Trapped

Nate Rosso from Decibel Church in Beaufort, SC brings us this portable LED tape stage design.

From Nate: Decibel Church is a portable church that meets at a local high school, everything we do is setup, church and then teardown. We do get to keep up stuff on 1 trusses on the stage, but after the truss is raised up has to be out of sight for school.

Anything we leave up, can’t be flammable, in this design there is a lot of metal, because I want it to be safe.

This was my dream BIG vision, I wanted to create something BIG that was portable and super easy to setup/teardown and that if you were to buy it outright would be expensive, but I wanted to build every aspect of it and see how cheap i could do it for. What you are about to see costed me 300$ (i’m convinced no one can do it cheaper than this), it took me 4 months to learn about signals and everything to create it, it also took 250+ hours to build (but i’m sure could be done in less with more people).

I built 6 led half trapezoid drapes, for every 2 drapes it took up a whole dmx universe. 504 individual rgb leds total, every led I can control individually. I also build the wireless system and the power packs. I didn’t copy any one, I wanted to create something different and something for super cheap!

Everything was basically purchased from China to keep costs down, most of this type of material you can also buy in America, but you will pay double to 10x more. I did buy a few things locally though. I shopped around for the best price on everything.

Material List:

  • 4 – 5m 150 led ws2812b addressable led black pcb
  • 3 – ws2812b 5v decoders
  • 75- ws2812b pigtail connectors
  • 9- 10′ 1/2″ emt conduit
  • 2- black spray paint
  • 1- 250′ roll 3/32″ black galvanized cable
  • 6- dmx wireless 5v pcb boards
  • 50- cable clamps
  • 1-250′ roll shielded 22/3 wire
  • 3-truss clamps
  • 1- roll of solder
  • 50- hotglue sticks
  • 1000- 3″ zip ties
  • 2- rolls of heatshink tubing
  • 3- free bad computer power supplies
  • dmx input jacks, 5 pin and 3 pin dmx ends, bunch of little misc parts and A LOT of patience.

First off I had 3 extra dmx universes on our avolites titan mobile board that I could use. If i was to go with more I would have had to run Art-net or use Madrix software and I would run into additional costs, so I stuck with the 3 universes that i had.

I cut the ws2812b strips into 14 led sections for a total of 36 on them and also 10 for extras just encase a strip went bad or just to have extras on hand. After that comes the patience, with a total of 46 strips I soldered 276 points with the pigtail connection wires, then you need to check continuity to make sure you didn’t solder 2 points together, after that I used hot glue over the points (to ensure nothing over time would touch), also put a small piece of heatshrink on it as well.

I took the 9 sticks on emt conduit cut 36 18″ pieces and 12 22″ pieces, drilled them where the black cable would run through and painted them black.

Zip tied the strips to the emt conduit (this would make it easy to swap out if i had a led go bad) and then started to make the drapes, I used zip ties to make a stopping point for light bars on the cable, made 1 drape and basically mirror them all with exception of the middle drapes. Each drape is 10′ 6″ in length, all can fold in half, and if they have to be, can be completely portable! Each drape consists of 6 bars, each bar can be controlled, each led on the bars has an address and can also be controlled, the possibilities are endless to what you can design!

The 3 dmx wireless system I also made. I took a 2 gang outdoor metal box with cover and built my own 3 universe dmx transmitter pack, complete with 3 pin dmx inputs and power adapter. I ended up getting 6dbi antennas, because I found the 2dbi antenna were not strong enough for the 150′ I was trying to transmit.

Each universe has its own power source/wireless pack. I made these from free old Computer power supplies, the 12v power in these are bad, but the 5v is working, each pack can output more that 22+ amps at 5v, which is more that enough for my strips. To make them turn on without a computer, i had to take the “green” harness wire and connect it to the ground, after that worked perfect! I wanted something compact and portable soooo I built the wireless receivers and dmx decoder right into the power supply! Make sure if you do this to keep the antenna away from where the power that comes into the unit! or you will have bad interference.

I wish I could put video, because pictures don’t show everything this thing can do. I can pixel map all 504 individual lights to make them do whatever I want.

In addition to all of this I had to create a light personality for the avolites software, so the program would knew what type of fixture it was and how it could be controlled.

There isn’t too much information out there on how to make this happen, but trust me you don’t need thousands of $$ to create something like this. Just need a BIG dream and a will/desire to learn and figure it out! I’ll help anyone out if you have questions, or I’ll point you in the right direction.

4 responses to Trapped

  1. ”Make sure if you do this to keep the antenna away from where the power that comes into the unit! or you will have bad interference. ” – I knew you’d remember to put that in there . Good job . Well done .

    • Thanks! and Yep made that mistake with one of my pack, even with a noise filter still gave me some Craaaziness!

  2. Hey man, awesome write up! We’re in the process of planning out a similar build, and really need to do it on the cheap, and DIY it. Anyway you can share links of where you sourced your LED gear? That would be crazy helpful!

    Thanks!

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