The Jukebox: Lights Part One

While we were working on other set pieces (lockers for a locker room scene) I was working by myself on tests for the jukebox lighting system.On the real jukebox, there is a large plastic arch that goes from the floor on one side of the jukebox all the way to the top, and all of the way back down the other side with a bubble tube in the middle.  We didn’t want to get too crazy trying to recreate the bubble tube, so to accomplish the look of the lights being split in between, we decided to run two lengths of three strips of led tape around the outside of the jukebox.  When we originally came up with this plan, we were going to run another strip of LED tape in between the two channels, but this was later scrapped as it would interfere with other parts.

LED channels attached
The channels for the LED strips have been attached.  The LED tape strips were attached to the protrusions along the outer edge and in the middle of the jukebox front panel.


Once we got this all squared away, I set out to make a proof-of-concept of the electronics for the lights.  This stage ended up being a lot easier than I expected, and ended up being quite enjoyable.  For me the best part was making all of the solder joints and watching the colors come on one by one.

This was how I tested my ideas.  The basic circuit is relatively basic;  just an Arduino controlling six MOSFETs through PWM.  I couldn’t find my full size breadboard, so I was stuck with a tiny one I had lying around, but the size ended up being just enough for three of the six MOSFETs.  This was fine for my testing, because I could always move the control wires and verify that my other three outputs were working.

After the jukebox was covered in a thick coat of white primer, it was time to start adding LED strips to the channels.  I started with the straight strips on the outer right side.  All of those wires in the picture go straight back to a nut (the wires you see are only about six inches long) and then take a single wire (per group) back to the control board/ battery.  The soldering is far from perfect, but this was kind of a rushed job, and I hadn’t soldered since musical season of last year.  (I do, however, think the quality of our solder joints improved vastly throughout the course of building this project.)

One particular setback in this whole process was that the LED tape did not actually bend the way we wanted it do (to be fair, regular tape also does not have to bend like this).  This meant that the only way to get the tape to go around the arch at the top was to cut it into its individual segments, and solder every terminal to the next in line (2000 solder connections).  This process was not difficult, but just time consuming.

2,000 solder joints were required to make the LED strips align to the curve of the channels.

We started to find the rhythm in the soldering and ended up moving pretty quickly through all of the connections.  We continuously tested as we went through and soldered more strips onto the board.  Here I was using my test board to control the lights, as I had not yet made the controller board.


This article proofread by Ayanna Ferguson

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