The Finished Lake Diane Light

Lake Diane Light Construction

True embodyment of the Scope Creep concept!

An internet search turned up several vendors of lighthouse kits and plans. The Lighthouse Man had exactly what I wanted. In addition he sold ready-made windows, doors, and flashing beacons.

Early in the Process

Construction Begins

Early construction presented several challenges. The sides of the Light had to be tapered to form the shape of the superstructure, and needed to be beveled as well. After much thought and some judicious "looking and pointing" it was decided that it would be best to start with the top section, which needed the same bevel but were straight cuts, not angled.

Visible in the picture are the top section sides being test-fitted, some early trial pieces (laying on the saw table to the right) and the makings of a jig being rigged to cut the same bevel on the main side pieces.

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The Light Itself

Top of the Light

The Light itself is a solar powered unit and sees service more often in navigation channel marker buoys than in backyard lighthouses. It totally blew the budget for the project.

Cutting the circles for the decks and the light support was another challenge. The circle-cutting fixtures available for a router and a roto-zip tool were all the wrong size. A custom tool had to be made.

The railing supports and tiny eye hooks are both from a local hobby store. The were later strung with red cord to form the safety chain.

Is this picture out of focus, or has Samuel Adams just had too much influence on the webmaster?

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The Superstructure

All glued up and drying

Once all the angles and beveling were figured out and done, the thing had to be put together. Another challenge!

How do you take six sides and make them all stick together? Gussets were made for the top and bottoms of all six, and glued in place. Sounded easy. In reality it was like trying to organize a bunch of preschoolers hopped up on Haloween candy! Even with the bungee cords it was a nightmare.

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Getting Close

Starting to Look Like a Lighthouse

It's starting to look like a lighthouse.

When the windows and doors that had been ordered with the plans arrived it turned out that the windows were opaque. Enter the 'scope creep'. It would be easy enough to repurpose some solar lawn lights - relocate the LEDs so they shine in the windows, run the wires along with the beacon wiring to a solar collector panel.

Right. Now a solar panel array has crept in.

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Ready to Deploy

It Certainly Looks Like a Lighthouse

Almost done. After the fifth eye surgery in a year the Lightkeeper had a good idea of the necessary recovery time. In October 2012 he determined he could work with his hands for an hour or so at a time, and could possibly finish the project in time for the Lake Diane Light to be a Christmas present for Lady Susan. He was on medical leave from his job so had the time available.

Painting was not fun. Lots of things to be masked off after priming, one color at a time, multiple coats,endless touch-up work.

"There comes a time in the life of any project, that it becomes necessary to shoot the engineer and start production"

It didn't come to that, because the Light did indeed make it's appearance on Christmas 2012.

'Scope creep' is not finished, however. The Lightkeeper watches the weather closely, since a great deal of his time is spent outside.

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Scope Creep, continued

The Light has a weather station

Ready to Deploy? Right. Since there was already a weather station at Lady Susan's lakehouse, why not just combine things? It's solar powered too, and it's power source could be combined with the others.

Rewiring. The weather station needs more power more often than the 'window' lights.Heavier wiring. New solar panel array. And add an insolation sensor so the amount of sunlight can be monitored.

The engineer is considering body armor at this point.

The weather station is a Davis Vantage Pro 2, wireless. It uploads local conditions to Weather Underground and this web site every 5 minutes.

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So who ARE these people, anyway?

Who are the Lady Susan and her Lightkeeper?

Both are retired professionals. She is a registered Speech-Language Pathologist and worked in a local school district for some 20 years. She now is very active in Scouting, Bible Study Fellowship, and keeping up with four grandchildren. She loves flowers, camping, and long walks in the woods. She frequently comments that "Behind every good man, there's a woman rolling her eyes."

The lightkeeper is a retired physicist who spent his career in industry specializing in computer control of equipment and advanced process control, mainly in the glass industry. He now serves as Observatory Manager and Sustainability Advisor at a local Scout camp. He prefers to do his own auto repair and has several project cars in progress. He describes himself as "Lady Susan's pool boy".