Triton - Fluorescent Lasercut Floor Lamp




Introduction: Triton - Fluorescent Lasercut Floor Lamp

Meet the Triton, a DIY 3-bulb fluorescent floor lamp made from lasercut wood and standard parts from Home Depot.  This set of instructions will give you all the information and files necessary to build your very own Triton.  

If you want to build your own Triton but don't have a laser cutter, vote for the project in the Hurricane Laser Contest.  If I win a laser cutter, I will make sets of the wooden parts and sell them online!

Let's get started!

Step 1: Parts List:

- 200+ lasercut wood parts (more info in next step)
- 6 fluorescent lamp/bulb sockets (3 packs of 2).  General Electric model BP-FM.  Available at Home Depot or Amazon.
- 3 fluorescent bulbs.  48 inches long.  Size T8.
- 1 GE electronic ballast for 3 or 4 T8 bulbs.  Available at Home Depot or Amazon.
- Gorilla glue (a very small amount)
- 3 standard corner braces.  1.5-inch size.  Available at Home Depot or Amazon.
- 1 3-inch PVC pipe.  47 inches long.  Use a hack saw to cut to length if necessary.
- 15 feet of 12 gauge solid-core wire (not stranded).  Available at Home Depot, but I purchase mine at Ax-Man, a local surplus store. 
- 1 pack (5 qty.) of PowerPlug Luminaire Disconnects (fancy wire connectors).  Available at Home Depot.  
- 7 standard wire connectors.  Available at Home Depot.
- 20 flat-head screws.  1/2-inch in length.  Something like this:  Home Depot.
- 1 wire ring terminal.  Available at Home Depot
- 1 grounded (3-prong) power cord with plug.  IT NEEDS TO HAVE A GROUND OR THE LAMP WON'T TURN ON!  Amazon.
- 1 lamp foot switch.  (Optional, but you'll have to unplug the lamp to turn it off otherwise).  Amazon.

Step 2: Wood Parts:

The wooden parts are cut from 1/4-inch plywood.  I used birch plywood from Home Depot:  Plywood link

A DXF file with the cutting patterns is attached below.  It is laid out for a 24" x 48" cutter.

Step 3: Tools:

- A drill
- A phillips screw driver
- A straightedge and pencil
- Drill bits (one for pilot holes, one slightly larger than the shaft of your screwdriver)
- Wire cutters/strippers
- A small amount of Gorilla Glue
- Electrical tape
- Vice grips or pliers (for crimping the wire ring terminal)
- A hack saw (if you need to cut the PVC to length)
- A laser cutter (if you want to make your own wooden parts)
- Some heavy books (for pressing parts together after applying Gorilla glue)

Time to start building!

Step 4: Assemble Base and Cap

Parts needed:
- 10 wood pieces for base
- 14 wood pieces for cap

Tools needed:
- Gorilla glue

Assemble the base pieces in order using a very small amount of Gorilla glue on each piece.  Place a heavy book or two on top of the assembly while it dries.

Do the same for the top cap, including the small Triton emblem.

Step 5: Prepare Power Cord and Foot Switch.

Parts needed:  
- 1 foot switch
- 1 power cord
- 1 wire ring terminal

Tools needed:
- Electrical tape
- Vice grips/pliers/crimper

Begin by crimping the wire ring terminal onto the green ground wire of the power cord.  If you are not using a foot switch, move onto the next step.

If you ARE using a foot switch you will need to pass the black and white wires of the power cord through the switch.  I was unable to find any grounded switches, so the green ground wire will simply bypass the switch.  I recommend taping with electrical tape to the outside of the switch.

Step 6: Install Ballast Into PVC Pipe

Parts needed:
- 1 electronic ballast
- 2 standard wire connectors
- 1 screw

Tools needed:
- Wire cutters/strippers
- Phillips screw driver
- Drill with a small bit for a pilot hole, and another bit that is slightly thicker than the shaft of your screw driver

Pass the the three wires from the power cord through the hole in the base and connect the positive and negative wires to the positive and negative wires of the ballast.  Drill a pilot hole in the PVC pipe about 2 inches from the end of the pipe.  Drill a hole with the larger bit directly across from it.  Pass the blue and red cables from the ballast through the pipe and place the ballast into the pipe.  Line up the bottom screw mount of the ballast with the pilot hole, and place the loop terminal of the ground wire over both.  Put your screwdriver in the large hole and secure the ground wire and ballast to the pipe with a screw.  

