Floppy Disk Chandelier





Introduction: Floppy Disk Chandelier

Almost everyone has a bunch of old 3.5" floppy disks stored somewhere in their house - am I right? What to do with them? Throw them away? Make cheesy coasters out of them?

Nope! Let's make a stylish hanging chandelier from them! I decided to take on that project myself and design my own. The following Instructable gives step-by-step directions on how to make your own based on my design!

Step 1: Step 1: What You Need

  • 48x 3.5" (90mm) floppy disks. Each disk need to have write-protect sliders on both sides (this is a requirement for locking into the lamp). For this build, I chose all black colored disks to give it a monochromatic and sleek look. Other photos in this Instructable show multi-colored disks, which would be perfect for a child's room or pop art aesthetic.
  • 0.118" thick clear acrylic sheet (18"x24" minimum)
  • 3x 1/4-20x3.5" long stainless steel bolts
  • 3x 1/4-20 stainless steel hex nuts
  • 3x 1/4-20 stainless steel acorn nut
  • 60W equivalent LED decorative light bulb. I recommend using an LED bulb to reduce energy consumption and to prevent a hot exposed light bulb in the fixture. I really love the bulb used in this lamp because it has a mirrored bottom which directs the light upwards out of the fixture.
  • Hanging lamp cord (can substitute with a hard-wired lamp hanging cord or recessed light conversion kit)
  • Mini file
  • Decorative Pulley
  • A single, black zip tie (aka cable tie)

Step 2: Laser Cut Your Top and Bottom Discs (and Light Socket Spacers)

For this step, I used a laser cutter at TechShop Pittsburgh. Any laser cutter will do as long as it can cut 1/8" acrylic and the bed size is 12"x12" or larger. I've attached the .svg file for cutting your own. Note that the disc with the larger center hole is the bottom disc (the bulb will protrude slightly from the bottom of the lamp) and the other is the top (for mounting the light socket). The additional smaller discs are spacers for the light socket to prevent the bulb from protruding below the bottom disc after final assembly.

Feel free to contact me if you need the sheets cut or even a full kit of all the parts.

Step 3: Assemble Hex Bolts and Nuts to Top and Bottom Discs

For this step, lay the top disc onto the bottom, and align the three bolt holes. Also ensure that the tab end in the 48 slots on both discs are aligned (pointing in the same direction). Then insert the hex bolts through the three bolt holes in the top disc, and affix one hex nut to each. Next, insert the bottom (threaded end of the bolts) through the three bolt holes in the bottom disc. Finally, affix the acorn nuts to the threaded ends of the bolts (this holds the bottom disc between the hex and acorn nuts).

Step 4: Insert All 48 Floppies Into the Top/Bottom Disc Assembly

Okay, this is where everything can go south on this build. First, make sure you're in you quiet, happy place (i.e., no distractions) for this step. There is no perfect order to load the floppies in, but I prefer to load the first three in line with the bolts (see photo #1), since the bolts do not hold the discs apart or in alignment on their own; this makes the overall assembly process much easier. Floppies must be (carefully) inserted into the slots in the top and bottom discs, with the top face of the disk (in these photos, the face that has the "SD" logo) aligned with the small tabs in each slot (see photo #2 for tabs and #3 showing the disk face). Continue inserting floppies until you're all done. The fit of the floppy to the disc slot is a slight interference fit until fully inserted, when it will have a but of slop (by designs). Be careful not to insert with too much pressure (if you feel like you're pushing too hard, you probably are) in the interference region, which may cause the disc to crack (and potentially ruin your day). Keep the mini file set handy to file down the slot tabs to reduce the interference fit if necessary (I had to file 5 or six tabs on this build).

Note that once the floppy disk slides to where the acrylic disc tabs connect with the write protection holes (this is why you need floppies with both right protect sliders), it will have some slight ability to move, but will otherwise be locked in. Even with the slight play in the joint after assembly, it can be most difficult to remove the disk once it is locked in (do so at your own risk!).

Step 5: Assemble Light Socket/Cord to Disc/Disk Assembly

First, locate your smaller acrylic rings (see photo #1 for this step) that you laser cut along with the two large discs. Next, remove the threaded cap on the light socket. Then, insert your stack of acrylic discs of varying sizes (no right or wrong way to choose) and stack them onto the threaded portion of the light socket (see photo #2). Then, insert the threaded end of the socket into the hole in the top acrylic disc and screw the threaded cap down to lock it into place(see photo #3). That's it - almost done!

