Project:Light the Space

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Our location at 447 Hackney Road is quite usable in general. Certain areas at the space are lit very poorly and lights are often failing due to their high duty cycles (rapid on-off).

There was a long thread on the mailing list about dead toilet lights which ultimately inspired the joke question 'How many hackers does it take to replace a lightbulb?'

This page is both to improve the usability / recurring costs of the space as well as explore and learn about LEDs as viable replacements for traditional lighting. Please add in your information/feedback to this wiki.

Current Space Status

There are a variety of lights inside the space - incandescents, fluorescents, and even some LEDs in limited space. The cost of incandescents and fluorescents are not exactly cheap to run or replace, and the variety of lighting makes keeping spares available in the closet somewhat difficult and tedious.

This is a bit of a braindump of information that hopefully will result in an improvement to the lighting of the space and lowering the maintenance level / cost of hacking.

Build vs Buy vs Womble Resources

We're not going to create our own foundry to create LEDs, but we will want to (quickly) evaluate the levels of building versus buying LED arrays/drop-in replacements


  • LED Series/Parallel Array Wizard - a simple plug-in wizard for building LED arrays - can be useful for building arrays from arrays of arbitrary-dimension LEDs such as these - requires wiring, soldering, mounting, drilling, and diffusing but is the cheapest in terms of money spent.
  • Individual 3w LEDs are pretty powerful, but would likely require some careful heat-dissipative assemblies for certain locations
  • Using 5 meter rolls of white LEDs - this may be a reasonable compromise - if we have a clean adhesive surface to stick these on, we can deploy these fairly effectively as long as we have an adequate 12 volt power supply to drive them.
  • Step Down DC Power Supply Converter would be useful with all of the 16-19 volt laptop power supplies in bins at the hackspace that have been orphaned due to smashed connectors and obsoleted laptops.
  • Mentar's proposal based on the above for 15LED 40W 2.4m array


  • T8 LED Light Tubes or T8 LED Light Tubes from ledsave are tubes that can use the same physical holders as fluorescents, but do require the removal of the fluorescent high voltage ballast as these run directly off of mains connections. (not too difficult but requires safety training and careful labelling and installation.
  • Outdoor LED Floodlights might be useful reflecting in both outdoor and ceiling-reflective environments. Might be effective with the tall ground floor ceilings as well
  • Bayonet Incandescent Replacements require no wiring changes but can only be used in existing bayonet sockets
  • suggest that a couple of commercial fittings be bought or borrowed for trials, I have a supplier who may be up for this. (Phil)
  • the tube replacement things are no match for properly designed luminaires and not much cheaper. (Phil)
  • I had a look at replacement tubes in B&Q. They have Osram tubes that don't require balast replacement. 5' tubes are £25 each and consume 22W with 1800lm output at 3000K. Fluorescent tubes were £9 each and consume 58W for 5200lm at 4000K. So the LEDs are 82lm/W vs 90lm/W for the fluorescents. So they're not going to pay the 2.5 x cost off, and might require extra fittings. Confirms phil's opinion. (artag)

Womble (Procure Freely)

  • Many modern offices in London replace lighting at a far faster pace than the fixtures' duty cycle. This means free fixtures (and bulbs!) become available.
    • These fixtures are often 10 years old or less and can be quite energy efficient, using smaller bulbs.
    • Mentar was successful at acquiring some modern fixtures which were very nice - we installed one in the washroom part of the green toilet/store room.

Locations needing Improved Illumination

Toilets / Washrooms

The toilets are universally the most frequently used essential-room in the space. Most of them are using incandescent lightbulbs that are frequently dying and are at considerable ceiling height which makes replacement a bit cumbersome for most self-interested (busy focused on projects) members. This includes the main two washrooms and the green tiled toilet/supply closet. Would we want to add a motion switch (as long as we set it for 10 minutes or less?) for each of the spaces? People at this point should be accustomed to flailing their hands around if they require a longer visit. Might be easy and useful to make an 'In Use' light above the door too to avoid any social constraints.

Member Box Shelves

This area is typically least occupied part of the space but difficult when looking for boxes (especially when trying to drop off something in another member's box) - this could also be effectively motion controlled.

Electronics Laboratory

The electronics laboratory is often a bit darker than the wider selection, which can prove especially frustrating when working with soldering irons and small components. This should not be motion controlled as often people are very still with very small movements on very small components.

Alternate Proposal: Womble up Nicer Lighting Fixtures Instead

Another idea to improving the space would be to womble up reasonably modern and efficient fixtures (with lights) that come from spaces being remodeled / demolished in the London area. With the constant space renovations in the capital city, many modern fixtures less than 10 years old might be attainable for cheap or free. If there are fixtures that are low-maintenance and provide good light, this would be excellent.

This course of action requires the assistance of helpers with connections to places where we can 'harvest' such things.

Shared Interest

Obviously doing this requires a level of investment that cannot be undertaken by one individual. Once we've figured out the costs of each location 'fix' we would appreciate pledges of effort and a bit of cash to cover costs. Feel free to put your name here and let us know what you're interested in

  • Kraptv - interested in designing / installing LED arrays / coordinating improvement
  • Mentar - providing design / usage suggestions / elctronics feedback
  • Artag - have generally found LEDs disappointing, perhaps because of incorrect choices. Would be interested to know how to get good results
  • cepmender - The latest generation of LED stuff is much better than even a couple of years ago. Just had a load installed at work and the results are excellent.

Designing and making our own sounds really cool but probably will end with an inferior product at little saving and with excessive work for the person(s) concerned. For a one off, special application homebrew is the sensible solution but production line stuff should be left to the children of Shenzen (imho) Motion sensing is a great idea for corridors and lavatories, most of the luminaires mentioned above have motion sensing with a three min timer, this has caused no problems at all. They also have ambient light sensors (this facility is disabled atm) which would probably reduce consumption by about a further 50/60% for more than half the units.