Here's how to make a stylish and practical room light!
Problem: The overhead light in my dorm room is too dim and useless.
Solution: Replace it with something more functional, and of my own design!
Step 1: Make the Lamp
To make the lamp, I scavenged a 120V computer cord, a socket from a broken lamp someone else was throwing away, and a tupperware pitcher. And I bought a fullspectrum 60W CFL for the bulb.
After slicing both ends off the 120V cord, I trimmed ground (green) so it's hidden by the insulating sheath, and used wire nuts to connect the hot and return lines (white and black) to the Edison socket.
Then, I bandsawed the handle and spout off the pitcher, and drilled holes in the bottom -- one central hole for the cord, and five in a pattern around it, for heat dissipation.
Next, I threaded the cable through the central hole, and used silicone sealant to glue it in place.
Step 2: Install the Lamp
Take down your old, dissatisfactory dorm-issue light that doesn't do much of anything. I wish I had photos of it, but I was too eager to get rid of it to do any documentation.
You'll want to make sure there's no electricity going to it, so shut off your breakers. I don't have access to the breakers, so I turned off the room light switch, and taped it down while I was working. That way I wouldn't forget and accidentally short something, or get eit'd by an erstwhile suitemate.
It's probably installed with wire nuts, so unscrew those.
Then, take the unterminated end of the lamp you made, strip and expose the appropriate wires (white and black), and connect them where the old one was!
Step 3: New Lamp Genius
Now, this lamp has a really fantastic long cord. This means I can take the lamp and run it directly over anywhere in my room -- my desk, my workbench, my hammock. I came up with this nifty way to attach it to the ceiling, anywhere I want it
If I were to do it again, I would have run out for some industrial velcro, but I like well how this works:
In this version, I made a very small hole in the ceiling, and repurposed a bobby pin to use as a cotter pin. The pin goes around the cord, flexes, and crosses. This way, it stays in the hole in the ceiling without falling down!