World’s Most Expensive Industrial Pipe Cover

Crystal LED Structure
It’s not hard to get HaD’s attention when you cram 1000’s of RGB LEDs into a single project. In fact, this funky crystal pipe has over 9000 of them!

The rather unique project was privately commissioned to cover up an exposed pipe in a new building. It seems like a bit of overkill to us, but the engineers at Asylum were more than excited to deliver. The pipe covering features 2,912 control modules for the RGB LEDs and are controlled by a dedicated Linux PC built into the installment. A website was created to allow the client to control the lights from any computer or mobile device.

Each crystal shard was individually glued to the surface (there’s around 3000 of them!) using UV hardening glue. It was a painstakingly slow process, but well worth the result as it looks like it’s out of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude!

If the people commissioning this project have any more funding maybe they should throw one of these in another room!

[Via TheCreatorsProject]

38 thoughts on “World’s Most Expensive Industrial Pipe Cover

    1. Someone please enlighten (pardon the pun) me: If you’re covering the whole thing with an (admittedly fancy) diffuser, could this not have been done with a lot less LEDs? Or is it just a brightness thing?

    2. It doesn’t. It is just a bad summary from HaD. thecreatorsproject, designboom and Asylum all say 2912 RGB LEDs modules which total nearly 9000 individual LEDs if you’re counting each die. The HaD summary however gets confused about RGB modules and “control modules” along with turning 9000 LEDs for some reason. Presumably it is what Jim Turner said and just a bad over 9000 DBZ reference.

  1. Marc, one of the criteria for this was that it had to be very reliable, operating day in and day out for several years without needing attention. The people who worked on this are serious engineers. The control modules were custom designed, as was the software. Every component was chosen for utmost reliability without regard to cost. I would imagine that the display prototype shown in the video was tested around the clock for a month or so before they even deployed it at the final location- it just had to work.

    1. The custom control modules you’re talking about are actually Arduino Pro Minis from Sparkfun on a carrier board with some sockets. The carrier board isn’t complicated and could be entirely passive. You don’t even need to do level translation if you’ve got the right type of LED. Even if you do need to do level translation, you can do it simply with a 74HCT245 or similar.

      As Marc noted above, they could have simplified it significantly if they had just used a single Teensy 3.x which could have driven all the LEDs. It would have saved money, reduced complexity and potentially increased reliability as you only have 1 uC to design, program and control.

      If you were designing for “utmost reliability without regard for cost” then you wouldn’t have a load of socketed boards either. You’d just build the uC directly onto the board itself and do away with the possibly unreliable socket + pins.

      This design is just using what they’re most familiar with which is a regular Arduino driving small chains of RGB LEDs. There is nothing wrong with what they did but it doesn’t imply “utmost reliability without regard for cost” at all.

      1. Agreed. Ever seen military circuit boards? Those are designed without respect to cost. That is not what these are. It’s not a bad design. It’s just not quite as robust as possible as it is being made out to be.

  2. those look like WS2812 led strips to me, which can be cut into individual LEDs, not 3 at a time. Unless they somehow bought a 3 LED strip and had to solder all of them into a longer one??? I don’t get the 2912 modules.

    Also, 2912 * 3 = 8736. Sorry guys, this is UNDER 9000…. such disappointment.

  3. Hey Guys,

    I’m the one of the electronic engineers who worked on this project, if some of you would be interested I could put a technical blog post together to answer some of the points above? The power consumption was in the region of 800W so yes it does get a touch warm. To clarify on the numbers it was 28 strips of 104 WS2812B modules (2912 modules/ 8736 individual LED dies), so you are right, unfortunately ITS (just) UNDER 9000!!!!!

  4. I’m curious about the “crystal shard”. Looks like gluing those on individually was the bulk of the work. What are they? Plastic? Glass? Quartz? Where do they come from? It’s a very clever diffuser…nice work!

  5. Dear God! That looks like a radioactive Muppet arm. An 800 Watt, utterly useless Muppet Arm. All because they needed a pipe cozy? Next time, use a goddamn doily.

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