While we wait for LED table lamps to emerge from the development phase and arrive at our local Wal-Marts, Hong Kong manufacturers have started selling ultra-high-output white LEDs direct to the consumer via eBay. These are the raw components, plus resistors for wiring them to a 12-volt car system, which is a popular application to create “undercar phantom glow” and other effects which will be familiar to those who have seen episodes of “Pimp My Ride” on cable.
The singularly named Light of Victory Led Store will send you, via airmail, 100 large size LEDs (1 cm diameter, 130,000 millicandles) for thirty-five bucks, including series resistors and air-mail postage. What a deal!
Of course you will have to do a little work at your end, drilling holes to mount the LEDs in a panel, and hooking them up to a power supply. The series resistors are not necessary if you buy a 3.5 AC adapter for house voltage, available for less than $10–check Froogle. Just remember to hook the shorter wire of each LED to your negative source, and the longer wire to your positive source. Each diode draws just 20 milliwatts, making them, I think, the most efficient known form of artificial light, already finding widespread use in flashlights, tail lights, and turn signals. Soon to be used for ambient indoor lighting in an RV near you?
I expect to be writing a build-your-own-LED-reading-lamp crafts project for Make magazine later this year. Meanwhile you can have fun playing with this almost magical device.