Light of the Bumblebee: An R&D Solution
Early in September 2014 we began development for a custom high power LED light source to be used in the “Hive”, the UK pavilion for Expo 2015 in Milan. The brief was quite straight forward: we were to design and manufacture one thousand, 4 colour (RGBW) custom “pixels”, bright enough to be seen in daylight and each individually controllable. These pixels are now being installed into the Hive, defining the spherical void within the 14m cube. Because the semi-transparent structure comprises a lattice of aluminum plate and rods, the lights will be visible from both the inside and outside.
We trialled various LEDs before settling on a high power 4 watt Cree LED, which gives us the full colour spectrum and, for such a small unit, a huge amount of light output. Working from this, we were able to quite quickly design and manufacture a miniature high power LED dimmer, controlled by the standard lighting protocol DMX. As the project evolved there was also the challenge of making the lighting unit as compact as possible. Several iterations of the pixel were prototyped in various shapes and sizes until we were all satisfied with the final design.