[DETOLF] lighting

Posted by Sanjeev 
Sanjeev (Admin)
So, I like to think I have some pretty cool toys. But anyone who's been over to my spot (and who appreciates these things) knows the horror show of how I've displayed them in the past. "Display" is emphasized here because at times, this has meant anywhere from toys cruelly jumbled together on a random bookshelf with no care or order--at best!--to big fucking hoarder-style piles of boxes on the floor. [See Jim's 2011 Summit coverage!]

Over the past couple years, though, I've been steadily cleaning up my act. Because they're such a self-contained series that stands clearly apart from anything else in my collection, I decided to organize my Toho Marusan/Bullmark collection into a single detolf from Ikea. Yup...a jin-yoo-wine display case for some of the coolest shit I have. The next obvious question was how to illuminate the thing...

I wasn't particularly interested in buying a complex lighting "kit", where you have to wire everything together into a rectifier and all that. I wanted something that was relatively simple to install, something that looked clean, a most of all, something that *worked*. After doing some research, I went with these "puck" LED lights available in most hardware stores:

I bought a couple packs of them to get a total of four pucks, bought some wood screws ('cause the adhesive backing on them is utter crap), and attached them to the "ceiling" of my detolf. The warm white light they put out is crazy-bright, and there are no wires involved *at all* to clutter up the look of the case.

The only problem is that the light they put out is extremely directional--they're like tiny spotlights. And there are only four of them. The effect is actually kinda interesting: each figure in the case gets just a little light cast on them, creating a sort of artsy, noir feel. Neat...but not exactly ideal when trying to display stuff. I'll post a pic of it when I get a chance...

Oh, and one other slight annoyance is that the lights automatically shut off after 30 minutes. These are LEDs, so the batteries last for-fucking-ever...so why not program the damn auto-shut-off for two or more hours??? Or better yet, make it a switch allowing the user to set the time.

Anyway, like I said, I just feel like there's gotta be a better option out there. I did some more digging today, and I think I've come up with one possibility: LED net lights:

The idea is to drape this net across the sides and back of the case. Fortunately, these nets are available in 4'x6', which is just about perfect given a detolf's dimensions. I'm guessing each of these little LEDs puts out plenty of light, and because they're dispersed across the sides and back, they should light everything inside pretty evenly...unlike the puck lights.

However, unlike the puck lights, these things are basically all-wire. I'm afraid the net will pretty much ruin the "off-axis" (from the sides) view. Also, you don't have any real control over which direction the LEDs on the net are pointing...so instead of the clean spotlight effect you get with the pucks keeping all the light more or less contained within the case, the net's light will be scattered in every damn direction.

So...I dunno. I think I might just buy one of these nets to give it a shot...but does anyone else have any other ideas? I'm sure I'm not the first to run into this quandary...

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/11/2013 06:13PM by Sanjeev.
open | download - 046135724343.jpg (433.1 KB)
open | download - warm-white-wide-angle-led-net-lights-netting.jpg (347.7 KB)
Sanjeev (Admin)
Okay, so here's a couple shots I took last night of my case with the puck lights (and nothing else around) turned on. Like I said, the effect's pretty groovy:

But I'm still wondering what other ideas are out there for lighting a case like this.

C'mon...don't be shy. I'm sure I'm not the only guy with a detolf that's run into this question!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/15/2013 02:32PM by Sanjeev.
open | download - IMG_0834.JPG (278.7 KB)
open | download - IMG_0835.JPG (255.8 KB)
Love the pics of the 4 spotlights featuring that collection of stupid rubber Japanese hornytoads! ;0p
Nice to know those battery clicker lights do the job.

I don't have any *proven* method, yet, that doesn't involve hot halogen lights, which is bad for long times being on.
I have seen posts in the past about the Ikea string lights, and I was going to try putting the effort in to tuck them into the corners nicely to see if they can disappear.

Rigging up something custom, with LEDs in the little focus hoods/bells, like the DX Mazinger base display, if those can be found in kit form. They should be...just haven't dug around myself yet.
Sanjeev (Admin)
Yup, the battery clicker puck lights aren't bad at all. The battery life still astounds me--I've had them installed since last April, and I haven't had to change the batteries once!

Yeah, halogens are probably no good for old vinyl! Ikea string lights? Do you mean those "rope" lights, where you have an LED every couple inches, embedded in a clear PVC tube? I think "string" lights refer to the classical Christmas light, where you just have a loose wire, with a separate bulb branching off ever 6" or so.

Anyway, I've considered rope lights, but I'm not sure how to make them "disappear" while putting out enough light for a whole case, y'know? Maybe lining them along the inside edges/corners of the case might work... That way, you'll get decent light output, and even though a bunch of the light will leak outside the case, it won't look too crappy.

As for rigging up LEDs in individual focus bells, well, I'm not sure that'll work. I mean, that's not all that different from the focused LED puck lights I already have. The trick, I think, is to diffuse the light, instead of focusing it, to create a more ambient glow.
Turn on the lights in the room. There, you're welcome. ;P
Sanjeev (Admin)
Hahaha....you're always so helpful, Daniel! ;)
Have you thought of using a LED panel light mounted above? There are a ton of options with these, most are kinda expensive. But you can do it yourself cheaply.

