Introduction: Poor Man's Track Lighting

About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author of t…

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.

Step 1: Go Get Stuff

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

Pop out the two end circles from the junction box.

Step 3: Insert the Mesh

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

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.

Step 5: Wire It Up

Twist both green wires from the extension cord and the green wire from the dimmer switch together and then twist them into a wire nut until they are securely held in place.

Take one of the black wires from the extension cord and twist it together with one of the black wires from the switch. Twist a wire nut onto these wires to insulate them and lock them together. Repeat this process with the other set of black wires.

Twist the two wires from the extension cord together and twist a wire nut onto them.

Zip tie the two main extension cord wires together. in a few spots so they are held tightly in place.

Step 6: Case Closed

Cut the other fly swatter mesh to a size that will cover the open end of the junction box. Cut a hole in the center of this mesh, large enough to accommodate for the dial of the dimmer switch.

(Before you close the case, you may want to consider popping out the steel cutout on the bottom of the box)

Place the plastic mesh atop the dimmer switch and then fasten the case shut with the screws. You can place zip ties around the case to make it a little more secure.

Step 7: Curtain Rod Time

If you are like me, then you already have a curtain rod installed and with a curtain half on it. Take the curtain and curtain rings off the rod.

Adjust the length of the curtain rod to suit you.

If you don't have one, then you probably should install one.

Step 8: Attach Clamp Lights

Put light bulbs in the clamp light.

Attach clamp lights to the curtain rod such that they are evenly spaced.

Step 9: Power Strip

Tie together the wire from the extension cord and the wire from the power strip such that they can't pull apart (just look at the picture).

Pass the loop formed by this knot onto the curtain rod.

Zip tie the power strip to the middle of the curtain rod and fasten the knot in place with zip ties as well.

Step 10: Plug It All In

Plug in all the clamp lights and clean up the wires with zip ties so that they don't dangle.

Don't zip tie the lamp wires to the curtain rod in case you want to move them around (as it will make this easier).

Make sure all the clamp lights and the power strip are in the 'on'-position.

I spun the power strip so that its on the top-side of the curtain ride. When it is on the bottom side, gravity is pulling down on the plugs and it seems like they might fall out over time.

Step 11: Let There Be Light

Plug the whole thing into the wall and adjust to your liking.