Make a high-tech mood light from a fluorescent
lamp and 54 obsolete SIMMs. By Ross Orr
Several years back, I had a volunteer gig with a
local charity. My job was to take old Macs that
had been donated, and jolt them back to life so
they could be resold at our weekly rummage sale.
In those days, the low-end machines often
came in with 1 or 2MB of memory — that M is
no typo, you youngsters! — and I considered it a
great victory if I could scrounge enough memory
to upgrade them to 4 or 8MB. (I can also remember fitting System 6 on an 800K floppy — but
Grandpa will save that story for bedtime another
day.) Anyway, we routinely yanked out 256K
SIMMs doing these upgrades, and I eventually
accumulated a whole sack of them.
I knew these chips were utterly useless, but
could never bring myself to throw them out.
I kept dwelling on the thousands of dollars that
their original purchasers had undoubtedly spent
on them. Plus, these little wafers were kind of
beautiful: each had its own subtly different color,
delicate circuit traces, and cryptic labeling. They
were almost like jewelry. I felt I needed to do
something to honor their now-defunct precious-ness, and thus the ByteLight was born.
The idea is simple, and can be used with any
“interesting” piece of circuitry that has outlived
its usefulness, as long as a bit of light shines
through it. You just need to construct a shallow
light box. Fronting it with diffusing plexiglass
lets you glue down multiple circuit boards using
silicone sealant. You can buy white plexi, but I
just used clear scrap I had on hand. Sanding both
sides with fine sandpaper on an orbital sander
gave it a nicely frosted surface.
Photography by Ross Orr
132 Make: Volume 09