Project 4: Light Engines

After being introduced to the physics of connecting little lightbulbs and the switch and watched a demo, I assembled my own little light kit and did successfully got the lightbulb and switch to work.

After this, I decided to test out how the light shines through different kind of paper material. Thus, I made cubes out of the different papers and placed them on top of a lightbulb to see how much light comes through. I also hope to figure out if paper with similar thickness but are actually different affects the brightness of the light.

Cube made out of tracing paper
Cube made out of bristol paper
Cube made out of construction paper

Other than observing the different amount of light shining through the white paper, I also noticed how the white construction paper’s paper pattern/structure were also somewhat visible due to the light. Different from this, the tracing paper and the bristol paper seems a lot smoother.

In addition to testing out the light in relation to different paper materials, I also tried to brainstorm on what I can do with the switch. I ended up simply playing around putting paper on and beside the switch and tried to experiment a little. One way that I have came up with is to put a piece of pressed down rectangular tube paper beside the tip of the switch, and another rectangular tube close to the other end of the switch where it connects the wires. Thus, when I press down on the paper on the tip of the switch, I can keep it in position under the other rectangular tube and keep it there when I want the light on. To turn the light off, simply remove the paper from underneath the rectangular tube and it will go back to it’s original position. Bellow is a short clip of my experimentation with the switch:

— — — — — — — — — — — November 14th, 2016 — — — — — — — — — — —

After testing out a few different paper materials and also paying careful attention to the warmness/coolness of the light when shine through the paper, I started working on actually designing my light engine and tried to come up with a few different possibilities before I decide to stick with a single one. I also made prototypes of these ideas and tried to see how I will need to alter my idea in order to make it work.

For example, I thought of having a light bulb shine through the middle of an origami rose and thus tried building this prototype. At first, I used bristol paper since I felt that it’s thickness is the most appropriate for my rose, but realized that when I have multiple layers of bristol paper stacked onto of each other, the light barely shines through. Thus, I had to change to using tracing paper instead since light shines through easier.

A rose made out of tracing paper and another out of bristol paper

I feel that the rose made out of tracing paper gives more of a flowery feeling since it’s softer and the one out of bristol paper is too stiff and has too many sharp edges that a normal rose wouldn’t have. Looking at the form, the rose made out of tracing paper looks a lot better. However, even though light works better with tracing paper in this case, I felt that tracing paper is a little thin to work with and thus caused me a little trouble to try to hold the rose up. For the stem of the rose, at first I thought of hiding the wires inside an aluminum tube, but it didn’t work cause the tubes are too thin (even though I have also bought one thicker one). In order to hold up the rose, I had to roll a piece of bristol paper and wrap it around the wires instead of simply using tracing paper. But to keep the overall consistency of the lamp, I covered the bristol paper tube with tracing paper. Bellow is an image of this prototype:

I didn’t really like how the stem turned out since I hope to somehow make it thinner (but also not lose the strength it has to hold up the rose). I also decided to add another rose to the top for decoration so it doesn’t feel that empty on the top, and will also consider adding a lightbulb to that other rose as well so both roses will be lit when the light gets switch on.

Due to the fact that I need to use this light kit for my other prototypes as well, I could only tape everything together using masking tape right now in order to be able to take the wires and battery out to put into and test out my other prototypes. However, I am considering using double sided tape and maybe clear glue when actually putting the rose lamp together.

— — — — — — — — — — — November 15th, 2016 — — — — — — — — — — —

Focusing at generating ideas and testing them out at this point, I tried to prototype my another idea that I have sketched. Since an criteria of this project is to make an light engine out of white paper, i thought about the 3D origami stuff that I had made in the past and thought of incorporating it into my light engine.

This is made out of hundreds of pieces of little rectangular paper folded into triangular shapes. I ended up giving this lamp angular edges on the top, since I hope that it can somehow influence the shape of the light casted when it is turned on. Since I mainly focused on creating a light engine form, I did not really thought about how I should incorporate the switch and the entire mechanism into this light engine. I tried to hang the light using the wires and battery box as a base, but I don’t find this visually appealing. Trying to play around with the switch and how the light is in it’s on/off states in accordance to where the switch is place, I discovered that flipping the switch back on forth can switch the light on and off. Since I hope to focus on developing/ prototyping more ideas at this point, I simply tried to cover the switch and place it into a geometric cube made out of bristol paper.

