“What’s the best project to start making things?“
This is one of the most frequently asked question I get from my viewers. My answer is: “Make a lamp!” A lamp consists only of three components: a light bulb, a socket and a wire with a plug. This leaves you with enormous freedom for your creative approach. What you end up with is something you can either use yourself or give away as a gift.
Since I was a child I was fascinated with space, the stars and everything related. I also like the look and design of spacecraft and items for use in space, and I was thinking long and hard about how to use that look in one of my projects. To demonstrate this I’ve decided to make a “space lamp” from a few cheap materials as well as some upcycled items from my shop. The tools I’ve used make making easier and faster, but the entire project could be done with basic hand tools.
For this project I chose to combine the looks of acrylic, aluminum, plastics and Mylar (aka space blanket). I started by using the bulb to give me an idea for the dimensions and marked it on the white acrylic sheets. The sheets were then cut with a chop saw along with four pieces of brushed aluminum angle cut to the same length. I drilled holes through both and riveted them together. I then cut a piece of MDF to the same dimensions as the bottom of the acrylic/alu box and drilled a hole for the socket in its center with a forstner bit. The socket was then fixed in place with some CA glue and an CA activator.
Next I used some MDF with wood glue and brad nails to create a simple box. This box was then cut to a more appealing profile with a Japanese wood saw. Since I had some acrylic left I decided to drill holes into it for the lamp “launch controls”. My collection of random items became very useful when I combined a ¼” jack with some old brass parts from an airplane and some old PCB components. All polished up and glued together received a nice coat of paint to resemble a “Launch key”.
All components were soldered together with a 12V relay and some other basic electronics and tested before I assembled the lamp for the last step. Some spray glue was used to attach an emergency blanket to the MDF box. It doesn’t have to be super flat since the wrinkles give it that spacey look. Finally, I riveted a few more acrylic panels with self-made NASA stencils to the sides. To switch the lamp on the “Launch key” has to be inserted which activates a green LED. A simple rocker switch turns the lamp on and off.