Stage Designs

Lined Lightly

Walter Halliwell from The Well in Geneva, IL brings us this great use of LED tape.

Details from Walter:


I started by getting a ton of measurements of the stage. Unfortunately, the stage brought many challenges when it came to measuring everything since we have an uncentered baptismal tank (essentially nothing is centered or makes sense). But once I measured everything, I drew out plans for each section of the design on half-inch graph paper. Once the plans were drawn out, we started building. Everything else was either bought on eBay (LED spools, DMX controller, transformers, etc.) or Home Depot (wood, hardware, paint, etc.) and some materials were already on hand.

Keep in mind, the arrow design under the projector was meant for easy removal since the baptismal tank is underneath it and we have baptism services.


  • (x11) 5M spools of RGB 5050 LED Waterproof IP65 Strips
  • (x6) 24ch. DMX Controller
  • (x6) 100W Power Supply (DC 8.3 Amps)
  • (x6) Rubber Grounding Plug
  • (x45) DIN Connectors – Male
  • (x45) DIN Connectors – Female
  • (x50) PCB Connector Wire (5050)
  • (x20) PCB Straight Connector (5050)
  • (x40) Everbilt Closed Screw Hook
  • (x8) 12-Guage L-Bracket
  • (x25) 1x2x8 Wood (for lights) [don’t get cheap wood or it’ll bow!]
  • (x17) 2x4x8 Wood (for frame)
  • (x2) Rust-Oleum Black Spray Paint (to paint any silver metal)
  • (1 Gal.) Black Paint
  • (75 ft.) Black Jack Chain
  • Black Cable Tie
  • Hot Glue
  • Black Electrical Tape
  • (1000 ft.) Cat 5e cable (depending on sizes of your stage)


1. CUT 1×2 wood to correct sizes below and paint black:

  • (x12) – 6’ fixtures
  • (x20) – 4’ fixtures
  • (x4) – 2’ fixtures
  • (x8) – 2’4” fixtures [for the floor: 4 having a 1’ LED strip and 4 having a 2’ LED strip centered on the wood and secured to floor w/ L-Bracket]

2. CUT LED strips to proper sizes and glue/tape on to black wood. Use black zip ties for extra security.

3. CLAMP PCB connector wire (except when using beginning/end of spools since wire is already soldered to LED) to LED strips and then to female DIN connector:

  • PIN 1: +12v [white or black]
  • PIN 2: —skip—
  • PIN 3: B [blue]
  • PIN 4: G [green]
  • PIN 5: R [red]

4. HOT GLUE all soldered connections (female DIN connectors, direct solders to LED strip, etc.)

5. TAPE all connections with electrical tape (including wire from female DIN connectors to LED strip)

6. MAKE CABLES to run from fixtures to DMX controller out of Cat 5e to the size you need. Clip blue striped, green striped, and orange striped wire. Then strip remaining brown, brown striped, blue, green, and orange wire and solder to male DIN connector as follows:

  • PIN 1: +12v [brown and brown striped twisted]
  • PIN 2: —skip—
  • PIN 3: B [blue]
  • PIN 4: G [green]
  • PIN 5: R [orange]

(The other end of these cables will just screw directly into the DMX controllers so no need to do anything other than cut and strip at the other end)

7. MAKE DMX CABLES (six) out of Cat 5e to the size you need. Clip orange and orange striped wire and strip/twist together the remaining wire as follows:

  • PIN 1: Ground [blue and blue striped]
  • PIN 2: D- [green and green striped]
  • PIN 3: D+ [brown and brown striped]

(Keep in mind, you only need to solder to a male XLR if you are coming from a light/DMX amplifier or something. The rest are just twisted together and screw right into the DMX controller)

8. LABEL channels on all DMX controllers

9. SET DIP SWITCHES to proper DMX channels on each controller

10. TEST everything before you start putting it up for good!! I tested by just plugging each light into DMX channel 1 and testing RGB from ShowXpress.


The ones on the left and right side of the projector were hung w/ black jack chain in pairs of 2 from clamps on the truss. The ones on the bottom half were hung w/ black jack chain from the fixtures hanging above them and then secured to the floor. We put a support beam on each section of 5 fixtures to prevent them from spinning using a nail gun (careful that the nails aren’t too long or they’ll break the LED strips!).

The frame for the arrow design on the baptismal platform was made of 2×4 wood and was screwed into the floor with legs to prevent it from falling back as shown in the picture.

The 8 lights at the bottom were screwed into the floor with L-Brackets.