— — — — — — — — — — — November 16th, 2016 — — — — — — — — — — —

Working on another prototype, I tried to do something different and focused on trying to create a shape that is more geometric. Since the switch of my previous prototype didn’t really worked together with the light engine itself and is somewhat considered separate parts, I focused on trying to create a different light engine that incorporates the switch into the engine itself. Simply playing around and trying out differenrt net drawings, cutting them out, and piecing them together, I ended up choosing to work with this one that is mainly rectangular but have angle folds so that I can tilt the light engine back and forth. Bellow is the next drawing and cutout of this light engine:

I had to measure the angles and made them very exact so that it fits together perfectly when I fold it together. After folding it up, I had to cut out another lid for the light engine to cover the top so people won’t be able to see the inner mechanisms.

This is what my prototype ended up looking like. I find it a little challenging to find the perfect location of where to place the battery, switch, and light bulb inside the prototype in order to make the light engine turn on when I tilt it one way and turn off when I tilt it back. The battery is also somewhat heavy and affects how the prototype functions, and I ended up placing it on one of the folds so it can easily slide just a tiny but when I tilt the light engine and stay there instead of tilting back itself. Bellow is a short clip of how this prototype works and light up:

— — — — — — — — — — — November 17th, 2016 — — — — — — — — — — —

After looking at everyone’s light engine prototypes and sharing ideas in class, I learnt a lot about what works well and what doesn’t work well. For example, there were some prototypes that neatly incorporated the entire mechanism into the form of the light engine and functions very nicely. However, when looking at other people’s works other than myself’s, I realized how it is sometimes a little confusing to figure out how the prototype functions since the form doesn’t really communicate the way that it should be used. Thus, this caused me to rethink about my own prototypes and I will definitely keep this criteria in mind when I try to refine them.

After having a short conversation with Stacie, I also realized that it is important to incorporate the switch into the light engine itself and caused me to rethink about how I should refine my 2nd prototype as shown above. That prototype is definitely too small for me to incorporate the battery and switch into the form itself, and thus made me consider either enlarging the entire prototype or changing its form. I felt like I like the prototype the most out of the 3 above, but this is definitely only a rough draft and I will need to think more about how to get rid of the separate parts and make it function together with the light engine. I also started to think more about the movement and how people would try to use this prototype when they first look at it, and I hope to incorporate the switch into this movement so everything is one thing as a whole.

— — — — — — — — — — — November 18th, 2016 — — — — — — — — — — —

I decided to focus on refining my 2nd prototype and work with this one. I thought of creating a stand or a base to it so that I can hide the battery and wires inside. At first, I thought of making a bowl-like shape on the outside but ended up making a base that is too small to fit the part I previously made inside. However, I still continues to try to make different interesting forms out of this and ended up making a base as shown bellow (with the part previously made placed somewhat ontop/ in it):

The back of the base is very pointy in order to hold the top part in place. Since I haven’t thought much about the switch yet, I kind of just placed it into one of the triangular pieces that I have folded, and it works fine when I flip it up and down, the light engines switches on and off. I tried this out since I felt that when people look at this form with the piece of triangle sticking out, it would be quite obvious that they should try to move that piece of triangle and can easily figure out how to turn on my light engine.

My prototype when turned on

I really like the top view of looking down at my prototype when it is switched on (as shown in the image above on the left). However, I understand that the switch is still not fully incorporated into the light engine itself and I will still continue to work on changing this.

— — — — — — — — — — — November 21st, 2016 — — — — — — — — — — —

In classed today, we talked about the criteria to pay attention to when working on refining our light engines. I agree with all of these in the list that we had came up with together and will definitely work on changing my light engine so that the form explains interaction and conveys lightness, and intergrate the mechanism into the piece as a whole. By focusing on these criteria, I would like to try to make a larger base so that the top part fits perfectly into the base, and have the light switch on and off when it is pushed down and lifted from the base. I will also pay more attention to how my light engine looks from different perspectives and making sure it feels cohesive from which ever angle I look at it.

