

#include <SdFat.h>
#include "SPI.h"
#include "Adafruit_WS2801.h"

uint8_t dataPin  = 2;
uint8_t clockPin = 3;   

SdFat sd;
SdFile myFile;

int rows = 32;
int cols = 16;

long framesize = rows*cols*3;
long rowsize = cols*3;

int ledrows = 6;
int ledcols = 6;

int rep = 0;
long reps = 5;

int brightness = 15;
int delaytime = 40;

char* files[]={
  "pulsar.ddf",
  "snake.ddf",
  "inter3.ddf",
  "inter4.ddf",
  "inter5.ddf",
  "rings.ddf",
  "rings2.ddf",
  "rings3.ddf",
  "matrix.ddf"
  };

int fileCount = 9;

char* file;
int frame = 0;
int frames;

Adafruit_WS2801 strip = Adafruit_WS2801(50, dataPin, clockPin);

// strip to matrix addressing array
byte addressMatrix[7][7] = {
  1,2,3,4,5,6,7,
  14,13,12,11,10,9,8,
  15,16,17,18,19,20,21,
  28,27,26,25,24,23,22,
  29,30,31,32,33,34,35,
  42,41,40,39,38,37,36,
  43,44,45,46,47,48,49
};

void setup() {
  Serial.begin(9600);
  randomSeed(analogRead(0));
  delay(400);  // catch Due reset problem
  if (!sd.begin(chipSelect, SPI_FULL_SPEED))
    sd.initErrorHalt();

  file = files[ random(fileCount) ];

  strip.begin();
  strip.setPixelColor(0, 0, 0, 0);
  strip.show();
}

void loop() {
  if (!myFile.open(file, O_READ)) {
    sd.errorHalt("failed");
    rep = reps + 1;
    return;
  }

  // seek to next frame
  if(myFile.fileSize() < ((frame*framesize)+1))
  {
    myFile.close(); 

    frame = 0;
    rep = rep + 1;

    if(rep > reps)
    {
      rep = 0;
      file = files[ random(fileCount) ];
      Serial.println(file);
    }

    return;
  }
  else
  {
    myFile.seekSet(frame*framesize);
  }

  // adjust reps for number of frames
  if(frame == 0)
  {
    frames = myFile.fileSize()/framesize;
    reps = 750/frames;
    Serial.println(frames,DEC);
    Serial.println(reps,DEC);
  }

  int data;

  int column = 0;
  int row = 0;

  while (row <= ledrows)
  {
    while (column <= ledcols)
    {
      data = myFile.read();
      // read red
      int r = map(data,0,255,0,255);
      // read green
      data = myFile.read();
      int g = map(data,0,255,0,255);
      // read blue
      data = myFile.read();
      int b = map(data,0,255,0,255);

      // set pixel address
      byte address = addressMatrix[row][column];

      // set pixel color
      strip.setPixelColor(address, map(r,0,255,0,brightness), map(g,0,255,0,brightness), map(b,0,255,0,brightness));

      // next column
      column = column + 1;
    }

    // reset column count
    column = 0;

    // increment row
    row = row + 1;

    // skip extra pixels
    myFile.seekSet((frame*framesize)+(row*rowsize));
  }

  // turn off first pixel (7x7 matrix, 1 unused pixel)
  strip.setPixelColor(0, 0, 0, 0);

  // send current frame to strip
  strip.show();

  // close the file
  myFile.close();

  // increment frame
  frame = frame + 1;

  // rest
  delay(delaytime);
}

Maker Wedding: XBee remote relay as photobooth RF camera trigger

XBee Button Relay Photo Trigger RF

If I didn’t have XBee’s kicking around from some other fanciful endeavour I probably would’ve purchased an inexpensive Aputure remote trigger for the photobooth at my wedding reception — but instead I decided to make an RF camera trigger system from parts I had around, mainly two XBees and a relay. XBee’s are great little wireless mesh transmitter/receivers, much like Tomax and Xamot what you do to one is instantly reflected by the other, so you need only connect a pin to high on the transmitting XBee and the same pin on the receiving XBee will go high — perfect for remotely triggering a relay.

crimson twins

The plan was to have one XBee with a simple pull-down button which would trigger a relay on the receiving XBee and whaddya know — it worked. The receiver relay was attached to a wired camera remote (Canon TC-80N3) I already had from a previous project which allowed the relay to trigger both a Canon Rebel XT and, after splicing in the original connector, a Canon 5D Mark II.
XBee Button Relay Photo Trigger RF
With this setup, two AA batteries for both the transmitter and receiver lasted for days. The only issue I found was that the Rebel XT needed about a 500 millisecond signal whereas the 5D Mark II would trigger instantly on a contact of any duration, I thought about a capacitor, timed-delay relay or 555 solution to keep the relay open longer, but never got around to implementing any solution — after all the 5D would capture the shot if not both cameras.

To be honest, this project survived to the night before, but I decided to scrap the photobooth entirely from the wedding reception to reduce complexity — the lighting turned out to be insufficient and, as the groom, I had no time left to deal with the camera setup. That being said, the theory is sound and it worked quite well for days in my living room, taking shot after shot of me and my fiancée lounging on our couch.

xbee-relay

Maker Wedding: Rustic Edison-style hanging light fixtures

Edison-style light fixtures


After deciding to have our wedding in a barn which had been converted into an event space my thoughts turned to lighting. With the rustic nature of the barn and the impressively high ceilings, one type of lighting sprang to mind instantly — Edison-style bulbs.

I’ve long been a fan of cloth covered wire, so I decided to make each bulb a separate hanging fixture with twisted cloth covered wire, an outlet and a bulb socket. This made the setup completely modular, allowing us to adjust for electrical loads and support almost any arrangement of bulbs. Each fixture would be plugged into a multi-outlet extension cord and secured with a small electrical tie. Each multi-outlet extension cord was plugged in through a lamp dimmer, which was also affixed with an electrical tie to avoid disconnections.

The parts I sourced are below, feel free to comment with better prices. These sockets are three-stage but the bulbs are not, bulbs could be swapped for three-stage bulbs or the sockets for single stage, but it all works regardless. Three-stage bulbs may eliminate the need for the dimmers, but having the dimmers made adjustments quite easy.

To wire the hanging fixtures I first slipped one piece of heat shrink tubing (without heating yet) over the cloth ends encompassing both leads. I then worked the cloth back, stripped the insulation inside and then attached the leads to the socket and plug. Once the leads were secured I shimmied the heat shrink as close to the connections as it would go and blasted it with the heat gun (or, oh my, harassed it with the soldering iron).

Before you go wild with these, do some math to see how many fixtures you should be plugging into each extension cord, and how much wattage your dimmer can support — watch dimmers closely at first, they may heat up, but make sure they’re not melting!

If you’re interested in other Edison-style lighting ideas and/or wondering what I did with all these lights afterwards check out DIY steampunk-style iron pipe Edison fixture and DIY reclaimed lumber hanging Edison bulb chandelier.

Update: Close to a year following our wedding we sent these lights, along with a simple handcrafted fixture, to family and friends as a token of our appreciation and as a keepsake from our wedding. Details about the Edison light thank you packages can be found here.

Parts