With regard to my recent blog Danger Will Robinson! (Walk towards the light), I've been making some progress on the "prop" to accompany my forthcoming presentation as to how radiation can affect embedded systems at the DESIGN West 2013 Conference and Exhibition.
As a starting point, my inventor friend, Brian LaGrave, who is a master of rooting interesting things out on the Internet, led me to a rather interesting wood-and-leather decorative case from Amazon. This really does look rather tasty from a distance.
The next step was to add some switches and light covers as shown below. I used three antique telephone switches (I'm thinking circa the 1960s, but they could be earlier) that I picked up off eBay some time ago. I also used three antique faceted light covers (from top to bottom we have green, amber, and red) with chrome finishings that my chum Rick Curl sent me a couple of weeks ago on the off-chance that I'd find something useful to do with them.
One thing that surprised me was how long it took me to add these little scamps. The actual process of cutting the holes took only a few minutes – the real time-consuming part was deciding where things should go. One problem is that I've never done any sort of industrial design course (I'll add that to my "wish list"). I do vaguely recollect hearing that odd numbers of items are generally more pleasing to the eye, and also that things look more interesting of they aren’t all centered.
The other side of the coin, of course, is that things don’t look very nice if you just randomly scatter them around. As you can see from the image above, I ended up mounting the switches with 1/2" clearance from the dark wood at the top and 1/2" clearance from the leather strap on the side. In the case of the faceted light covers, I mounted these vertically in the space on the right of the case. Also, for aesthetic reasons, the mid-line of the upper-most light cover is centered on the pivot point of the switches.
All in all I think it's looking rather good so far, but now I've run into a slight problem…
Ideally I would like to use LEDs as light sources, because I can easily control these and generate special effects (like "breathing," where they gradually brighten and then dim again) using a microcontroller. The problem is that I need to use jolly bright LEDs, and these appear as sharp point sources behind the covers.
I tried picking up a small LED flashlight (we call it a torch in England) that has three LEDs and a metal reflector, but that just ended up looking like three point sources. I want something that has the sort of look-and-feel you would get using an old incandescent bulb, but using LEDs.
Next Monday morning on the way into work, I'm going to drop in to a local store called Mock Electronics
(sadly they aren’t open at the weekend), because they have all sorts of weird and wonderful electronics equipment hanging around. In the meantime, any ideas you have would be very gratefully received.
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