Introduction: Akari Desk Light

About: My name is Eammon Littler and I'm a college student interested in the field of engineering, robotics, and programming. 想像 (souzou) is the Japanese word for imagining, which I find myself constantly doing, and …

Last summer, I came up with a tensioned hinge mechanism to hold wooden dowels in place when they're rotated. I never made use of the idea until coming up with the design for the Akari desk light (akari meaning shining light source in Japanese). With the hinge being able to hold its position, the akari desk light folds flat while being very lightweight. The light uses minimal materials with some 3D printed parts to hold it all together. A 12v led strip is encased in a rolled up tube of diffusing sheet taken from a recycled computer monitor. Seds operate on low current, I used magnet wire for the wiring to reduce bulk.

Step 1: Parts

  • 3/8 inch (~9.5mm) wooden dowels x3 (6 pictured, but only 3 full pieces needed)
  • 12v led strip
  • 3mm diameter ninjaflex (for the tensioned hinge)
  • 12v female connector
  • 30 AWG magnet wire
  • diffuser sheet (cut into 30cm by 9cm rectangle) - I got mine from a recycled computer monitor, but you can make one from a sanded down paper sheet protector, albeit a bit flimsy.
  • 3D prints
    • base x1
    • hinge x2
    • pin x1 (for hinge)
    • clip x1 (for hinge) - I constantly break these when fitting them on so it might be good to print extra
    • light strip endcap x1
    • light strip endcap for wire x1
    • wood dowel endcap x1
    • diffuser ring x3 (to keep diffuser sheet shape)
    • collar x2 (holds wood dowel connected to hinge in place)
    • base endcap x2

Step 2: LED Strip Assembly

  1. Cut two 70~80cm long strands of magnet wire and twist them like a twist tie to bundle together. Take one side of the braided wire and solder the two ends onto the + and - terminals of the led strip.
  2. Take the led strip and stick it on one of your long wooden dowels, making sure to leave space, roughly 4cm, on one side for the cap and hinge.
  3. Slide the lightstrip endcap for the wire through the bare side of the wooden dowel. Ignore the hinge piece for now (picture taking came a little late in the process).
  4. The diffuser sheet from computer monitors are very stiff and difficult to roll up, which is why rings are used to hold its shape. Roll up the diffuser sheet and slide the three rings through, spaced evenly. Cap off the end with the light strip endcap.

Step 3: Hinge Assembly

  1. Taking the hinge pieces, use a flathead screwdriver to wedge ninjaflex filament into the ring slots as pictured above.
  2. Face the rubber rings towards each other and slide the pin through.
  3. *** This part is tricky (you may need spare clip pieces) *** Take one side of the clip and slide it under the opening of the pin. Push down carefully to slot the clip under the overhang of the pin. Once one side is slotted in, take pliers and push the other side of the clip in under the overhang of the pin. You are essentially raising the pin using the clip and forcing the two hinge pieces to rub against each other. This step may take a few tries and broken clips, but don't give up.
  4. Pass the magnet wire through the hinge as pictured above.
  5. Take the two ends of the magnet wire and connect them to the appropriate terminals of the 12v female connector. There's no way to tell which end is + and which is -, so either use a multimeter or trial and error. I've done both methods, got the poles flipped, and ended up fine. The LEDs don't seem to short luckily.
  6. I forgot to add the collars in the picture, but hot glue the collar pieces on the hinge opposite of the endcaps for both wood dowels. Then hot glue on the wood dowel endcaps.

Step 4: Base Assembly

  1. Take the 12v female connector and slide it into the base.
  2. Using your last wooden dowel, cut two 14cm long pieces and slide them into the base. Hot glue the endcaps on the wooden dowel.
  3. Done!

Step 5: Conclusion

I'm glad to have been able to put my experimental ideas, 3D-printed parts, and upcycled materials together into one satisfying design. The Akari light turned out very practical and relatively easy to use. As a college student moving around a lot, the flat pack design and lightweightedness is a big selling point. In the future though, I hope to figure out a heavier base to make this design more sturdy.

LED Strip Speed Challenge

Participated in the
LED Strip Speed Challenge