Today is DIY Monday, In May of 2017 I had the idea for what would become our #1 favorite project to date, The idea to create an LED lit cross out of PVC pipe. This has been our absolute favorite project from the past couple of years. We have used it for dozens of events and have had so many wonderful comments about it. Then when people find out that we built it ourselves they are even more impressed, I have told several people how to build the cross and for Christmas 2017 we built a PVC Star. Stay tuned for the article on how we built our LED Strip Christmas Star.
Step 1: The shopping list for this project,
We used 1″ (use any size) white PVC pipe but you could use black pipe (its more expensive), you will need 14 feet of pipe.
1″ elbows #12 of them.
2 cans of Black Spray Paint (found c99 can at Lowes).
1 sheet of sand paper (to Scuff pipe).
Step 2: You need 14 feet of PVC pipe,
Cut #6 – 15″ pipes
Cut #2 – 30″ pipes
Cut #3 – 6″ pipes
Step 3: During the construction of this project we joked that Crazy Amazing Engineering had been birthed. Until I put the pieces together and the cross looked like a lop-sized accident. oops… so I quickly cut a new pipe, fixing my mistake and then it looked lovely. Lessoned learned: “Always check your work before you take another step and paint the thing.”
Step 4: Once the pipes are cut you need to Scuff the whole pipe except the inch on each end where the connections happen to the elbow. This will allow the paint to stick better on the PVC pipe and will make the whole cross look better, and last longer.
Step 5: Paint each pipe with even coats of spray paint, Note: be sure to use cardboard, to avoid the road from getting paint spots on it, or spray painted grass. LOL!
Step 6: Now that you have painted each piece of pipe black and you have waited for the pieces to dry you can now glue the ends. We actually used HOT GLUE, yes you read that correctly, with this being version 1 we didn’t want to seal it for good. It only gives up problems when we leave it in a hot car and the thing melts, but thats an easy fix. Just lay it on a flat surface and flatten it back out.
We usually mount it onto a Microphone stand, this allows us to raise it into the air to the appropriate height. I have mounted it by fishing wire to rig it. In July of 2018 we rigged it to a platform we built (to hold #3 – 65″ TVs) behind a stage (we also built), the truss would have been too high and in front of the stage.
For this project we used LED Strip from Amazon, Here are a couple methods we tried to secure the LED strip.
1. With the paper still on the sticky hot glue the led strip to the outside of the cross.
2. With the paper removed and hot glue applied stick the led strip to the outside of the cross.
3. With both of those tactics with eventually added Zip Ties. Note: I have changed the LED strip a couple times (because we damaged it).
4. In the end, We have decided the Hot Glue isn’t necessary. With the paper removed stick the strip to the cross and secure it with black zip ties.
The day I figured out how to send midi notes from Ableton into D-Pro was a cool day. I didn’t know Ableton very well and I had just started in D-Pro hours before this video was shot. With help from the Church Sound & Media Techs FB Group and my God given ability to figure stuff out I setup these very simple midi cues (Lighting cues) to the beat of the MultiTracks in Ableton Live.
Why So Much Black?
I know what you’re thinking, Black Paint, Black Zip Ties, why so much black? Don’t we want to see the Cross.
In different environments the display (not the purpose) of this project can change.
1. In a bright room you will see the black frame of the cross and then the color from the LED strip. Viewers will see the black frame just enough for it to not look out of place and then see the color.
2. In a dark room the only thing that you will see is the color from the LED strip and the black frame will blend in, In this case the purpose is to see the lights not the actual cross so much.
1. We have added a second strip of LED lights on the inside (now on Outside and inside) to make it brighter, Idea: If you put a separate controller on both strips they can be controlled separately.
Hopefully this article has inspired you to create something Amazing, or has given you the means to build a portable cross out of pipe.
Thanks for reading, Check out other Articles.
There are so many types of LED Strips (ex: waterproof, non waterproof), Power supplies, Controllers, Software out there. How do I know what to buy? We will talk about all these things and more in future Articles.