At a previous job, the head of QA had several stacks of several hundred CDs, on the floor, in front of a floor to ceiling windows. The sunlight shining through the window would glow through these CDs in a very appealing manner that made the green light seem warm. From that point forward I always thought that a stack of CDs with a tubular light inside would make an awesome lamp.
Step 1: Collect the Parts
Whenever I went to a hardware or housewares store, I would look at the lights trying to find something that would fit into the existing hole in the CD, and that would not be too hot to melt the CDs. Even the low wattage incandescent bulbs for lighting framed pictures were way too hot.
In the mean time I started collecting old CDs. Any time I burnt a coaster with my CD writer, or AOL or another company sent me a CD I did not want I put it into a box. After creating my first two CD Lamp friends were saving their CDs for me.
- Florescent Trouble Light
- Stack of old CD, DVD, and Blue Rays
- 4 foot long threaded rod
- 6 fancy nuts for top and bottom
- 3 nuts to secure all the disks together
- Box 200 washers
- Saw (Jigsaw works best)
- Drill press
- Wood glue
- Soldering iron
- Flat and circular files
- Wood wrasp
Step 2: Assemble
I decided after I discovered my match for Reddit Secret Santa had a passion for music and piano, I was going to make a lamp out of CDs and incorporate a piano keyboard into the design.
I already had a trouble light that uses a U shaped florescent bulb as my starting point.
First step is to take the light apart and see what I have to work with. Remove a few screws and it comes right apart. The power supply is fairly simple. No big transformer. Test indicated most of the heat came from the lamp and not the power supply.
The power cord has a three pronged plug including a ground, but the ground is only used to connect to an additional socket on the light. I connected the ground to the wood of my light.
Dry fit of the electronics to see how they will fit within the constraints of the size of a CD. Determine how high it will be and how many layers of plywood it will take to contain the electronics.
I cut four pieces of plywood, but I made a mistake and did not take into account the base of the flouriest bulb. I later cut and incorporated two more pieces of plywood.
Secure the plywood with clamps and cut with jigsaw. Keep the line pencil line to be removed later. After all the pieces of plywood are cut into circles I attach them together with a long bolt that I tighten down very well and them place into the drill press and use it like a lathe.
First I use a rasp to reduce the size until it is close to the CD. Then I change to a file. I can check the size of the circle by putting the CD up on the bottom with the hole going over the nut. Finish off this stage with course sand paper.
The plywood makes up two pieces the bottom that contains the electronics and a cover. Glue and clap the bottom together. Glue and clap the top together. Set the glued pieces aside to dry.
All the holes in the CDs need to be enlarged to accommodate the size of the florescent bulb. So I set up a jig that keeps the CD in place so the hole is always centered. The hole is cut a few mm larger to accommodate any errors that might happen make during the drilling process.
Using a hole saw drill bit without the center bit, while drilling the hole remains in the drill and have to be removed after each one is enlarged.
Too much pressure on the drill and the plastic will melt instead of cut. So I use genital pressure and a slow speed to cut our the large holes.
The holes are smoothed and bars removed with a large circular file. This is done so they will sit flat and allow more light to go through. There might be some chemicals that would melt the plastic and smooth any imperfections to let more light through. Headlight cleaner comes to mind. I don't think this is necessary.
The inside of the wooden base is hollowed out to accommodate the electronics. I use a small Forstner bit at first to get in close to the corners then to a larger Forstner bit to quickly clean out the rest. I use the depth guide of the drill press to leave two layers of ply at the bottom.
The top has a hole for the lamp holder. The bulb holder is later gets glued into place.
For the hole for the switch I choice a bit that is the same width and drill out a little less that so I can enlarge it slowly with a file later.
The hole for the cord is matched to the largest part of the rubber stopper for the cord..
The back of the hole is enlarged so the cord can stick out the right distance.
I used a Dermal to remove any rough edges and smooth out the inside corners.
The hole for the switch needs a rectangular front. Use the Dremal to get what can be done. For majority of the work use a flat file. The front of the hole is flattened so the switch would sit flush.
The Dremal was used to enlarge the back of the plug hole so the rubber plug would sit up tight and once forced into place and would place enough pressure on the cord inside that it wont move.
Give the bottom, top, and side surfaces a sanding. Finishing off with fine sand paper. Drill the holes out for the rods.
Confirm everything will fit together before giving it several coats of clear polyurethane. All the surfaces get a good coating. All the little imperfections get filled in. Coat all surfaces three times giving a light sanding between coats. Do the last two coats away from the dust.
Three metal rods extending from base to top and will keep the everything together.
I use a jig to place the holes the same location on all the CD and the base. In case the angle between the hole is not exactly the same, I drilled the first hole at the top of every CD so after I could identify it later.
Some CDs drill better than others. On some the coating flakes off really easily. It is important to drill slowly will little pressure. You can see where the plastic sometime melts and works it way up the drill bit. I need to stop every once and while and remove the melted plastic fro the bit.
After every CD has one hole at the top, need to add two more holes evenly spaced. I add a small screw to my jig 120° around the circle from where I am drilling. A couple test marking the spot with a pencil before adding the screw.
The previous drilled hole fits around the screw. Move to the next hole. Test the accuracy by seeming if the drill aligns with the first hole again. Once it does, adds two more holes to all the CDs.
Remove any plastic burs and file all the holes smooth.
Once the polyurethane is dry, it is time to put everything together. All the connections for the wire are put through its hole one at a time.
The rubber stopper is glued back on the power cord so it wont come out of the base. Then it is forced into place.
The switch is inserted and connected to the wire and circuit board.
The wires that went to the extra plug is not needed so I remove both of these. Removed the marrettes, remove the wire, put the marrettes back on.
The ground wire is secured with a screw to the plywood. I used a couple pieces of silicon to create an insulation between the circuit board and plywood before secured to the bottom. The original hole that was used to sand the plywood in the drill press is still there to let a little bit of air flow. Another hole allows hot air to pass out past the lamp. The circuit did not get hot in my test. The bulb gets warm but there is plenty of air flow for it.
I use the lamp to help sort the CDs. Some allow more light though than others. Or the plastic is slightly darker.There is two shades of dark and clear.
I use the stack of CD to help determine how long the rods need to be. Cut three identical rods.
It was easier to add the CDs to the rod before putting the rods into the base.
I placed the CDs in a pattern to resemble the keys on a piano of white and black keys. Depending on the number of CDs and number of washers or spacers you want to use. Can determine your own pattern.
White keys are three clear CDs spaced with a washer between each.
Black keys are four dark CDs two of each shade, without any washers.
Between keys are two washers.
Working upside down the shiny side is up so it will point down when done so a little more light will bounce to the table instead of up.
I was hoping to get two full octaves but ended u a few keys short.
Photos from my Secret Santa Gift recipient.