From hackerspace to art show, lamps headed to NYC

Where would a couple of artists/designers go for help with converting their latest lighting project over to LED illumination? Why, their friendly local hackerspace, of course!

Lisa Smith and Caroline Linder‘s “Pipette Lamps”, pictured here, got blisteringly hot when equipped with halogen bulbs. Before showing the lamps at Cite, they wanted to switch light sources. But multiwatt illumination-class LEDs are a bit tricky to drive, and that expertise proved elusive. After pursuing dead-ends with overworked grad students, local electricians, and other leads, the designers asked a geeky friend, who happened to be an i3Detroit member. The connection was instant and, in retrospect, obvious.

Smith and Linder’s request was modest — design hints, electronics help, links to parts suppliers — but shipping takes time, and the looming deadline made it clear that the arm’s-length approach wouldn’t succeed. We had to do this together, and we had to do it with parts on hand. Luckily, i3Detroit’s resident high-power LED geek (yours truly) is also a serious packrat, and had a handful of 5-watt emitters, current-regulated driver modules, and an assortment of appropriate power supplies, just sitting around waiting for a purpose.

In contrast to many of the projects at i3Detroit, this one wasn’t purely functional, nor was it purely aesthetic. Tackling it required everyone involved to keep a foot in each ocean, as it were. I personally enjoyed finding the common ground in our skills, despite initially speaking almost different languages.

The work was completed late Sunday night, as six pools of bright white light spilled into the electronics lab. The ends get barely warm, and the lamps’ power consumption is dramatically lower than before.

The three lamps and their designers are en route to NYC for the show’s opening party this Saturday. If you happen to be in the city, swing by Cite at 131 Greene Street!

For those of us still in Michigan, ponder the following: How should a presently tech-heavy group extend an invitation to more artists, designers, and creative people in general? Please leave a comment!