In this video, I walk you through how to use LED pixel tape on your stage. Pixels have come a long way since I’ve started and once you understand how they work you can do so much with them.
In this video and post, we’re going to walk through and show you everything you need to know from start to finish. Then, I’ll share more resources and in-depth guides on how to use pixels for your stage.
Getting Your Supplies
Before getting started you’re going to want to get some supplies together.
One of the important items on the list is LEDs. Generally, any kind of LED tape will work. It really just depends on your project and how you want it done.
I often mention ENTTEC and I do rely on their stuff for my projects. But if you’re doing this as a one-time thing and just having fun then I would suggest going with the less expensive LEDs.
If you’ve started looking already you may have noticed there is 5 volt and 12 volt tape available. Now, if you have a shorter setup then 5 volt may work just fine. But I prefer 12 volt because I know that it will make everything easier in the long run.
A pixel driver it takes in networked DMX information and turns it into pixel data (SPI or WS). This is definitely a piece you will need for your set up.
Something to note when choosing a pixel driver is the amount of DMX channels that it can handle. With LEDs and pixels, the number of channels being used can quickly add up.
Depending on your project and what equipment you’re working with you may want to consider using fewer pixels if your driver doesn’t have the capability to handle as many channels. But if you’re looking for a pixel driver that can handle many DMX channels then I recommend looking at ENTTEC’s Pixel Octo.
Having the LEDs and the pixel driver are the bare minimums of setting up the LED pixel tape on your stage. The next item you want to consider is a lighting console or even a media server.
If you have a lighting console available check to see if you have enough space and opened channels to control the pixel tape. If you do then you’re golden!
Perhaps, you don’t have a lighting console then to get control of your pixels you may want to consider a media server. One of my personal favorites is the ENTTEC’s ELM which is a great tool I use to control my pixels.
Now that you know the supplies you need for your project it’s time to consider how you will mount your pixel tape.
If you want to take care of your pixel tape I highly recommend only mounting your pixel tape to metal. There’s a couple of ways to do this. One of the ways is just going to a hardware store and getting trim channel. The trim channel can be cut to lengths needed and if the adhesive on the pixel tape is strong it will stick for a very long time.
Another option is getting Aluminum Channel from Amazon. This is what I use for my set up and I really like it because it also comes with covers that help give it a diffused look to the pixels.
Planning it Out
Pixel tape length is generally listed out in meters. When setting out your stage you want to plan it out and figure out how much LED tape will you need and how you want to lay it out.
When cutting the pixel tape you can use a standard set of wire cutters to cut it. In the picture below always cut on the copper section of the tape. If down the road you need to connect the pixel tape with another you can connect these by soldering.
Applying the Tape
If you decide to go with the aluminum channels then normally they are only as wide as the tape so it helps make it easier when applying the tape. But if you’re working with channel from the hardware store be sure to take your time applying the tape.
If you do purchase the cheaper LED tape just be careful removing the back of the adhesive. Sometimes, if you do it too quickly the adhesive with come off with the backing.
It may not seem like at the time but taking a few extra minutes to apply the pixel tape carefully will ensure that it looks good in the long run. You may think nobody will notice but it will definitely be noticed if it’s not applied straight.
Testing and Control
After getting your tape and set up all lined out you’ll want to hook up your pixel tape to the pixel controller to see if it works. Most good pixel controllers will already come with a testing mode.
To get control of your pixels you should be using either a pixel mapping program or lighting console through sCAN or Artnet. Before hopping over to get control of the LEDs be sure to count the number of LEDs per segment. This will help when you start mapping out the pixels.
Mapping Out Your Pixels
Depending on the programs and equipment the first thing I like to do is set up my LED controllers. Depending on what controller you go with it may come with a program that helps you set it up.
When setting up your pixel driver settings I would recommend setting your color order there so you don’t have to set it up in the pixel mapping program.