Sunday, March 24, 2019

Let There Be Light! - Computer Lab Lighting

I initially bought these LED light bulbs to replace the ones in the chandelier at my house.  The only problem was, the threaded parts weren't long enough to screw all the way down into the light socket and complete the circuit (perhaps this is why they were on clearance at the grocery store). What's even more embarrassing was while trying to switch out the light bulbs, I broke one of the glass panels in the chandelier!
Having had to admit defeat, I had these light bulbs still, and needing some lighting for the computer lab under my loft bed, I bought a couple light fixtures to use them.  Not surprisingly, I had the same problem of the light bulbs bottoming out before reaching the bottom contacts.  This time, however, I was able to take matters into my own hands and put the sockets into the lathe and turn down some of the plastic.  Bingo! They worked!

First, measuring out the distance of wire I'd need.

The tools needed to put it all together.
The lighting fixtures had these 2 prongs that stab through the wire insulation to make the circuit.  I initially tried wiring the whole setup with speaker wire, but it wasn't thick enough for the prongs to stab through.  Fortunately I had a scrap coil of thicker blue wire I found by the side of the river that was just long enough for the job.
The pieces of heat shrink tubing were added so there wouldn't be any bare wire exposed at the end of the parallel circuit.
Getting everything hooked up in the switch box.
Here's the poorly drawn wiring diagram for this project.  A pretty simple circuit actually.  The orange power cable came from none other than the terrible bench grinder I destroyed.  I think that makes 5 projects now that utilized parts from that.

All the wires connected, and switch screwed down.
Now checking to make sure I didn't accidentally short anything.  Infinite resistance between prongs 1 and 2 = good in this case.
Checking to make sure I properly grounded it.  Zero resistance between 3rd prong and switch box = good.  The ground is a precaution so if any of the live wires accidentally come loose and contact the box, it will be grounded and not make the whole box live.  Looks like those home electrician's books I used to read during silent reading in high school are finally paying off!
Alright, now I feel confident enough to plug it in and turn it on.  We have light!
Now hanging this stuff up.  The lighting fixtures came with these clips which I wrapped around screws I added to the bed frame.
I didn't buy any actual cable hangers, so I improvised by heat shrinking the 2 wires together and alternately threading one through a terminal connector which was screwed onto either of the angle brackets I added to the bed frame.
Another view.  It is important to note that the bare wire is not touching the metal at all.  I didn't even crimp the terminal connector over the wire.  This allows me the freedom to move them if needed, or reuse the connector if I take this all apart.
Then screwing the switch box onto the wood beam, and plugging it in.
We have light!
Awwwwww yeah!  No excuses not to get work done now!  Ain't that right Squashy Grapefruit?
Yay! Now the last step to make the lab complete is adding the curtains to make it really feel like the old fortress!
Loft Bed/ Computer Lab Series:
3. Lighting (this post)
4. Curtain Rod (coming soon)

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