Another DIY poster/marquee light-box - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 401 Old 02-06-2012, 03:40 PM - Thread Starter
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I am about to try and build an economical, low-profile, low power lighted display for use with movie posters or customized marquee artwork. I know at least one other AVS person is interested in the low-profile approach - so I thought I would post here, and see if others are interested in following along or contributing. For me low profile means less than 2.5" deep (preferably less than <2"). Why low profile?

1) This will be going in the 90 degree landing area of the stairway used to enter my theater area, and I want to preserve some "maneuvering" space in the landing.

2) I intend to use 12 volts to power this from my equipment room under the landing, and would rather not have to run 115volt into the landing area. So going with 12 volt LED "tapes" allows for a low profile.

I was hoping to go even less than 2", but it seems that one needs a minimum of 1.5" of space between the LED "plane" and the poster "plane" to get "defocussing" of the LED source for even illumination onto the poster.

As for cost: the most expensive components appear to be the sheets of acrylic in the desired ~27" x ~40" dimension (24" widths are common for lighting panels, but the costs appear to increase when you go to larger non-standard sizes). And one will need two sheets; one clear sheet for the front, and a 2nd sheet to act as a diffusor between the LEDs and the poster "plane".

I'll soon start sharing some photos of the different materials I am pursuing and experimenting with...

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post #2 of 401 Old 02-06-2012, 05:59 PM
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cuzed2,
You can save some expense by going with a thinner, flexible overlay for the front instead of a rigid piece of acrylic. It's what is included in some low profile LED Edge Lit Poster Frames, standard non-illuminated Snap Poster Frames as well as Back-Lit Illuminated Poster Cases. I believe the actual material used most often for the overlays is PETG. Good luck with your project.

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post #3 of 401 Old 02-06-2012, 07:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tip on the alternate material

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post #4 of 401 Old 02-07-2012, 11:47 AM - Thread Starter
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As promised I have some of my experimenting photos to share. I originally started this idea thinking it would be a smaller format 24" x 36" entrance marque, and have since decided that going with the flexibility of a larger poster format would be best.

The photos below are to show the "diffusor qualities" of different materials (this was with cheaper readily available 24 x 36 fluorescent light lenses). Keep in mind that many poster boxes utilize the more diffuse florescent lighting, which is very good but, requires more depth and 115volts. I want low profile and low voltage, therefore the LED strip light route. Seems getting good diffusion from the small high intensity LED bulbs is the bigger challenge.

Here is my test layout:


Here's the 3 materials I have checked out:
1) the far left is the thin cheap prismatic lens sheets that go into a fluorescent fixture
2) the far right is a similar thin sheet called cracked ice or crackle
3) the one in the center is what I will likely use, it is a piece of 1/8" white acryllic


And a few comparisons, in a dark room, with no flash.

Here's #1 the sample on the left - the thin prismatic lens material :


Here's #2, the one from the far right, "cracked ice":


And #3, the one I will be going with a thicker (1/8") white acrylic panel:


And one more; with the inside edges of the sidewalls were covered with shiny aluminum tape

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post #5 of 401 Old 02-07-2012, 11:56 AM - Thread Starter
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With my diffusor material nailed down - it is obvious that I will need to add one (or two) more lengths of strip lights to fully even out the illumination. These LED strip lights come 300 lights to a 5M strip. I measured and found that my first strip draws just a bit less than .5 amp. Therefore; my worst case should be 3 strips at a total of about 1.5 amps (18 watts).

Just before ordering a power supply I checked my electronics drawer and found this; a "wallwart", 12 volt 3Amp switching PS - PERFECT it's free (destined to have been in the trash on the next cleanup)


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post #6 of 401 Old 02-07-2012, 12:00 PM
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IMHO, not nearly enough lights. I used 50' of LED rope light in my box and it was barely enough. Note that many of the double sided posters are very dark, so they need more light.

I really will try to post the one I built using the Spotlight displays snap frame tonight. It really is a nice setup and very easy to construct. Also easy to swap out posters.

It uses the spotlight displays front loading frame from here http://www.spotlightdisplays.com/mm5...tlightdisplays
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post #7 of 401 Old 02-07-2012, 12:11 PM - Thread Starter
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jayn_j,

Thanks this is good to know. At this point I was hoping 3 strings 50' (900 LEDS) would be enough - maybe not? I have also ordered a pretty dark double-sided poster for test purposes.

Just checked out the spotlight link - looks promising. I'm thinking this is something that could be mounted in front of a lighted open box of my own design. I'll wait to see if you can find and post any more details showing what you did.

