Mill LED Light

Discussion on all milling machines vertical & horizontal, including but not limited to Bridgeports, Hardinge, South Bend, Clausing, Van Norman, including imports.

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Mill LED Light

Post by gangel99 » Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:53 pm

Completed a mill LED light array for my RF-45 and results are finally what I wanted. Lots of light and does not interfere with anything. More pics and construction details on my web site Spent a lot more time learning about LED's than actually making the light but I guess that is normal when venturing into something new.
Shop lights off, no flash

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Post by Harold_V » Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:15 pm

That's killer nice!
As I've aged, my vision has suffered. It would be nice to have a similar setup. Care to share how you built yours?


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Post by gangel99 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:44 am

Thank you Harold. These are better pictures - essentially an aluminum plate that is screwed to a ring that goes around the quill holding the quill stop - the stop knob is on the right side of the bottom photo.

This kind of quill ring is fairly standard for a mill-drill and you would need something different for a Bridgeport type mill. Holes are drilled so all the wiring is on the top of the plate, out of the way, and fairly protected by a spacer ring from coolant.

I wrote a long set of instructions on construction. The most useful part is on the various flavors of LED's that are available. I spent a lot more time learning about LED's than building the light! The link is in my first post and I'd be happy to post here if but it does not seem possible to post files on Chaski. The only thing I had to purchase were the LED's - total cost was $30.
mill 009_med.jpg
Assembly shown upside down. Top - LED array. Middle - a spacer ring to protect wiring. Bottom - the quill stop ring.
mill 011_med.jpg
On the mill, power off. There are 4 LED arrays; (2) super bright 9 LED arrays at the front and (2) 36 array LED's at the back.

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seal killer
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Post by seal killer » Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:58 am


That is way cool!

I bet you have a good reason for not using four of the "super bright" LED arrays. Could you tell us?


You are what you write.

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Post by seal killer » Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:05 am

I used the 9 LED arrays on the front because they were smaller and the 36 LED arrays on the back.
All I had to do was read your very good instructions!


ps Couldn't you just post a link to that pdf file?
You are what you write.

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Post by gunboatbay » Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:05 am

I would like to comment on this type of lighting system, commonly called a 'ring-light', even though it's square. I don't want this to be considered as a criticism of gangel99's excellent work and the research he did on LEDs. This is merely my own opinion, but something to consider if you're contemplating a similiar project. Some years ago, before LEDs had progressed to the point they are now, I owned a Sieg X2 mill/drill and made a similiar LED light array, powered by a 'wall-wart'. The lumens were adequate, but I soon found that the 'flavor' of light (colour temperature) was unpleasant to my eyes when used for a lengthy period of time. The second shortcoming I'll get to shortly. I upgraded to a Sieg SX3 mill awhile ago and made a 'ring light' based on a small flourescent circular bulb (see picture below). The lumens are more than adequate and the colour temperature pleasant to my eyes. However, like the first light it had one major shortcoming. The physical location of the light is such that most any device in the mill spindle to hold the cutter/drill (except and R8 collet) causes a shadow right where you don't want it. Especially if you're using small or short cutters. Gangel99's first picture shows a beautifully illuminated work area. However, the minute you put a chuck or end-mill holder in the spindle, the shadow in the critical work area appears, a real distraction because of the surrounding brightness. Quite possibly this problem is more apparent to me becuse of my aging eyesight.

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Post by JimGlass » Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:19 pm

(2) 36 LED’s – 1210 or Flux LED’s (can vary)
(2) 9 LED’s – 5050 or Hyper Flux LED’s (can vary)
Where did you find the LED's?

I have had an interest in LED's for quite sometime not only for the shop but also my RV.

Tool & Die Maker/Electrician, Retired 2007

So much to learn and so little time.

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Post by davec43 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:30 pm

The instructions in the link on the second line of his post talks about where he got them:
Ebay Motors has many sellers. Search for ‘LED panel.’ The buyers I used were
KAIZENMOTOR who ships from Emeryville, CA and ENKMALL who ships air from
Hong Kong
Nice light.
Dave C

Grizzly 12x36 lathe, Gorton 1-22 milling machine

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Post by Herm Williams » Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:41 pm

I don't know if it is true with a lathe or with newer flourescent bulbs but at certain speeds synchronization can cause the spindle to appear stopped.

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Post by gangel99 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:02 pm

I agree with Gunboatbay that color can be an issue. My first, failed light used a 'camping ring' light designed to fit around a tent pole. Marginal lumens and the color was way too blue. These 'true white' at 6,000 Kelvin are OK so far - I've spent about 6 hours straight at the mill using the light.

For some reason shadows and not an issue. Possibly because the LED arrays are so big. The photos below were taken without flash and no shop lights. With the shop lights on the lighting is better and more even.

As failure has lessons as well as success I should add that the camping ring light ran on (3) 1.5 volt batteries - total 4.5V. It does not have any voltage compensation circuitry. My wall wart was 5VDC and I thought I could get away with being .5 V too high. Wrong. After 10 minutes five LED's burned out.
mill 002.jpg
Right side, no flash, no shop lights.
mill 001.jpg
Left side; end mill holder and end mill.

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Post by jim rozen » Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:55 pm

Most "white" LEDs these days, are really blue ones, with a drop of
cool-white phospor overcoating the die inside the package. They
give the classic bluish cool-white color associated with fluorescent

I changed my microscope ring light over to an LED unit, from an
incandescent fiber-optic one. On the plus side, no lamp unit to
take up space on my bench, and no more danger of setting the
office on fire!

On the minus side, the color rendtion really is very, very different.
Takes a bit of getting used to I would say.


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Post by websterz » Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:09 pm

My take on the LED spindle light.

I encased my LED arrays in clear acrylic to waterproof them. There are 3 36 LED arrays used here.



The switching power supply cost less than $5 online.

Each array is mounted to the aluminum baseplate with blue permatex.



I have over 50 run-time hours on the light with no problems.

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