Stage Designs

Throwback: Tightly Gridded

Gary Brownell from Sagebrush Community Church in Albuquerque, NM brings us this tightly gridded stage design. (Originally posted August 2013)

They needed to get some color behind the band in their new auditorium. They also wanted the set/light pieces to be portable and be easily moved for different stage configurations. They also wanted the pieces to be light sources, not something just to shine light on.

So Gary built 8’x4’x10″ plywood boxes. He added legs to get them above the height of the stage risers. They painted the interior white for reflection and painted the exterior black.

He put two 16′ LED RGB tapes (RGB 5050 300 light strip kit from best, $28.89 each) in each box. Each LED tape was in a U shape to match the length of the 8′ box to make 4 8′ strips.

He connected both strips and one of their power supplies to a DMX box (DMX-4CH 5-Amp LED Controller,, $69.95) so the LED tape could be controlled by the lighting console.

He painted 8’x4′ SQUARE vinyl lattice (# 73004339 from Home Depot, $55.13) flat black. He spray glued the back of the lattice and positioned it on 8’x4′ filter sheets cut from a roll of Lee 216 white diffusion filter material (, $119.00/25 ft.).

He attached the lattice to the front of the light boxes, then looped DMX cables to each DMX control box.

Each box could be controlled individually to achieve the desired color and movement.








noid-Screen_shot_2013-07-03_at_10.37.41_AM noid-Grid_on_the_diffussion_material



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18 responses to “Throwback: Tightly Gridded”

  1. Ryan Spencer says:

    Great idea!

  2. jeff lyon says:

    These look great! I’m wondering why you used a 4 channel controller instead of just the three channel.

  3. Bill Werst says:

    Your work is extremely encouraging! I’ve been playing around with 5050 strips, but haven’t settled on working set pieces yet.

    How much experimentation did you need to do with strip spacing and depth of the boxes to get an even wash?

    Have you made anything else with the 5050 strips?

    • Yes, I have experimented with several ideas dealing with spacing and depth. Another project I did is titled “Radiate and Glow” on this site. Just do a search of the title and a couple of the Designs come up. The curves on the projection screen are done with 5050’s.

      I think the dispersion on the 5050’s is 120 degrees. On this latest project I spaced the strips farther apart to cove the 48″ width of the light box. Because of the wider spacing I had to increase the depth accordingly. Also, the diffusion gel makes a BIG difference.

      If you have more questions, feel free to email me at

  4. jeff lyon says:

    What size of power supply did you use? If i calculated right, it would take a 180 watt supply.

  5. tyler says:

    what lights are you using to beam like that?

  6. James Joyner says:

    Great design, thanks so much for sharing. A couple questions:

    1. Is this set-up fully dimmable/mixable RGB? I assume so, but want make sure considering all the example pics seem to be saturated Red OR Blue OR Green.

    2. It sounds like you basically bought the light strip kit, then threw away everything except the strip light. Is that correct?

    • Yes. Everything can be dimmed and can be color mixed through DMX. The colors in the pictures are primary colors because the pictures that were chosen popped more with those colors. I ended up only using the tape. You can now order just the RGB 5050-300 tape for $11.00 at Amazon.

  7. Tobie Smith says:

    I picked up the led rgb tape 5m roll, and a decoder from I hooked up the wiring and added the dmx code. My issue is when I power on the decoder, the red color of the lights remain lit. It also stays lit when I dmx color mix. Is there a trick that I am missing?

    • Gary Brownell says:

      If it is not a DMX programming issue, it could be the wiring. The white(or black) wire connects to the common, the red, green, blue connect to 1,2,3.

      • Tobie Smith says:

        I have the wiring as described. Could it be any other issue?

        • Gary Brownell says:

          Make sure the FUN switch is off on the dip switches and that the DMX is addressed properly. If you have another LED fixture, assign it to the same address and see what the result is.

          • Tobie Smith says:

            I checked the DMX settings and everything is ok. It appears that the channel 1 terminal of the dmx decoder is stuck on in dmx mode. Even on the FUN mode the ch 1 remains lit. Could this be a faulty decoder?

  8. Tanner says:

    Awesome set up! Quick question, what are the bars in the center going across for? Support for the lattice?! Thanks!

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