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post #8 of 401 Old 02-07-2012, 05:21 PM
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Craig, this thread is going to be a big time saver for me BTW I am using the spotlight display front loading frames that jayn_j mentioned (already have the posters mounted) -- I'm then building a frame and lightbox around that in walnut.

Quick question: what was the source for your LED strips. The ones I used in my columns were relatively expensive but are *way* brighter than the cheap ones I picked up from ebay. The easiest way to tell would be the current rating for any given length.

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post #9 of 401 Old 02-07-2012, 05:22 PM
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OK, here is one I haven't mounted yet. It was my first try. I have since used black frames instead of the silver here. The frame is the Spotlight Display wide frame in 27x40" size


Here it is lit up. As you can see, I need to tape the rope lights to the back of the frame better


This is a detail from the side, showing the frame mounted to the 2" deep lightbox


I have opened the frame here and removed the poster. This shows the detail of the rope light stuffed into the box


This picture shows detail of the Spotlight frame construction and also how it mounts to the front of the lightbox with screws.


This shows the detail of how I mounted the LED rope light to the box. My first attempt was to use the clips that came with the rope light, but I found that they tended to break and let the rope fall to the bottom. The current mounting uses 3/8" cable clamps. These are big enough to let the rope slide through and even out tension.


This shows the poster sandwiched between the two layers of PETG material. Note that the PETG is thin and frosted. The frosting serves two purposes. First, with the frosted side out, it provides a non-glare surface. Second, it provides sufficient diffusion, as long as the rope light is kept at least an inch behond the back of the PETG


Here is the poster inserted in place. Note, it is placed in the innermost channel.


The outer rails are then clamped down over the poster and PETG, creating a frame that can easily be changed out without removing the frame from the wall
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post #10 of 401 Old 02-07-2012, 08:34 PM - Thread Starter
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jayn_j,
Excellent tutorial - Thanks much for digging these up and sharing!! I'm sold and am now shifting direction. I'll be ordering one of these in black. I will then be trying to mount and surround it in hardwood!

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post #11 of 401 Old 02-07-2012, 08:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Moggie,
The thanks belong to Jayn_J for chiming in and sharing! As for the LED strip lights, I ordered from this seller:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/220750258465...84.m1439.l2649

The ebay screen name is "pitalam". PM me if you need additional info.

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post #12 of 401 Old 02-08-2012, 07:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moggie View Post

Craig, this thread is going to be a big time saver for me BTW I am using the spotlight display front loading frames that jayn_j mentioned (already have the posters mounted) -- I'm then building a frame and lightbox around that in walnut.

Quick question: what was the source for your LED strips. The ones I used in my columns were relatively expensive but are *way* brighter than the cheap ones I picked up from ebay. The easiest way to tell would be the current rating for any given length.

Moggie,
I will be ordering a spotlight frame soon, also planning to trim it in hardwood. But can't decide between the wide or narrow (black) option? Any thoughts, or experience from your side?

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post #13 of 401 Old 02-09-2012, 06:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cuzed2 View Post

Moggie,
I will be ordering a spotlight frame soon, also planning to trim it in hardwood. But can't decide between the wide or narrow (black) option? Any thoughts, or experience from your side?

I think the wide looks more like the commercial lightboxes. However, the narrow ones will allow the lightbox sides to be closer to the edges of the frame. If you look at my pictures, you will see that the frame extends out a fair amount from the lightbox.
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post #14 of 401 Old 02-09-2012, 05:28 PM
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I like the wide look, too. Where do you guys buy your posters? May have to build one of these. My theater has a clean look, but these would look good in a theater entrance.

Thanks for the good pictures.

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post #15 of 401 Old 02-10-2012, 07:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperTal View Post

I like the wide look, too. Where do you guys buy your posters? May have to build one of these. My theater has a clean look, but these would look good in a theater entrance.

Thanks for the good pictures.

Lots of places. For classic posters, I buy a lot from a couple of auction houses.
www.emovieposter.com
www.movieposterbid.com

Heritage auctions also has regular poster auctions. There stuff tends to be higher priced, but they also tend to have the stuff you drool over. For example, the hobby is all abuzz over a pile of posters from 1931 that were being used to insulate an attic. Included in the bunch was an original Dracula. Speculation says this one will go for over $300,000.
http://movieposters.ha.com/c/item.zx...5&lotIdNo=9034

But you are looking for modern stuff, I guess. A good honest dealer is dale dilts (ddilts) who sells on ebay. Ebay is probably the easiest source, but you see a lot on craigslist as well. Movie posters are generally not sold directly to the public, so the best source is people who work at the theaters. They get the posters as perks. You can sometimes go to the multiplex and ask the manager for posters, or to hook you up with someone there.

