Stage Designs

Taped and Floated

James Tucker from Christ’s Church in Jacksonville, FL brings us this great use of LED tape.

James was watching SNL one night and Maroon 5 took the stage. He noticed they had a simple/awesome stage look what seemed to involve multiple pipes with LED tape attached. His church had a camp coming up and needed a cheap, portable, easy to setup stage set. In their inventory, they had several rolls of LED tape, decoders, and power supplies from a previous stage look making this set almost free for them.

They unrolled the tape and cut it in half (super important, they cut at the copper marks placed ever 3“) and attached to some 8 foot 2×2 wood with the adhesive on the back of the tape and zip ties. The sticky tape that comes with the LED tape is not reliable, the zip ties keep it in place. Each LED tape roll (cut in half) will give you two 8’ led tape sections with short whips so no soldering is needed.

To keep the strips upright, they built some simple bases out of 2x4s and attached them to the strips accordingly.

Instead of buying the “LED tape extenders” and use the horrible cheap 4 pin connectors that are on the ends of the tape; they built their own whips using 22/4 alarm cable and 22 gauge red butt splice connectors. Each tower had a 50’ whip to give them the flexibility to toss the towers anywhere on stage. Each whip was terminated with a 4 pin phoenix connector that came with the DMX decoder to make setup and strike super easy.

To get the strips to talk to the lighting controller, they purchased an 8-way, 24 channel DMX decoder. This gave them 8 “slices” of DMX control. On your controller, you will need to patch in 8 “generic RGB” fixtures to get control of the strips. The decoder uses dip switches to determine the DMX address, it is important to familiarize yourself with binary or download a DMX dip switch app on your phone. The decoder doesn’t come with XLR connectors, so he cut a 3 pin DMX cable in half to make it usable with their system.

As a power supply, they used a generic power supply that the manufacturer recommended. Pretty straight forward, he cut the end of an IEC cord to give it power and used a foot of lamp cord to connect the power supply to the decoder. Funny note, the power supplies he purchased were set to 220 volts out of the box, you will need to switch it to 110 to make it work in the US. If you are not familiar with how to wire safely, please consult a professional.

Its a super simple, cheap light kit that they have used on a few different stages with great results.

Materials Used:

The following items can be bought at a hardware store:

  • 2×2 wood – rigid backing for the strips
  • 2×4 wood – for bases
  • zip ties – attach the tape to the wood
  • 22/4 alarm cable – to add whips to the tape
  • red 22 gauge crimp butt connectors – splice the alarm cable to the strips

The following items were purchased online

The set pictured would cost you less than $300 if you made 8 uprights.

When they got the set back to church after camp, they implemented it on their youth stage without the bases, zip tied to some truss uprights and mic stands to make a cool hillsong-ish line thing.









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One response to “Taped and Floated”

  1. Jesse says:

    Hey James. I see that the power supply you provided a link to has a 29 amp capacity. However, the dmx box has a 72 amp load when using all channels/outputs. How did you make this work? Wouldn’t the amps/current of the dmx decoder be too much for the power supply? Or am I not understanding how you did this?

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