Connecting Dots – Lamp

For this lamp I found inspiration by the drawings created by connecting a sequence of dots, as a playful way to interact with materials and to create icons and symbols. The idea is grounded under some questions: Can you draw your own lamp? Can you activate the lamp by drawing it? Can you control the light by doing doodles? I’m also extremely interested in how icons such as the light bulb with dash lines that represent light, or a lamp, or a candelabra, can powerfully serve as elements for creating memorable interactions. In this case, as you draw the icons, the circuit closes, and therefore turns on. If the drawing is erased, the circuit opens, and the lamp turns off.

This idea can be scaled to other icons and images such as candlesticks, other type of light bulbs, lamps, etc…

The idea was born when I learnt about the technology with erasable conductive markers. Although this technology can’t be used in this case due to the limitations in terms of material and the fact that the object will be linked to a specific marker, in this proposal I’m using magnets to close the circuit. Of course, there should be other interesting ways to do it! Think about this project as a working prototype. I will keep continue exploring this concept with other mediums and technologies.

Materials:

  • White Translucent Acrylic 12x12 inches
  • Acrylic Rods of about 5x5mm
  • Copper Tape
  • LEDs
  • Battery Pack of 3 AAA
  • Magnets
  • Erasable Marker
  • Eraser
  • Wooden Frame of 12x12 inches

Step 1: Sketch the Symbols

Using markers, create the design of the bulb on a regular sheet of paper in order to have a clearer idea of the composition and the space needed for the circuit.

Step 2: Make the Sketch of the Circuit

This lamp works with a basic circuit in which a switch is controlled by a marker and an eraser. To have a better idea where the circuit and its components are located, I sketched the circuit considering that my symbol design would hide some of the copper tape traces. I considered, not only the break in the circuit, but also the different components such as the LEDs, power and ground lines, and the batteries.

Step 3: Cut Out the Circuit Template and Add the Copper Tape

After making the sketch, try to clean it up as much as possible and cut it out on paper. This template will help us to add the copper tape following the symbol design.

Step 4: Create a Channel With the Acrylic Rods

Where the circuit is broken, create a channel where the magnet will travel back and forth. The magnet that I am using is 5 x 5 mm, but it could be of any size that can be controlled by a magnet in other side of the acrylic (the only consideration is the thickness of the material). The acrylic rods can be replaced with other materials too.

I also added a weaker magnet just to hold the movable magnet in place when the lamp is off. The marker and eraser have stronger magnets that can detach the movable magnet when the user wants to operate the lamp.

Step 5: Create the Custom Marker and Eraser (switch Controllers):

The marker and the eraser must have a magnet, so they can control the circuit. What I did was gluing the magnets to the eraser, as well as on the tip of the marker. Ideally these components can be machined with the specifications and size of each object. For this prototype, I simply tape the magnets to the switch controllers.

Step 6: Create the Wooden Frame Where the Acrylic Will Be Supported:

Create a 12x12 inches wooden frame that will help to support the acrylic and the batteries. This frame will also create a better finish in the final design, and it will allow the lamp to be hung.

Step 7: Connect the LEDS and the Battery Pack:

Connect the positive and negative traces of the LED to the copper tape. In this case, I created a platform with acrylic so that the light could be diffused better through the acrylic.

Step 8: Scan and Create the Visible Design of the Symbol for Vinyl Cutting:

Scan the circuit from the physical prototype and design the light bulb and the dots using Illustrator. This file can be sent to be cut on vinyl. In this case, I just printed it on a regular letter sheet and cut it out properly to be glued to the visible surface.

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