Beacon Poles Stage Design

Beacon Poles

Adam Carmichael from Santa Cruz Bible Church in Santa Cruz brings us these light poles.

The inspiration for this set came from some cool live band sets they’ve seen around the web (Vertical Church Band/Bon Iver/etc) where bulbs were attached to pipes and arranged at various depths around the stage and band members. They also pulled some mounting ideas from “Light Top Bars” by Woodside Bible Church.

Materials:
– bought around 40 different Edison-style reproduction bulbs from 1000bulbs.com
– around 150 feet of 1″ PVC at Home Depot
– bulb socket extensions (mostly leftover from previous stages, but we did purchase some additional) from PaperLanternStore.com
– 2 sheets of cheap particle board from Home Depot
– silver (‘Aluminum’) and black spray paint
– sandpaper

Building:
First, they sanded all of their PVC to help it hold regular spray paint (as opposed to buying more expensive Krylon Fusion spray). Then they decided on the various lengths for the PVC (ranging from 3ft to 7ft) and cut their 10′ lengths to the desired size. They had 4x7ft – 5x6ft – 6x5ft pieces, and then the leftovers of the longer pieces became the 3 and 4ft sections. They also did some variation on those lengths (4.5ft/5.5ft, etc), which gave them a lot of options later.

After spray painting all of the PVC silver, they sanded down all of the AC plugs on the socket extensions so that they would slide through the 1″ PVC (basically, they just took off all the corners of the plugs a bit). Then, after threading a socket extension through each length of PVC, they used hot glue to glue the socket itself to the top of the PVC. Then they notched all of the PVC for the socket extensions to come out of, once they were installed on stands.

They built two different stand types. The individual stands were made by using a 1 and 3/8″ auger bit to drill through 6″ sections of 4×4 (from their woodpile, nothing special, just needed to be tall enough to give support). Those blocks were attached to plywood squares and screwed into the stage floor. All of the light stands in the back of the stage were made by sections of particle board with 2×4 legs to give the PVC some stability (they drilled a bunch of holes in each board, so that they could figure out exact placement of light stands once they were all set up, as you can see in pictures). Everything painted black.

Placement of the lights was just an eyeball thing looking for pleasing asymmetry. As they installed the painted PVC into the stands, they had to shim them with screws as the auger bit was a hair big (but the closest they could find initially).

Last step was wiring up all the lights to power strips and programming the circuits in our light board. Total man hours was in the 20-30hrs range; it took a lot more work than they thought it would.

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19 responses to Beacon Poles

  1. How hot did those bulbs get? I’m working on a design now and was trying to use LED reproduction Edison type bulbs, but they are not compatible with my dimmer. I am planning to try regular incandescent bulbs, but I am worried about heat. What was your experience?

    • Hi Bradley,

      So far we haven’t had any heat issues. We’ve found that running them at ~40% power yields the nicest filament look, so that really keeps them quiet a bit cooler.

  2. What were the dimensions of the light stands you built to hold multiple lights?

    • Hi Chris, they’re all 2’x4’…we just ripped cheap particle board in quarters.

      • How many of these 2’x4′ stands did you construct for your stage? I’m trying to gauge how many I need to make.

        • We just used two sheets quartered, so 8 stands total. 6 across the back of the stage and then 1 on each side in front of the back 6 for some dimension (if that’s not too confusing)

  3. Awesome idea, what did you connect the bulb socket extensions to? any info on the wiring itself would be greatly appreciated!!!

    • Hi Luke, I just gathered the extension plugs together to find the best spot for a power strip. Then plugged them in sets of 6-8 lights into power strips and then into our dimmer system with standard Twist Lock adapters. The lights that make up the back row were easy to wire together because all the cables could be hid under the stands themselves. The individual poles had to be thought out a little more and all the cables gaffed down. Hope that helps!

  4. Adam,

    What happens at the bulb to pvc point? How does the bulb stand upright? Is it connected to the pipe somehow?
    Thanks!

    • Adam Carmichael January 18, 2016 at 4:23 pm

      Hi Ryan

      We just used hot glue to secure the bulb socket extensions to the top of the PVC, it worked pretty well!

      Thanks!

      • Hey Ryan. We’re currently using this stage design and we set the bulbs on top of the p c pipe and didn’t secure them. The weight of the cord pulling down will hold it. Plus, it allowed us to adjust the bulbs in case they weren’t straight when we set them on the poles.

  5. What are your stage dimension??

  6. How did you get the cord out of the bottom of the pvc pole? Did you make a slot?

    • Chris Standridge June 18, 2016 at 10:41 am

      When our church did this design, it was easy for the cord to come down the pipe. The cord itself was small enough that it didn’t lean the pipe or the base noticeably. The only thing I had to do was to file down the corners of the plug that goes into the outlet. Because most cords have a rectangle/square end to the cord, it may be too big to fit through a round pvc pipe. So filing it down with a file was the most laborious part of this design.

  7. What was the total cost of this project?

    • Chris Standridge June 18, 2016 at 10:43 am

      We did this design for a few hundred bucks. The majority of your cost is going to be the bulb sockets and the edison bulbs.

  8. Hey there, I’m searching for the right lightbulbs to purchase from 1000bulbs.com. Did you guys order the dimmable ones? Are those the only option if you are trying to connect them to a fader on your lighting board?

    • Chris Standridge October 25, 2016 at 7:46 pm

      We used the dimmables but didn’t have the controller to be able to dim them so we just had them as bright as they would go.

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