Originally Posted by DaDeuce
So I had a pretty busy weekend. We decided to paint the theater room before I started hanging more pictures and stuff. So my Saturday morning and afternoon was spent prepping and painting (I'll have before and after pictures of this later, haven't gotten around to taking any after pictures yet).
I was planning on buying Melamine for my backing, but my local HD only had it in ¾ thickness. That was going to be much too heavy, so I elected to go with ¼ plywood spray painted with a few coats of white instead of waiting 7-10 days to order 1/4 thick melamine. I wrapped the edges of the frame in reflective metal tape that you would use for duct work (be careful when using this stuff, I got a wicked paper cut from it!), attached my spray painted backings and then went to work on my LED strips. I soldered four 5m strips together to get the same effect that Cuzed did and proceeded to lay them out in a similar fashion. Once I plugged them in though I saw a noticeable problem: Strips number 3 and 4 in the chain showed a noticeable difference in light output as opposed to the first 2, they were much dimmer. Thinking this was odd, I took a piece of wire and jumpered the first solder point on strip #1 (the solder that was on the strip, not the point where I soldered 2 strips together) to my solder point between strips 3 & 4. Viola! All equally bright, so the power supply was definitely outputting enough juice. So I guess the lesson is that you can solder the strips together, but you will see a power drop across multiple strips. So I am going to spend the evening tonight de-soldering the connections between the 5m strips and inserting wires that all run back to the power supply.
Here is some pictures of the progress:
1. Picture with acrylic half over the light strips in the frame (you can see how the left is much brighter than the right, there are no lines on the left hand side, but on the right you can see some lines. The camera appears to embellish this, but there are no lines on the bright portion when you are looking at it.)
2. Picture with nothing over the light strips (again you can see the right is much darker than the left)
3. Teaser picture with The Dark Knight Rises Poster (again with the acrylic only half on the top):
Hopefully I will get both of these finished tonight or tomorrow and mounted by Wed/Thursday time frame.
Well what do you know!
Deuce I had the EXACT same experience. I built one this w/e as well -- let's call it a "prototype" since I made several mistakes and I was not super thrilled with the end result and will either put this one in a "hideaway" spot or redo it.
BUT .... I had the exact same results with the LED strips. Strands 1 and 2 - nice and bright, strands 3 and 4 -- dimmer and dimmerer. I was rather annoyed. The next 4 frames will be done with "home run" lines back to the main connector same as you. Lesson learned.
I am not sure if I will post "build progress" pics or not but I can tell you that I was pretty happy with the results and will list how my frames were made as well. Mine are tad different than the rest and probably done with slight overkill but so be it.
1 - Build a frame box of 1x3s - exact size of the Spotlight frame (roughly 30.5 x 43.5). Screwed these pieces together at the corners (be sure to drill first or the wood will crack for sure). Frame should be done with the "3" side being up vertically so that your box is roughly 3" deep.
2 - Build an inner box of 1x2s with the 2" side laying flat and facing you. These 1x2s simply attach to the 1x3s you already have in place BUT these attach at the "front" of the frame. These will provide you with a nice wide surface area to attach the spotlight frame to. This is probable overkill as the original 1x3 box could have been shrunk down to line up with the mounting holes in the frame but I just didn't like the look/support.
3 - I am choosing to use 1/2" plywood on the backs painted white on the inside as my back board from now on instead of the white board. I decided to do this as I need a good way to mount the box to the wall and felt the white board was too flimsly to put a screw through and then into stud. Rough dimensions would be the same as the main box 30.5" x 43.5".
4 - Paint the inside of the box gloss white.
5 - Paint the outside of the box flat black.
6 - Mount LEDs making "home run" wiring back to the actual power supply connection ... do not chain them together even though you can! Be sure to drill a hole in the side of the box to feed your connector wire through to the outside. I did not put in a switch since I will just have all of these plugged into the same power strip and will simply turn the strip on and off on its own.
7 - Assemble and attach the spotlight frame. The frame has holes in its 4 corners for mounting but I can tell you this it really needs a hole or 2 drilled in the middle for mounting as well. This only needs to be done IMHO due to light leakage. I had no leakage at the attachment points but in the middle where there wasn't anything screwed down I had leakage - simple thing to fix.
Frame assembly sucked as it took some time to get the frame edges aligned such that they didn't scrape or hang on each other. I am still not 100% pleased with it but I guess thats the way it is. I should mention this is not an issue with my box but more of the way the frame is assembled.
8 - Mount to studs on wall.
9 - Lay in white acrylic (a must IMHO opinion as it really spreads out the light evenly). Add poster, add clear MATTE side finish of spotlight frame to the top of the poster. Close up the edges.
10 - Turn it on, crack a beer (if you haven't already done so) and marvel and your accomplishment.
This list may change (i.e. refine itself) as I do my second one and correct my issues from my first build.
Drill and drill bits
Table Saw or circular saw to cut large plywood pieces (or white board if you choose)
Wood screws (mainly 1" #8 and 3/4" #8)
4 strips of LEDs per frame
5A Power supply
Spotlight wide frame in black
Flat Black Spray paint
Gloss White Spray paint
Poster of your choosing
I would say my cost per frame will be around $250-$265 I think. I have to look at the #s again as I can't be 100% sure.
Time to build ... probably about 4-5 hours for my prototype since I wasn't 100% sure how I wanted to do it. Now that I have a plan I would say maybe 2-3 hours is more realistic. Plus I will cut all my wood first and then just make an assembly for the rest. Then paint all at once, then final assmebly.
If I can remember to take pics when assembling I most certainly will post them.
Hope this helps someone out.