Stage Designs

Lines in Gaps

Micheal Green from LifeChurch.tv (Hendersonville Campus) in Hendersonville, TN brings us this great LED tape design filling in the gaps between their projection screens.

Their latest stage design here was an evolution of an idea they got from Hillsong’s LED mountain set. After doing a bunch of research, they landed on using 30+ rolls of LED tape, 8 DMX decoders, and several hundred feet of thermostat wire. One of the designs on here was super helpful: https://churchstagedesignideas.com/widescreen-light-panels/

Here’s a quick break down of what they bought:
35 rolls of the ADX LED tape
8 24-Channel DMX Decoders
8 12v 30amp regulated power supplies
54 1/2″ aluminum U-Channel (Quick note, using this u channel was cheaper than using a 3/4″ size, but it is a VERY tight fit to get the LED tape to fit inside)
80 or so standard 2×4 studs from Lowes
300 or so Deck Mate deck screws (They’re a little expensive but work so well)
1250ft of thermostat wire (5 wire)
Flat black paint and spray paint
Various screws and hardware pieces.
They also bought a nail gun with their left over budget
Total, they spent about $3000 including all the tools and reusable supplies.

For the actual design, Micheal made a scale mockup of their auditorium in Google SketchUp and laid out the 8′ by 4′ panels. Each panel was made up of 6 pieces of wood, two 4′ side sections, and 4 cross sections that actually hold the LEDs.

After the design was approved by their Worship Pastor, Micheal sent the panel design to their volunteers who cut all the wood. (26 2x4s cut in half at 4′ and then 52 2x4s had 2″ trimmed of of them, to form a squared 8’x4′ panel) The panels were then screwed together and painted. After they dried for a few hours, they then attached the aluminum U-Channel. They used some #2 square wood screws they had already to attach them. To make sure they were lined up correctly, they used a laser level and centered each 8′ section of u-channel to the center of each horizontal 2×4. About half way through, they figured out drilling pilot holes makes the process so much easier…

Once the u-channel was attached, they would insert the actual LED tape. Each roll was 16′ long, so they had cut them all in half. Because of the tight fit in the U-Channel they chose, they didn’t remove the cover over adhesive on the strips; they wanted to be able to reuse them. The brand of LEDs they used happen to come pre-wired at each end with a connector, which they initially were going to use, but too many of them had faulty connections so they ended up snipping just the very end of the connector off and splicing them into the thermostat wire. The particular brand of thermostat wire they bought had nearly all matching colors to the wires coming off the LEDs except black, so they replaced that with white. So it ended up being White, Red, Green, and Blue. Once the LEDs were wired into the thermostat wire the other end of the wire would be attached to a phoenix connector, which plugged into the DMX decoder. (The decoders were labeled as to which wire goes where. The ones they used were V+ R G B)

Once all four sets of wires were connected to thermostat wire and to the DMX decoder, they would run power and the DMX line. For power they just used extra thermostat wire, but only used the Red and White channel. Then Micheal used a trimmed 3 prong cable to get AC power to the power supplies. For DMX, they did the same thing, except using white for GND, blue for Data +, and red for Data -. NOTE: If he were to this over again, he would have bought some cheap XLR cables and just cut them in half. If you go this route, Pin 1 of the cable is GND on the DMX decoder, Pin 2 is Data – and Pin 3 is Data +

Before the panels were hung, Micheal addressed each decoder. He used an iPhone app called DMX Dip, which allows you to type in the starting address and number of channels each unit occupies, and it will show you a visual representation of where the dip switches should be positioned.

Once everything was addressed and the wires were cleaned up (because who likes looking at messy wires, right?), they actually hung the panels. They used a combination of 8” and 13” pieces of 2×4 painted black to attach them to their preexisting “wall” which is really just a frame of 2x4s covered in a material called duvetyne attached to the actual back wall. (The nail gun made that part really easy.) The two panels between their outer screens required a little more work to hang. They ended up using a combination of 1/8” airline cable, eye bolts, and cable tensioners to get the panels hung and level.

During the build process, they also decided they wanted to move a lot of their other lights. They ended up hanging their Martin MAC 101s inside the two panels suspended from the ceiling using heavy duty L brackets from Home Depot mounted on the inside of the wooden frame, a few 1″ wood screws, and some really big washers to spread the weight. (101s are really light, so they weren’t worried too much.) It was a quick and easy way to add a ton of depth to their room.

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LED wall sketch - back

LED wall sketch - front

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A New E-book for Stage Designers Ain't No Mountain