Greetings! It’s always nice customizing your personal space, adding furniture and devices of your choosing, giving character to your room. But what if you make your own unique things? Now that’s a room with attitude!
My fond of all things space, existed since my childhood. I had glow-in-the-dark planets and stars on my ceiling, space exploration toys and so on. Growing into a DIY-er frequently got me across working in low light environment. Can’t have that now, can we? Thus one day I got “enlightened” with this idea. “I ‘ll make a bright ceiling lamp, space style!”
This instructable will walk you through the construction of a ceiling light, resembling a space satellite.
Required skills and tools:
- Basic Soldering
- Basic 3D printing
- Painting on plastic
- Basic light hand machining (cutting drilling on metal)
Step 1: Parts List
Since the discussion is about lights the most crucial items for this build are the electronics. This particular model is build around the power supply. Usually satellites are long, round constructions. So we have to choose a power supply with peculiar dimensions.
Shown build Power Supply ratings:
- 12 Volts
- 5 Amperes (this was the closest I could find regarding dimensions etc)
- Dimensions: 150x40x30mm
Second most vital part are the LED strips. Here you can really install whatever you prefer, there are so many choices. However it is advised to opt for a medium to high quality strip. First reason is, that you won’t be changing your lamp any time soon, thus it needs to be reliable. Next reason is the color, you want a light that is actually easy on your eyes, since it has probably a daily usage. Moreover from time to time you’ll have to work or spend hours under that same light.
Things to note: For the lighting you gotta watch out for the luminescence per watt (Lm/W) which is the brightness, and the Kelvin (K) rating, which is the warmth of your light.
Shown build characteristics for LED strip:
- 120° light angle.
- 35000 working hours
- 50 Lm/W
- 2800 K
- 14.4 W/m
- 2pcs Male and Female Dins Connectors
- 50cm Black and Red cable 16 to 20 AWG should be fine (it depends on your power needs).
- 30cm Mains cable.
There are always parts that cannot be 3D printed. Here the solar panels are a plastic and aluminum combination. Before you get frustrated that I used metal parts take into consideration that led strips with higher than usual wattage rating need cooling. The metal parts used here are both for aesthetic and practical reasons.
- 2pcs Aluminum pipe: ~46cm Length, Φ6mm Diameter
- 4pcs Aluminum profile: ~48cm x 3cm, 2mm thickness
- 1pc Brass knurl insert M5
- 1pc Screw M5: 10mm length, Φ5mm diameter
- 10pcs Screws M3: 10mm length, Φ3mm diameter
- 10pcs Nuts M3
- PLA 373 grams
- Plastic primer spray (Optional but Recommended)
- White acrylic paint spray
- Black acrylic paint spray
- Finish/Varnish spray (Optional)
- Super Glue
Step 2: 3D Printing
It’s best to set up and have your printer running while you can work on other parts of the build. It’s quite a large model (cross like figure and roughly 50cm x 100cm). The whole model takes about 30 to 40 printing hours!
I recommend using PLA (PolyLactic Acid) type filament for most of the build since there won’t be any major dimension difference between the 3D Model and the printed part. The weight is distributed via large chunks of the model. It is my belief that the “Middle Shaft PS Holder” part is the only one that should be printed with weight into consideration.
I suggest a minimum of, 3 Perimeters and 3 top/bottom layers with 25% infill on cubic. The rest of the shaft parts just support themselves so you could go with less material, for example 2 perimeters 2top/bottom layers and 10% infill.
I recommend using PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol) type filament for the “cable holder” and “wing holder” parts. This is because PETG is strong and this small part will be handling the full weight of this lamp which possibly exceeds 1kg.
I would advise 3 to 5 perimeters with 3 top/bottom layers and 25% (or more) infill cubic. Note that PETG changes its final size, so you might need to oversize your model on your slicer depending on your material (usually around 5% increment).
Check out the 3D model @Thingiverse
Step 3: Cut Fit and Soldering
Beginning with sawing all metal parts is best since it’s the fastest and at the same time “messier” job. This of course applies, if you have not acquired the exact dimensions reported in “Parts List”(Step 1).
This is quite simple to do. Use a ruler or measuring tape to mark the cuts with a sharpie. Hold your parts in a vice and saw it down. Should require just about 5 to 10 minutes of your time.
With your metal parts cut to size it’s time to install the LED strips on the aluminum. Cut your LED strips to match the size of the aluminum. You can glue up to 3 strips of 40cm length in each ¼ of the solar panels (wings).
For maximum adhesion make sure to clean the metal surface. There are many types of alcohol based cleaners (acetone, isopropyl alcohol and more) fit for this job. Start by peeling of a small portion of the 2 sides led tape and start gluing your LED strip on. Be cautious to touch the LEDs as little as possible. This prevents oxidation or removal of the phosphor on the LEDs (this yellow goop covering the LED) by your hands. Press on the resistors instead. Work your way to the end of each piece, avoid taking off and re-gluing the LED strip, because it will cause glue failure.
