Saturday, Feb 02, 2013


OK, I can't explain why, and it's pretty funny, but I am compelled to make these ridiculous lamps. Except they aren't very good lamps because they don't really light anything up. They are not really art -- I can hear a college art professor failing to suppress a sneer while saying "decorative" -- nor are they useful, salable, necessary, or even very cool. But nevertheless: make them I must.

In fact, I have so many in process that I'm going to make one a month just to get them out of the way. This is January's offering: it's the Disk Pack Lamp.

Disk Pack Lamp

It's made almost entirely of a BASF 640 disk pack. That's a removable magnetic storage unit not unlike a floppy, only it's not floppy, and it's freaking huge: 14 inches in diameter. I have no idea how much data these actually store, but I would guess not much more than 50-100MB. These fit in a disk unit the size of a washing machine but considerably more expensive, and back in the day your correspondent had a nervous moment in the wee hours when he thought he had stripped the threads on the spindle while swapping a pair.

ampex 1972

Anyway, I took it apart, then reassembled it with spacers. Doing this required, by my estimate, 84 precisely drilled holes. (Try, sometime, for fun, drilling holes spaced precisely at 120 degrees in an 8-inch diameter ring with no actual center.) The column is a photocopier drum with a beautiful blue I must have picked up at Xerox. It fit so perfectly with the disk hub (which became the base) that there was no question of not using it.

The lamp itself is a mercury vapor bulb from a streetlamp, but using an inverter of much lower power so it's not that bright. The bulb fits in a Mogul socket and just screws in; the inverter is installed in the column. It requires 15VDC which is supplied by an external DC supply.

Now it turns out if you stack reflective disks with even spacing, there's an interesting optical illusion: the disks look transparent because the reflection of the disk above looks like you are looking right through to the disk below. So from some angles the stack looks much taller, and like Jupiter's rings, they disappear when viewed edge-on. So anyway, no excuses, just lamps.


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