Tag Archives: LED

Prop Stories For You From Me

Quirky work: U of A props master makes her cake and caulks it too – Jane Kline, the props master at the University of Alberta drama department, shows off her work in these pictures and video.

Japanese Prop Maker Creates a Magic Gun Without any CGI – I’m sure you have seen the video floating around of the “real life” Dr. Strange spells. Here is a bit more on FriskP, the Japanese maker behind the magic.

Inside the Amish town that builds U2, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift’s live shows – Fascinating longread about Tait Towers, the company that has been building concert sets for the world’s largest rock and roll bands since Michael Jackson. This is literal cutting-edge performance technology; often, the technology to achieve a design is not invented until after construction has already begun.

Ultimate Workbench + 10 Shop Storage Solutions – April Wilkerson made this video showing how she built a quick and easy 4×8 shop workbench, a common size found in prop and scene shops. She also adds some great storage ideas which you can adapt for your own shop.

96-Year-Old Woman Puts Home Up For Sale And People Go Inside To Find It Untouched After 72 Years – Do you want to see some pink 1950’s interiors? Because this is where you can see some pink 1950’s interiors.

First Links of September

I love that Oregon Live has put together a list of 10 Must-See Props at the 2016 Oregon Shakespeare Festival. From wedding cakes to bears, you can learn how the OSF prop shop made it all happen.

Kamui Cosplay has a great video tutorial on adding animated LEDs to your prop. Making your LEDs pulse and chase really bumps up the wow-factor compared to static on/off lights.

Did You Know The Props On ‘Melrose Place’ Were Covert Works Of Art With Coded Meanings? I don’t know what else to say about this article other than repeating the title. Apparently an art exhibition showcasing these works of conceptual art is now running in NYC.

Did you know that new overtime rules for workers in the US are going into effect in December? American Theatre tackles how this may affect theatres, particularly non-profits. All of us should be aware of the rules and regulations that govern our wages, particularly since theatre and small films are so rife with infractions. A combination of ignorance, lack of oversight, and the belief that we should “suffer for our art” keeps it from improving. My worry is that these new overtime rules will either be ignored or hand-waved away like so many other labor regulations that some theatres do not follow.

Making an LED Lighter

Our upcoming production of Capeman wanted a lighter for one of the characters to light a joint. Rather than apply for a live flame permit and fireproof all the costumes, we thought we try to fit an LED into a lighter first. This is my first attempt, so it’s fairly simple, but I learned a lot doing it.

LED and battery
LED and battery

Wiring a single LED is pretty easy; the LEDs we had in the shop required 3 volts of power, so connecting a 3-volt watch battery to it is all it takes to make it light up. You’ll notice one of the wires coming off the LED is longer than the other; on most LEDs, this is the positive side; your LED won’t light up unless you hook the positive wire to the positive side of the battery and vice versa. I used an orange LED to make a color that looked like awesome flames.

Lighter Innards
Lighter Innards

I used a Zippo-style lighter. First I gutted the inside and took out all the wadding, wick and flint. If you’re familiar with the Zippo-style lighter, you know you can pull the inside part out of the case. I cut the side away on the inner part so I could access the inside easier; when finished, I could put it back into the outer case and conceal the battery and all the wires.

Insulating the LED
Insulating the LED

As I worked on this, I realized one problem; the lighter case was made entirely of metal, and if any of the bare wires made contact, it would keep the light from working. I cut some insulated wire, removed the metal wire from inside, and slid the rubber sleeves onto the wires of the LED. From then on, everything was working properly.

Attaching the wires
Attaching the wires

I wired up a switch I found in our box of electronic parts. It was like a pad that would turn the LED on when you squeezed it, and turned it off when you let go.

Inside the fully-assembled lighter
Inside the fully-assembled lighter

You’ll notice the switch is on the outside; if held correctly, you can conceal this from the audience. Also, the switch is not connected to the lighter wheel. When lighting it, the actor would need to mime the action of triggering the lighter and time it with pushing the button. As I said in the beginning, this was my first attempt, and it taught me a lot about what I can improve in a future attempt. As is though, it solves the problem in an adequate way. Perfect is good, but done is better.

LED lighter
LED lighter