Generally speaking, I like to get a good 8 hours sleep. Occasionally, however, something really earth-shatteringly important preys on my mind and won’t let me get past the first 5 hours – this was one of those nights. I’ve been pondering my ideal lamp.
If you’re still here, you might be wondering if I’ve gone off the boil and you could well be right, but I recently reviewed one of those Bluetooth lights – the Sonoff and I have to say I was less than excited by the result. I’ve had other lights – one came complete with infra-red remote and could make just about any colour, the only thing being, if it lost power, it started up in disco mode. What idiot designs something to do that (answer, the people who make Christmas light controls). Having 3 individual LEDs it also cast a horrible colour fringe on everything making it pretty useless for anything but a disco.
And so it was that at 5am this morning I started to ponder – and before very long I had to get up and put my thoughts to paper, as it were.
So what would my ideal light be? For starters I really don’t think it would be remote controlled. There is something about paying for a WIFI interface which may hardly ever get used and which, used in dozens of lights around the house could diminish the efficiency of my WIFI network, which really doesn’t appeal. In any case, I don’t CHANGE settings on lights that often.
So here it is, manufacturers – my version of an ideal lamp – and no doubt those of readers who will have their own variation or might even completely dismiss my version in favour of something better.
My ideal light would be LED – as this is currently the best option – there will be other technologies but as they are not yet commercially successful, there’s no point in considering them. Of the LED options, the little 12v SMT RGB LEDs sound good as they can produce most colours quite uniformly and on a surface mount, aluminium-backed board you could get quite a lot in a small space with innovative heat sinking – enough to make a decently bright lamp (my biggest gripe regarding the Sonoff was inadequate colour brilliance). I don’t see any benefit here in individual control of each LED and so we can discount the 5v serial LEDs (which are more expensive anyway).
So we start with a normal looking frosted light which somehow magically packs it’s own powerful 12v power inside. It consists of maybe 20w or more of RGB surface-mount LEDs.
On opening the box and turning the lamp on for the first time, it would operate as a medium brilliance white light – just to prove it works. It would soft-fade up over half a second. Clearly soft-fading DOWN is out unless we could engineer a super-capacitor in there without raising the cost. That would be nice.
I’ve used RGB lights for years and they seem like second nature to me – but that’s not ideal for your average user so here is how I would like the lamp to be programmed.
With the light ON, turn it off and on 4 times in quick succession. Now the light undulates in green. Turning it off within 5 seconds would result in the lamp retaining the status quo.
After 5 seconds the lamp would (at reasonable brilliance) sequence through cold white, through to warm white, through to red, yellow, green, blue and back to white – with all the variations in-between.
Switching the lamp off at this point would cancel the operation but a quick off then on sets the colour. The lamp would then start to undulate in blue. Switching it off within 5 seconds simply retains the new colour.
If left on, the lamp would, in the chosen colour, cycle from low brilliance through to bull brilliance and back continuously. Same as above for setting this brilliance.
Now we are onto undulating in red, the final control which again can be aborted. This time, at the desired colour and brightness, the lamp would sequence through saturation levels, from the deepest chosen colour, say, red, through pink, to white and back down to fully saturated colour again. A quick off/on sets this and the lamp is good to go.
So without any controls, we have a lamp that can be as bright as needed and capable of being any colour including the pinks and other colours that can only be achieved by varying colour saturation.
If I were designing that lamp, a simple Arduino-type-chip (328) could do this easily together with 3 tiny SMT MOSFETs so there is nothing new here. One could even imagine other options to allow slowly fading the light out if left on for too long but I’ll leave that for now.
All without un-necessary remote controls or WIFI or Bluetooth.. It would of course be possible to switch individual lamps or dozens at once using the above.
Oh and I’d like it to cost no more than a fiver please.
On the subject of white, my own ESP8266 software, as well as controlling RGB lights to produce all the colours, also has a mode to go from 10,000 Kelvin (blue-ish) through white to very warm candle – so I know this can easily be done with these lights and I have an entire pergola lighting setup controlled this way. This is really down to mechanics, innovating heat removal and price.
Well, I can dream. And now, some more sleep. Go on then – how does this sound? Got a better version?