Be sure to only get double sided posters for modern stuff. The single sided stuff is almost always poor quality repros and the real stuff doesn't cost any more.
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post #16 of 401 Old 02-10-2012, 09:54 AM
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I am building a light box but i do not have any double sided movie posters just single sided....Will the single sided ones work for the time being ? Also why are double sided one better for light boxes and how many feet of rope light will i need ? Thanks

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post #17 of 401 Old 02-10-2012, 04:43 PM
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Hey Craig I have been looking at those same LED strips from a different Ebay supplier but havent been able to get a response from them. Do you know how many of those "5M" strips can be daisy-chained together on 1 single power supply?

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post #18 of 401 Old 02-11-2012, 07:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lt.Aldo.Raine View Post

I am building a light box but i do not have any double sided movie posters just single sided....Will the single sided ones work for the time being ? Also why are double sided one better for light boxes and how many feet of rope light will i need ? Thanks

I have heard that you will find that with single sided posters they will likely look washed out. As for how many feet of ropelight? I have heard that 50' might be on the edge of "not enough". See post above

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post #19 of 401 Old 02-11-2012, 08:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iusteve View Post

Hey Craig I have been looking at those same LED strips from a different Ebay supplier but havent been able to get a response from them. Do you know how many of those "5M" strips can be daisy-chained together on 1 single power supply?

I really don't think you will want to daisy chain these together (like Xmas lights). IMO they should be connected in parallel - in other words home run each strip to the power source. The question then becomes: 1) What is the actual current consumed per each string, 2) what is the current output of your 12 volt source?

Example: For the initial string I purchased; I measured it and determined it's actual current draw is .5 amp, if you have a power source that will put out 4 amps >> you should safely be able to power 6 strings, and in theory maybe a maximum of 8 ( 4 divided by .5, if you believe the PS rating).

A note on these LED strip ratings; For the one I purchased the ad said it consumed 1.2 amps, when I measured it > I found it actually draws .5 amps (was a nice surprise). I have 3 more on order, and will let you know how they measure up..

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post #20 of 401 Old 02-11-2012, 08:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Iusteve,

Quick note: My power supply "says" it will put out 3 amps (we'll see). When my LED order comes in I will have 4 strips total. If they all really do measure .5 amps >> I should be able to run all 4 strips, pulling only 2 amps from a 3 Amp supply. I'll stop now

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post #21 of 401 Old 02-11-2012, 08:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Just ordered my spotlight poster frame;
Went with standard narrow frame, 27x40, in polished gold. My plan is to surround the spotlight frame in stained hardwood (hopefully the spotlight frame will then appear more as a band of polished gold trim around the poster), we'll see..?

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post #22 of 401 Old 02-11-2012, 08:46 AM
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I made this in about 2 hours yesterday mostly with items i had around the house. All i had to buy was an 18ft rope light and some cable clamps. I only spent $18 at Home Depot ....the other stuff i already had.

This is the first time i have done this and i had no idea what i was doing. It was the best i could do with my limited knowledge with projects like this. A professional Light Box would cost around $300-$500. The next time i make one it will be 27 x 40....Double side posters are the best for Light Boxes and they only come in 27 x 40. The Trick R Treat poster that i am using is single sided and i think it lights great.

Items Used

2 - 24 inch cuts of 1 1/2 x 2 1/2
2 - 36 inch cuts of 1 1/2 x 2 1/2
2 Walmart 24 x 36 poster frames
Velcro
18 ft. Rope light
Cable clamps
Clear packing tape
Some black paint
Dimer switch
Cord Hider

You will need a 2nd poster frame for the 24 x 36 piece of the plastic that protects the poster. I had a spare one from and older poster frame that i had. If you can figure out a way to get a hold of a piece of plastic that size with out buying a 2nd poster frame just for the plastic then it will make your project cheaper.

1. Cut the wood and connect them with some long screws. Make sure it is very sturdy and secure. The frame you make out of the wood should measure exactly 24 x 36.
2. Paint the wood frame
3. When dry put the card board piece that came in the poster frame (I used of 24 x 36 piece of flat paneling that i had but the card board should work fine). on top of the frame you made with the wood and make sure it fits exactly.
4. Staple gun the card board or flat paneling to the wood frame.
5. Cut a small hole at the bottom side of the wood frame.

6. Using the cable clamps to arrange the rope light inside the wood frame. Make sure you start with the plug end through the hole you made then start connecting the rope up and down the frame with the cable clamps.

