James Tucker from Christ’s Church in Jacksonville, FL brings us this row of vintage par cans.
From James: We wanted a way to incorporate a TON of individually controlled lamps along our back wall. We knew that lambing 50 or so pars with 500 and 1k lamps was impractical, so we looked into a lower wattage idea. We made a test fixture involving a broken old par can and bolting a junction box to the screen and wiring a $1 socket to turn the par into a fixture capable of dimming store bought lamps. The test fixture looked great but to make the look, we needed 49 more broken pars.
So we did an “all call” on Facebook for old par cans. The next week we were donated 60 or so broken pars. Most had burned out or missing sockets.
We gathered all the pars up and had a wiring party. First we removed the old electric. Second we mounted a pancake electrical box to the par can screen using 1/4” hardware and Lock-Tite to keep the bolts from coming loose. Third we cut a 25’ section of lamp cord and ran it through the par’s original cable hole, through the screen, and to the pancake box. Fourth we wired a $1.50 keyless E26 lamp socket. As a lamp we used a 65 watt R30 lamp that you can get for .75 in quantity. We have done looks using clear 25 watt edison bulbs, gives a much different effect. We did the math, with a cheap lamp we had less than $6 in each fixture.
Each fixture has a 25 foot 18/2 lamp cord to give us a ton of flexibility on placing fixtures without needing extension cords. This came in handy in following sets as we moved the pars closer and farther apart for different seasons.
We wired a total of 50 fixtures to make our par wall, now we needed a way to hang each fixture. We have been wanting a way to easily hang props/scenery on our back wall so we installed 1.5” pipes every 8’ from floor to ceiling to accommodate our new par wall and any other sets thereafter. We called our local pipe supply company and ordered ten 32’ pipes and ten flanges. The pipes came in 21 and 11 foot lengths with couplers. We assembled on site and screwed them into floor flanges. To secure the pipe at the top we used cheeseboro clamps to mount the pipes to our 1.5” pipes in the air.
The pars (initially) were mounted at 4’ intervals on the pipe. As a cheap clamp, we purchased a bulk supply of #4 1.5” conduit hangers to secure the fixture to each pipe.
For dimming, a former Christmas light enthusiast donated several Lite-O-Rama 16 way dimmer packs to the church. The packs spoke DMX so it was a matter of soldering a cat 5 to 5 pin dmx adapter cable. We use a total of four packs to power the 50 pars leaving extra dimmers for other small fixtures and string lights.
For control, we patched in all 64 channels of dimmers into our console and made groups per pipe and per elevation to create different looks/effects for our cues. For the most part, the pars max out at 30% not to blind the audience, we will crank groups or individuals to full for effects and certain parts of our worship set. Using built in console effects, we are able to build some great looking waves and ramps across the wall.
The par wall has been the base of all our looks the past year. By re-lamping with different lamp styles and re-positioning, you can keep the look fresh. To add some great contrasting color between the pipes, we use Blizzard Hotbox led pars to do streaks up the curtain.