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My new Xmas tree......

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Building DIY' started by Mike Swannick, Dec 12, 2002.

  1. Mike Swannick

    Mike Swannick
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    .....is one of these little fibre optic affairs, about 2' tall. It must have about 100m of fibre optic cable in it.

    Does anyone know where to get 'Xmas Tree' quality fibre optic cable? I don't need medical or scientific quality or the price that is likely to go with it.

    The only place I've found is a company called Precor Fibre Optics based in Canada who sell what appears to be the same stuff on a roll. I'm currently waiting for a quote for a spool containing about a mile of the stuff.

    http://www.precorfiberoptics.com/cat_d_products.asp?ProductID=439

    Pending the arrival of my quote, should I prepare myself with a stiff drink and a chair?

    Has anyone else ever tried DIY fibre optic light effects?
     
  2. themadhippy

    themadhippy
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    we built a star cloth (black cloth with lots of twinkly white bits) a few years ,we managed to get 500 meters of fiber optic cable very cheap from an electronics surplus company.the hardest bit was the interface between the light box and the fiber optic,ended up using the end off a vacuum cleaner pipe and stuffing the fiber ends into it and secruing it with gaffa tape.the light box was simply a low voltage dichcloric with a disc suspended above it that rotated due to the lamp heat,very simple but effective
     
  3. Mike Swannick

    Mike Swannick
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    Cheers Mad,

    I'm trying to construct something similar.

    Spent some time going through 30+ pages of Google search results and still no supplier other than those mentioned above.

    I did find one UK based surplus company that had 300m of 1mm for £99.00. How does that compare to what you paid?

    My Xmas tree is built exactly the same way as your Star Cloth. Mrs. S may find parts of the vacuum 'missing' soon.....
     
  4. theritz

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    Hi Mike,

    If you're trying a starfield ceiling, consider getting one of those sets of christmas tree lights that have the really tiny bulbs (I think they're called "grain of wheat") - these normally come with a controller which allows a number of effects, including twinkling.
    The bulbs are really small and neat, about 3mm in diameter and I reckon they'll be fine to push thru holes in a false ceiling suspended about 3" from the existing ceiling - the floor above can't be lifted - bloody laminate !! I intend to construct the false ceiling in 3 panels and install the lights before putting the ceiling in place. I reckon this will be a lot less trouble (and cheaper) than trying to sort out fibre optics.

    I've bought a couple of sets of lights and stashed them - I'm not doing any more work to my movie room until nect Spring, and by then it won't be possible to get them.

    Sean G.
     
  5. themadhippy

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    we payed around £50 for the 500 meters,if it had been any more it would have been cheaper to hire.we got ours from a local company unfortunatley they closed some time ago, pity as it was an alladins cave of obscure electrical/electronic stuff
    have you had a look on http://www.distel.co.uk/ they sometimes have a few bargins.worst part of making the star cloth was trying to split the cables (razor blade works best)into 2 or 4 to get a diffrent spread
     
  6. Mike Swannick

    Mike Swannick
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    TheRitz,

    I decided at first to go with the plan you offered. I bought 4 packs of those lights you mention. The bulb itself sits snugly in a 3mm hole while the heat shrink bit behind it has to sit in a 5mm hole. Friction keeps the whole lot in place. One of the controller options is a 'slo glo' which is perfect for the effect I wanted, BUT, there was only one major drawback. The lights themselves are spaced so tightly that it would take all 4 sets of lights just to fill one sheet of 8'x4' MDF. My plans was for an area three times that size and that would make for a bill of £240.00 for the lights alone:eek:

    Although you get a nice dense star effect, it's a little too expensive. The other alternative was to cut each wire leading to the bulb and lengthen it by soldering in an extension piece. Each set contains 144 bulbs:rolleyes: and the wires are tiny, not to mention the fact that the kitchen wall has just been painted and I need to watch it dry;)

    That how come I'm now considering DIY fibre optic (with a little prompting by the Xmas tree). Why is nothing ever simple:(
     
  7. theritz

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    Mike,

    Fair enough - but by my reckoning, 4 sets @144 is 576 bulbs. on a sheet of 8 x 4 that'd be 18 lights per sq ft - a bit too dense for my taste - I think in those circumstances the light from them would be just too bright. My ceiling will need three 8 x 4 panels, and I was reckoning on a density of about 4 per sq ft, but random patterned. I intend to put the odd blue and odd red one in by painting the bulbs.
    The point you made about the length of the wires is more worrying - I must dig out my lot and check the spacing - in the shop they looked about 1 ft apart, which should od me ok.

