Home Cinema Lighting Project 10

At Starscape we're fibre optic enthusiasts and we like to enter into a dialogue with our customers, rather than simply presenting them with a list of standard off-the-shelf products to choose from. So, rather than telling people what they can have, we start by asking them what they want.

The result can sometimes be a rather protracted process of developing the best approach and components for a particular project. So it was with this home cinema project by Donald and Valerie F, in Scotland, with six months elapsing between initial contact and the ultimate delivery of the fibre optic package.

However, as the photos show, this painstaking approach can produce dividends, with a very impressive finished project - and two very satisfied customers.

Home cinema star ceiling panel

In this photo you can see Valerie fitting fibres to the Foamalux panels which are already in place, glued to the mdf framework. The fibres were supplied as four bundles, cut to lengths to suit each panel.

The room in question was downstairs, and even though this was a new-build it was decided that it would be easier to do the work from below, rather than from the room above. So, the pair decided to make the star ceiling up in panels and then to fix the panels to the ceiling. Rather than do this piecemeal, they decided to assemble the entire array on an MDF framework at ground level and then lift it as a single piece. This seemed a bit ambitious to us, but they've proved us wrong.

Star ceiling panels

In this photo you can see that the fibres have been gathered together to form a single thick "tail" which is fitted to the common end ferrule.

Donald chose to work with one of our favourite materials - Foamalux - which is easy to work with (cuts with a Stanley knife and is relatively light in weight) and has a nice finish. Four full-sized panels - 2440 x 1220mm - were used.

We'll let Donald explain part of the procedure in his own words:

"We glued the boards to the MDF to avoid any sign of fixings from below - the seams aren’t too noticeable when in use either.

"We sandwiched all the boards together for drilling, laying them up back-to-front, side-to-side and end-to-end so that when laid out flat again the pattern was not repeated across the ceiling. This worked well. The random pattern was put together on a Word document with the page scaled to represent a 1220 by 2440 sheet, and then we posterised the print and laid all the printed sheets out on the sandwiched boards for drilling.

The rear of the fibre optic star panels.

Who can resist this part? It's always fun to illuminate the fibres and see the sideglow effect.

"To make life easier, we then marked all the drilled holes with sticky arrows cut from insulating tape to help us identify the holes on the dark sheets, and also highlighted the bigger holes for additional fibres with a contrasting colour for the constellations etc. Overall it took us four long days for Valerie and myself - from frame build and drilling to installation of the fibres and lifting into place (we had a few more hands to get it up into the roof space!) but the result was well worth it.

Star ceiling

At last, the framework has been lifted up into its coffered recess. The Foamalux still has its protective thin plastic film in place.

"Thank you for your help and advice over the last few months: our star ceiling is now complete and looks fantastic. Everyone who has seen it thinks it’s amazing."

On a technical note, we supplied Donald's optical fibre as four loose bundles in lengths calculated to suit the position of each of the four Foamalux panels relative to the location of the single halogen light source. In all, there were 630 mixed diameter fibres - this being the maximum that a single light source could accommodate.

The finished job, looking very impressive indeed. RGB LED lighting around the perimeter of the star ceiling adds another attractive element to the installation. Click here for another view.

There's a delicate balance required when calculating fibre lengths. We cut at 50cm increments, so increasing the length of 630 fibres by half a metre adds the cost of 315 metres of fibre - about £50.00 - to the fibre cost. We're always at pains to ensure that customers don't spend more than they need to, but at the same time it's important to ensure that you don't end up with fibres which are too short. On this occasion, Donald admits that - in retrospect - our recommendation that he add half a metre to the proposed fibre lengths would have made life simpler, but he was able to relocate the light source in such a way that all of the fibres did reach it - just!

Back to home cinema projects.


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