Note that for the particular light cord/socket that I used on this build, I only needed two of the discs ,but I've used other lamp/cord sets that needed 4 or 5 to set the position of the light bulb properly after assembly.

Step 6: Screw in Light Bulb

Now, you may be asking yourself - how many engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? I can tell you from experience (because I'm an engineer), that it only takes one. The kicker is that nobody ever asks HOW LONG it takes for one engineer to screw in a lightbulb!

Step 7: Add Hanging Pulley and Lock the Lamp Cord Into Place

As this particular lamp is intended to work as a swag lamp, you will need something to hang the cord from. I prefer these decorative pulleys to help give it an industrial chic look.

To disassemble the pulley, remove the cotter pin (smallest part shown in the first photo), from the shaft. This will allow for removal of the shaft and inner wheel. Next, insert the cord into the top inside of the pulley body, then reassemble all of the parts (see photo #2).

Now, the downside to using a pulley is that it is designed to let ropes move freely through; this problem is solved by adding a simple black zip tie, which fills the negative space inside the pulley to lock the cord in at your chosen height (see photo #3). Make sure that you keep the zip tie loose enough that you can just barely slide it along the cord (allows for height adjustment without replacing the zip tie).

Step 8: Hang Your Lamp and Enjoy It!

You will need a sturdy hook in your ceiling or wherever you decide to hang your new diskette lamp. Hooks (shown in a photo in step #1) will typically come with the hanging cord - the best solution is to screw it into a joist in the ceiling. Once the hook is in place, hang the pulley on the hook and tie of the cord near a wall before plugging the cord into a wall socket. Enjoy!

For information, you can also substitute a ceiling mount fixture (hard wired). In the case of the multi-colored lamp shown in the photos, I used a recessed light conversion kit to install one over the sink in my kitchen.



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    19 Discussions


    1 year ago

    A beautiful way of recycling the cds. Thanks

    What are the dimensions for the cuts on the SVG file?

    In other words, what are the specific dimensions of each hole for the light bulb to be cut?

    7 replies

    I'm not sure what you meant by your question - did you mean the center hole on each of the acrylic discs, or the exact dimension of each of the 48 slotted holes in each acrylic disc?

    I would like the dimension of both of those. I have a rough estimate for the center hole(s), but I would like to compare it to yours.

    Same goes for the 48 slotted holes. I did manually measure the width and depth of a floppy disk, but I would still like to compare it to your measurements.

    Thank you, E_C

    the slot design has multiple dimensions that define it. Do you have software that can open the .svg file (e.g. Corel draw, adobe illustrator)? I attached the file so the vector design could be pulled right from the svg. If not, you can download Inkscape for free and use that to measure them.

    I understand that it is a graphics file of the design, however my laser engraver does not accept any sort of graphics file format for cutting. That is why I was inquiring about the dimensions for all the cuts (holes, floppy disk insets, etc...) because I could then rebuild the file based on your dimensions.

    What file type does your laser take? I may be able to export it directly to something that you can import.

    It takes a CAD file directly from AutoCAD 2015. The file extension type is (.DWG)

    I think you should be able to import the .svg right into AutoCAD, right?

    my grandkids are asking me "what are floppy disks" go ask your mother l replied" How long ago did this style of floppy disk get phased out? My first computer came with a DVD burner. I just wanted to be sure that computers weren't just a flash in the pan, FAD.

    I love your idea! I would like to buy from you three sets of the acrylic pieces so I can make one for over my computer area and one for each of my adult sons. I am happy you are willing to sell those parts as I can assemble it but not capable of cutting the acrylic.

    1 reply

    Thanks Jessie, glad to help. I think I sent you a direct instructables message with details. Let me know if you didn't get it.

    Ebay so a good resource for floppies.

    Superb and innovative way to use the good ol floppies!

    You got my vote!

    1 reply

    Thanks very much-glad you like it!

    Good idea. It can be done if you drill a couple holes to simulate the write protect sliders on the 3.5" floppies. Will also likely need to modify the vector file to make the slots tighter.