    I'll need to give this some more critical thought - there'll be bugger all chance of getting spare/different sets of these things in Feb or Mar. (Thinking of getting a ropelight to do concealed lighting behind cornice too)


    See ya,


    Sean G.
     
  8. Mike Swannick

    Mike Swannick
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    Sean,

    Exactly as you say, 18 per sq. ft (which is alot). I made up a 2' x 1' test area and it looks the dogs dooda's, but with the bulbs being so close together the minimum I could get into a 1' x 1' sq was about 14, and that was with the cable at almost full stretch. The other option was to only use half the bulbs and have the other half twinkling away to no-one but the cobwebs :(

    I had considered the coloured bulbs too but was going to buy a coloured light set of 244 bulbs and use as many as I needed. Colouring the white bulbs is, of course, the far more sensible idea and why I didn't think of God only knows :clown:

    Keep the ideas coming as I haven't decided which way to go yet.

    Mike.
     
  9. theritz

    theritz
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    Mike,

    You're a bloody menace ! I had figured out what to do and had basically put the whole thing on ice for a couple of months and now you've got me itching to get going less than two weeks before christmas ! :D


    There's too much on here now - if my wife thought I was going to take this on, she'd have a fit - I know its not a single weekend job and I really want the movie room undisturbed for christmas, so it'll have to wait. I haven't checked out the lights yet, but if they're too close together I'll have to sort something out.


    Just had an idea - - - You know those icicle lights, the ones which hang down every foot or so across the eaves of a house (yanks are big into them) ?? Well if I can find them with the tiny bulbs, they'd do the trick nicely. If they don't have a controller, I can butcher one from another set, or get one of those lighting modules from Maplins, or wire them to a dimmer and STAND THERE TURNING THE BLOODY THING UP AND DOWN ALL THE TIME !!!!!!!! Sorry - - - its friday and this idea's been fermenting too long !

    I think I'll have a root around for these next week.



    Good Luck,


    Sean G.
     
  10. iwatkins

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    Bit late, but found this while browsing the 'net. Maybe of use to some looking to build a smaller unit. Still not very cheap though and not very DIY either: Fibre Optic Thingy

    Cheers

    Ian
     
  11. Mike Swannick

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    Cheers Ian, but I worked out that I would need about 900m of FO cable.

    Another fine plan but on the back burner....:(
     
  12. iwatkins

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  13. theritz

    theritz
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    Hi,

    Just when I thought it was safe to venture back into the DIY forum, what do I find ?? more starfield stuff !!:D !

    Shelved the starfield plan........ appropriate lighting didn't present itself (mind you, there'll be so many lights on the christmas tree next year they'll be able to dispense with the street lights for about a fortnight !). Ropelight behind a cornice about 4" down from ceiling and dimers is the plan now. Just got to work up the enthusiasm for dismantling all the kit in the movie room and getting to work on it again........... Oooooh, I can feel the pain already............


    Sean G.
     
  14. magsmith

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    I have been searching the web and came up with your forum. I realise it is over 2 years old but hopefully you might be able to give me the benefit of your experience.

    I have bought a fibre optic ceiling kit for my son who is disabled. His bedroom is in a converted garage so I don't have any space above the ceiling to fit the lighting box as they suggest. I could use MDF but as I am a single mum I am not very happy using a drill and am worried that if is not secured properly it could fall down onto the bed. I believe it is possible to use material. Any suggestions? I was thinking about threading the fibres through with a darning needle and sticking them from the back. I realise that the fibres will bend in the process but believe it is possible to trim them afterwards. There are two beams either side of the area I want to hang it so thought I could put cup hooks into these and stretch the fabric, either placing ties on the edge or using an eyelet tool. Do you think this could work? Any thoughts on type of fabric? Do you think I need to back the fabric once all the fibres are in place?
     
  15. davehk

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    Yes - use medium to heavy weight material so that the pull of the fibres does not distort it. Use small rubber grommets to fix the fibres, No need for a backing if the material is heavy enough.

    Basically you are making a fibre-optic star cloth - used extensively on stage and TV variety/award shows. You can buy them ready made, but they are not cheap (very labour intensive, as you will discover :) )

    This link may help:

    http://www.starceiling.co.uk/custproj_2.html
     

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