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SAD? Light up your life with my DIY 200 watt mini-sun!

SAD light

SAD light

After my experience in hospital just over a week ago, the house seemed dull and dark. I partially alleviated the problem in my workshop by mounting a 3-spot fitting over my head. (where I’m sitting typing this) Whilst the 150 watts of georgeous warm light shining down on me is wonderful, it came at a price – just over £10.00 for the fitting itself plus £1.50 for the 3 X 50 watt halogen-quenched spotlights. Plus, when I move to the seat near the window, where I do most of my electronics work, it feels distinctly dark. I hate winters, and this winter has been particularly bad for dark, brooding skies that seem to last for weeks on end. Clearly another powerful light-source near the window is the key.

Since the fitting only has to satisfy my needs i.e. it needn’t be pretty, I ventured forth yesterday to see what could be bought as cheaply as possible. I came home with 4 X 50 watt spots (£1.00 per two at Tesco) and a 28cm stainless-steel mixing bowl. (£1.37 at Wilkinsons) The rest of the items I used to construct my home-made sun from, I already had to hand, (see parts list) so total outlay was £3.37.

28 cm Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl

28 cm Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl, complete with my grubby paw-prints

Bowl Details

Bowl Details

Spotlamps and 20mm Terry Clips

Spotlamps and 20mm Terry Clips

Spotlamp details

Spotlamp details

Holes in base of bowl

Holes in base of bowl

Mark and cut out 4 equi-spaced 22mm holes in the base of the bowl. After a trial positioning of the spotlamps, I marked out and centre-punched for each hole, then drilled the hole with progressively increasing-size cobalt drills, until I had a hole sufficiently large to accept the bolt of the chassis punch shown in the picture. Whatever method you use, take care. These bowls are thin, and the cut edges are as sharp as a razor!
22 mm chassis punch

22 mm chassis punch

Centre piece cut to size and contoured

Centre piece cut to size and contoured


I mounted the lamps with the Terry clips to establish the size required for the centre piece. On my lamp this was 38mm X 38mm with rounded corners. I used a scrap piece of softwood for this, but almost anything that is easy to work will probably do. When cut to shape, this was offered up and the positions for fixing the Terry clips was marked, together with the centre hole.
Sizing the centre piece

Sizing the centre piece

Centre piece with clips mounted

Centre piece with clips mounted

After fixing the centre piece in place, I re-mounted the lamps and soldered a 4 inch insulated wire to each lamp terminal.
Centre piece mounted and lamps wired

Centre piece mounted and lamps wired

Lamp wires terminated with choc-block

Lamp wires terminated with choc-block

After insulating the soldered lamp terminals with heat-shrink sleeving, I bared the ends of each lamp wires and then twisted these together for each 4-wire set. (RED & BLACK) These were then soldered, trimmed and fitted into a 2-way 10 amp terminal strip. (choc-block) Note that I’ve mounted a solder tag with an M4 screw and nut on the dish for an earth terminal. (Near bottom of picture) I also beefed up the retaining power of the Terry clips by binding the prongs with nylon cable ties. A long(ish) M6 bolt has been passed through a hole drilled in the exact centre of the bowl bottom, and on my lash-up I affixed a steel strip to this and screwed it to the wall. If you intend hanging the mini-sun in place of a standard light fitting, an eye bolt might be a better choice of fixing. Finally, I fitted a 3-core cable and plugged it in. NOTE Always fix an earth cable to appliances that have exposed metal surfaces – better safe than sorry!
The lamp is very bright – too bright to look at directly without sun-glasses, so don’t be tempted!
Testing the lamp

Testing the lamp

Parts List

1 X 28cm (280mm) (11 inch) Stainless Steel mixing bowl – the cheaper the better.
4 X 50 watt Halogen-quenched spot-light bulbs GU10 fixing
4 X 20 mm Terry clips
4 X nylon cable ties
1 X 38mm X 38mm X 15mm wood scrap
1 X 50mm M6 screw, nut and washer
1 X M4 solder-tag, M4 screw, nut and washer.
4 X 100mm (4 inch) 2.2mm insulated wire (black)
4 X 100mm (4 inch) 2.2mm insulated wire (red)
1 X 10amp 2-way terminal strip (choc-block)
1 length 3-core wire (Line, Neutral and Earth) as required
8 X 15mm lengths of 7mm heat-shrink sleeving

Brownie Points? – depends on how neat/safe a job you make of it. I would probably be marked as ‘4 – must try harder’

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