Construction: Part 2
How do you support you lights? We know that they need to be between 7 and 8 feet up in the air. We also need something that will not be destroyed the first time its taken on the road (bad things happen to equipment taken out to place to play).
The system I'll be describing here uses 1/8 inch steel plates, standard threaded pipe (1/2 inch or 3/4 inch - I reccomend 3/4 inch, it can take more abuse) and wood. Everything is commonly available and nothing is light weight.
The first thing that you need is a base that will not fall over. The last thing you want is to be hit by something heavy falling on you, or on anyone else for that matter. You could make a base that has legs, and can be folded up for easy storage, but there are a fair amount of mechanical things to consider, and quite a bit of skill and experimentation will be required to do that - My base plates are pretty heavy, and very simple to build. They are an 18 inch square of 1/8 inch steel, with rounded corners. I have made them up to 24 inches square, but for lighting systems, up to 4 lights per pole, 18 inches should be plenty.
The other advantage of the flat base is that other things can be piled up on top of them - this provides a further stabilization effect. The only things to be careful about are:
The general steps are (please wear safety glasses and gloves while working with steel):
2) Draw lines from corner to corner to find the center of the plates.
3) Mark the rounded corners (I trace around plastic bowls, or other round shapes to make the shapes all consistent).
4) Locate the pipe flange in the center of the steel plate (use the lines that you drew from corner to corner). Once you have found the center, mark the 4 holes in the flange in the steel plate.
5) Drill out the holes for the pipe flange (1/4 inch bit). Put bolts in each hole as you finish drilling them, and attach the pipe flange to use it as a guide for the remaining holes. No two pipe flanges are exactly the same, so you want to keep this specific flange with this specific base plate.
6) Once the holes are drilled, remove the bolts and flange, and use a countersink bit to countersink the holes in the base plate. Pick a side to be the bottom, and countersink only on this side. put a drop of oil occasionally on the area that you are countersinking to help keep the bit cool as it does its work. Check the depth frequently by test fitting the countersink hole with a 1/4 inch countersunk bolt. Once you have it where the bolt sits flush, move over to the next bolt. This will take a while, so don't rush it and don't let the countersink bit get too hot.
7) Saw off the rounded corners of the base plate with a hack saw (painful and time consuming), or use an abrasive cutter to remove them (much faster, also much messier and hotter).
8) Measure 3 inches back from the rounded corners and drill a 1/4 inch hole (4 total). Use the countersink to clean up the edges of these to remove any sharp corners or edges on all of the holes in the steel plate.
9) Use a file to round all edges on the steel plate. Make sure that there are no edges that may accidently cut your hand or any cables that you might place down near the base.
10) Sand the base plate and remove any oil that may have accumulated on the surface. Hang the base plate from one of the corner holes and spray paint it using a good grade of grey or black automotive primer (you'll be touching this up frequently - these will get beaten up). Let it dry for a day.
11) Once dry, attach the flange to the base plate, using 1/4 inch countersunk bolts and 1/4 inch self locking nuts. The threads should not be more than 1/4 inch above the bolt once tightened down.
in the middle of the plate
The next thing to build is the lamp holder. I'll pick the simplest one to make - 2 lights, mounted in Porcelain light holders. These use wood to attach things to. The reason is simple - its cheap, and easy to work with.
The dimensions are not given, but, you must allow at least 7 inches between floodlights, 8 would be better. You could expand this out to hold up to 4 lights per pole - simply make it wider to handle the extra lights, and make sure that the lights weight is evenly distributed across the board that the light holders are attached to.
Why is there a steel angle attaching the light holders to the wooden 2 X 4? You could attach the wood light bulb support board directly to the base, but, then you couldn't aim it at all. More than likely, you will bend the steel angles downward a little once you put them on poles for the first time. After you have bent them the first time, you rarely ever change the angle that you have set them to.
A flange is screwed to the 2 X 4 base, exactly like the one that you used on the base plate (ie. if you used a 1/2 inch pipe flange on the base plate, use a 1/2 inch pipe flange on the light holder base plate.
These are quite easy to build, and they need to be built to take some abuse. Spray paint these flat black and put your bands name (or if you are going to start a lighting company and these are a part of your system choices, paint your companies name) on the back in white letters - These will be above the crowd and people will definitely see them.
The last part is to buy threaded steel pipe. I use 6 foot lengths. I use galvanized pipe, mostly because I occasionally have to use pliers to get the system apart (usually because someone 'helped' me by tightening these things down as hard as they could - they don't need to do this, advise your assistants not to over tighten these). You can buy shorter lengths and use splices to get any height that you want. If you go to the hardware store to buy these, you can have them cut them to any length you need. Many hardware stores have pre-cut lengths available - 6 foot is common. You can get 'Black' pipe, which is used for natural gas lines - this looks nice once you take a bit of solvent to remove the greasy surface coating (yuck - you'll need to clean this off the galvanized pipe too). If you use a pair of pliers on the black pipe, you'll damage the surface and it will start to rust. Keep some flat black spray paint handy and touch it up when it needs it.
Expect to spend $80.00 to $100.00 to build each light pole to this point. You will want to protect these during travel, so consider making a denim bag to hold the light holders and a separate bag for the the base plates and yet another bag for the light poles. This helps keep things together while traveling and makes it easier to determine if you 'forgot' anything of not.
Part 3 - Lighting Controller - Coming soon...
Questions? Comments? .
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