Illuminated Dance Floor

Old 11-21-03, 01:02 PM
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Illuminated Dance Floor

Well, it's not exactly a wood floor, but I thought there were probably some smart people around here, so here it goes.

Does anyone have any ideas about building an illuminated dance floor? Like they had in the Disco era?

Is there load-bearing plexiglas? What thickness?
What kind of lights should I use?
Can I put the lights inside a wooden box or is that a fire hazard?

And any other comments you might have. i know this is way out in left field, but its worth a shot right?
Old 11-22-03, 12:13 AM
Mark Star
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Disco Floor

They did this on an episode of Monster House. They did the whole house disco style it was great.

They used 2x4's on edge and built a large frame consisting of many small squares. Then mounted lots of lightbulb sockets in each square with different colored bulbs then ran all the wiring into a control board it was sick. Something tiresome wiring I bet.

You should find it on reruns some time.
Old 11-22-03, 07:11 AM
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I saw that, too. It looked like they used ceramic surface-mount fixtures (like you'll find in most unfinished basements) installed on individual octagonal boxes. One of these was attached to each side of each grid square. The grid was probably more like 2x6's to be tall enough to hold the boxes and fixtures and keep the light bulbs at least a couple inches from the clear flooring. With four bulbs in each grid square, they could flash different colors within each of the squares of the floor. The grid must have been spaced so there's no more than about 16" between any two boards or the plexiglas would have to be REALLY thick to avoid sagging. I know they ran a lot of wiring, but I'd guess you could wire all the red bulbs together then all the blue bulbs, etc. Shows like that don't usually give a lot of details about the projects, and they didn't go into how everything was controlled.

I remember something called a color organ that kids built or bought 30-odd years ago. It was hooked up to a sound source and somehow turned several circuits on and off in time to, or with the volume or the frequency of music. Lights were hooked up to the circuits for parties or whatever. Nowadays, they have microprocessor controlled Christmas lights that run patterns of flashing lights. You'd need an industrial strength version of something like that but I have no idea where you'd find it. It would probably be an industrial, commercial or theatrical lighting item.

The Monster House show didn't say what they used for flooring on top of the grid, but it looked to be frosted (you couldn't and wouldn't want to see through to the lights and wiring). I know they make bullet-proof lexan which would probably work, and you could probably coat (paint) or scratch the underside with a sander to make it translucent. But it's not cheap stuff. I looked into buying a 12" square of it once and IIRC it was something like $35.00/sq. ft. You'd have to use manageable sized pieces (you'll need to change light bulbs sooner or later), with the edge of each piece supported on the grid. And you'd need some way to keep them from shifting.

A small 10' x 10' room would take more than 200 bulbs, sockets and boxes. If each bulb was only 25 watts, it would take more than a 10-amp circuit for each of four colors. That doesn't even get into the cost of all of that wiring plus 100 square feet of thick plastic and a lot of lumber. If you tried to make a room as large as a garage, multiply everything by 4. It sounds like a really expensive floor unless you're charging people to dance on it.

And don't forget that you'll lose 6" of room height. Although you could probably remove the current subfloor, use the existing floor joists as the start of the grid (just add cross pieces between them) and do all the wiring at joist level rather than building a grid above the existing floor. The lexan would take up the space of the old subfloor and you wouldn't lose any height.

(This is beginning to sound like a pretty cool idea. LOL)

I'd do a google search on Monster House, try to find that episode and see if it mentions anything about the job or the name of the electrician. I think Monster House is a Discovery Channel show.

Let me know if you ever actually do this. Good luck!


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