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Work Space Setup - Lighting Issues
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Work Space Setup - Lighting Issues

by KeyboardKowboy on Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:15 pm

Hello to all of my fellow engineers and hobbyists,

I've recently become quite active with learning the finer things of electronics, soldering, prototyping, etc. and so, have setup a makeshift work space out in my garage. Needless to say I've had my fair share of obstacles to overcome including space and heat (it's December in NY... anyone who lives in the northeast at this point in the year knows what I'm going through). I've got a nice large bench to work on, but I'm forced to stand the whole time... and have purchased a 50,000 BTU propane heater. My major issue up to this point has been lighting! I just recently put together the LoLShield... and got a terrible headache from all of the eye strain. I've tried an led headlamp and and led light clipped above me on a shelf. I found reflections off of the PCB to be pretty harsh. I tried an iridescent (sp?) lamp, which seemed to work a little better, but still not what I would consider a good experience.

Please post with your work space setups and your lighting solutions! I've been contemplating buying and installing a couple smaller low hanging fluorescent fixtures... would that help? Also, should I buy a work bench style chair (that can prop me up high enough), instead of standing? Or should I get some sort of matt to stand on to relieve my feet from the hard, cold cement... Thanks for any replies and insight!
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Re: Work Space Setup - Lighting Issues

by uoip on Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:50 pm

The best solution I've found is a drafting table lamp. Widely available at office stores and similar places. They clamp to the back of your desk and have a spring loaded arm that lets you position them almost any way you want.

I've got two on my desk. One with a compact fluorescent bulb, and another made for use with a halogen bulb. The halogen runs hotter, and provides a brighter, more specular light. The CF runs much cooler, uses less electricity, and provides softer light. They're both useful, but if I were starting over I'd first get a standard one and put a CF bulb or a standard incandescent in it.

The type of light bulb isn't so important. What's important is that you have the flexibility to place light so that it shines on your work, not in your eyes. You also need to have the flexibility to adjust the light to control the angle from which the light comes, so that you don't get glaring reflections. Those can be especially annoying off of flat shiny PCBs and such. Finally, you want to have your small work area be lit up so that it is the brightest area in your room. Since your eyes adjust to the light level in the room, the absolute amount of light isn't as important as the idea that your work is lit more brightly than anything else in the room. I like to work with dim overhead light and a bright task light illuminating just what I'm working on.

I usually place the light fixture very close to my work, slightly off to one side.
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Re: Work Space Setup - Lighting Issues

by chatham on Fri Dec 03, 2010 9:24 pm

I use a big drafting lamp with a magnifier in one of my workspaces - it's handy, but when you're looking to get one, try finding some reviews, and ideally, go to somewhere where you can actually move it around for yourself. A lot of cheap ones will kinda work in a half-assed way, but they'll have springs that are too loose or too tight, and so they'll either snap back to a default position or sag to the table. So I'd maybe suggest spending a couple extra bucks for a nicer model than the bottom-of-the-barrel one; the one I've got (doesn't help that the magnifier is heavy) just sags to the table and is almost more frustrating than useful.

You might also want to get some sort of cheap, plain desk lamp to illuminate your workbench with some more diffuse light - one issue I've had with the drafting light has been relative shadows cast by the lamp making it harder to make out things on the boards I'm working on if they're behind chips or something.
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Re: Work Space Setup - Lighting Issues

by zener on Sat Dec 04, 2010 12:05 am

This is good for eye strain, but you still need some light...

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0015PBCEM/ref ... B0015PBCEM

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Re: Work Space Setup - Lighting Issues

by pstemari on Sat Dec 04, 2010 1:24 am

I use a halogen work lamp from Home Depot clamped to a convenient ladder over my workspace, but it's pretty harsh light and gets very hot. I need to find a better solution, but the edges of the bench are too thick for any clamping lamps I've seen, and a lamp with a base would eat up precious space.
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Re: Work Space Setup - Lighting Issues

by KeyboardKowboy on Sat Dec 04, 2010 5:05 am

Thanks for all the input everyone. I'll be working on "pimping out" my work space soon...
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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.