Introduction: Giant Honeycomb Chandelier {step by Step Version}

About: I've been self employed most of my life. For better or worse, I'm a fountain of ideas. One of my best skills is brainstorming and problem solving, utilizing an extensive knowledge of novel technology and speci…

This instructable is our effort to win the most awesome grand prize for the Shopbot contest. I am part of a very small group of friends, artists and creative engineers who are constantly dreaming up fun ideas for projects. We are lucky enough to find funding for many of them like with this nightclub where this was constructed. We also collectively use CNC routed products extensively, but always outsource those. Having a CNC router and AutoCAD would be the most amazing catalyst for us and I can guarantee would result in some genuine advancements in our creative endeavors. - speaking as humbly as I can; collectively, I don't know of a more deserving group. Now onto the Instructable...
This is a custom chandelier designed and built for Chicago nightclub, "Nikki", formerly Crobar. It was built on the request for a more permanent structure based on a similar installation I designed and built from large mylar balloons. See the image of the gold metallic chandelier .
This "chandelier" is 13' in diameter. Built from 126 Mirrored hexagons. 90 white framed hexagons.
Lighting consists of 126 small light bulbs in 12 channels and a trio of color changing LED fixtures.
With the exception of the steel hoops, which we had outsourced, this was designed and built entirely by myself and fellow Instructable maker, Sean Hunt. The finished result is especially spectacular in person, as the reflected surfaces and negative spaces really mess with your mind and it becomes difficult to really understand what you are looking at. :-)

Before I begin, here are all the detailed specs for the materials used in this project:

Large outer ring of hexagons made from 1/2" white ULTRA BOARD (polystyrene faced foam board), routed to aprox. 26 1/2" wide.
5 interlocking hexagon rows tall  (83 total)
12' 5" diameter, 39' circumference, support pipe is 1" welded steel made from 3 segments of bent pipe.
13" spacing of each vertical strand. 3" space in between each hexagon.
drop ceiling hang wire was used to suspend everything on this outer ring:
25 1/8" , 22 1/2" on top. (not counting bend and any hang over) 18: 30 1/4", 18: 7 3/4"
43 lbs total weight.

Smaller inner ring of hexagons made from 1/2" black/polished aluminum ULTRA BOARD (polystyrene/aluminum faced foam board), routed to aprox. 18 3/4" wide.
7 interlocking hexagon rows tall (126 total)
9' 8.5" diameter, 28.5 ft. circumference, support pipe is 1" welded steel made from 2 segments of bent pipe.
9.5" spacing of each vertical strand. (3" space in between)
Each vertical strand is wired together with 18/2 guage black lamp cord, hot-glued into place, running vertically over the center, and with a C9 lamp socket fit into the center hole of the hexagon.
Sockets and bulbs from
2 rolls of 250 ft. long 18/2 gauge black lamp cord were used to support and wire these hexagons.
107 lbs. total weight.

3 DMX Dimmer packs were utilized to control theC9 bulbs, in 3 identical sets of 12 channels. I used 3 compact units from Elation/American DJ:  DP 415

1' 8"+ spacing between inner and outer support pipes
8 1/16" steel cables hung from each pipe hoop to the center hang point. We used a 1/2 ton chain hoist.
The cables were measured to permit the outer hoop to hang a bit higher than the inner.

Step 1:

Step 1:  Choose a shape to work with and decide how big you want the chandelier to be.  We chose hexagons which create a honeycomb pattern but you could use any repeatable shape. Once you know the circumference of your structure you can divide it to find out how may individual pieces you will need and what size they should be. Since we were making 2 concentric cylinders of different sizes we did this with both.

Step 2:

Step 2:  Get the materials.  Working on a large scale, we had all of our pieces cut out of a foam core product, by a company that does CNC Routing. Our outer ring was large hexagon frames, our inner ring was smaller, solid, mirror faced hexagons with a hole in the center for a small lightbulb, also prepped by the routing company. For a simpler fixture on a smaller budget, this could be made much smaller, out of a different material, or only one layer thick. The other major component is a large ring to attach your shapes to.  We had a pipe bending company make pieces for us and a welder put them together. A smaller, less heavy version of this could be made with aluminum, fiberglass, or even a hula-hoop.

Step 3:

Step 3: Preliminary assembly. Our 2 layers were assembled differently because of the electrical component of the inner ring.
A. The aluminum faced hexagons were assembled using lamp cord and hot glue. We set up a table with a template to keep the spacing between the hexagons correct and consistent. After inserting the light socket in the hole, lamp wire was attached, pulled tight, and hot-glued to the back of the hexagon. At this time we also attached small eyelets to the side edges of each hexagon, which will later be used to keep them aligned. Doing this we made complete strands of our shapes, that would hang evenly spaced around the ring.
B. The larger hexagons were prepped for hanging individually by pre-poking holes in each end with hot wire, and cutting hang-wire to correct and consistent lengths for hanging.
C. The support rings were prepped by being marked and drilled at evenly spaced intervals where each of the first row of hexagons would be attached.

Step 4:

Step 4: Major assembly. Now that all the pieces are ready its time to put it together. We drilled 8 holes in each of our pipe rings and attached equal lengths of cable to each, that met in the center and attached to a locking ring. This way the entire structure could be suspended from  a single center point, ideal for the chain hoist we were using. Once the rings were hanging we were able to start attaching shapes. The strands of smaller hexagons were attached by tying the lamp wire around the pipe at the marked interval and zip-tying it tight.  The remainder of the lamp wire was run to the center for later wiring. Fishing line was then run through the eyelets in each row of hexagons to ensure their outward facing. The outer  hexagons were hung one by one by inserting pre-measured hang-wire through the prepped holes and bending the end to hold.

Step 5:

Step 5: Electrical components. Three DMX dimmer packs were mounted to plywood and wired together to a single plug and hung from a single point. 
3 Chauvet RGB LED lights were wired to a space hexagon and covered with a plastic bucket trimmed in height to create the center light fixture. The LED light was hung directly from the DMX dimmer pack assembly, and then to the hook on the 1/2 ton chain hoist located over the bar this was being installed at. Each wire from the inner ring was trimmed, had a plug added, and was connected to one of 12 consecutive channels on the dimmer packs. As the fixture is raised, light bulbs are inserted into the sockets, and the protective film is removed from the polished aluminum. Once the whole structure is complete and raised to it's final height, programming may begin. With the 12 channels offered by C9 lamps and all the many colors and quantity of fixtures of the LED lamp, a great many active/ambient looks can be achieved. 

Make It Real Challenge

Participated in the
Make It Real Challenge