Stage Designs

LED Lines

Christopher Palazini from Black Rock Church in Fairfield, CT brings us this great LED tape design, nestled inside PVC homes.

From Christopher: We installed this for a period of only eight weeks, but kept the infrastructure (wiring, power supplies and LED controllers) in place for whatever else we may come up with….which happened at Christmas.

Forty sections of various lengths were created by using 2″ ID schedule 40 PVC ripped the length, and the LED tape (RGB+CW) installed inside. Each of the 34 sections was individually controlled via DMX and our MA Dot2 console.

Additionally we purchased sections of black and white “spandex” pipe coverings to stretch over the sections to help diffuse the individual LEDs. Intially, we had opted for the black to help hide the strips when not in use, however the diffusion did not work as well as the white.

Materials:

Twisty Trees Throwback: Mountains and Valleys

62 responses to “LED Lines”

  1. brent says:

    What was the total cost? And do you have a pic of the fixture with the “spandex” on it?

    • Makr Manley says:

      Yes, that would be an interesting thing to see. Great work!

    • I’d have to look into the total final costs for you.

      One thing to keep in mind is that we have done a few other LED projects in the past, and that this time we installed the power, controllers and fixture wiring in place for future projects. In fact we utilized it during our Christmas celebrations this year.

      I will send along a few more photos and materials links to the website publisher to add to the story posting.

    • Chris Palazini says:

      I believe when it was all said and done, about $2,000.

      But these are all items we will use again . . . the controllers are now being used on their third stage design, and will be used again for the next one.

  2. Brandon says:

    Hey!
    This looks fantastic!
    Can you post a link of the spandex coverings? I’m not sure that I understand how you utilized that.

    • Christopher Palazini says:

      Do you see how we used the spandex pipe coverings?

      Two photos show the original black, and a wide shot with the hanging pipes covered with the white after the first week.

  3. Tonny makonzi says:

    Hi .thanks

  4. I will forward a few additional photos to the site publisher to add to those already posted.

    But here is the link to the product we used to stretch over the PVC pipe sections and diffuse the LEDs.

    Again, initially we had used black to help hide the hanging sections when not in use, but we didn’t get the diffusion we needed and ultimately got by using two layers of the white spandex.

    We just just cut the lengths as we needed from the longer 20′ and 30′ pieces we had bought.

    https://www.eventdecordirect.com/catalog/30ft-spandex-pole-cover-for-upright-15ft-higher-white-p-8733.html

    I appreciate all the questions, and I will do my best to answer all the questions.

    I will also pass along a few more photos, as well as links to the products we used on the project.

    Blessings to you all in your service.

    “We serve to the applause of nail scarred hands.”

  5. Here is a link to the project photo album.

    There very well could be repeats of earlier photos.

    https://photos.app.goo.gl/8NjBYDujCcSPtsPy6

  6. Kyle Johnson –

    We have schedule 40 pipes hung to either side of our projection screen.

    I used generic paracord (from Home Depot) as each section didn’t weigh very much and the paracord won’t stretch.

    I drilled a hole on either side of the PVC sections and just threaded the paracord through it, and tied each section at the proper height to the pipe(s). Because it was just a loop of the paracord, it was basically self-leveling so they hung straight on their own.

    In hindsight, I would have – and probably still will – rig a shakle to each LED strip, and make it more convenient to put back up next time. With all the work we put into it, it will definitely be making another appearance.

  7. Andrew Bevis says:

    Christopher,

    Can you control the individual channels on the decoders or just the groups? Thank you!

    • Chris Palazini says:

      HI Andrew –

      I don’t have it set up for pixel mapping, but I can control the individual LED strips (fade, color mix), but I do not have it set up for “pixel mapping”. I’ve not pixel mapping before and haven’t had time to investigate what I would need to do in order to accomplish that.

      Each one of the six LED controllers has EIGHT (8) 16bit controllers. Once you set the starting DMX address for each of the decoder/controller box, the remaining seven automatically get the next channel assignment.

      I’ll try and see if I have a video that shows this, but I’m not sure that I still have them.

    • Chris Palazini says:

      BTW . . . We have “home runs” for each of the strips to the controllers backstage . . about 2,000 feet of 5-wire thermostat cable was used.

      • Andrew Bevis says:

        This comment answers my questions about voltage drop. The home runs would eliminate that. Let me make sure I understand. You can control each one of the eight individual controllers on the main LED controllers? or you can only control one control box as whole? So either you can have individual control over 40 individual strips or 6 groups of strips? I hope that makes sense?

        • Christopher Palazini says:

          So there are SIX LED controllers.

          Each unit has EIGHT DMX addresses
          (first one is assigned, the rest follow every 8. i.e. 001, 009, 017, etc.)

