Chris Monson from Faith Chapel in Billings, MT brings us this fantastic, giant chevron that looks like a space ship.
This stage design consists of two major elements. A two tiered chevron design flown over the stage with lighting mounted on the bottom facade, and 6 arrays of 8 2.5 meter digital LED strips with two flown over the stage and 4 flown over the house.
The large chevron was a 2×4 and 1×4 framework built over a 30 ft section of truss for each side of the chevron and then covered with thin plywood, trimmed with 1×4, and painted gray. The small chevron was constructed without the truss core for support as it was unneeded at the smaller scale. With both chevrons, they left the tops open for access for rigging, and cabling for the lighting fixtures.
The LED arrays were built on a 2×4 frame about 3.5′ wide. They purchased 24 rolls of generic APA102 digital addressable LED strips with 30 pixels per meter. These strips came in 5 meter rolls and they cut them in half to create 48 2.5m strips. Then they soldered 7 ft CAT6 extensions onto the ends of the strips, using two conductors for the 5v lines. On the other ends of the CAT6 extension they attached CST-100 II 4 pin connectors. On each frame, these connected to a PixelPusher controller. The controller was powered by a 40 amp 5v Mean Well RSP-200 power supply mounted on each frame. These power supplies were way overkill, but they actually needed them for a future project and it made wiring much simpler to just have them mounted on the frames. The controllers were then connected into their network via a 10 port switch.
As far as control goes, you are able to control the strips and controllers via artnet, however with this many strips they were looking at 10,800 channels, or roughly 21 universes of artnet. It becomes very difficult to have any meaningful sort of control with that many channels, so they addressed this by writing a piece of software that allowed them to create effects through a node-based effect system that they could run on each array. They are able to select effects and adjust input parameters via artnet using 30 channels per array. The software can then be controlled by any lighting console that supports artnet. In their particular circumstance they used Lightforge, a software lighting console, to control the system.
Please note, even though they built them as light as possible, the chevrons on this set were quite heavy. Special care always needs to be taken with rigging, especially with heavy objects, and doubly so when you are rigging over peoples heads. Nothing is worth doing if it can’t be done safely, and no stage set is worth someone getting hurt over. The same goes for the electrical. Low voltage can be just as deadly as high voltage and should be treated as such. If you aren’t sure you can do it safely, find someone who can, or don’t do it.