For a while I had a need for brighter illumination over my workshop lathe and although salvaged led strips were already on hand inspiration wasn’t, so when a chance recovery of a dishwasher toe kick panel happened, along with the retrieval of a discarded set of battery powered tools and their charger I thought “why not make it portable too?” and thus this dual purpose project was born.
Step 1: Adapting the Television LED Strips
A proprietary connector system of the strips had to be modified for conventional wiring needs. Using a standard 2- connection p.c. terminal block, the first step is to uncover the two lead-ins of each strip, then solder the block to them, and finally reinforce all with some hot glue, making for a rugged and durable light strip. Insulating plastic flats were added under the new connectors as a final precaution against shorting with the metal housing.
Step 2: From Toe Kick to Lamp Housing
The kick panel, at 16” [41cm] long, was a perfect size to house the strips inside. 3 lengths of lamps fit nicely and so holes were drilled for an on/ off switch and a 2.5 mm power socket at one end. The strips themselves were mounted equidistant from the ends and centered within.
Step 3: Test the Lamp Assembly
Before final wiring was to take place, I wanted to verify the concept and see just what the power needs would be when utilized as a portable lamp. Using one of the lithium batteries saved with the tools, I connected all the strips in parallel and measured the power drain- 6 watts, hardly anything at all for such a useful device. The test was good, so then the circuits were permanently wired.
Step 4: Battery Backup & Mains Power Packs
To allow for portability as well as mains power, I sawed off the battery connectors from the tools and made provisions for tapping the current. No regrets about this as they were non- functioning and well beyond restoration anyway, and I suspect too that the batteries themselves are a recent replacement set as they had few battle scars, unlike the tools.
The 19 volt d.c.mains power brick was salvaged from a discarded laptop computer and was good to go as is.
Step 5: Mounting the Lamp Housing
Wood slats from a salvaged futon needed little more than some cut to length operations to make them into a modular carrying handle/ frame for the lamp hood; some simple biscuit joinery then held the component parts together. A French Cleat system installed on my shop wall was useful for holding a simple suspension platform that was constructed with a receiver track to hold the frame, thus allowing for a tool- less mounting of the fixture. Finally, the platform itself makes a nice storage shelf for the battery stuff.
Step 6: Uses
The major portion of it’s life is as a light bank for my shop lathe, however, here in hurricane prone Florida, having it serve as an emergency backup light source is no less essential too. Lending itself to free standing on end, narrow corridors like this hallway can be efficiently illuminated; note the angle bracket of the frame serves double duty as a battery rest platform too.
In horizontal orientation a large room’s general illumination is also easily realized, thus making for a comfortable environment while awaiting power restoration.