Stage Designs

Space Chevron

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.





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16 responses to “Space Chevron”

  1. Matt says:

    Can you give more details on the program you used to make the effects? So you created a program with the effects built in (with the artnet data) and then triggered the effects from the foh console?

  2. Chris Monson says:

    So, I’ll try to explain how the LED system works, let me know if it doesn’t make sense. I created a piece of software that lets me make effects that have input parameters such as color, intensity, rate, a secondary color, and then a number of different modulation channels for changing different aspects of the effects that vary from effect to effect. These input parameters are controlled via artnet from our lighting console. The effects can either be procedural, where output values are generated on the fly by the software based on the process defined for that effect, or the effect information can be pulled from an animation and then output to the strips. If you’d like more information or if something just isn’t making sense just let me know. It’s a little tough to explain without seeing it.

    • Alex says:

      Did you write the program in java? And do you plan on posting it online for others to use?

      • Chris Monson says:

        Hi Alex, It’s written in C# and at this point I don’t have any plans of posting it anywhere. I do a lot of projects like this and as much as I’d like to, it’d be pretty tough for me to keep up with maintaining all of them for public use. Most just get abandoned after I’m done with them and the code may or may not get reused on some future project. However, that said, if someone were to want it “as is” I’d be happy to chat with them about it. There are just a couple things they’d need to know about how things are set up and how the system functions.

        • Kris Lewis says:

          Hey Chris. If you are willing, I”d love to check out your code. I’m the youth pastor at my church but took a bunch of programing classes back in the day. I’d love to see how you set this up. We are a smaller church but are trying to get interesting in the lighting department. This could be really great for us to use as a template to make our own. If you wouldn’t mind that is… email me.

        • Bryan says:

          I would be very interested in seeing the coding behind this as well. It is absolutely amazing. I have been wanting to try something like this but overall cost and the shear number of DMX channels have been a pretty significant stumbling block. I have minimal experience with programming (just a few high school and college courses) but I try to learn everything I can from the code I can get my hands on. Whatever you have that you would be willing to share would be very helpful.

        • Luke says:

          Hey Chris. I’ve also been looking heavily into different ways of interfacing between Artnet and LED strips. If you were willing I’d love to see how you approached this set up. I’m currently looking into a few options to use these types of lights for an event and would love to see how you did it! My email is Thanks!

        • Cas Laidlaw says:

          What’s up Chris?! I’m Cas- the lighting ninja for our student ministry- and would be very interested to see your program coding as is! Always looking for ways to grow and learn, and am just breaking into writing code for systems like this… Any input is a HUGE help and blessing! Thanks bro! Cassielaidlaw15 @

        • Thiongo Joseph says:

          My name is Joseph and would very much be interested in the code to create a similar or custom set up…. ….for programming the lights/LEDs.
          Would be great if i can intergrate this in the Church Youth Awards gala.Any resources you can share are welcome.My email is
          Much thanks and awesome stuff.

  3. Nate says:

    This is very impressive!! I cant imagine the time and thought that went into this. Great job!

  4. J Clare says:

    “Are you not entertained?”

  5. Jordan says:

    This is incredible!

  6. Mark says:

    Well done!!

  7. Sam says:

    Hi just wanting to know if you are able to email me the links to where you purchased everything to make this.

    As my church would like to replicate this.
    Sam Tairea

    • Chris Monson says:

      Sure thing. I’ll get the info together and email it over. Let me know if you have any other questions!

      • Steven Bolt says:

        Hey Chris! Great work on this design. Love getting to see the passions and gifts God has given you bringing glory to him! My name is Steven and I get to work with many churches in the Eastern Washington/Idaho/Montana region providing churches access to high end lighting/audio/and video systems at competitive pricing and while still offering local support. From our 5mm Video wall, to our wide selection of moving lights and LED’s we have a huge selection of equipment and can cater to a wide range of budgetary needs. I would love to talk with you if you have a chance, my email is or my direct office number is (509)838-9861. Thanks Chris and I look forward to hearing from you!

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