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Need Help Seeking advice on backlit sign project

Discussion in 'LEDs and Neon' started by Dennis Turner, Mar 23, 2018.

  1. Dennis Turner

    Dennis Turner New Member

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    Feb 21, 2018
    Ohio
    Greetings from southwest Ohio! My name is Dennis Turner, and I’m designing and fabricating a backlit sign to be installed at Colonial Pizza, a family owned restaurant in Cedarville where I've been performing weekly as a jazz guitarist for five year now. This sign is intended as a tribute to a local gent [and fellow guitarist] named Todd who was 18 when he was killed in an auto accident some years ago - his parents own Colonial Pizza. While I’m confident the sign will function as designed, I have to believe that even a modicum of advice from this group could have a tremendous impact on the end result - no amount of internet research can ever replace a trained artistic eye and years of hands-on experience. So I’d like to lay out the design choices I’ve made thus far, describe the next steps I’ve envisioned, and then ask a few specific questions. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

    Image 1: This is a mock up showing where sign will be located:
    [​IMG] Image 2: Photo of light box ready for LEDs to be installed:
    [​IMG]
    The Hardware:

    The sign will measure 127 x 23.5 inches and be mounted in an area bounded by existing [vintage] wooden molding. The light box has a depth of 5.5 inches and is painted white inside with the outside stained to match the existing molding. 23 segments of LED strip light [SMD5630 Pure White - 6000k] will be mounted on the rear base 5.5 inches apart on center running top to bottom - total of 12.8 meters/42 ft. overall. LED strips will be wired as three individual groups of 14ft., each with its own 5 amp power supply.

    The Image:

    Image 3:
    [​IMG]
    The original artwork [20 ”x 3.69”] was composited in Photoshop. Guitar shown in the image is extracted from a photo I took of Todd’s main axe, a Les Paul his family still owns. On1 Resize software was used to enlarge the original image to 127 x 23.5 - no “sharpening” or other filters/tweaks were used. Image will be printed by local university print shop on HP Latex 360 Series printer on HP Backlit Paper at a cost of $.03 per square inch [total = approx. $90.00]. Two 13”x19” segments were cropped from the darkest [mid upper left quadrant] of the full scale image and will be printed as proofs - then tested in 5.5 inch deep cardboard light box. One image segment is original, and the other has been edited in Photoshop by adding white dots [from 2 to 10 pixels using photoshop gradient brush tool ] in the center of the stars to see if this will enhance the overall contrast between stars and background.

    Questions:

    • Are SMD5630 Pure White LED strips the best choice for this application given the content/contrast of the image? If so, is there a specific brand or source you’d recommend, or should buying from Amazon or ebay be a solid bet?

    • Is printing on HP Backlit Paper with a HP Latex 360 Series printer a reasonable choice?

    • Would there be a notable increase in the quality of the displayed image if I farmed this out to a vendor who specializes in printing for this type of application? If so, what kind of cost difference would it entail? [as I’m covering the cost for this project, I have to ask]. The backlit signage in Apple Stores are the finest I’ve ever seen - can you tell me who produces these for Apple?

    • Do you have any other hints, tricks, caveats or comments to offer?

    Bottom Line: I’m reasonably confident that my current approach will “work” and the end result will look “nice”. But with your help, I believe that “nice” could be elevated to visually stunning and jawdroppingly beautiful. So I’m ready to learn from your collective wisdom - and I look forward to returning the favor one day.

    Cheers…

    Dennis Turner
    937 766 9000
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018
    Tags:
  2. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

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    Port Coquitlam, bc
    Dropbox doesn't like hotlinking images. However... change your www to "dl" and it will work. example -

    Your first link is
    Code:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/hcqv25lkl76bj9y/Photo%20Mar%2016%2C%201%2029%2032%20PM.jpg?dl=0
    " change it to:
    Code:
    https://dl.dropbox.com/s/hcqv25lkl76bj9y/Photo%20Mar%2016%2C%201%2029%2032%20PM.jpg?dl=0
    and it'll work. Or simply post it as a link, and itll work.


    As For your questions... I don't do much backlit, so I can't comment. I do have some Latex samples on backlit material, and it looks great! So I don't think you'll have a problem printing it on latex.

    [Edit] Also, once you change your links to work, I'll edit the post and delete them from my post! Just posted them incase you want an easy way to right click / copy url so you can edit your own post with them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Dennis Turner

    Dennis Turner New Member

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    Feb 21, 2018
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  4. Dennis Turner

    Dennis Turner New Member

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    Feb 21, 2018
    Ohio
    Thank you ikarasu for your reply. I changed www to dl, but still have only links showing in post, no images. How did you get the images to actually show in the post.
     
  5. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

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    Jun 10, 2016
    Port Coquitlam, bc
    The URL's are right, but you have to enter them via the image button up by the smiley face, like you did the first time.

    upload_2018-3-23_2-12-29.png

    and it should work.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Dennis Turner

    Dennis Turner New Member

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    Feb 21, 2018
    Ohio
    Yes it did work! Thanks so much ikarasu!
     