Use black zip ties for cable management

What We’d Do Differently Next Time:

Direct solder and not use PCB connectors – just directly solder 5050 PCB wire from LED strips to DIN(f) connectors for a better connection (Building Step 3 – SOLDER instead of CLAMP connector wire)

Buy extra DIN connectors just in case

Don’t just use adhesive that comes on the LED tape, actually use some sort of stronger glue that holds well with heat


Cost – around $1,000
Hours – around 50/60
Fixtures – 44
DMX – 132 channels

all-bars-2 band-silhouette chart custom-dinf-3 custom-dinm-2 custom-dinm-3 custom-dinm-4 custom-dinm-bulk-2 custom-dmx-boxes custom-dinf-2 custom-dinf-4-tape custom-dinm custom-dmx-box full-stage-red full-stage-blue-ls-edited jerry-core-4 jerry-unqualified l-brackets rigging-1 rigging-2 rigging-3 rigging-4 rigging-7-wiring rigging-6-din-close support

Falling on My Stage Broken Bubbles

9 responses to “Lined Lightly”

  1. Yeah, our biggest issue getting into the LED strips was how to get them to stick to the wood. Hot glue doesn’t work that well, and makes it difficult to “re-use” the strips. We found a stapler at Home Depot that electricians use for wiring that the staples were just a little wider than the normal staple gun and this works like a champ! The staples hold down the lights and can be easily removed by prying with a screwdriver. Anyway, your stage looks great!

  2. Bradley Mccarty says:

    Best explanation/illustration I’ve EVER seen! Thank you!

  3. Jared says:

    I like this a lot. I also like the use of cat cable to connect everything. That got me thinking, would a guy just use regular rj45 connectors with the cat cable to make it real easy to move the tape?

  4. Mitch Aldridge says:

    I’ve done multiple stage designs utilizing LED strip lights now. With nearly all of them I’ve had some sort of RFI being picked up in the bass and electric guitars. Have you experienced any of this with yours? I’m curious if it could be the power supplies I’ve used.
    Where did you get yours? What is the model?

  5. Ben says:

    Hey Alex,

    Would you mind sending me the website you bought the DIN connectors from?

    Thanks! This write-up is very helpful.

  6. Jesse Coonen says:

    What other fixtures are used in this design?

  7. Jesse Coonen says:

    What dmx decoders did you use?

  8. liying liu says:

    Analysis and Treatment of PCB Sn Eating

    In the process of designing and making PCB, have you ever encountered the bad situation of PCB tin eating? For engineers, once a PCB board has a tin problem, it often means that it needs to be re-welded or even re-fabricated. The consequences are very headache. So, what are the causes of poor tin consumption in PCB? How can we avoid this problem?
    First, what is PCB tin?
    The colloquial expression about solder adhesion in soldering of electronic components and circuits and circuit boards. Tin coating means ironing a mass of tin on the solder joint. Tin feeding means that soldering materials and tin form a solid seamless welding interface.
    2. Why does PCB eat tin?
    Poor tin consumption is due to the fact that some parts of the surface of the circuit are not stained with tin. The reason is that there are oil and impurities on the surface, which can be washed by solvent. The usage conditions of flux are not adjusted properly, such as the air pressure and height required for foaming. The specific gravity is also one of the important factors, because the distribution of flux on the line surface is affected by the specific gravity. The possibility of improper flux usage due to incorrect labeling and poor storage conditions can also be ruled out by checking the specific gravity. Insufficient soldering time or temperature. Generally, the operating temperature of soldering tin is 55-80 C higher than its melting point temperature.
    3. Analytical Method of PCB Sn Eating
    1. Observe whether the components are black, discolored and oxidized, and the cleanliness of the components also affects the fullness of tin.
    2. Observe whether the PCB surface is adhering to grease, impurities and other solvents. There is also to see whether there are polished particles left on the PCB surface. PCB storage time is too long to live storage time, inappropriate environment of the substrate surface or parts tin surface will oxidize, this phenomenon can only be helpful to the tin effect once again, but also quite labor-intensive.
    3. The improper use of flux, such as the pressure and height required for foaming, is also one of the most important factors. The improper storage environment or improper use of flux may also lead to poor tin eating.
    4. There is also a proper preheating temperature. If the preheating temperature does not reach the required temperature, the solder can not be fully melted, or there are too many impurities in the solder, which may lead to poor tin eating.
    IV. Processing of PCB Sn Eating
    1. unsuitable terminal material for parts. Check parts to make terminals clean and well dipped. Silicone oil, general release agent and lubricant contain this kind of oil, it is not easy to be completely cleaned. Therefore, silicone oil should be avoided as far as possible in the manufacturing process of electronic parts. The oxidation preventive oils used in soldering furnaces should also be noted that they are not of this type.
    2. Preheating temperature is not enough. The preheating temperature can be adjusted so that the temperature of the side surface of the substrate parts can reach the required temperature of about 90 ~110.
    3. There are too many impurities in solder, which do not meet the requirements. The impurities in solder can be measured on time. If the impurities exceed the standard, the standard solder can be replaced. 4. Maintaining the smooth transmission of the substrate after soldering and sufficient cooling and moving of the substrate to be soldered can avoid this problem. The solution is to have another tin wave.

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