Glowing LED Drum Wall
Following Nick Rivero’s great post on the Evolution of DIY LED, I decided to take a look at how Erik Mitchell and the crew from Hillside Christian Church in Amarillo, Texas used DIY LED for their Christmas services last year. They built a glowing LED drum wall and lit each drum with LED strip tape!
Before they could light the wall, they had to build it. One of the worship leaders located a bunch of old drums and then took a road trip to pick them up. They cut each drum to the same depth, painted each one black, and then put new heads on. The drums were then stacked and attached using a short 2×4 in between each shell. Most of the heads were then mic’d with various spare microphones that they had available. The bottom drum heads were not mic’d since they were so low to the ground and not very easy to hit.
Now for the fun part, each drumhead was lined on the inside with sirs-e LED strip tape that had been used for previous projects. Erik also had a 24 channel RGB controller made from Light-o-Rama. This control board provides control for eight separate LED strips. Since there were only 8 channels but 13 drums, most of the drums were wired to be lit in pairs, shown in the diagram below. This simplified the wiring, since each strip had to be soldered to cat-5 to reach the controller at the base of the wall. A previous intern (that’s me) was in town for the holidays, so guess who got to solder!
Placing the strips in the middle of each shell lit the head the best. Too close only lit a ring around the edge and too far led to a lot of light being lost.
The video below shows the initial test to see how the light would be seen through the drum head and then the final glowing LED drum wall.
This wall made for a very fun and dramatic addition to the stage design! Looking back on the project, it would have been fun to project onto the wall, using the white drumheads as a canvas. You could even use Arduino to make each drum head interactive, lighting up when hit!