          For each of the EIGHT DMX addresses, there are 4 controllable channels. (RGBW)

          For testing purposes, beginning with address 513, there are a series of test modes built into each controller.

    • Andrew Bevis says:

      Did you have any problems with voltage drop. I am planning on doing this design but on a much larger scale. Any tips? Also, could you look at me design once I have it?

      • Chris Palazini says:

        In the system we had setup, each LED strip/PVC section had its own power via the 5-wire 18 gauge thermostat wire, we didn’t have any issues with voltage drops – even with cable runs of about 80 feet in some cases.

  8. Andrew Bevis says:

    The additional pictures, that you provided, help immensely. I am planning on doing this at a larger scale. If I maintain the same pattern, I believe it should still work. I also see you linked the power supplies together to eliminate a bunch of cords. Did you have any problems with this? What size cord did you use? How did you wire them together?

    • Christopher Palazini says:

      I believe we used 14 gauge for the power from the supplies to the controllers.

      The power supplies each have three sets of output connections, and the controllers each have FOUR input connections.

  9. Matt Henthorn says:

    How did you affix new 5 pin ends on the cut portions of LED tape? I’m having a terrible time trying to find quick connectors that are the right size for 10mm tape.

  10. Chris Palazini says:

    Also . . . we stayed as efficient as we could by starting out lengths using the ends that had connectors on them – cutting them as needed, then using the other ends on longer or shorter sections where we could.

    Yes, we had some waste/scrap, but we saved pieces that were worth saving of other projects where we had more time for more soldering.

  11. Dustin Oakes says:

    What type of cable did you use to daisy-chain dmx feeds to the decoders?

  12. Corey Callis says:

    How do you keep these from spinning and how did you rip the PVC?

    • Chris says:

      We used a table saw to rip the lengths of pipe.

      When I hung the sections, I drilled two holes one each side about 1″ from the end. I hung these with Paracord that I threaded through BOTH holes and tied both ends to the supporting pipe above.

      Doing it this way served two purposes…

      It helps to keep them from spinning around, and they are sort of self leveling so that each of the sections will hang straight.

      Thanks for asking all these questions people!

      Keen them.coming.

      I think it’s a great look to leave in place for up to a year….ours was only eight weeks but we left the infrastructure in place and have the pipes in storage to hang them again ….. possibly for the summer.

      Have a great and Blessed day!

  13. Chris Palazini says:

    If any of you put this up yourselves, I’d like to see how it came out.

    Email me at:

    cpalazini@blackrock.org

  14. Andrew Bevis says:

    How many power supplies will i need for 4 controllers?

    • You should use five supplies.

      Each controller has four inputs for power, and the supplies have three outputs.

      Use the drawing as a reference, and you’ll see and understand what we did

      The drawing isn’t complete, but it is a good reference.

      Your fifth power supply will only be powering one controller input, but it can act as a backup should you have any issues with other supplies.

      Good luck…. and thanks to everyone for all the questions. I’m glad to know that so many liked the design . I’d like to see pictures not what you’ve done when you are finished with your projects.

      Blessings to you all.

      Chris

  15. Andrew Bevis says:

    I am using this design at a large youth conference. At the conference my board of controllers and power supplies will dmx out to a dmx gateway that will be controlled by lighting team. They will have dmx board to control colors, etc. So, I don’t have to worry about that. However, I want to wire it up and make sure everything works before hand. Is there free software or cheap software for testing purposes? Also, what did you use to connect the controllers together? Could I use a regular dmx cable?

    • Mark Manley says:

      This may be a little over the top, but why not!. Do you have an Arduino? If so, get a DMX shield for it. I did this, worked up a very simple script to loop through the fixture channels, and away you go. Let me know if you need more details.

    • Christopher Palazini says:

      Hi Andrew –

      To interconnect each of the controllers, we just hard wired well shielded audio cable to the screw terminals – instead of dealing with wiring a bunch of 3-pin XLRs. (the grey wires in the controller panel photo). Once you have each interconnected, you can make up a short (12 inch or longer) cable that is hard wired to the DMX IN screw terminals on the first controller on one end and a 3-pin XLR male connector on the other end that the DMX gateway will plug into.

      If you used the controllers that I has listed, if you set the DMX address to 513 or any address above that it puts the controller into a test mode for each of the controllers.

      Remember, that when you set the address for the controller(s), it is the STARTING address for the controller and that the remaining 7 built-in will following every FOUR addresses/channels.

      i.e. Set first controller for 001, the set the second would be 033, and so on.

      Thanks for all the great questions . . . . looking forward to seeing the final product when you have it installed.

