Music Fest Recap

Gabriola Gadgets had a great time at the inaugural Gabriola Music Fest. The Fest was located in a large field behind a small mall. Vendors were arranged in an arc facing the stage, so we all had a chance to enjoy the performances while tending our booths.

As a newbie with a brand-new tent, I conscientiously put in all the stakes and guy lines even though there was only a slight breeze, while my more experienced neighbours quickly plunked their tents down and got on with setting out their wares. On Sunday the wind got gusty and tents started flying. My diligence was rewarded!

For a first-time, I think we did a creditable job with the booth and our merchandise displays.  My lovely partner, Linda, was a BIG help over two longish days in the booth.   I would say the festival attendees were there more to listen to music than to shop, so there were some slow times.  However the music and the people watching opportunities helped pass the time.

In the end, we sold a bit of everything.  The big success was the Camp Lamps – they almost sold out.  Need to do more portable lamps …

Camp Lamps at the Music Fest

Looking for something small and fun to make for the Music Fest, I thought about making portable, battery powered lanterns.  I still have plans for some quite fancy portable lamps, but some inexpensive camping lanterns at Costco caught my eye.   Could these be repurposed into something interesting?

The lamp on the left is the Costco original.  Very functional, but very plastic, and very generic.  There must be dozens of factories in China making almost identical versions of this lamp.  On the right, is the Gabriola Gadgets Camp Lamp, repurposing components from the Costco lamp.  Still quite functional, but hand-made from  Gabriola wood, and unique.

The Costco lamp gave me a very bright LED light assembly with a cylindrical housing and a battery holder with 3 AA batteries.  Not bad for less than ten bucks.  In the Costco lamp, the LED assembly pushes down into the base when not in use, resulting in a very compact package.  Very good for backpackers, but a mechanical challenge I did not feel like attempting!   So if you are looking for a camping lantern for your backpacking adventures, consider the Costco lamp.   But if you are more into glamping, then the Camp Lamp is for you!


Gabriola Gadgets is at the Gabriola Music Fest

We will be among the vendors at the inaugural Music Fest coming up on the Labor Day long weekend.   We’ll be selling smaller items – lamps and gadget stands, as well as Rob Maynard’s beautiful arbutus cutting boards.  We’ll also be encouraging festival visitors to visit us on the Thanksgiving Studio Tour to see what else we do.

I had plans to launch my “boomer box”  Bluetooth speakers at this festival, since the crowd will be there to listen to music.  But the boomer boxes are still a work in progress.  I’m hoping to have prototype to show, but nothing that I am ready to sell.


Lights for Lamps – 1

Lamps need light sources.  I decided at the beginning of the design process for the 2016 series of lamps to use LED lights since they require little power, generate little heat, and last a long time.  That simplifies things a lot.

I wanted the lamps to have electronic controls that are easy to use and
unobtrusive.  I decided to use capacitive touch controls to detect finger touches on metal “buttons” on the lamps or separate control boxes.  I’ll discuss the touch controls in other posts, but that decision drove me to look for low voltage dc lights.   The touch control circuits required low voltage dc power, and the overall system was safer and simpler if the lights ran from low voltage dc as well.

I looked at low voltage LED bulbs used for track lighting, LED strip lights, and building my own “bulbs” from discrete LEDs.  However I decided that automotive LED bulbs intended as replacements for tail-lights, turn-signal lights, etc. would be a good choice.   They are are readily available in standard sizes that fit into readily available sockets.  They are bright, omidirectional, and easily controlled for dimming.  And they are available in “warm white” light color which suits my lamps.  The raw “bulb” exhibits multiple bright spots of light from the 24 individual LEDs that make up the bulb, but my 2016 lamps all have paper shades which diffuse the light, so this wasn’t a problem

Automotive LED bulb – 24 SMD LEDs

I ended up using four bulbs in each of the lamps in the 2016 series.  The bulbs are advertised as having light output in excess of 300 lumens, so four bulbs produce about as much light as a 75 watt incandescent lamp, but only consume about 10 watts.  A small ac adapter (“wall wart”) supplies the 12 volts dc required by the bulbs and the lamp controls.

2017 Thanksgiving Studio Tour


Gabriola Gadgets will be participating in the 2017 Gabriola Thanksgiving Studio Tour on October 7-9.   I was a guest artist in 2016, but this year I will be opening up my own studio on Sea Lovers Lane for visitors!   The view from the studio is great and the work on display may will be pretty good as well.

I showed a series of wood and paper lamps in the 2016 Tour.  You can see some of them here.   For 2017 I plan to continue my work on lamps and also do some pieces involving audio electronics.   Which leads to my studio’s theme for the Tour – Sound & Light.

I’ll be writing about the pieces for the Tour as work progresses over the next five months.  Stay tuned!

New web-site for a new year

Time to put down the chisels, climb the stairs from the shop, and spend a bit of time at the keyboard recording what’s going on downstairs.   February is going to be quiet, but this site should start filling in from March onwards.