— — — — — — — — — — — November 22nd, 2016 — — — — — — — — — —

I focused on trying to incorporate the switch and the entire mechanism into the form itself while refining my light engine. Thus, I had to make the base/stand larger and a little taller in order to fit the battery box into it. I also altered the form a little from my previous prototype in order to fit and tie together the forms of the top lightbulb part and the base. This is what I ended up creating:

Comparing to my previous prototype, other than the increase in size of the base, I also took out the sharp tip of the base since I felt that the outer part is already taking up too much volume. I decided to simplify the form a little so that it feels more coherent with the other top part that consists the light bulb. Even though the top part consists of 6 pointing edges, I felt that having the pointing edge on the bas as well feels a little too much.

I also changed the way of how the switch works when refining my prototype. Instead of having it sticking out awkwardly, I placed it in between the top and base parts on top of the battery box so that when the top part is placed right inside the base, the light engine would be off since the mercury switch is being pressed on. When the top part is lift, the light would turn on since the switch would lift up and return to it’s original position since nothing is pressing on it. The top part can be placed in any position leaning on the side of the base stand and the light would remain on as long as it is not placed back upright right into the base. Bellow is a video of how the light engine works:

Even though I like this prototype better than my previous one and tried to change the form of the light engine to clarify its way of interaction, the switch that turns the light on/off isn’t that stable and sometimes gets shifted a little and thus making the light not function properly. I will focus on thinking of ways to stabilize the switch for my next step and also stick/glue the different parts together when I finalize my light engine.

— — — — — — — — — — — November 28th, 2016 — — — — — — — — — —

During critique in class a few days ago, I further understood that the main thing I should work on is to making sure that my light engine’s form communicates to the users how to use it after talking to Stacie and my peers. Refining this design even more, I tried to come up with different possibilities of movement that will allow me to incorporate the switch into it and turn it on and off. I thought of spinning the top piece and spent a long time trying to prototype this movement idea, but ended up giving up since the circular base is too small to work with and make a track for the top part to spin in. I then came up with ideas like tilting my light engine to turn it on and put it back to its original position to turn it off, but I don’t feel like creating an extra stand is the best solution (as I have learned from the engaging mechanisms project to work with the form and alter it instead of adding more parts to it). I ended up placing a sliced and cut wooden chopstick through the top piece of my light engine and connect it to the base part so that I can tilt only the top part to have the bulb light up and not adding extra pieces to my design. However, I also ended up altering the form of the base part since I needed a place to hold the chopstick, and thus built the 2 sides a little higher. Here is what my final light engine’s form ended up looking like:

Light Engine when it is turned off
Light engine when it is turned on

Refining this light engine, I also ended up gluing some of the triangular paper pieces together (especially the ones on the edges) to prevent them from falling when people are using it. Here is a video of how my light engine works and the interaction when turning it on/off:

Overall, I felt that this is a much better light engine than all my previous prototypes and I did somewhat manage to use the form to demonstrate the way of interaction. Throughout the working process, I learned that it is important to test out the technology/ given materials, and design a form having these in mind. I felt like I could improve in the future by focusing on both the interaction and the form design at the same time since I kind of focused more on the form of my light engine throughout the project and struggled a lot to incorporate the switch into my design.

— — — — — — — — — — — December 5th, 2016 — — — — — — — — — —

In our final critique/ discussion of this project today in class, we discussed and created a list of what we learned through working on this project. I agree that after working though the project, we have became an even more observant and conscious of physical interactions that are happening in our daily lives. In addition to the physical interactions, I have also became aware of the hidden mechanism behind things or how things function instead of taking it for granted and not think about all these details. I felt that working on this project definitely gave us experience in examining the way human interact with things and how these designed things reveal their use through their forms.

— — — — — — — — — — — December 6th, 2016 — — — — — — — — — —

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