I went back and forth for ages on what to do about lights for Pembroke. On the one hand, I’m familiar with fluorescent lights, and I know I can get ~5000K bulbs relatively easily. On the other hand, vertical space is at a premium, and I really wanted to check out the new LEDs.
Finally, I took the plunge. First, I talked to a local retailer of LED fixtures. They would happily outfit me for about $350. That was way too much for my hobby budget, and so I looked online, where I found various ebayers who would fix me up for $32 per five metre string. I figured I needed three strings, and so that would be about $100 plus power supplies.
Time went by, and when I finally pulled the trigger, I found loads of opportunities to pay as little as $9 for a five metre string. The power supplies remained a problem, but a post on the Internet suggested computer power supplies, which have a 12V/10A output.
Well, I happen to know where a big pile of old computers sit — awaiting recycling at the local EnCorp Recycling Depot. Unfortunately, when I tried to liberate one, a recycling troll sprang from nowhere and grabbed it from me. He only knew one word, “No!” I tried arguing, but trolls are surprisingly immune to rhetoric. I considered making a run for it, but decided cheap power supplies aren’t worth jail time.
Plan B was an ad on the local freecycle list. June, who lives a couple of kilometres from my house was cleaning out her storage room, and offered up her old system. Perfect! Thank-you, June!
Plan C was my office; I asked the help desk, and sure enough, they had a couple of systems awaiting recycling. They were happy to pass one on to me. Awesome! Thank-you, Paul!
So now I had two power supplies and two cabinets along with sundry floppy and CD drives. The Internet provided instructions for how to turn an ATX power supply into a lab power supply, and I butchered June’s supply as it was the more powerful.
Then I waited and waited and waited for the slow boat from China to bring my lights. Half of them arrived on Friday, and I’m hopeful I will be able to get the rest from the seller in another month.
So, how do they look? Well, pretty good, although I’m happy that I bought four strips, rather than the three, which most people seem to be going for. It could still be a bit brighter, and I might consider adding another strip or two. I mocked up a section with tape and foam. Of course the camera compensates for darkness, and so, these photos don’t adequately show what’s really going on. You get the best idea from the distant shot as it shows the room lights off, and you can see how the light falls off from the LED strips.