Stage Designs

Little Boxes

Nathan Stickling from Northwoods Community Church in Peoria, IL brings us this awesome LED tape design.

From Nathan: This design was for our End-Of-Summer/Student Takeover Weekend/Fall launch. The big goal behind this set was to be simple and somewhat generic in the sense that it was not to be directly related to any sermon series so that the design could be replicated in our Student Center and at our multisite campuses but at the same time really make use of how big our stage is so I wanted something that was wide and tall but still kept everything well connected. The other goal was to use lots of LED tape.

It has been awhile since I have worked with LED tape and one thing that bothered me was the inconsistency of colors especially the white and the fact that the pcb or the material of the actual strip was white. This time around I was hoping to get some better tape. The tape I got has black pcb and it has a RGBW LED and I am much happier with that and would recommend. It was a bit tricky to find but I really wanted the RGBW all in one LED not the more commonly found where the RGB and the white are separate LEDs. One drawback I found with the RGBW which was a warm white is a loss of saturation in the purples and blues but the control and consistency I have is amazing.

First step was to build all the frames. I used 1x2s and assembled with wood glue and nail gun. I made my frames 3ft wide and 6ft tall. Second I attached 1×3 that is 15in long to the inside of the frame with glue and nails. The reason behind that was to attach the power supply ad decoder directly to the frame so I did not have to run rgbw wire everywhere. And each frame was individually controllable. The next step was to screw the hooks in so the frames could later be hung. I did this two different ways depending on how the frame was meant to be hung. Hopefully the pictures explain this better but basically I took a 3in long scrap of 1×2 and glued and nailed it to the frame in the corners and then screwed my hook into that. The reason I did that was to add bit of strength at the corners I did not want to risk the wood splitting on the actual frame. After all assemble was done I painted them all black.

Now on to the truss runners. Everything was pretty much the same here as far as assembly however I had to use different material because the cheap 1x2s are only 8ft long and I needed something at least 10ft if not longer (our truss is 12ft long). So I ended up going with the cheapest 10ft long 1×4 I could find and rip those in half and then assembled the same way. The other thing I had to do differently was where I had to attach the power supply and decoder. I hope the pictures show this well but basically I had to attach a 15in 1×2 and then on the side of that I attached a 15in 1×3 and that is what I attached the power supply and decoder to.

Now on to the Led tape, many of us know that the adhesive backing is not very good. So I took 1/2in double sided foam tape and cut a roughly 8in piece and applied them to every corner of the frame. I took the backing off the led tape in only the places where it would make contact with the foam tape so that I could hopefully re use the tape later. I later went through and zip tied the LED strip to the frame. For the frames I soldered all the corners together but for the truss runners I just fed the wires both of the led strips straight into the decoder and didn’t have to a bunch of soldering on the corners.

Now onto installing the set, the first thing we did there was hang a 45 foot long 6ft high screen. The screen was made up of very heavy duty canvas frames that were screwed together in a line and then hung to make one giant long screen. The canvas frames were painted with a type of black projector paint that goes on dark grey and were front projected onto. The advantages of having a dark screen are pretty cool the first thing is the black levels in the graphics look really good and then other is when you are not projecting anything it just fades to black and you don’t even see a screen. Overall I am pretty happy with it however it wasn’t quite as bright as I was hoping but the frames also could of use several more coats of the special projector paint.

Second thing we did was put up 6 trusses on bases directly under the screen and then connected all them with 8ft by 1 ½” pipe. After that we hung another 6 trusses in the air between two different batons we had. Those batons are on motors which made that process much easier. We used heavy duty chain and truss slings. After that we started to hang all the led frames. The truss runner frames were just zip tied straight to the truss and the led frames were hung using a combination of tie line and safety cables. After all that was up we then started hanging all our light fixtures.

As for the budget the main thing we had to purchase was all the led tape, power supplies, dmx decoders and building material. We did have to buy a few more truss rigging slings and a some pipe but that is about it everything else was already owned. I had a budget of $3200 and I came in at about $2700.

Links to all the LED tape and supplies:

Lighting rig:
12 Chauvet R2 spots
10 Chauvet R1 wash
4 elation satura led spot
5 elation design spots
6 elation opti tri par

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