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Remote Controlled Light Fixture

Discussion in 'LEDs and Optoelectronics' started by eyedrinkvenom, Aug 19, 2011.

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  1. eyedrinkvenom

    eyedrinkvenom

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    Aug 19, 2011
    Hi

    brand new here. I posted this on a DIY forum but haven't got much feedback so figured I'd try here as well.

    I'm going to make a light fixture for growing herbs and veg indoors (eaten herbs, not smoked), and I want to make it remote controlled so I can raise and lower the light fixture as needed when the plants grow or for maintenance. I will be using CFL lights but 2 x 125 or 250 watt will still generate a good amount of heat.

    The idea right now is to use a winch/pulley system. Since the fixture won't be too heavy I think I can get away with a motor that has at least 20lb of torque and maybe 60 rpm so it doesn't move too fast. variable speed would be cool especially if I can make or buy a remote to fine tune the speed. I saw some remote controlled winch kits for trucks and jeeps but not sure if those will work. For the pulley system I was going to use a bike hoist and simply secure the rope to the winch. That will then be secured to some kind of mount and be screwed into studs in the ceiling. Not sure if AC or DC is best.

    As this is for hydroponic gardening, and even because of misting the plants, I will be using grow lights for horticulture which can take some moisture but I want the fixture to be water proof and use the proper parts to build it so I don't start a fire. I can also use a power cord with GFCI for added protection. I believe the lights use a mogul socket.

    so I'm brand new to DIY electronics so hopefully some of you can offer advice on proper parts, affordable parts (used/ebay is fine), and construction tips. Besides being sturdy and functional I want it to be safe. There won't be tons of water flying around as this is single reservoir based hydroponics (dwc) but I still want to do it right the first time. If you can think of a more efficient way to do this, please let me know. I'm open to any an all suggestions except to not do it :)

    Please see the attached image for a rough idea of the setup. This is not showing remote capability but you'll get the idea. also doesn't show power cord for the motor but I know I need one.

    thanks and look forward to using the forum!
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 19, 2011
  2. daddles

    daddles

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    Jun 10, 2011
    Welcome to the forum!

    This is one of those things that I look at and wonder why anyone would want to spend the effort necessary to design and build a remotely controlled motor for such a task. I would doubt you'd want to raise or lower the thing more than once or a few times a day at most and, in terms of cost and effort, I can't see how you'd beat a manual system of some pulleys, 1/8" braided nylon rope, and a cleat to secure things. Total cost would be perhaps on the order of $20 and the thing could be designed and fitted out in a half an hour to an hour tops. If I was faced with the task, I have all the required stuff in my shop and could have something working in a matter of minutes.

    "Well, I just want it" is a suitable answer :p -- it's your money and time. Those of us who design things for a living often learn the hard way to try to keep things as simple as possible.
     
  3. eyedrinkvenom

    eyedrinkvenom

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    Aug 19, 2011
    lol Understandable response. Truthfully I could of course use pulleys and secure the rope but I thought it would be fun to try to do this off of some spare parts just to see if I could do it. After all, I could make it without the remote control and add that later on if I wanted to.

    It might sound retarded, but only recently did I realize how much fun I could have been having making things over the years, not to mention the money I could be saving on certain items that I know I could make. I'm an artist so it's bizarre it never clicked to me. I'm excited to try new things and see what I can do at this point but yes, money is always important to be saving.

    So wastefulness aside, let's say I wanted to do this (to start anyway) by having a pulley system with the proper electrical parts for safety. Would you be able to suggest what to use to get this done? I'm hoping to start this over the weekend when I have some free time.

    Thanks and glad to be here.


    Edit: by electrical parts, I mean parts for the light fixture, not for the pulley system.
     
  4. eyedrinkvenom

    eyedrinkvenom

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    Aug 19, 2011
    One more question though it relates to the light.

    I need to build a reflector. Sone people on YouTube use cheap duct bent outward. It seems to work well but from what I read a parabolic shaped reflector is best.

    Any idea how to easily fashion a parabolic reflector?

    Thanks
     
  5. poor mystic

    poor mystic

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    Apr 8, 2011
    maybe you want to be a bit more critical of what you read
     
  6. davelectronic

    davelectronic

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    Dec 13, 2010
    lights for herbs

    All that for a few herbs, bit over kill is it not, that heat and light level is way OTT, something more modest would do the trick, unless there SPEACIAL herbs, nudge nudge wink wink, ha ha, only joking. Dave.
     
  7. eyedrinkvenom

    eyedrinkvenom

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    Aug 19, 2011
    Well that's helpful...

    Even if that scientific data is incorrect, paraboloids focus the light in 360 degrees which you won't get from a catenary trough shape which is parabolic but not all the way around and not focus the light evenly.
     
