Spidey Wall

Euan Lind has done some amazing designs for our house renovation and one of my favourites is the Spidey Wall. It’s a little tricky to get a full view of it as it is on a short staircase but the overall effect close-to is dramatic. The design is intended to evoke Spider-Man’s costume (it’s in my son Joe’s room) and each shape has individually addressable coloured LEDs around. In total there are almost 2000 LEDs in the wall.

Spidey Wall AssemblyThe construction Spidey Wall Preparationis from MDF which was CNC machined to create each of the shapes. The design includes a recess around each shape to hide the LED strips.

Another problem was in correctly positioning each of the shapes as we had not included any location holes in them. This proved quite a challenge and in the end was solved by trial and error.

It took a really long time (2 or 3 people working for at least four weeks solidly) to attach all the LED strips and make all of the power and data connections.  But now that it is finished I have a few ideas for games and other things that could be done with it.

Phoebe registering the shapes Testing the strips Phoebe working on assembly

One of the difficulties was powering the whole array – several cables had to be run to ensure enough power to maintain full brightness – the whole strip fully illuminated consumes around 60A ( 5V) so we had to use a pretty beefy power supply and cabling.

Comments 8

  1. This is seriously impressive Rob! I’m putting about 300W of LEDs into my workshop at the moment: all straight runs, all white, and not addressable. I thought that was complicated until I read this post 🙂

    The voltage drop at 5V could be bad. Do you compensate with short thick wires? Even at 12V I’m losing about 10% efficiency travelling the 5m from the PSU to the LED strips, but I’m not keen to embed small PSUs in the ceiling in case they fail and I have to dig them out again.

    Are you going to do a follow up post about the control system and a video of the possibilities of such a large array of addressable LEDs?

    1. Post

      Hi Rupert, the simple answer is yes, lots of thick cables and chunky connectors. The way the wall ended up being built is that a number of the shapes were put onto a backing board (you can see one of these in the final photo in the post just behind Phoebe – and another she is working on assembling in front of her) – generally four or five per board. The backing boards are themselves of various shapes to allow the whole thing to be assembled like a jigsaw. The maximum number of RGB LEDs on a backing board is around 200. Each RGB LED (actually 3 LEDs) can draw a max of around 40mA so that’s around 8A max for a backing board. I bought a long reel of super heavy duty speaker cable on Ebay like this (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/50m-of-2-Core-2-5mm-HiFi-Loud-Speaker-Cable-Quality-Oxygen-Free-322-Strand-/270848435046?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item3f0fd32366) – HiFi nuts seem to be keen on massive amounts of copper and it is the cheapest way I found to buy flexible heavy gauge cable. The cables are 2.5mm diameter copper wire and I put one major power point on each backing board with a heavy duty pluggable terminal block (32A rated – a bit of overkill there!). The 2.5mm cables are all shorter then 3m (the power supply is behind the wall and around the centre of it. I used an online calculator which indicated around 0.16V drop with this cable at 8A over that distance. The power supply I bought also has an external sense line and I connected this to a point on the biggest backing board. I’ve stress tested it with all the LEDs on and the supply does get rather warm – I think it is supplying around 300W at this load but I don’t have the means to measure it accurately – but the fan speeds up and it seems to cope ok.

    2. Post

      Hi Rupert

      If you have any ideas of other uses let me know – I’ve tried a few pattern generators and thought about a music visualiser but any other, or derivative, ideas welcome.

        1. Post

          Hi Rupert, this is amazing! Thanks so much for putting it together. Would you like to write a guest post? And when I get back to the UK I’ll get it going on the wall itself and take a video so you can see your work in action.

          1. I’d love to. I’m updating my HTML5 skills at the moment and it’s always nice to have a practical project to work on.

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