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November 7, 2006

Halloween 2006: "Disco" - the disco dance floor

The crowning acheivement of the disco was of course, the dance floor (people kept asking me where we rented it! Hah!).

The base of the dance floor was made up of .75"x1.5"x8' wooden boards (aka, the cheapest wood that can be found at Home Depot). The wood was measured out and notched every 7", then fit together in a grid pattern. In order to get it in and out of the door, it was built in three 4'x12' modules.

The top of the grid was covered with 3/16" acrylic (plexiglas) tiles cut to size. I glued the tiles down with a high-heat glue gun. Here's a pic of the plexiglas tiles being laid onto the grid (the blue/brown film is still on one side of the plexiglass at this point to keep it clean):

Another pic of the three modules (2 on the floor, 1 against the wall), midway through the tiling:

A closer look at the grid:

Close up of the tiles with the light shining through:

(Sorry for the quality of the constructon pics above, they were take with Tom and my camera phones.)

After all the plexi was glued on, we went over the seams with clear packing tape, just to give it some strength and to cover any possible sharp edges. Then we flipped the whole thing over and glued "re-enforcement" acrilyc peices anywhere that had too much "give" (strengh was more important that looks at this point).

Then I took white and clear spraypaint and "fogged" the underside of the glass, to make it more "translucent" rather than completely tranparent. (I wanted the each square to light up evenly, rather than looking down and seeing a single bulb... I figured dusting the tiles with paint would be enough to disperse the light from being so "point-sourced".)

Underneath the grids I ran several strings of christmas light (again, notching the boards such that we could run the wire). First I went through evenly with strings of multicolored "chasing" lights (that way these by default, could be turned on anf the floor would animate well). Then I went through with strings of solid color lights stringing them in patterns under certain tiles (the idea was to be able to control different colors and patterns in the floor... I liked getting some pinkand purple in there too, since the chasing lights only used green, blue, amber, and red.)

Once the christmas light strings were glued under the modules, I wired them to a controller I built out of cheap light switches from Walmart. This way one could come up and control the colors and patternson the floor through the switches.
(pic to come)

Here's a quick video I made of me testing the switches controlling the dancefloor:

Here's video of Rich filming the floor as I demoed the lights:

Now before anyone asks why I used pre-strung christmas lights rather than a microcontroller and LEDs, I'll tell you--time and budget. As cool as programmable disco floors are, they cost money and take time to build... We just needed the "illusion" of a disco floor, and it only needed to last a day. :P

Here's a pic of the floor in the daylight all put together:

Though difficult to photograph, here's some pics of how it looks while lit up:

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