Panopticon Lamp




Introduction: Panopticon Lamp


Copper Tape

Paper or the very thin wood (1/8 inch or less)

Lighting Gels (I used a sample book I picked up at a lighting store)

3V batteries

Coin cases for 3V batteries

Solder & Soldering Tools

2-4 Magnets (small and strong preferable)

Hot Glue + Gun

Laser Cutter ( not NEEDED but very helpful with more complex designs)

Step 1: The Lamp Structure

I made my lamp's caged structure using Jennifer Jacob's Codeable Objects Processing Library.
If you have never installed a Processing library before, read the text below-- if you have, go ahead and install Codeable Objects, available on here:

Download and install Processing

You will need to download the Processing IDE (which is free), here: For tips on how to install processing after you’ve downloaded it, check out this page: Follow the instructions on installation, based on your operating system.

Download the Codeable Objects library

Processing’s functionality can be augmented by user created libraries. Codeable Objects is one such library that we created to facilitate this project. You can download the library here:

Locate the Processing sketchbook

This is the default directory of all of your Processing sketches. On a mac, this will usually be: /Users/Username/Documents/Processingon a PC, it’s probably: c:/My Documents/Processing/. You will need to place the Codeable Objects library in this directory. It should automatically have been created when you installed Processing. In this directory, there should exist a folder called “libraries”. Unzip the file and place the resulting directory here.

If you are having trouble, check out the link below for more instructions:

Step 2: The Laser Cut File

Mess with the sliders in the Processing codeable objects example sketch to change the variables of your lamp design. Once you are satisfied, hit the save button on the bottom left and view the pdfs of your lamp design in the same folder as the example sketch within the codeable objects library.

Open your lamp files in Illustrator and format them to your laser cutter's standards. For mine, blue lines at .001 stroke mean cut, so I highlighted the whole plan and made it 255 Blue with no other color, and all the strokes at .001.

Once the file is prepared, you are ready to use the laser cutter. This should be as simple as opening your file, pressing print, and altering some settings depending on the material you are cutting. Watch the laser carefully so you can add more power if it isn't cutting all the way through your material. If you are using paper, put some weights down to make sure it doesnt fly away!

Step 3: Prototyping & Gels

Make a few lamps to find out which structure suits you best!

Begin to add your theatrical gels to the inside of the lamp with the glue gun. These gels will make your lamp emit filtered light and add some color to your frame.

Step 4: Constructing the Circuit & Switch

Place your circuit down with tape before soldering so that you can test your traces and LEDs to make sure it all works.
Lay the batteries down first. The number of batteries you need depends on the number of LEDs you use. As soon as you notice the light from them dimming, add another source of power (aka another 3v battery). Lay down copper tape from the positives and negatives of the battery (dont let them intersect or touch!) and solder the tape at the spots where you may have torn them for the corners. IMPORTANT: Leave a couple gaps where your switch will close the circuit! Yes, leave one or two gaps in your tape so that the circuit is incomplete at some parts. It should be somewhat like this:
+3V battery-------- (gap) ----------led-------led
-3V battery---------------------------------led------led

I marked my negative strip with green dashes so I wouldn't get confused.

the Switch
Connect your LEDs to the circuit behind the gap which is NOT connected to the power source. I used two batteries to light the leds, and four magnets for the switch. A strip of copper tape was added to the magnets so they’d lock the circuit closed when in place.

test your switch before soldering anything- make sure the LEDs close when you pass the magnet over the gap. The copper tape should be in a strip so that it creates the path for the positive electrons to flow through and light the LEDs.

Solder everything (batteries to copper, copper corners, LEDs to copper) except the magnets.

Step 5: Gluing It All Together

Glue your lamp closed so it matches your original intended design. It should look finished!
With the switch, the LEDs should turn on and off as you move the magnet over the gap in the circuit.

Congratulations on your new DIY Lamp!

Glue Challenge 2016

Participated in the
Glue Challenge 2016

Circuits Contest 2016

Participated in the
Circuits Contest 2016

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    3 years ago

    That looks great! Thanks for sharing and welcome to the community!