Improve Products with Little Effort – Example of LED Photo Light

Left: original knobs / right: newly designed knobs for tactile feedback
Left: original knobs where parameter and values cannot be seen/felt easily ||| Right: newly designed knobs with tactile feedback and better visible information

Some products are really exceptional especially when it comes to the bang-per-bucks-ratio.

One example are the Amaran/Aputure LED photo lights of type AL-H198C, a ~600 lumen battery operated LED lamp with controllable color temperature and brightness. With only one drawback: The potentiometers for the control of both parameters are (1) fiddly and (2) indistinguishable with tactile sense only.

After checking the first lamp I ordered two additional lamps because of its great light quality and versatility.

But I learned that it is not easy to change brightness and/or color temperature intuitively in a dark room, blinded by the scene. So I decided to design new knobs which are distinguishable by their shape and who give a estimate about the dialled in values of both parameters.
This is where 3D printing comes into play: Design your own “meaningful” knobs which give additional tactile information which is helpful if you are not able or just do not want to look for scales and tiny inscriptions. And sometimes these lamps lay on the table with the buttons downsides – here you cannot see any scales hence tactile feedback is the only thing you have.

The on-off-brightness knob is equipped with an elevated arrow-like  shape which gives a good grip to rotate the knob while the arrow head gives you some information about the setting of the brightness.

The color temperature knob has two half-cylindrical “holes opposite to each other which make a good grip with a totally different feel compared to the above mentioned on-off-brightness knob. The indented structure at 90° from the “grip-holes”means harsh light on the middle of the day equivalent to high color temperatures. The softer raised half-cylinder stands for the soft morning/evening light with lower color temperatures.

The printed “tactile information knobs” are very helpful. Cost is about 1,50 EUR for machine cost (1000 hr operation without repair estimated) and some 30 cent for the material.  For both knobs.