Welcome to Franklin's Toys for Grownups: Lighted Spreader Bar

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Toys for Grownups

This toy is a bit different from the others on this page. It's a transparent spreader bar made of acrylic, used for bondage, which lights up with a mosaic of shifting and changing colors. The spreader bar looks like this:

The lights shift and change all the time. The effect is difficult to show with a static image, but in the dark, it looks something like this:

This toy is made from acrylic rod, which you can find at any plastics supply firm. The rod I use is 1.5 inches in diameter and costs around $5.60 per foot when you buy 6-foot lengths. You can make a spreader bar from 2-foot or 3-foot lengths of acrylic rod, depending on personal inclination; the rod cuts easily with hand tools.

The light source for the spreader bar is a couple of small three-color LED lights. I first saw these lights at a drugstore, as part of a "Quasar pen," which is a pen that lights up and changes colors when you click the button. You can buy these for about $6 online or in many drugstores, and they include batteries. Alternately, you can buy just the LED online from a distributor such as All Electronics Corporation here.

The LEDs continuously cycle and change color all by themselves. Removing the LEDs from the pen is easily accomplished with the aid of a small saw or a Dremel with a cutting wheel. You simply remove the batteries from the pen and then cut the colored body of the pen about midway along its length.

Once you've done this, you'll find that the LED is mounted in a plastic sleeve, which you must pull from the pen's body, and then you can remove the LED just by bending its wires. After you've done this operation, the pen will be pretty mangled, but you should be able to remove the LED intact.

For the spreader bar I did, I mounted the batteries and the LED, together with a small switch, in a PVC plug (in the plumbing supply section of a hardware store). I've also experimented with other types of fittings, such as chrome fittings from plumbing fixtures. Look for a cap that fits snugly on the end of the acrylic rod but has enough space for the batteries and LED.

You'll need a way to get power to the LED. If you buy the pen rather than just buying the LED, the problem is almost solved for you; the pen comes with three watch batteries. I soldered the batteries together with short pieces of thin wire. Put a wire from the + on the first battery to the - on the second battery, then from the + on the second battery to the - on the third battery. The LED will be connected to the - on the first battery and the + on the third battery.

Note: LEDs only work when they are connected the right way! If you hook it up backwards, nothing happens. Experiment to find out which wire on the LED is the + wire and which is the - wire.

Solder one wire from the + on the LED to the + on the third battery. Solder a wire to the - on the first battery, and to the - on the LED. When you twist these wires together, the LED should light; alternately, you can put a small switch in between.

Then you need to pack the batteries, LED, and switch into the end of the cap, something like what's shown here. This cap is just pressed over the end of the acrylic rod.

The attachment points on the rod are made quite simply from parts for an ordinary gate latch of the kind you use on a chain-link fence. I got two of these for about $3 each from a hardware store. Remove the U-shaped latch, and just bolt the part that would ordinarily get mounted on a chain-link fence post to the acrylic rod. I put a snap hook through one of the bolts to create a convenient way to attach a bondage cuff.

You'll want to do it this way instead of drilling a hole through the acrylic rod and mounting something like an eyebolt through the hole for two reasons: first, because it will block the light from the LED, and second, because acrylic doesn't drill easily and tends to become very weak when you do this.

Here's a shot of the assembled end of the spreader bar:

That's all there is to it! The finished piece is quite beautiful, especially in a darkened room.

NOTE: Acrylic rod should not be used for supporting a load of any sort. Acrylic is not all that strong, and it can fail and snap without warning. It works very well for spreader bars, but do not use it for suspension, and do not use it as a load-bearing element in something like a bondage rack or suspension frame.

 




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