Step 7: Connect Bottom Bulb Sockets

Parts needed:
- 2 standard wire connectors
- Extra wire

Tools needed:
- Wire cutter/strippers

Cut 4 pieces of wire, each about 4 inches long, and strip the ends.  Cut 2 pieces about 8 inches long and strip the ends.  Attach 2 of the 4-inch wires to one of the yellow wires of the ballast with a standard wire connector.  Insert the two free ends into one of the bulb sockets.

Attach the remaining 4 wires to the other yellow wire.  Pre-twist these with a pliers if necessary before connecting them with the standard wire connector.  Feel free to wrap these connections with electrical tape if desired.  Attach the two short wires into one of the bulb sockets, and the two long wires into the remaining bulb socket.

If you make a mistake and need to remove a wire, push a paper clip into the vertical slot in the image below to remove the wire.

Step 8: Secure Sockets to Base

Parts needed:
- 3 screws

Tools needed:
- Drill
- Small bit
- Phillips bit

Place the sockets so the outer surface of the bulbs will be flush with the opening in the base.  Mark the screw holes, drill pilot holes, and secure with screws.

Step 9: Connect PVC Pipe to Base

Parts needed:
- 3 corner braces
- 12 screws

Tools needed:
- Drill
- Pilot hole bit
- Phillips bit

Mark the three positions for corner braces and drill pilot holes in the base and pipe.  Fasten the corner braces with screws.

Congratulations!  The hardest part is over!

Step 10: Stack 'em Up!

Parts needed:
- 180 wood pieces for the main stack (Yes, seriously)

Tools needed:
- Your hands and some patience

Put on some tunes, and start stacking!  Be sure to start with a larger piece so it rests on the base, and alternate the pieces from there.  If the blue and red wires from the ballast get in your way, tape them to the inside of the PVC pipe.  Line up the pieces as you go.  

Step 11: Connect Top Sockets

Parts needed:
- 3 luminaire disconnects
- 2 standard wire connectors
- Spare wire

Tools needed:
- Wire cutters/strippers

The top socket assembly needs to be removable if you want to rearrange the stack pieces.  To accomplish this, the lamp uses luminaire disconnects for the top connections, which are easily and reliably connected and disconnected.

There are 2 blue and 2 red wires coming from the ballast.  The two red wires will go to a single socket.  Each blue wire will go to its own socket and needs to be split into two wires.  Cut 10 wires, 4 inches in length, and strip the ends.  Attach 2 wires to each blue wire of the ballast with a standard wire connector.  Attach each pair of wires to the male end of one of the luminaire disconnects.  Insert wires into the bulb sockets and attach each pair of wires to the female end of a luminaire disconnect.  Connect the three disconnects.  

Step 12: Secure Top Sockets

Parts needed:
- 2 remaining wood pieces

Tools needed:
- Drill
- Small bit
- Phillips bit

Line up the sockets so the bulbs will be flush with the outer edge of the wood pieces and mark the screw holes.  Stack both wood pieces together and drill pilot holes.  Then secure the sockets with screws.  

We're ready for bulbs!

Step 13: Inserts Bulbs

Parts needed:
- 3 fluorescent bulbs (T8, 4-foot size)

Tools needed:
- Your hands

Lower the bulbs through the holes.  Align the pins of the bulbs so they point towards the center (in the unlocked position).  Once all the bulbs are in, place the top sockets onto the bulbs.  There should be a few inches of exposed bulb at the top.  Hold the bulb and twist it 90 degrees to lock it into place.  Do this for each bulb.  

Once all the bulbs are secured in the sockets, place the top cap over the top socket assembly.  This will conceal the top connections and the exposed portions of the bulbs.  

Only one thing left to do!

Step 14: Turn It On!

That's it!  You're done!  Plug it in and enjoy your new Triton lamp!

