A New Challenger Approaches…
Well, the hour grows late my friends, very late indeed… The contest closes in scarce few days and I’m sidling up to the entry gate with an empty handed swagger… but wait… what’s that in my pocket?
No it’s not a flashlight. At least, not yet… Just bits and pieces of what may become a nightlight. After all, though the hour is late, that is the time we most let our lights shine, no? Let me regale you with the story of how I came to be here.
We’ll skip over the nonessentials; birth, childhood, etc., and get right to the gritty. I needed light of a higher calibre than what I was finding offered and so stumbled onto this forum around 2019, from whence I long lurked.
Seeing some of the late entries valiantly crossing the finish line lately has inspired me to pluck up my courage and give this a go, and with the time remaining, do it in the spirit of BLF; honoring the contest and Old Lumens by reaching out to the community for input.
Given the above mentioned lurking, I’m a hermit by nature and find great difficulty sharing much online. For instance, despite recording thousands of songs over the past decade and a half, I’ve shared maybe a couple dozen in that time. A friend once told me we have a duty to eachother to not hide what may be inspiration for others, despite how imperfect we may find it. I say this to encourage anyone thinking of entering to go for it! I truly marvel at the ingenuity and creativity of this community, and you never know how what you share can be of unexpectedly great value to our fellow human beings. Again, if the hour is late we need more light than ever
Searchbeam, Narrowing the Light:
I toyed with ideas of submitting the ultimate tactical flashlight, with a head that makes even the most aggressive crenelated bezels look about as menacing as a baby who got their mouth around granddads false teeth.
Though I opted out of a design along these lines, I present you one path not taken….
I wondered the whole way through what exactly I was doing, but sometimes an idea seizes me and I must see it through. I have made a great many an item of questionable utility, this one ranks somewhere in the middle.
Several years ago I spent roughly an hour and a half kneeling on the side of a country road plucking quills from a freshly hit and newly deceased porcupine. I’ve passed along quills to carvers & weavers, among others, and completed a few projects using them since. Still I have a large quantity remaining. I wanted to test the quills optical transmittance, of particular allure being the natural colour fade along their length, to see what kind of diffuse glow they could provide.
If you squint, you may notice some faint artifacts around the edge of the otherwise perfect beam of the Porcushine. I figured my chances of winning were less than my chances of being beaten and pilloried with such a submission, hence, I moved on.
(Though I must admit, it does make for an intrguing headstand illuminant with x6 rngwn 3400k 5mm LEDs in natural aluminum…. direct driven by a CR2032. Sapele wood inlaid, each quill mortised through the sapele and epoxied in place)
Continuing in my quest for natural curves and organic lines… not unlike lighthouses and pottery… (name that signature, anyone?) I returned to an old friend. I mean geological ages old; the fruit of our dear and perplexing fungal coinhabitants of Earth: the mushroom.
Here I went for a bamboo stemmed mushroom lamp.
I like it, it’s a bit clunky but very satisfying to me. A simple USB LED string 30 odd feet long (a rare grab from the dollar store I wish I stocked up on while they lasted) which is run through the base and up the hollow bamboo then wrapped around and around just under the head of the bamboo stem. Small notch in top of stem lets LED string not interfere with the press fit structure of the carved maple mushroom cap.
This LED string won environmental and sustainability awards, not because it was particularly impressive for either of those reasons, but simply because it is green. I mean green. Kermit. Hulk. Granny Smith. 1930s death row. Joking aside, while overall feeling pleased with it, I wanted a more elegant, more compact mushroom lamp now that I’d had that first sweet, sweet, polysaccharine taste.
So that brings us home.
With this mushroom I wanted the fine elegance of metal. Copper is easily workable, though I’d never hammered copper before I found it satisfying, slow work. Using a balpeen hammer and two rounded surfaces on a heavy vice, I caressed and shaped the thrifted copper souvenir plate one blow at a time into a semispheroid mushroom cap.
Then realized it was wildly too large, and decided to try 3/4” copper pipe cap I had laying around. I found 1/4” stiff copper line, thick walled like I have rarely seen these days, in my small collection of salvaged compressor line piping from a renovation job of a local universities carpentry shop.
This pipe was then swaged (expanded using simultaneous internal pressure and rotation) which caused it to split open rather gruesomely… which I found to be very evocative of a decaying mushroom stem. So, I did the second stem the same way and polished each up through successive grits of sandpaper, then chose a small maple burl and drilled using a tiny holesaw, an appropriate ring shaped hole with a solid centre. The copper stems were then epoxied into the burl.
From here, I turn to BLF as my trusted counsel. Two options have presented themseles to me for circuit design. Either dead simple CR2032 in the bottom attached to LED leads in each mushroom…. or a boost driver run off one concealed AAA eneloop, not particularly difficult wiring, but very delicate given the small footprint and irregular surfaces I work with. Need to hollow out base either way, just how much?
That’s my start! Please bring your thoughts and suggestions below. I will be juggling everyday demands of life to make this happen, and will return with progress tomorrow I should hope.
Good luck to all!