Lately I’ve been diving into LED Strip lighting. What is that? Well, I’m talking about LED lights that come in long strips, usually about 5 meters. They are cuttable every three inches or so, and are controlled as one light, capable of being any combination of red, green, and blue. They come with a silicon casing which transfers the light more evenly, also making them water resistant. They also come with 3M double-stick backing on the back, so you can install them anywhere. Because they are LED, they use a minimal amount of power, create very low heat, and are so low profile they can be installed and hidden almost anywhere. And, relative to other LED products out there, it’s actually super cheap!
We got the idea after hearing about the amazing Salt Conference 2013 set design (and even more amazing conference in general), I asked around to find out how the panels were made. (thanks Nick!). (here are some links [Creation](http://tmblr.co/ZmoTjwy28iuA), [Live](http://tmblr.co/ZmoTjwyJPaQD), [The Fall](http://tmblr.co/ZmoTjwyLgYVn))
Honestly, building what we have so far, I’ve just used [this tutorial from MadMapper](http://www.madmapper.com/controlling-led-strips-from-madmapper/), minus the EntTec and MadMapper software, since I just want to control them with the light board for right now. We set our to create a grid-wall of 14×6 individually controlled DMX RGB lights. Our particular set had to be built at our man campus, taken down, fit into a truck, taken to camp, and reassembled. On site we would have a little under 24 hours to build the wall, as well as the entire production setup. Also, we wanted to build this in modules so that we could take the thing apart after camp and use in any of our production spaces after camp. So, we wanted this thing to be modular, lightweight, and each column to be independent.
First we bought buckets for each of the lights. We wanted something with a pretty steep “wall” on the side of the bucket. We went through tons of variations and materials, looking at depth, circumference, color, material, and cost. Ultimately we went with fiesta colored chip bowls we found at the Dollar Tree. Because of the color, however, we ended up painting the insides of them white (to reflect color) and the outsides black (to hide).
Next we mounted these bowls to strips of wood that will eventually hang down from trussing. We also drilled holes in the back for the LED wire to come out the back. We had an amazing team of volunteers cut LEDs into strips, solder extension 4-wire to the end, hot-glue them to the inside of the buckets, and run the lengths of extension wire to the DMX Decoder at the top of the column. Then we stretched diffusion paper over the tops of the buckets with gaffer’s tape. It sounds simple (and is!), but is very time consuming. Again, we would not have been able to do it without our incredible volunteers! (Thanks Brad, Chris and Jon!)
And here is a video of it in action!
Here is a shopping list of where we got the main parts of our set, if you’re interested in building something similar: