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Author Topic: Lighting for poster cases
Mike Blakesley
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Posts: 12277
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 02-14-2018 12:40 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We are building some new poster cases in our lobby and I am hoping to make them "lower profile" due to space issues. Anybody had any experience with LED lights that come in "tape" form? They look pretty bright and there are a lot of them on the tape -- there are 300 LEDs in a 16-foot roll.

I'm just wondering if they'll put out adequate light to make the posters pop. We already tried rope lights and they didn't look very good at all.

Suggestions welcome! Here's a pic of what I'm looking at.

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Frank Cox
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From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
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 - posted 02-14-2018 01:25 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My poster cases are about as low-profile (and cheap) as you can get, though they aren't lit.

 -

They are just a piece of plexiglass with hinges at the top that are screwed into the wall. There is a piece of doorstop at the bottom, also screwed to the wall, and a couple of storm window clips attached to the the doorstop to hold the plexiglass shut.

I stapled some of that kitchen drawer liner that you use to prevent your spoons from rattling to the wall behind the plexiglass so the posters won't sag.

Ultimately the parts list for each one consists of the plexiglass, two hinges, one piece of doorstop, two storm window clips and about six feet of drawer liner.

Edit: I just noticed that the lights you're looking at is the same thing that I put on one of my wife's sewing machines a couple of months back to add extra illumination under the arm. If it is indeed the same thing (though I only had two feet of it) then that's a really really bright and very harsh coloured light. I wasn't too impressed with it, actually, but my wife seems happy with the extra light so what do I know.

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Mike Blakesley
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From: Forsyth, Montana
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 - posted 02-14-2018 02:32 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
These poster boxes are in our outer lobby and are visible from the street. They are basically a wood box with a hinged door on the front, but are only 2" deep so we need a low-profile light. They look OK unlit, but they would really stand out if they were lit, plus I plan to put a timer on them to make them stay lit after we close at night. The bar next door gets a lot of foot traffic so it would be good advertising, that's the main reason I want to light them up.

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Frank Cox
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From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
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 - posted 02-14-2018 04:34 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I wonder how much coverage of the poster you can get with lights less than two inches above them around the sides. I suppose it could be done but I think you'll need to do some fancy shading and direction-focusing to make anything other than a bright ring with a dark spot (the poster) in the middle. And I don't think you'll do that with a simple strip of led's though I'm certainly no lighting expert so there might be a way to do it that I'm not aware of.

Have you considered directional lights overhead or on the opposite wall focused on the posters, or maybe something like the lights over paintings in fancy museums?

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Bill Brandenstein
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From: Santa Clarita, CA
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 - posted 02-14-2018 05:11 PM      Profile for Bill Brandenstein   Email Bill Brandenstein   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My goodness, Mike, it looks like once you're done unwinding the light tape, you could load Super 8mm film onto that reel!

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Mike Blakesley
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From: Forsyth, Montana
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 - posted 02-14-2018 05:44 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The LEDs will be behind the poster. There is a diffuser (1/8" white plexi) to spread the light out. Each roll of LEDs iw 16 feet long so we're just planning to spiral them inside the box behind the poster. I *think* it should work but we'll see, I guess. If not, we'll figure out someplace else to use them.

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Louis Bornwasser
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From: prospect ky usa
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 - posted 02-14-2018 08:34 PM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I would experiment with a thick sheet of clear poly. Drill holes around the sides with LEDs inserted.Mayne 40-50.

Alternatively a $10 small recessed spotlight from Lowe's in the ceiling would illuminate it directly. (120v bulb.)

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Carsten Kurz
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From: Cologne, NRW, Germany
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 - posted 02-14-2018 09:04 PM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Mike - what do you mean with 'spiraling'?

Are you sure all your posters have white backs? Many of our posters are double sided (mirrored image). May be a local habit, but these obviously won't work backlit.

I guess you need to build a test-bed. These LED strips can be bought in different densities/brightness on ebay. You may need to try out different types. The strips can be cut and reconnected to give a full panel. That is a bit of work though.

Louis' idea is old fashioned, but worth considering, it get's the job done a lot cheaper and may work better. We usually have one poster hanging on our front window with a strong spot behind it. When we get a poster with white back, we try to light it from the back, but the printed paper will not let through much light. Front-lit will be much more effective. Backlit displays are usually printed on special sheets with special colors and need a lot of light to pop out. If they are facing day-lit areas, they will probably only pop-out at night.

- Carsten

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Mike Blakesley
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From: Forsyth, Montana
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 - posted 02-14-2018 10:15 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Spiraling - meaning the LED strips will be laid out in a spiral pattern (concentric rectangles). The strips are bendable, so as to make the rectangle pattern.

We almost never get white-backed onesheets - - mainstream studio onesheets all have the image printed on the back, backwards, so it aligns precisely with the front image. So, backlighting makes them look really good IF the lights are bright enough. If they have white backs, they look washed-out.

We have a backlit box inside the lobby that has a pair or florescent tubes in it, but these new boxes are going next to a set of doors so they need to be more shallow, which is why I'm looking for a more low-profile lighting solution. I'm aware they won't show up much during the day but in the evening they will be attention-getting from the street.

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Buck Wilson
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 - posted 02-14-2018 10:20 PM      Profile for Buck Wilson   Email Buck Wilson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Are backlit poster cases really that rare? That's all I've known. I think it'll work. You may need a poster size piece of opaque white plexi behind the poster to help even the light but beyond that I don't see why it wouldn't work.

If fluorescent tubes work (all the poster cases I've seen) I don't see why not LED.

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Frank Cox
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From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
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 - posted 02-14-2018 11:15 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If the posters you get are like the ones that I get, the width is more-or-less constant but the length varies by two or three inches. So a lighted poster case would have to be long enough to hold the longest poster and you'll need something like a black strip to put in at the bottom to cover the light when a shorter one is installed.

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Brad Miller
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From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
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 - posted 02-15-2018 01:38 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Mike, these led strip lights are really good and will work well for you. They don't get terribly hot, they are in a sleeve to make them waterproof and they don't get too hot but they are as bright as you can get on a 12V supply. Since they are for backlit posters, make sure to get the 6000K version.

In case the link breaks, they are: "LEDENET 5M Double Row 600LEDs SMD 5050 LED Flexible Strip Lighting DC 12V Cold Cool White Waterproof Outdoor Use"

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Marcel Birgelen
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From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
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 - posted 02-15-2018 02:33 AM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I agree with Brad that you should definitely go for out-door strips, even if those LEDs are encased in a box. Once moisture creeps in, they will kill the ordinary non-outdoor LED strips.

Personally, I'd rather go for the 5000K (often sold as "neutral white) than the 6000K though, because 6000K is already a bit blueish, although for poster backlights the difference between 5000K and 6000K will probably be small.

Spiraling those LED strips out isn't going to be easy though. While it is easy to bend them around corners in a "vertical" direction compared to the plane of the LEDs, it's almost impossible to have them make a hard turn horizontally.
There are little addon-pieces available that allow you to make a 90-degree turn for example, but you can only cut the strips at certain, pre-marked intervals. Unfortunately, the click-on-type connectors are notorious for bad connections, if you chain a lot of them together, you're almost certain to run into problems. The alternative is soldered connections.

Also, when you put them directly behind the glass, hot-spotting could occur. You best place them further back into the box, to allow the light to diffuse before it hits the poster.

Alternatively, finding a diffuser that works and fits for your particular application is going to be a bit more complicated.

I think in your case, the most efficient way would be running some strips vertically and soldering the ends of each strip together with some small pieces of "12V wire".

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Carsten Kurz
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From: Cologne, NRW, Germany
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 - posted 02-15-2018 02:34 AM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
They are flat, if you simply spiral them, most of the light is sent sideways off the panel, and the neighboring track blocks it. Don't think that'll work good, but, try.

I remember there are special strips with side emitting LEDs, but they are harder to get.

- Carsten

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Lyle Romer
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 - posted 02-15-2018 05:15 AM      Profile for Lyle Romer   Email Lyle Romer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Most of those tape lights let you cut them at certain spots. They can be reconnected by soldering the contacts together. You must have the tape flat against the "back wall" of your case firing the light forward.

As others have said, some kind of opaque "diffuser" needs to be in front of the lights. The idea somebody had for side installed LEDs inserted in holes around the perimeter is unlikely to work. You'd need a diffuser that is designed to put out a lower percentage of light near the edge vs the middle in order for it to look even.

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