Gobo Light Projector

Introduction: Gobo Light Projector

About: Nick Thomas Design is a branding and design studio for the built environment. We are located in the creative community known as Portland, Oregon. We are happy to share with this inventive community of doers...

This gobo light projector uses found objects, store bought lighting parts and one (1) custom fabricated armature. You can order online or make your own gobos that pop into this apparatus to project illuminated images at various sizes. We custom designed  cloud and grassy field gobo to be dreamy. This sculptural lighting assembly is decorative and interactive.

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Step 1: Diagrammatic Assembly

Review the overall assembly of parts that you will need to find, make and buy. We chose to repurpose a hard cigar box for the base because it had a functioning lid that made wiring easy and has a nice wallpaper-like pattern.

Step 2: Parts Check List

Parts List: Grounded 120v A/C plug, 18 guage electrical cord, mid-cord toggle switch, wire nuts, cord grip, cigar box, custom support arm, misc. screws, 5/8” rubber grommets, metal flashing, cable sleeve, 50W MR-16 lamp.

From Tech Lighting:T156 Pendant, Freejack Canopy, Gobo Assembly, Gobo holder accessory, additional magnifying lens.

From Hollywood Lighting:
Gobo (laser cut-out image) 

Step 3: Drill Cigar Box

Drill holes for power cord (2). Drill holes for mounting the Canopy base. Layout all parts first and mark holes with a pencil. You should probably make your custom armature at this point. Do not drill mounting holes for the armature at this point.

Step 4: Pull Power Cord

Pull the power cord into the box. Use a “cord grip” to secure the power cord in position. Leave just the right amount of cord to be wired into the canopy.

Step 5: Wire the Fixture

Secure the canopy base to box and pull the power cord into the canopy base and expertly wire using wire nuts.

Step 6: Mount Armature

Insert the surface canopy over the canopy base. Next, align the tube opening in your custom armature with the pendant mounting hole in the canopy. Mark armature mounting holes, drill and mechanically attach the armature.

See that tubing at the end of the armature? Be sure the diameter is bigger than the end of the pendant. Now, insert the T156 pendant through the armature and into the canopy. Use the rubber grommets (split by you) to position the pendant stem within the oversized tube support.

Step 7: Wire Plug + Switch

Here is what your grounded plug should look like. Wire this up and wire the in-line switch to the power cord and plug it in!

Step 8: Armature Dimensions

We custom fabricated this armature from steel per specifications attached. Alternate methods are encourage, but they need to be very durable—send us a photo.

Step 9: Overall Dimensions

Overall dimensions and specifications.

Step 10: The Final Assembly

Here is the final assembly. The most difficult part will be fabricating the custom armature. Please note: the T156 pendant does not stand on it's own and requires the armature support in this table top configuration. Have fun. The gobo image can be projected large or small and that makes this light fun to use over time.

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    6 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Is it possible to adjust the projection angle (narrow to wide) to control the size of the projected image (small to large)? If yes how can that be done?


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    It's possible, but somewhat complicated. Basically what you need to do is construct a zoom lens by adding another (at least) two lenses, one convex and one concave, into the light path. By adjusting the relative positions of the lenses you can control the zoom (expansion) and focus.

    Unless you're really into the DIY aspect for philosophical reasons, you're probably better off just buying a slide projector that already has a zoom lens, though (l8nite was correct ... a gobo is basically a single "slide", usually made of metal or tempered glass so it can withstand very bright/hot lights). You may be able to find one cheap at your local Goodwill or other thrift store.

    With regard to making gobos ... if you use an LED light source and the gobo is not practically on top of it, it's probably cool enough at the gobo position for you to print your own gobos onto transparency film. (Try holding your hand a few feet from the lamp, and slowly bringing it closer until it either becomes uncomfortably warm or your hand is at the distance from the light source where the gobo would normally be. If you can stand to hold your hand there for a couple of minutes, you should be able to use transparency film.) Trying to do that with an incandescent light source of any significant brightness will likely just melt the plastic (there are gobo holders designed to let you use transparency film even in, say, a 575 watt theatrical fixture, but they involve fan cooling and a special IR-reflective barrier placed before the transparency, and the transparencies still don't usually last more than a few dozen hours at most).


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Gobo means "goes before optics". The lighting template (plastic, metal, glass) that holds the design you want to project.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I have no idea what a gobo is and even after a quick google search Im still not sure, Kind of like a single slide projector ? neat project though and it does have a sculpturel look to it


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    A gobo is a thin piece of metal with a design cut out. When placed in front of a light source, the image is then projected. They are most often used in theatrical applications, but also becoming more commonplace at special events and even for advertising. Try googling Rosco or Gam gobos....those are just two of many many brands. Also, you can make your own with those aluminum pie tins - though buying them is far far easier!

    Thanks for the feedback. We will update the steps with images to clarify the "gobo" component. You are correct in that the gobo is like an individual slide, which is placed directly in front of the MR-16 light source.