The guys in this video went to the trouble of making a battery powered dimmable LED light panel:

They have links to supplies in the video description. Here are the LED strip lights they used:

Also watch this for how they soldered the LED strips:

I think you could just use a 12VDC wall wart wired into a 12VDC toggle switch (available in most automotive stores) then wired into those LED strip lights, mounted above like you have those "puck" lights, for about $30.
Add 4 more pucks.

mcfitch (Admin)
Why come yous only lited the crappy toys?

Matthewalt "I actually kinda LIKE that approach! You know: let's make a TOY. Remember those? Products designed to be played with without breaking? DO YOU REMEMBER, LOVE?!"
Sanjeev (Admin)
That first video was actually pretty cool, MSW--I'm actually tempted to make one of those panels just for photography purposes...

But for lighting a detolf, I'm not sure it would be ideal: first off, the LEDs they're using are cold white, and I want soft/warm white light. Picky, picky, picky...I know! :P But for real, while cold white is great for photography, it's kinda ass for a fancy/artsy display, y'know? I think the main reason the panel won't work, though, is that I just think overhead-only lights, in general, just won't work. The figures on the top shelf will be lit up plenty-good...but because of all the toys getting in the way, that light dwindles rapidly as you go down the shelves. That's why I think some sort of light source coming in from the sides/corners might be best.

You may be on to something though with that particular type of self-adhesive strip lights: the light output seems pretty directed--unlike those simple "rope" LED lights that shine in every direction. So, if I installed them vertically along the inside front corners of the detolf--so that the LEDs are facing in, towards the toys, and the opaque adhesive strips are facing out (and thus blocking the light from leaving the case)--that might just work.

Now to see if those strips come in warm white...

Hillsy--whether you were joking or not, that might actually be a half-decent "last resort" option! There's easily enough room for four more...

Mason--I only put those stupid rubber dinosaurs in there to give me an idea of how the lights will look. When everything's finalized, I'm gonna have Ben AFA graded, sealed in an acid-free case, then placed inside the detolf. Ooh...yeah......that's nice.....


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/17/2013 07:28PM by Sanjeev.

I thought this came out pretty well.
Most LED stripes are avilable in both cold and warm white. On the other hand, I've read some horror stories about having a LED fail in the middle of the strip, which apparently is an issue with a lot of the cheaper strips (when manufacturers say "don't bend them", they mean it - even a little bending might break the solder connections)

Sanjeev (Admin)
Daniel, meczilla's lighting arrangement isn't bad--it sure solves the problem of just the toys on the top shelf getting all the light. Thing is, I'm more after a diffused, ambient (warm white) glow...the pics on skullbrain seem kinda harsh. I think the LED strips are probably gonna be the way to go.

Yeah, Thomas, the strips are definitely available in lots of colors, including warm white. Since the idea is to install these in a detolf (on nothing but flat plate glass surfaces), flexing them isn't going to be an issue...but I find that complaint somewhat dubious. It's one thing if a single LED dies on its own, but if a connection is broken, just re-solder it. I mean, they have to be soldered in the first place anyway...

Anyway, the video MSW posted is looking better and better. I'll keep y'all posted with how this thing turns out...
Dufus-boy here finally watched those videos,(thanks MSW!)
I've just been not paying attention to the market, but glad to take a look.
Couldn't resist ordering some of the adhesive strips in the above link, and going to stop at a couple local hobby stores, and RadioShack, and see what they have in stock for those dimmer parts.

I always wanted to get into R/C trucks and stuff, but now gonna use some of those control parts. Looks pretty nice n easy!
I have all the stuff to dim/speed control for bigger stuff, like kitchen vent hoods, lights, HVAC blowers and dampers,etc, but it's all heavier parts for 120V AC use, so not real good for little LEDs, but now using a battery pack, and not having to worry about a wall cord, makes sense.
Like most power tools nowadays, who uses cords anymore? Battery packs work great.

EDIT: Oh yeah! and since we're talking 12V DC(car battery!) I'm gonna rig Sanjeev's dimmer switch to a few of these, for when friends come over to admire the glass cases. shhhhh,..don't tell him and spoil the fun! ;0) :

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/29/2013 12:00AM by repairtechjon.
Sanjeev (Admin)
La Cucaracha, FTW!!
mcfitch (Admin)
As someone who grew up in a neighborhood with La Cucaracha horns I implore you to not ever do this.

Matthewalt "I actually kinda LIKE that approach! You know: let's make a TOY. Remember those? Products designed to be played with without breaking? DO YOU REMEMBER, LOVE?!"
Sanjeev (Admin)
Awww....never let me have any fun...


But for real, I hope what Jon and I have planned works out. Should be tight. Will definitely post pics!
mcfitch (Admin)
Are you going to play a midi version of the Grendizer theme song when the lights are turned on?

Matthewalt "I actually kinda LIKE that approach! You know: let's make a TOY. Remember those? Products designed to be played with without breaking? DO YOU REMEMBER, LOVE?!"
Sanjeev (Admin)
Don't think I haven't been dreaming of rigging up some way to bump Akira Ifukube throughout my spot!
mcfitch (Admin)
I wouldn't dare think that.

Matthewalt "I actually kinda LIKE that approach! You know: let's make a TOY. Remember those? Products designed to be played with without breaking? DO YOU REMEMBER, LOVE?!"
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login