Yet another update (01/16/2009): It worked! My sister reports feeling much better.
Update: For more facts & numbers, see my follow-up post here!
My sister suffers from seasonal affective disorder, also known as winter depression. A commonly prescribed therapy is light therapy - about thirty minutes of bright light in the morning. Bright in this context means more than 10 000 Lumens. You can of course buy commercial light-boxes, but I wanted to construct one by myself...
Behold, the DIY receipe for your very own Lightbox!
You will need:
- A load of light-bulbs - I used ten 23 Watt flourescent bulbs which were advertised as the equivalent of 130 Watt incandescent bulbs. Anyway, we are interested at the amount of light they put out: 1560 lumens each. The light colour does not seem to be very important, according to the literature dealing with S.A.D. - just avoid daylight bulbs that emit UV.
- A box - I used a cheap Ikea Mackis plywood box. It's height fits the bulbs I choose perfectly, and you can get up to twelve of them into it. Above to the right you can see where I tried to figure out the placement of the bulbs.
- Bulb holders and cable and a plug - the cheapest ones, the holders won't get very hot.
- Some way to drill the holes for the bulb holders into the plywood. I used a drill that is meant for use with floortiles. Not perfect, but it worked.
After you have figured out the placement for the bulbs, drill the holes into the bottom of your box. It is not necessary for them to be very neat, since they won't be visible afterwards.
Then find a way of making the interior of the box reflective - if you are cheap and lazy like I am, a bit of aluminium foil will do. If you are awesome, you could drill holes in mirrors or something.
Next on: fitting of the bulb holders and cabling. Use some non-shrinking adhesive to secure the holders - I used "Konstruktionskleber", you could use silicone as well, I guess, or some epoxy. Then you want to connect all of those bulbs in parallel.
Here cabling is finished, and the first test has commenced. After thirty minutes the air inside the box was warmish, but in no danger of overheating and melting the bulb-holders or setting fire to the wood.
When the box is operational, and you have checked your cabling for short-circuits waiting to happen (exposed leads and so on) , it is time for cosmetics, i.e. hiding all the cables from the casual eye (and from not so casual toddler-hands).
Simply glue the top of the Ikea box on the back - if you have measured and planned carefully, all those cables should have place beneath it. If you haven't, it is time to curse and get out something you can use as spacer. I was lucky, though: everything fit.
And here it is, in all it's glory:
Yes, it is bright. Flee, oh demons of depression! Flee the holy light!