7. Use the clear packing tape to secure the lights to the back of the cardboard or paneling.
8. Take the plastic frame (Walmart one ) and put your poster in it. Put the 2nd plastic poster protector over your poster. Clamp the poster and 2 plastic pieces down with the small black clamps that are built into the Walmart frame.
9. Cut small thin pieces of Velcro and stick them on the outer edge of the plastic poster protector. Make sure the Velcro pieces are not to big or they will show when the light box is on. I used about 8 pieces of Velcro around the plastic frame. I can still take of the frame to change out the poster. It takes a little bit of work but it will come off. Just do it carefully so you do not snap the plastic.
10. Carefully place the plastic frame onto the light box evenly.
11. Plug it in . I use a dimer switch on mine.

Here is video of my Light Box

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYs-Nptyfg4





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post #23 of 401 Old 02-11-2012, 11:42 AM
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You will never find double sided 24x36" posters because these are not theater posters, but rather commercial reprints. Michaels sells an inexpensive 27x40 poster frame that can be used, although I prefer the front load Spotlight frame for the reasons shown above.

Yes, single sided will look washed out because the white light passing through the paper diffuses the image. The double sided one filters the incoming light, re-inforcing the image.

Aldo, did you use LED or conventional incandescent rope lighting. The incandescent is brighter, but generates a lot of heat. I found that 50' of LED was MINIMUM and I would not use that little in a lighted room. Mine are going in fairly dark stairwells, and it is OK.
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post #24 of 401 Old 02-13-2012, 09:38 PM
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Sorry... just got back from vacation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cuzed2 View Post

Moggie,
I will be ordering a spotlight frame soon, also planning to trim it in hardwood. But can't decide between the wide or narrow (black) option? Any thoughts, or experience from your side?

I have the wide frames. Personal opinion but I thought the narrow ones wouldn't be dramatic enough.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cuzed2 View Post

I really don't think you will want to daisy chain these together (like Xmas lights). IMO they should be connected in parallel - in other words home run each strip to the power source.

As long as you are not connecting a really long length it technically doesn't make a difference whether it is wired in series or parallel -- the circuit is exactly the same. The theoretical advantage of parallel connection is that the LED's later in the chain won't suffer a possible voltage drop (and thus dimmer output) caused by the slight resistance of the thin wire strips.

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post #25 of 401 Old 02-15-2012, 04:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Just received my shipment of 3 more rolls (5M x 300 lights each) of the LED strip lights.
I now have a total of 4 rolls, 1200 lamps, to test tonight, for current draw.

Also; should be receiving my spotlight frame by the weekend - then the fun begins!

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post #26 of 401 Old 02-15-2012, 04:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lt.Aldo.Raine View Post


Not to hijack - but where did you get the "Now Showing" sign from?

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post #27 of 401 Old 02-15-2012, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cuzed2 View Post

Just received my shipment of 3 more rolls (5M x 300 lights each) of the LED strip lights.
I now have a total of 4 rolls, 1200 lamps, to test tonight, for current draw.

Also; should be receiving my spotlight frame by the weekend - then the fun begins!

Ok I have a question.....the ends of these "rolls" of lights, are they terminated with a plug or bare wire? The reason I ask is another ebay seller of a similar light uses a terminated plug at the end of their lights. Also Craig you mentioned it would be better to make a "home run" with each individual roll/strand, so how much wire is there at the end of a roll to get me back to where my power supply will be?

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post #28 of 401 Old 02-16-2012, 05:03 AM
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Originally Posted by PTAaron View Post

Not to hijack - but where did you get the "Now Showing" sign from?

http://www.amazon.com/Home-Theater-F...9393715&sr=1-2

Get the deluxe letter pack....That will give you the DTS-DOLBY DIGTAL- HDTV and many more .......

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post #29 of 401 Old 02-16-2012, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Lt.Aldo.Raine View Post


http://www.amazon.com/Home-Theater-F...9393715&sr=1-2

Get the deluxe letter pack....That will give you the DTS-DOLBY DIGTAL- HDTV and many more .......

Thanks!
I had seen that before, just didn't remember where. In your picture it looked almost like the gold parts were silver - but that may just have been the monitor I saw it on combined with the flash.

-Aaron
My Basement Movie Room and Bar/Game Room - actually doing stuff now... please comment!
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post #30 of 401 Old 02-16-2012, 09:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Iusteve View Post

Ok I have a question.....the ends of these "rolls" of lights, are they terminated with a plug or bare wire? The reason I ask is another ebay seller of a similar light uses a terminated plug at the end of their lights. Also Craig you mentioned it would be better to make a "home run" with each individual roll/strand, so how much wire is there at the end of a roll to get me back to where my power supply will be?

One end of the strip has been terminated with a 6" pigtail of wire. Easy to solder a pair of power leads to it (simple crimp connector would also be OK)


And a "rats-nest" bonus photo, as you can see all 4 strips are easily powered by the little 12v/2amp switching supply:

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