  8. eyedrinkvenom

    eyedrinkvenom

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    Aug 19, 2011
    There will be different things going in over time. I'll probably put in some veg like lettuce or spinach, maybe one of my cuttings, all depends. The reservoirs are cheap to build but I want the light to last a while. At the very least it needs to smoothly rise up, come down, and stay level without swinging around.

    As I said, it's also because I wanted to just do something new and learn. I'm brand new to this stuff.

    I could use advice on sturdy electrical parts. The ones I have found online don't look well made, but my eyes are definitely not trained.

    Nope, no weed for me. Those days of smoking pounds are over ;) just gives me anxiety now so I stick to beer and other liquid treats.
     
  9. eyedrinkvenom

    eyedrinkvenom

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    Aug 19, 2011
    Oh by the way, I am planning on growing Murraya koenigii, Indian curry tree. And all the herbs like tons of sun light and heat, but it's really the light. The temps should be fine where I'm keeping them.
     
  10. eyedrinkvenom

    eyedrinkvenom

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    Aug 19, 2011
    Oh, just so you know I'm not crazy, some people do use metal halide lights and throw 30,000 lumens at their herbs. To me that seems way overkill :)
     
  11. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

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    Jan 21, 2010
    Some people do use that sort of stuff for their hydroponic "herbs", but they're not a garnish.

    I grow hydroponic herbs, but as I am at pains to tell the local hydroponic store, I grow them outdoors in full view of passers-by... :D
     
  12. eyedrinkvenom

    eyedrinkvenom

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    Aug 19, 2011
    basil isn't a garnish when you're italian :D

    I don't like to cook with dry herbs, they taste different, bitter garbage if you ask me. I cook with fresh herbs almost every day. That's the point of growing this stuff in the first place which will save us money in the long run.

    It's fascinating to me that so far my questions have still gone unanswered.
     
  13. daddles

    daddles

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    Jun 10, 2011
    I'll assume what you want is a cylindrical reflector with a parabolic cross section. There is no easy way to make such a thing that I know of. The profile is trivial to calculate, but the devil is in bending the material to that profile. I designed some reflectors like this about 5 years ago for some research on UV fluorescent tubes and a friend of a friend made them using a brake, but he was unusually skilled. Such a thing is probably not worth your effort -- coat an HVAC duct with some aluminized mylar and call it good. Besides, the parabolic form only works theoretically perfectly for a line source and you're probably using tubes of finite extents.
     
  14. daddles

    daddles

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    Jun 10, 2011
    You're asking people for free design advice. That's like me asking you for free pictures if you're a painter. The people here help with ideas and experience, but you'll get best results by showing some effort yourself. So far, you've just waved your hands and explained in general what you want. That's fine, but lots more detail is needed. Divide the task up into subtasks. Do you have the light fixture? If not, you need to acquire one. This is probably buy, not make.

    Once you have the fixture, you then know how much it weighs. Then you can start looking for a suitable winch. For raising and lowering it, you have to decide on the behavior you want. Does it need to be just two positions (up or down) or infinitely adjustable? You also need to figure out how you'll install limit switches to protect against too much movement. There are lots of details to think about...
     
  15. eyedrinkvenom

    eyedrinkvenom

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    Aug 19, 2011
    Didn't I show the design?

    I have no experience. How am I to know what proper motor to use, if it's manufactured well or have enough power? I spent hours trying to figure this out and that's why am asking on forums.

    Also, what I was asking for is what the proper parts are for the light, i.e. sockets that aren't made in some sweat shop that will burn my house down, or something sturdier than a $2 piece of duct. How is that asking for you to design it and waving my hands? Are you serious?

    see, limit switches, brand new to me. this is what I need help with from you guys. If I was single with no family and had gobs of time to spare I could spend the months and learn all this myself. I thought that's what this place was for?

    my point was that everyone was asking why I should do it, or why use the bulbs, why fuss over herbs, when it would be more productive for information such as what you just told me. I need technical help to figure out specs and to fill in the gaps. If that's no what goes on here I'll go elsewhere.
     
  16. duke37

    duke37

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    Jan 9, 2011
    Parabolic reflector
    A parabolic reflector works like a lens. It is intended to focus light from one point to another. It is likely that you want to illuminate all your plant and not just one leaf, thus a parabolic focussed reflector is not needed. Some aluminium cooking foil stuck to a curved cardboard form would do the job. If you want to do a posh analysis, then draw your reflector form on a piece of paper and trace out ray paths, remembering that angle of incidence = angle of reflection.

