My Favorite Props of 2014

Today I’d like to show you my favorite props I made in 2014. They were functional lights for Firm, Logical, Amicable, a short play by Kelsey Peake that was featured in a Sci-Fi themed ten minute play fest last fall. The play fest is a thrice annual happening put on by one of my all time favorite theater companies, Monkey with a Hat On. The props are switch controlled battery powered lights. In the play, they signify the activation of a sound barrier that keeps characters from being able to hear one another. Here’s how they looked when they were done.

Light Props

Lights, off

Kelsey came to me with a general idea of what she wanted from the lights, but wasn’t set on a specific design. We knew they had to be battery powered, bright enough to shine under stage lights, and cheap. We decided to go with LEDs diffused by these large plastic bulbs. I was delighted to bust out my electronics gear for this project. This video helped me remember the basics of working with a generic circuit board.

Light guts

For each light I soldered the LEDs in parallel, connected them to a two AA battery pack, and used a basic switch to control the circuit. I housed the lights in these boxes Kelsey had found and painted black. I stuck the circuits over a cushion of bubble wrap taped into the box so they’d sit as high in the bulb as possible. During the play the lights get tossed around a lot, so we were worried about the circuits holding up to three nights of abuse. I had to make a small repair to a broken connection after dress rehearsal but from there on the lights lasted the entire run of the show. The opportunity to problem solve, solder, and work with great people made these my favorite props of 2014.

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