Home Cinema Lighting Project 2

This is an ambitious home cinema project which makes use of Starscape's fibre optics and also our LED concealed lighting products. Like Customer Project 47 in the main projects section of the website, the optical fibres in the star ceiling are in more than one circuit, but the aim here was not to produce a multi colour display but to spell out a name in stars across the ceiling.

The project, undertaken by our customer Darren M, involved wholesale remodelling of a ground floor room, with the ceiling being dropped to accommodate the fibre optics and LEDs. The new, lower level of ceiling does not extend to the edges of the room and the LEDs shine out across this gap to create an attractive colour wash effect.

Fibre optic star ceiling project

The first step in the project was to create a timber framework below the existing ceiling to support the plasterboard panels of the new ceiling.

Darren started by creating a timber framework which would support the new plasterboard panels with the fibre optic stars. Since there was a room above, with no easy access to the existing ceiling this was the most practical option for getting the fibres into the ceiling, and it also meant that the LED rim lighting could be added easily.

A special feature of the star ceiling was that the word "Moon" was to be spelled out in stars on a separate circuit, and in order to get the drilled holes in the correct location for the letters the plasterboard panels were temporarily fixed in place on the ceiling and lines marked out to ensure the correct positioning and perspective.

An ambitious fibre optic star ceiling project.

The red cord is used to mark the location for the letters which will spell out the name Moon on the ceiling in fibre optic stars.

Once this was done, the individual plasterboard panels were removed and brought down to a convenient working height to allow for drilling the holes and insertion of the optical fibres.

Fibre optics dangle from the ceiling

In this photo one of the plasterboard panels is already in place on the ceiling and a second has most of its fibres in place. The thick glowing tail in the lower centre of the photo is the bundle of fibres which are destined for the next panel. The fibres are contained within a protective polythene sheath which will be removed once installation of the fibre starts. Other bundles can be seen at ceiling level, heading across the room to where other panels will be fitted. At this point the fibres are protruding through the panels by a few centimetres. They'll be trimmed back to the ceiling after it is painted.

We made up custom harnesses for Darren, based on measurements that he gave us. The harnesses were terminated in the common end ferrule and this meant that once the first panel was in place every successive panel had to be worked on reasonably close to the ceiling. Another option would have been to take unterminated mini harnesses from us, which would have made each panel completely independent. That would have allowed him to fibre the panel at workbench height, or even in another room for that matter, rather than supporting the panels at chin height, as shown above. If he had chosen to work with separate mini harnesses, Darren would have had to gather all the mini harnesses together at the end of the project to make his own termination, although that's not a terribly challenging job.

A third option would be to simply have much longer fibres, but this would add to the cost of the project.

Access to the light sources for maintenance purposes was via a lifting access panel in the floor of the room above. The space looks fairly congested (see photo below), but since the edge of the dropped ceiling is open to the room below there is adequate ventilation for the light sources and LED power supply units.

Fibre optic light sources

The two light sources (silvery grey boxes at left) share this space with the power supply unit (top of the photo with the perforated casing) for the LED strips. Both light sources are a modified version in which the colour wheel motor is on a separate circuit, which is why there are two power cables coming out of each unit. The fibre harnesses come out of the other end of the light sources and so are hidden here by the floor, at left of the photo.

The dropped ceiling does not extend over the full length and width of the room, so there is a gap between the walls and the edge of the dropped ceiling. Darren installed our RGB (colour changing) LED rigid strips around the perimeter of the dropped area, pointing outwards towards the walls. The 70 cm strips daisy chain together and individual strips can easily be replaced in the event of failure.

LED rim lighting

The LED rigid strips are clipped to the framework of the dropped ceiling, pointing out across the gap to the walls. Reflected light from the walls and original ceiling above will produce an attractive colour wash effect. At the centre of the photo above you can see a small loop of coloured wires: this is the simple push-fit connection between two of the 70 cm strips. To ensure colour consistency the perimeter of the ceiling is divided into sections and groups of half a dozen or so strips wired in parallel to the colour controller.

With the finished project there are three lighting effects which can be used independently or all together - two fibre optic star circuits and the LED colour wash lighting. So, it's possible to simply display the word "Moon" across the ceiling, or turn on both light sources so that the stars in the Moon pattern blend (more or less ) into the general background of stars.

Fibre optic stars

The word Moon is spelled out in fibre optic stars and can be illuminated independently of the background stars, as here, since there are two separate light sources.

Fibre optic stars and LED tape.

The finished job, showing the two fibre optic circuits and the LED strips all illuminated. The colour wash mood lighting effect is far more pronounced when the bright downlights at each corner are not turned on. Click here to see.

So, all in all, an ambitious and impressive project. Congratulations to Darren for a job well done, and thanks to him, too, for sharing details and photos.

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