Diamonds and Arrows

Chris Campbell from Calvary Christian Church in Winchester, KY brings us this great LED strip design.

From Chris: We had been wanting to use LED tape in our stage design for a while, and when a new series was coming up we decided to go big with a stage-wide design. The original design concept was sketched out in Google Drawings (below) and we showed it to a really good carpentry guy at the church who scaled it out and built it up for us. The end result was 40 arrows (20 per side) and 2 diamond shapes in the middle. We wanted the center diamonds to be the focal points with the arrows on either side being slightly smaller.

Materials used:
Multiple strands (I think we used 14-16x) of LED tape cut to size: https://amzn.to/2Q6RdLW
DMX Decoders (we used 3 to gain individual control of each left/right pair): https://amzn.to/2oGZ9ae
100-pack Mounting clamps (we ended up with 5+ packs): https://amzn.to/2oGZvxA
Ribbon cable (2-3 packs): https://amzn.to/2Q8Jygj
Spare Cat5 we had at the church (we ended up using around 600′ of cable)
Couple of spare power cables
Couple of spare XLR cables (DMX connections)

Supports:
2×2 furring strips
2×4 for bases
all from Lowes

Assembly:
After showing the carpenter the concept, he took the 2×2 furring strips and cut them to match the size of the arrows we wanted, then used more 2×2 to act as a support leg. Then he attached the support legs to 2×4 bases and used scrap wood to act as a brace. Additional, he used 2×2 strips across mutiple 2×4 legs to help stablize the vertical supports.

While construction was happening, we were cutting the LED tape to size, and soldering 2.5-3 ft pieces of ribbon wire to each price of tape. Once we got the tape mounted, we would splice the ribbon cable to the CAT5.

After construction was finished, we disassembled it to paint it. We didn’t want to leave it on stage unpainted. After the paint dried, we reassembled it on stage and started to mount the tape. The tape wasn’t holding on its own very well, so we used the mounting clamps to keep the tape from falling off. After all the tape was hung, we ran CAT5 to each arrow and labeled each run so we could connect it to the DMX decoders later. We spliced the ribbon cable to the CAT 5 (red=orange, black=brown) and finally soldered each splice to help seal it. Then we taped up the wires to the supports to keep the weight of the wire suspended to not pull/tug at the soldered connections.

From there, we started testing making sure the DMX decoder received signal from the lighting console (MyDMX) and that all the tape turned on. Once we finished all the arrows, we made sure that each strip was getting independent Red, Green, and Blue signals to make sure we didn’t cross solder any of the connections. After that, we would go back and resolder the connections that we had issues with.

We ended up setting up the arrows in a mirror, so that arrow #5 on the left was the same as arrow #5 on the right, to save on extra DMX decoders. We ended up using 22x 3ch- fixtures on our MyDMX software and we didn’t want to double that. The soldering is a bit tricky, but once you get the hang of it, we were averaging about 6-9 strips in an hour, then hanging and connecting them took another hour per 5-6. Overall, between the carpenter, painting, mounting and wiring, we probably have somewhere between 100-120 hours combined between the construction, wiring, and hanging. Keeping in mind that several people were assisting in different areas and multiple stages of this project were happening at the same time (i.e. cutting/solder tape happened simultaneous to construction/paint).

One response to Diamonds and Arrows

  1. Can you tell us some about the platform that the drums are on?

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