June 6, 2008

Adding Stage Lighting to your Fake Plastic Rock

After writing about The Fake Plastic Rock Stage Experience, I immersed myself in the strange, fascinating world of stage lighting effects.

I found out two things that drove me to buy my own stage lights:

  1. Many stage lights are sound activated and include their own embedded microphones, so they “just work” out of the box.
  2. There’s an emerging set of DJ lights that use low-power LEDs instead of hot, dangerous 100 or 200 watt bulbs.

That’s a perfect combination for our rock band room! No messy cables (other than the power cable), no extra heat, and it will automatically sync up to whatever music we’re playing. I couldn’t resist!

I finally settled on the American DJ LED Color Changing Light Bar. Here’s a short video clip I recorded of it in action to some music:

There are two sound activated modes:

  1. Mode 1 switches between all the available colors
  2. Mode 2 has 40 different “programs”, with lots of variety. You’re seeing one of those programs in the above video.

As you can see it’s plenty bright — almost too bright for our smallish room with the projector! Fortunately, I can select some of the less bright sound activated modes so it doesn’t overwhelm the video screen. It’s also programmable via the DMX-512 programming standard, though I’m not sure I’ll ever bother because the sound activated modes work so well.

It includes convenient wall mounts, but it also has large hand screws on each side so you can quickly unscrew it and take it to your next fake plastic rock “gig” as well. I grabbed it and took it with me to a recent remote Rock Band jam session, and it went over great!

The American DJ LED bar wasn’t exactly a cheap accessory — I shopped around and found it for $180 shipped — but it sure feels about ten times more freakin’ rock in that room now with the awesome extra lighting effects!

I finally got around to measuring the power draw of the DJ LED Bar using my kill-a-watt


It’s much lower than the 60 watts quoted!

22w — all four “white” (R, G, and B all on) lights
12w — all four R, G or B
3-8w — one to three R, G, or B

Jeff Atwood
June 9, 2008 at 3:59 am

I used one of these and proposed to my customer. They like it as well. Too bad I could not use it for my own.

Michael Liew

Michael Liew
June 13, 2008 at 4:02 am

Great fun. When I was a kid I made mini PAR cans out of a torch bulb and a black photo film canister. A lot smaller and a lot cheaper.

Looks good.

On Stage Lighting
July 6, 2008 at 8:27 am

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