Instructables

Poor Man's Track Lighting

Picture of Poor Man's Track Lighting
What do you get when you cross a dimmer switch, a curtain rod, an extension cord and 5 clamp lights? Cheap, practical and adjustable track lighting! Here is a simple and quick way to make highly adjustable ceiling lighting for under $50. This took me a morning to see through from beginning to end and was definitely a good investment all around. It amazed me how dark my studio was before I made this and has me wondering why I didn't do this sooner. It's fantastic to be able to take pictures at night without worrying about there being enough light for the camera. It's also great to generally be able to see what I am doing. Not to mention, it's able to be fully dimmed for a wide range of lighting applications.
 
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Step 1: Go get stuff

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You will need:

A on/off wall mountable dimmer switch
A single fixture junction box
5 Clamp lights
A power strip
A curtain rod
2 mesh-type fly swatters
A 25' extension cord
Misc wires nuts
A hot glue gun
Zip ties
A screwdriver

Step 2: Pop the ends

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Pop out the two end circles from the junction box.

Step 3: Insert the mesh

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Cut two pieces of mesh that fit snug on each of the junction box. Make holes in both of these pieces of these mesh large enough for wires to pass through. Hot glue these pieces onto the inside of the junction box.

Step 4: Prepare with wire

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Cut the extension cord in half. Strip back about 2" -3" of insulation to reveal three insulated wires (typically black, white and green). Strip an inch of covering off each of these wires.

Pass each end of the stripped wire through one of the holes in the mesh that you just made. Once passed through, bend it back upon itself and fasten this loop with a zip tie.
lazydiyer1 year ago
I've had a similar need for a while now, and your info helmed realize how easy of a fix it will be. No need to put it off now. Thanks!

Also, i really like your instructable style: Clear, concise text and lots of sensible photos to detail each individual step.

iTinkers4 years ago
I like the idea. Just a couple suggestions. You could buy the regular cover for the dimmer switch. It's designed to cover the junction box perfectly ( well with a little overlap actually). The cost should be the same, or less, than that of the flyswatter, but you would have a cleaner look. You could also cut off all the plugs from the lights and the extension cord and bind them together in series. You wouldn't need the power bar, and you'd have a cleaner finish, but the lights would not be usable for anything else.
ToLiCo iTinkers2 years ago
Might be better to bind them in parallel in case if one bulb goes out otherwise all will go out.
Noo Series is better, It keeps you guessing... :)
Some people just don't get it?
bruno130692 years ago
My college roommate and I set up something like this 20 years ago using aluminum conduit pipe. We had red and blue bulbs which gave a sort of disco look to the room. We also wrapped the pipe with white holiday tree lights which gave a more comforting light than the industrial type ceiling lights. We had the fun room that year.
This is how we used to light our studios in grad school 20 years ago....Yours looks tidier....Can't use real high voltage bulbs though.....
voltage has very little to to with light bulbs bulbs are rated in watts.
Volts Times Amps Equal Watts V*A=W, most power strips and extension cords are rated at 15Amps at 110 Volts so thats 1650 Watts. So if you are really afraid of the dark and want to get a tan you could use 5 300watt bulbs and still be under the limit of the the cords but the dimmer and the lamp housing may not handle all that power the heat wold damage the clamp lights and the dimmer can only handle 600watts so to keep it all within the limit of the switch and cost 5 100 watt bulbs would do the trick and damage nothing
i115on3 years ago
Ghetto-fabulous.
gmjhowe4 years ago
It would be nice to have a mixture of normal lights and daylight bulbs, being able to adjust dimming accordingly.
xoovos4 years ago
I bet he lives in San Francisco! That is the only place where you can have views like that.
randofo (author)  xoovos4 years ago
Indeed.
Runeshai4 years ago
Cool! I used to have one of these for filmmaking...been kinda wondering about lighting for whenever I move into my next place. This is a cool simple idea...gonna have to cite it as inspiration whenever I move and make something.
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