      Please send pictures to cpalazini@blackrock.org

      I hope that your event will be a blessing and a time of renewal and growth to all that attend.

      Chris

  16. Kris says:

    Hello. I was wondering why you needed multiple power supplies per decoder? They run on 12v don’t they? Looks like you brought it up to 24v? or something like that?

  17. Christopher Palazini says:

    The controllers are 12v/24v, and support up to eight 4-channel runs each

    Our runs were so long I wanted to be sure we had as little voltage loss as possible.

  18. Andrew Bevis says:

    I am wiring the power supplies together now. Can I use 14 ga to wire those together?

    • Chris Palazini says:

      Are you asking in regard to the connections from the supplies to the controllers, or from the controllers to the LED strips?

  19. Aaron says:

    My question is about projection. How are you projecting that wide? Are you using two projectors? can you provide links of what projectors i’d need to do a wide aspect ratio like that? Thanks!!

    • Miguel Montano says:

      I’m wondering the same. Any idea about the projector/s they are using here?

    • Miguel Montano says:

      I’m wondering the same. Any idea about the projector/s they are using here? Thank you!

      • Chris Palazini says:

        Currently, we are using three blended laser projectors (1920×1080). Three because the original installation had three 4×3 projectors, and when the change was made not enough thought was put into really only needing two and repositioning them.

        The units we have are from Digital Projection.

        At this stage, with the advent of 8k projectors, you could locate a single laser projector with the proper lenses and masking at the back of the room (FOH) and accomplish the same thing.

  20. Bert Crane says:

    This is so Genius, thanks for answering the questions and posting this, i am not following the hook-up from the dmx controller to the cut pipes, is there a diagram you have? They are not all in sets of eight inputs to the controller?

    Thanks

    • Each controller unit can control eight of the sections. There are “home runs” (individual cables) running from the controllers to each of the LED pipes.

      RGBW+power

  21. Godwin says:

    Can you tell me how many universes this project consumed on your MA Dot2?

    • Chris Palazini says:

      It didn’t even take up a full universe.

      It’s not a pixel mapped project, it is RGBW LED tape.

  22. Joseph says:

    How many power supplies do I need per DMX convertor?

  23. It will all depend on what the controllers you purchase will require, as well as the length of your LED strips, the distance away from the controllers and the wire gauge you use.

    The units used have EIGHT x 4 LED control channels (so it can control 8 strips each), and the each had FOUR power inputs.

  24. James says:

    what fixture profile did you all use to control led tape ?

  25. Gordon Millar says:

    There is no dimming channel on the decoder, correct? If I wanted to run a dimmer sine through the tubes and they were different colours I would need to apply that to the colour channel of each tube?

  26. James says:

    How to did you mount power supply to plywood base? i purchased same one on list but does not have any mounting hardware?

  27. Chris Palazini says:

    We drew templates based on the screw holes on the bottom of the power supplies, and pre-drilled the holes. Just be sure you use screws that are just long enough to get through your wood and enough into the power supplies.

  28. Alex says:

    You’re sure this was 2″ PVC? It looks bigger than that. (We’re about to do our own version). Also: did you cut the pipe covers or buy one per pipe?

    • Christopher Palazini says:

      Yes. It was 2″ Schedule 40 PVC ripped down the length.

      The pipe covers come in 20′ lengths, so yes, we cut them to the length of each of the sections – started with the longest first, then used the shorted pieces as needed to the other sections.

      • Alex says:

        Right on. Did you use a special knot for the paracord?

        • Chris Palazini says:

          I did not (or knot).

          What I did was just drill two holes about an inch or so from the top, and 3/4″ of N inch from the top and “looped” the Paracord through it so it is sort of “self leveling” to help keep each strip straight.

  29. Josh Swarath says:

    Hey guys,

    Doing a similar thing in our gym right now. I’m having an issue though. I wired in my lights into the decorder, and power to it and only 2 are turning on (out of the 8 in the decoder) any ideas? (I checked wiring on both ends, swapped outputs on the decorder and no luck)

    • Alex says:

      I had a heck of a time getting some of ours in. The 8 channel decoder I used for our floor standing ones was a pain to get the wires into and STAY. It could be an issue like that. I’ve also found that it’s sometimes possible to get them into the controller but into some side pocket on the connector, so it looks like they are in and the clamp down but they aren’t making contact with the circuit.

      Perhaps try unscrewing the connectors and moving the wire around and see if you can get it to flash to life. (also make sure your controller resolution/bit depth matches your console if applicable)

  30. Check your power source.

    If you looked at my drawings, you’ll see that I had used two power supplies for each decoder.

    There are FOUR power inputs for each of that decoder model.

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