    Motor power
    A powerful motor will be able to do the job quickly. A low powered motor will take longer. The motor must have adequate torque and must be coupled in such a way to give enough lifting force.
    Make your light system and measure its weight.
    Required force to lift(Newtons) = mass(kg) * G(9.81m/s/s)
    Force generated by motor = torque(N.m)/winding radius(m). From this you can calculate winding radius and knowing the motor speed, the rate of lift. It is likely that you will need a motor with a reduction gearbox or a very small radius.
    The potential energy(J) to be supplied is Mass * height(m) * G
    The energy supplied by the motor = power(W) * time(seconds)
    From this you can get the possible time to lift.

    Sweat shop
    There are two opinions on sweat shops. Is it better to buy from a sweat shop and support an unjust system or to allow people to go hungry?

    Proper parts
    Go to a local reputable retailer. I have no idea what retailers you have in Outer Mongolia.

    Education
    I was taught simple optics and engineering principles in school 60 years ago. Did your school not teach you these things? If you did not put the time in when you were in school, you should now, we live in a technical world.
     
  17. eyedrinkvenom

    eyedrinkvenom

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    Aug 19, 2011
    thanks duke, very good info.

    I work with physics a lot but only specific areas (particle systems, liquids), and while I do understand lighting to a great deal I never had to worry about focussing the light so much as it's all digital CG stuff.

    I do plan on learning more but at the present time is limited. The work I do I have a lot filling the brain pain ;) I live in NY btw.
     
  18. daddles

    daddles

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    Jun 10, 2011
    You just showed a simplified sketch -- that's not a design. It was fine as far as it went, but you couldn't send it to someone across the country and tell them to build it for you, as they wouldn't know what parts you want. A proper design is enough documentation to let someone build something for you without having to ask you questions. Giving a sketch like you did is called hand waving in the engineering community and there's nothing wrong with it (and it wasn't meant derogatorily) -- but it certainly isn't a design.

    So, you need to start doing some design work. Others can't do this for you because you're the only one who knows what you want. It seems to me your logical steps would be:

    1. Pick the lights you want to use.
    2. Find or make a fixture to hold these lights.
    3. Measure the mass of the fixture, lights, hardware, and wiring (i.e., the stuff that will be raised and lowered).
    4. Pick a suitable winch for the job.
    5. Build the control stuff for the winch.
    Another important specification is how much money you're willing to spend. You'll likely find that things will ultimately cost a few times more than you think things should (at least that's typical for some of the projects I undertake). And, if you set the budget too low, it's possible the project can't be done for that number.

    If you break what you want down into logical steps and attack each step, you'll find you'll probably wind up with something close to what you envisioned. However, when designing things, you're often limited to what you can buy or reasonably make; the art of design is making good decisions with respect to this along the way. Learning to make these good decisions comes from either making bad decisions on previous projects or asking others for their opinions. But, ultimately, you're the one who has to make the decisions. I commend you for wanting to build your own stuff -- it's rewarding to do so and, as you learn more, you tackle more challenging projects. You'll also fall along the way, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and continue the journey.
     
  19. eyedrinkvenom

    eyedrinkvenom

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    Aug 19, 2011
    I got ya. Sorry about that.

    I know lights I want to use and I had an idea of the cheap DIY materials. Problem is it seemed a bit shabby to be safe. That's why I posted this here. When I asked on another forum they mentioned it could be very hazardous, but no one would say what proper materials to use. Trust me, I'm not being lazy. I dint want to buy stuff and waste money or trust people at a megastore who don't seem knowledgable.

    If you like, I can provide a list of materials and then maybe you all can suggest what would be optimal. I don't have a plethora of tools at my disposal so bending some sturdy sheet metal is out for me, unless they can do that stuff at a store.

    Anyway sorry the connections got crossed and thanks for the info. I'm also building this in 3D to see how it will look with the whole system. I'll post that when it's done. Ideally I have some better design ideas as far as how it could work with more expense but for now I'll stick with simple, show you that, and see where I can go from there.

    Thanks
     
  20. daddles

    daddles

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    Jun 10, 2011
    I would go to a specialty lighting store and ask them for a proper fixture and/or parts. It will cost effort and probably take more time than you think, but you'll wind up with something that will work and be reliable. There's nothing wrong with over-engineering things a bit (i.e., get parts a bit more heavily-rated than you need). This tends to get you better reliability, but can cost more. Personally, I like to buy the best and only cry once. At least look to see if they have something you can use; it's usually better to buy rather than make something yourself.

    A spec to think about is the power dissipation of the lamp. If it's high, you might not want it to get too close to the ceiling (it might get too hot) and it will, at the least, discolor the ceiling finish over time if it's operated there. I'd start to worry about excess heat for a power on the order of 100 W or greater (when someone says "on the order of", that means an approximate number more than one tenth the stated value and less than 10 times the stated value).
     
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