Display case suggestions
May 22, 2014 6:59 PM   Subscribe

We have a 25-year old display case for some minerals. Looking for a new one.

Here is the existing case. Currently looking at something like this. It would be nice to be illuminated with LEDs. Even nicer, with a timer. What can you suggest?
posted by falsedmitri to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
(The photo in the first link doesn't display. Instead, there's this message: "allelopath's images are not publicly available".)
posted by Houstonian at 8:57 PM on May 22, 2014

I bought a mission style china cabinet with halogen lights and glass shelves on Craigslist. Nice oak wood with glass doors. It gives the rock display kind of an antique science museum feel. I couldn't view your existing case picture so my suggestion may be a look that you're trying to avoid. I did put mirrors on the back wall to reflect more light and so you can see the backs of the specimens.

You didn't say if your are on a limited budget but many very nice china cabinets can be bought for a song second hand since they are so big and out of style at the moment.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 12:02 AM on May 23, 2014

Ikea has a selection of display cases. Nothing exactly like the one you link to, the Detolf is the classic cheap but nice display case and easy to wire up with lights which Ikea sells as well. They also have a selection of bookcases that come with glass doors.

I couldn't tell from your picture if you wanted doors on the cabinet or not or were just after the glass shelves. If budget is a consideration Ikea isn't a bad option, and has a lot of styles of led lights designed to work with most of their shelving systems.
posted by wwax at 8:51 AM on May 23, 2014

If you have the time and energy, it'll be better to get the cabinet, the lamps, and the timer separately.

The timer you can get anywhere (home supplies, department stores, Amazon). Look for "Lamp timer". In the USA, $10 gets a simple one (set a dial for how many hours on and off), $15 gets a digital one which allows multiple on and off times per day, different schedules for different days of the week, etc.

Ikea sells a range of different LED display cabinet lighting strips and options at good prices.

(Probably not of interest to you, but if you want a matching blacklight/UV LED lamp and the lighting set you like doesn't offer that choice, you can buy a white strip and swap out the LEDs for UV ones. Many LEDs require different voltages, but white can be replaced with UV and work ok. It requires soldering though. Mouser or Digikey are a good sources of individual LED components at bulk prices, in SMD and through-hole. Eg: 25 for $14). Traditional or CCFL blacklights might be better though. It's easy to hurt your eyes with UV LEDs.

Some of the lamps available allow you to adjust the color of the light (eg RGB lamps). I have some minerals on display under these lights and I think it would be better to skip the adjustable colours and just get white-only LEDs. The spectra is weird, but not as weird as RGB, and the controller module on mine is unable to produce a good neutral white.

(On the other hand, it's kind of fun cycling the colors and noticing how radically some appearances can be altered when one primary is dimmed - things can have similar brightness in white light by reflecting different colors.)
posted by anonymisc at 1:47 PM on May 23, 2014

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