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    25 Discussions

    Hello my friend. I wanted to see if you could send me your dxf file. It is impossible to download. Help me please. Your lamp is the best. :(

    This is a very nice design, congratulations! I have found that fluorescent lamps produce an undesirable amount of heat sometimes and was wondering if you have considered the inclusion of vents in the PVC tube to allow for air circulation, perhaps using a computer/biscuit fan? The vent holes could be vertical slots in back of the light tubes and the fan could draw air inward and upward out the top - like a chnimney. It would be quiet, too.

    3 replies

    Thank you iFirefly! Glad you like it.

    I left the lamp on for several hours to make sure the bulbs wouldn't heat up too much and they really weren't that warm. Perhaps a higher wattage bulb would get a lot hotter.

    I really like your idea for using the PVC tube to vent heat! I wish I had thought of that. Unfortunately there are no openings between the bulbs and the PVC in the current design, but with a simple tweak there definitely could be. I'll keep that in mind for Triton 2.0!

    Version 2.0 is always more fun to see; I thought of something that may be a downside to my suggestion, though; with a constant-on or even thermostatically-controlled fan going, it would suck in all kinds of dust & pet hair and would be impossible to clean!

    Maybe just some slots hidden in the bottom to provide airflow, but are easily cleaned.

    I look forward to seeing your other projects. Let us know if temperature is even an issue.

    I have left lamp on for several hours and temperature is NOT an issue. At least not with the bulbs I am using.

    Thanks again for your comments.

    How long did that take to cut out on the laser? And how many pieces total?

    Would it also be good to paint the inside surfaces with a more reflective white or silver, rather then have so much light absorbed by the laser burned edges?

    How did you finish the pieces? Individually or by spraying the assembled lamp?

    1 reply

    I don't have a laser cutter, so I had to hire a local woodworking shop in Minneapolis called Create Laser Arts. So I'm not exactly sure how long it took. There is just over 200 pieces total.

    Painting the inside surfaces a lighter color is a great idea! The black edges definitely suck up a lot of light.

    I left the pieces unfinished for the prototype. I prefer the unfinished look, and I wasn't sure how hot the bulbs would get once they were surrounded by wood. They definitely stay cool enough to have varnished or painted pieces.

    Would it be possible to lasercut plexiglass or other transparent materials? Then if all the same shaped wood and plexiglass is in place, it will be less dust/ dirt sensitive and much easier to clean. Instead of crt-tube LED RGB strips can be used, multi color, dimmable,...

    1 reply

    Great ideas Martijn! The clear pieces would definitely let in more light. I would have liked to use LED bulbs, but wanted all the parts to be readily available.

    Excellent Project!!! Two variations come to mind: First: Use acrylic plastic on the central parts where the light shines thru, Second: Use an LED replacement for the fluorescent lamps with RGB LEDs controled via Arduino or your favorite controller for changing mood lighting. Paired with your sound system as color organ to change light colors based on various frequencies.

    1 reply

    Thanks Foxtrot! Great idea on the clear central parts! That definitely would let a lot more light shine through.

    I looked at LED bulbs and I think they would work great. I decided to go with fluorescent bulbs because they are readily available at any hardware store.

    Pairing it the sound system is GENIUS! Definitely will try and integrate that into Triton 2.0!

    This is spectacular!! Great design! Cant wait to finish my CNC to make something like this!

    1 reply

    Thanks, Tech! The possibilites of CNC are endless! Although, you can't beat the smell of lasercut wood. Mmmm... :)

    by the way, NEVER SWITCH THE GROUND !!! it must always stay connected (but i am asking why you said that it wouldn't work without it ?!? it can work without, but it is safer with it ! that's all...)

    3 replies

    The instructions that came with the Electronic Ballast said it needed to be grounded in order to function. Perhaps the old non-electronic ballasts worked differently, or maybe they just said that for safety reasons.

    I think what he meant was:

    Always just connect the ground straight. you will not find a switch that switches ground, because that is incredibly unsafe. Ground is a safety thing.. in case anything goes wrong: it will dump the electricity out it, as opposed to into you.

    (So, never fear: you did it right... even if accidentally.)

    This would explain why I searched for hours and never found a switch with a ground. :)

    Thank you for clarifying.

    I really love this design it's so different and simple and elegant. But doesn't the bulbs get hot?

    2 replies