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interior shadowbox illumination


Grumbler in Training
Oct 26, 2005
Corvallis, OR
What's up everybody! first time grumbler here =) although, i dont do alot of grumbling, im pretty easy going... anyways, here's my question...

I am doing some research on how I can illuminate the inside of a shadow box for a jersey. There are plenty of problems I can see running into (fire hazzard, UV protection...etc,.). I also have no concrete idea of how I can rig it up myself. Has anybody ever done such a project? If so, please elaborate as much as possible... thanks!
Welcome to the Grumble, isaac,

Below is a photo of a frame we did for two framing competitions, which utilized "rope lighting" when it first appeared on the market...


A small motor was also included inside the frame which rotates the Coke can. When turned on for short periods of time, all is well. If left on too long, the interior tends to fog and warm up slightly.

The Frame Workshop - Awards Page

I would recommend extreme ventalation on this piece if it were for a customer.

I build a lot of shadowboxes. So far, I have avoided interior illumination by telling customers about the hazards, and pricing that feature higher than their cost of an electrician to wire a ceiling light to do the job. That works better and does no harm to the frame or its contents. Often that conversation leads herto say, "Maybe I can should hang it under the track light."

If you check your pricing to illuminate a frame properly -- ventilation, UV protection, reflective surfaces and all -- you might be surprised to find that the electrician is cheaper.

But customers do not think about that. :rolleyes:
I've been pondering using LED lights. They're dirt cheap, last 100,000 hours or longer and would be small and quite flexible. Just need to work out the wiring one of these days.

I've seen things like Dorothy's ruby slippers in the Smithsonian illuminated with fiber optics. Maybe those combined with a small LED light source would do the trick.

Anyone have info on UV output from LED's? I would hazard a guess that it's pretty low; I know the heat produced is almost nothing.

Grammar rant: When pluralizing things that aren't really words, like CD, LED, DVD, etc. you're supposed to use an apostrophe before the s like so: CD's. But so many people have abused and confused this rule by writing thing like frame's and puppie's or pencil's that when I used an apostrophe to correctly pluralize LED, it looked wrong and I almost changed it. Bugger.
There is no beating the amount of light that CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamps can crank out. These are the lamps that light up LCD displays on laptop screens. They typically have 20,000 hour lifetimes and generate very little heat.
Anyone have info on UV output from LED's? I would hazard a guess that it's pretty low; I know the heat produced is almost nothing.

Yes. The light intensity drops pretty abruptly as you get to violet wavelengths. If you know how to read light intensity graphs and chromaticity diagrams, the following data sheet seems representative of data for "white light" (5500K) LEDs:


LEDs are an improving lightsource. They use really tiny power; they've really come a long way in terms of efficiency. When I first started using them, I needed to provided hundreds of mA; the ones I'm using for my latest board max out at 5 mA!
Jim you might want to warn the Hard Rock Cafe about all these dangers. We ate there in Atlanta and Framerdave and I noted at least 100 of these shadowboxes with ropelights in them. Believe me this framing left much to be desired also.
Dave, et. al: the rope LED lights work tremendously. Have done many of these for local businesses. Contact me offline if you want to know how. Not hard, really, just gotta drill a hole in back of the box to have the wore pass thru. No heat, lasts forever and looks totally cool