Afterwards you ‘ll have to make some connections for each half of the solar panels (wings). For aesthetic reasons, you can strip some wire and connect some positive and negative pads, on the LED strips. Remember to solder at least 1 of each LED strips’ positive terminal to all other strips positive terminals. The same applies to the negative terminals.
Finally you can assemble the solar panels (wings), 2 straight pieces with LED strips and 1 pipe piece, all holding together due to the “wing holder” parts. This concludes one solar panel. Rinse ‘n repeat for the second one!
Step 4: Wiring
Yes Yes more Soldering ( tehe! :D ). So we’re finished with the wings assembly, but there is still cable-work to be done! Remember those positives and negatives we mentioned earlier? Yes you do! There is more of that now.
For each solar panel “all” positives need to be wired to the “+” sing of the Male Dins connector. So do the negatives go to the “-”. If you “color code” your wires it’s going to be easier to sort out what goes where. Usually RED color is “+”(Positive, 12v etc.) and BLACK color is “-” (Negative or ground etc.)
After wiring the wings, we need to wire the Power Supply with the female parts of the Din Connectors. Wire the low voltage side of your Power Supply. Exactly as before, the positive (usually red wire) goes to the corresponding “+” sing on the female Dins Connector. Accordingly you have to wire the remaining wire (usually black wire) to the “-” on the same connector. This needs to be done for the 2 female Dins Connectors that will be mounted on the main body of the satellite model. Finally wire the blue and brown (mains wires) of your power supply to the corresponding colored wires of your mains cable.
Attention: Be cautious while handling mains voltage as it can possibly hurt or even kill you. Make sure to plug your device ONLY after finishing the whole build.
Further Notes on wiring in general.
When you need to wire circuits with quite an energy consumption like this one, it's best to choose wire size wisely. Otherwise our beautiful satellite will burn in the outer atmospheric layers! That would be sad. In order to stay in orbit for longer. I have uploaded a Wire-Selection-chart, make sure to give it a look.
Step 5: Painting
Before we begin. I must inform you that this is the most time consuming part of the build. Some times there is no time for painting. That's understandable. If this is true for you then you should consider buying filament based on the colors you want to use for your model. Having said that you should proceed with patience. The finner the paint-job, the better the color lasts. First up, assemble only the plastic parts of your model.
I’ve heard that the proper steps to paint plastics are:
Note: Whenever you use spray paint, you should spray with slow horizontal strokes and about 20 to 30cm away from the model. Spray in coats. Spray each side of the model with the above mentioned way, then stop and wait for the paint to dry. Then apply second coat, the same way. Coat by coat the model will be at last fully colored. Wait a minimum of 10 minutes between each coat. Paint in open space (no need to paint the inside of your lungs). Avoid fully coloring the model at the first coat. This will create blobs of paint and many inconsistencies that will make your paint peel off, wrinkle and look bad. This applies on the Priming, Painting and Finishing part.
Step 6: Final Assembly
Super glue the M3 screws on the side holes of the two “Middle Shaft” Pieces. Screw threads should point outside of the model.
Hold the “Cable Holder” part. Heat push the fitting inside its side hole. Turn the screw 2 times so it won’t block the main hole.
Take note: When heat fitting a metal part in 3D printed parts its better to let the soldering iron weight do the job, rather than force the fittings.
Get the “Middle Shaft PS Holder” part and fit onto its center large hole the “Cable holder” part. The larger diameter of “Cable holder” should be inside the model. Then fit your mains wire through the “Cable Holder” (towards the outside of your model). Pull the mains cable until the plastic insulation sits flat with the rest of the “Cable Holder”. Tighten the screw but be cautious not to damage your mains cable.
Grab your power supply with its wiring. Fit it with its screws to the “Middle Shaft PS Holder” Piece. Super glue the Female Dins Connectors, onto the rectangle holes, one on each side.
Next close in the Power Supply unit using the other “Middle Shaft” piece. Then place the “End Shaft”, through the 6 screws we ‘ve glued earlier. Secure these 3 parts with nuts. Afterwards Grab the “Front Shaft” and do the same on the opposite side.
At this point you can bring the solar panels (wings) closer. Fit them through the small side holes of the “Middle Shaft PS Holder”, it may not be of absolute importance but you can hot glue them into their holes. It’s best to hot glue them so if something brakes you can easily take them apart.
At this point you could carefully test the light with electricity. Continue with placing and gluing the “End Piece” and 2 “Windows”.
The build is done. You can perfect it with added details, using little square and rectangle pieces of gaffer and electrical tape. You can also add rails if you have small metal scrap pieces (I used a broken umbrella pats). Finally you can try printing details from various space models from the Internet.
Feel free to comment on potential upgrades or if you need help. I may also add more info per community request.