  7. ColorCrest

    ColorCrest Active Member

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    Yes, colossal difference in quality. I haven't been into an Apple store lately but they have used a Durst Lambda photographic product known as Duratrans. A LightJet printer can produce the same product but is limited to 120 inches in length.

    Take a look at the services and equipment list of Firehouse - Equipment List. They show lots of equipment and can produce backlits from a few different processes.

    Your 6000k LEDs might be too cool in color temperature, probably the opposite of a warm feeling you may be after. Usually 5000k is more ideal. I didn't catch your intended diffuser substrate. Milk plex is typical.

    IMHO, the guitar is too attention-gathering from the center of interest. Maybe tone it down?

    Great concept and use of back lit in the location.

    EDIT: I should mention because your installation is so high above the viewer, you can find many inkjet processes to be satisfactory. Apple's displays are "in your face" so they have somewhat of a different quality requirement.
     
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2018
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  8. Bigdawg

    Bigdawg Just Me

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    Sunny Florida
    That's really nice Dennis - and a beautiful tribute. I agree with the guitar comment - it is overwhelming the picture. I would tone down the brightness in the high tones of the yellow. It is just too bright for the rest of the picture. Maybe make it a bit smaller. It is also very sharp where everything else seems to be muted and soft. The sharpness makes it look "stuck" on the picture instead of part of it. I'd love to see this lit up after it is done.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Johnny Best

    Johnny Best Very Active Member

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    buffalo ny
    Since you have some feedback on guitar being so big and bright, a thought. guiter.jpg
     
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  10. Bigdawg

    Bigdawg Just Me

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    That's a really good idea Johnny!
     
  11. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Guitar feedback can break your eardrums, if you're not careful.
     
  12. Dennis Turner

    Dennis Turner New Member

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    Feb 21, 2018
    Ohio
    Thank you for your great responses! And yes, the guitar did indeed overwhelm other aspects of the image - I'm kind of surprised [and a bit humbled] that I didn't see that before. Here is my first take on resolving the problem. What do you think?

    [​IMG]

    To me, this approach creates a sense of symmetry, allows the eye to be drawn to the center of the image, and makes the guitar more of an ethereal element. I tried resizing the guitar and reducing the brightness and/or color intensity, but it still sort of "loomed" over everything else.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2018
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Dennis Turner

    Dennis Turner New Member

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    Feb 21, 2018
    Ohio
    Hi ColorCrest... your thought about using a warmer 5000k LED is very interesting but difficult for me to imagine clearly. So I'm thinking of ordering both the pure white and the warm white LED strips, having a scaled down version printed [40x7.38 inches] and building 40x7.38x 5.5 inch cardboard test box so I can see how each kind of LED interacts with the image.

    I was not planning to use a diffuser substrate. From what I've read, I understood that my basic design should offer even illumination without hotspots. Do I have that wrong?

    And thank you Bigdawg and Johnny Best for your input and ideas. This is exactly the kind of thought provoking coolness I need.
     
  14. ColorCrest

    ColorCrest Active Member

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    Yes, your test should show what you need. I would definitely try to get the test to the site because the lighting temperature there will have an influence.

    Good luck.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. ddarlak

    ddarlak Trump Hater

    the fade on the guitar knocked it out of the park .now get the right print and the right light diffusion and you will have a piece of art.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  16. Dennis Turner

    Dennis Turner New Member

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    Feb 21, 2018
    Ohio
    Hi ddarlak! Wow... thanks! Do you have a recommendation for right print? What do you think of the local option I mentioned - HP Backlit Paper with a HP Latex 360 Series printer? And given the design of the light box and content of the image, do you feel a light diffusion layer required? I've been pondering one possible advantage of not using a diffusion layer - could the stars "twinkle" if the viewer is moving left to right past the sign due to an occasional [and random] direct line between the eye, a star and a single LED.
     
  17. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    I've never had anyone ask me or anyone I know..... to make a sign with electrical components of any kind put into a wooden cabinet. I feel for a home project or something within the confines of one's own property, it might be alright, but to put it into a commercial establishment, I'm just not sure.

    I know the LEDs are somewhat different, but you still have wires and current and innocent patrons in that place. Have you checked with codes about this project ?? I'd really like to know, as that would put a whole new light on things. Pun intended.
     
  18. Dennis Turner

    Dennis Turner New Member

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    Feb 21, 2018
    Ohio
    Hi Gino. This sign is going into a mom and pop restaurant that was originally a house built in the early 1900s. The space where it will be mounted is bordered by vintage wood molding, and the cabinet is stained to match this molding. Actually, electronic components in wooden cabinets have a long and storied history. All early radios and televisions were housed in wooden enclosures - guitar amps still are. As far as LEDs, wires, current and innocent patrons go, I doubt there is reason for concern given that I have a degree in electrical engineering. So now that you really know, do you feel sufficiently illuminated or is your level of understanding still dim?
     
    • Pure Genius! Pure Genius! x 1
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