I had an interesting idea on my walk home for lunch. So, I popped some Hot Pockets into the oven, and put it together while they where baking.
I made the box of LED christmas lights I got from Walmart into a grow light. I have been reading about LED growlights for a while now, and I want to give them a try. This is a cheap DIY way of trying it out. No soldering required. Here I marked off the box. 60 lights. That gives me 5/8ths of an inch squares centered on the box.
I punched the holes with a ball point pen.
Here I stuck all the lights through the holes. I started in the middle, and just worked back and forth across the box and towards each end.
It puts out a decent amount of light. You can see where it is blown out the CCD on the camera on the floor. The LEDs are fairly directional, so there isn’t much light lost to the sides of the ‘fixture’.
I doubt it’s enough for serious growing, but I can give the concept a try. I can daisy chain units together if I wanted to. Each one of these boxes would cost me about 3 cents a year to run year round. One light per plant. That’s pretty cheap for artificial light I think.
I have been kicking an idea around for a while. I am not sure if I saw it somewhere, read about it, found in instructable for it or what, but I have been wanting to make some bookshelf risers. So, if this is your idea, let me know. I will give credit where credit is due. Read about the next version – New Book Shelf Shelves.
Bookshelf risers – you know, bleachers for your books.
Normal bookshelves are 10 inches deep, and paperback novels are 4 inches deep. So the shelves are deep enough for 2 and a half rows of books. The shelves are also usually much taller then paperbacks as well.
In comes my riser idea. it’s a subshelf, that sits on a regular shelf, that is behind the first, outer row of books. It lifts the 2nd row of books up high enough that you can read the spines of the back row of books.
This is my current mess of books. The shelves are full (or at least would be), and I have 4 boxes of books waiting to be put on the shelves.
So, like any good DIYer, I made some.
…and duct tape.
But, would a normal riser be good enough for me? NO. I need to make it more complicated. I want mine lighted. You know, so you can see the books in the back.
I just happened to pick up a good number of white LED Christmas tree light sets for real cheap tonight. So, of course, I want to use these. I mean, how cool is that, white LED lit bookshelves?
I just punched holes into the cardboard with a ball point pen. I took the crystal bulb lens dohicky off, shoved the plug through the hole, and pluged the light/lens back in depending on what popped off when I pulled hard.
I made the homemade shelf risers using a couple of books as measuring gages. I figured how tall I wanted the riser, how deep, etc. using the books on the shelf, then used the books on the cardboard when I was scoring the folds and cutting the ends. I wanted it L shaped so that the lights could be low, and face up, and so he wire was inside. The ends got to be pretty complicated to cut & fold together. It’s kinda a big jigsaw puzzle. Way too much cardboard in that small area – like 7 layers of cardboard all wanting to be on the same layer. So I kinda had to squish the ends flat to shove the whole thing into the shelf.
Here you can see the homemade cardboard rinky-dink subshelf installed. The lights point up. The top tips forward. Such a mess. I like in anyhow.
You can push the front row of books back, and there is enough room for the lights to light up behind them.
Here are both rows of books shelved. It’s pretty cool how you can see all the books now isn’t it?
Books with the lights out.
Here I have a photo with 2 rows of books on the top shelf, the outer row only 3/4 full. The lower shelf has the missing books from the top row. You can see how much better you can see all the books.
I am loving it!
So, what do you do when you spend an hour trying to figure out how to make a homemade funky shape out of cardboard, and you find yourself needing to make a 2nd? You take the first one apart, copy it, and put it back together again. The 2nd one goes so terribly much faster it’s not even funny.
It took a bit of doing to get 1 string of lights to work on 2 different shelves. I had to fiddle around a bit with the lights before I got them right. I had installed the lights starting on the wrong side on the top unit at first. It needs to start on the left, go to the right, so the lower one can go from right to left as the electrical outlet is to the left of the shelf.
Ah, isn’t it wonderful? I added nearly half again the usable shelf space on the bookshelf by dedicating 2 shelves to just small paperbacks and using my risers. I have the books I have read in the back, on the risers. I have some that i have read in the front too. All in all, I am quite happy with this set up.
But the coolest thing is…
Is this not the coolest thing you have ever seen? Ok, so it isn’t, but it is pretty cool anyhow. Probably one of the more unique bookshelf setups around. Guaranteed it’s the neatest one purchased 100% from Walmart. You just gotta know how to make their cheap crap into nice, cheap crap.
Speaking of crappy situations. The outlet is a switched outlet. So the bookshelf lights can only be on when the main light is on. How annoying is that? I have lights that will cost a penny to run round the clock for a year, and I can’t use them that way. Oh well, probably for the better. At least you can read the books in the back row because they are not all in shadow.