For my mechanisms class, 6.S080, I’ve started prototyping an idea for an expanding lamp that I’m working on with Paulina Mustafa and Tiffany Tseng. The basic idea is to take advantage of the rotational movement of the links in an expanding polygon to do interesting things with light diffusion.
I used the design I had for the first expanding polygon I made, but tightened the tolerance on the holes for the screws, which means there’s less play out-of-plane. However, it’s still not great and further iterations should have better joints that just screws. The dowel rods will connect two identical expanding polygons. You can see my sophisticated use of hot glue in making this fast and dirty.
Here are some photos that hopefully show how it all comes together. I used some diffuse projector paper wrapped around the dowel rods to create the panels.
You’ll notice that I only made 5 of 8 links with the panels — I ran out of dowel rod. Bummer.
The prototype was a success, in that the dowel rods coupled the two linkages easily and the panels rotated as expected. It’s definitely an interesting idea, but in order to be an interesting lamp I think the difference between the two states needs to be larger. Below are some photos of it with a light inside, and you can see that while the panels obviously affect the quality of the light, it’s not obvious that there’s a difference in light quality between the two states.
I think extending the range of the expansion using double linkages would help that, as well as constructing the panels in a more sophisticated way that would allow them to completely encase the light in the expanded form. It would also be nice if the linkages on either end weren’t simply planar but had a curvature to them. More to do!