A Fiber Optic Star Ceiling created by Tommy
written by Mercury
Hello there, my name is Mercury, obviously I’m a cat. You can address me as “The King”. I belong to a man named Tommy. As an owner, Tommy is an awesome guy! He’s always coming up with new ideas and projects. The best part is, he allows me to ‘hang around’ with him and offer a paw whenever I feel like it.
Lately, Tommy has been working on our home theater. He’s really into this ‘home theater’ and has been doing a ton of research. Not only is he going to have all the state of the art sound and video equipment, he also created an indoor star ceiling. You see while Tommy was surfing the web, he found this strange web site, “The Fiber Optic Store.com”. There he learned that an indoor star ceiling was something that he could install himself … with a little help from “maw”. He was also very excited to learn that it was not going to cost him thousands of dollars, this was important to me as I have very expensive taste in kitty toys.My time is precious, so I’m not going to go into great detail. I will however touch on some of the highlights of our installation experience. You see, for a human, Tommy is pretty bright. He discovered that The Fiber Optic Store.com has a complete guide on how to install this type of effect.
Begin with a Plan
Following the advice of The Fiber Optic Store, Tommy started this adventure by drawing a plan. We we’re going to be installing the stars through a sheet rock ceiling. It was important to calculate the amount of fiber before he could order everything.
Here are some photos of the plan.
I suppose I should mention that some of the photos on this page are thumbnails. You click on them, they will become larger. If you click on a photo and nothing happens, then it was NOT a thumbnail. Sometimes you humans can be so slow
You’ll notice that he was careful to have the floor joists on the plan along with the attic access and the placement of the illuminator. Even though this is NOT a suspended ceiling, Tommy followed the advice of the installation guide, and divided the ceiling into sections, individually lettering them.
Did you catch that we’re going to install the stars through a solid sheet rock ceiling!
That’s right! None of this wimpy suspended ceiling installation. No sir, Tommy’s going to crawl on his belly in the small, HOT summer baked attic spaces above his home theater. Here are just a few photos of the space ABOVE his theater room that we’re going to work in.
While you’re looking at exciting photos of my attic play room, here are some even more exciting photos of the black ceiling, from with-in the home theater. (I figured it took me for ever to take those photographs with my paws, I was not going to just throw them out, you’re going to enjoy them!.)
You’ll notice that the ceiling is finished. We did not want to install the stars and then attempt to paint and finish the ceiling after we threaded all the fibers.
Back to the Calculations
Tommy determined that to create a star density of 3:1 he would need approximately 700 stars. This would require 100 feet of fiber optic cable and 3000 feet of single strand fiber optic filament. He ordered 50 feet of the 1.0mm fiber to place just a few ‘larger’ stars for a more diverse effect. He also wanted the stars to “twinkle”, so he ordered the SV750 illuminator with a twinkle wheel.
Here’s what Tommy ordered from The Fiber Optic Store.com:
- 3000 Feet of .50mm Single Strand Fiber
- 100 Feet of 32 Strand Fiber Optic Cable
- 50 Feet of 1.0mm Single Strand Fiber
- One SV750 illuminator
- One Twinkle wheel
The Fiber Optic Store was great! They rushed our order to us and we were able to get started right away.
Before you grab the drill
Pencil in hand, we began by working in the theater room. We marked on the walls, up where the ceiling meets the wall, the exact location of the ceiling joists. This would help us when we were drilling the holes. We wanted to steer clear of the ceiling joists. It doesn’t make any sense to drill into a ceiling joist.
Drill in hand, loaded with a 1mm drill bit, (www.dremel.com) we began drilling from the ground up. In other words, we were standing in the actual theater room and drilling up into the ceiling. We paid attention to the location of the ceiling joists. This was to make sure that the hole was a clean one. Sometimes when your drilling sheetrock, the back side of the hole can ‘blow-out’ or “buckshot’. We wanted to keep our post drilling repairs to a minimum. We suppose you could drill from up in the attic, down into the room below. That way you don’t have to mark the location of the ceiling joists, just be careful to drill slowly.
More fiber in our diet!
After drilling all our holes, we began threading the fibers. Tommy would work from the theater room, cut a piece of fiber to length, making sure that he was generous in his estimate. I was waiting, up in the attic space, while he threaded the fiber UP through the hole. I would grab hold of the fiber and pull it through. A pains taking process to say the least. It would have gone much faster if I wasn’t such a “fumble paws”.
TIP: When working in an attic space that has no floor, do NOT step directly on the sheet rock. (Unless you plan on installing a skylight in that exact location.) Rather, fashion yourself a piece of wood that you can lay on and move to where you need to work. Here is a photo of yours truly demonstrating this exact point. >>>
A Measuring Tip
Measuring each strand of fiber optic filament can be a tedious task. I figured out an idea that saved my owner a lot of time!
I had him pound a couple of finishing nails in a piece of wood. He spaced them a set length apart. When he needed to measure a specific piece of fiber, he would just wrap it around the nails however many times he needed to equal the total distance.
<<< Here is my assistant, Sebastian Bach, pondering over this measuring technique.
He didn’t get it at first, I actually had to demonstrate it a couple of times. “Wrap the fiber around the nails.” … Honestly, I don’t know where he’d be with out me!
It’s Raining Fiber!
We threaded fiber all day. I was actually making a game of the event. I would pull the fiber through, then just after my owner moved the ladder to do the next star, I would ‘accidentally’ let the previous fiber fall back through. I was having a grand ol’ time, however I don’t think Tommy appreciated my sense of humor. Here are some shots showing the fiber before we finished.
Just a couple of pointers that you might want to consider AND this is the order of events that worked for us! ” SECURE, CONNECT, CLIP “
Secure the fibers / Seal The Holes:
After you’ve threaded the fiber through the hole, place a small drop of epoxy or plastic friendly sealant on the hole to help adhere the fiber and also close up the hole. In some homes, depending on where you live, it’s important to maintain a vapor barrier. Drilling 700 holes in your ceiling could cause problems with this balance. If you’re not sure, be safe and seal the holes after you’ve threaded the fiber through. Your home will thank you.
Connect The Fibers
After we adhered the fibers from the backside, it was time to connect them to the illuminator. We pretty much followed The Fiber Optic Store guide on adhering the fibers.
Clip the Stars!
It’s time to clip the stars! Be sure to leave a small amount of fiber sticking out from the hole. While it’s tempting, DO NOT CUT THE FIBER FLUSH WITH THE CEILING! Doing so will give your star a halo effect. The light emitted from the end of the filament will fill up the drilled hole, or it will reflect off the ceiling giving a halo effect. To avoid this, you want to leave about 1/8″ to 1/2″ of fiber sticking out. The fibers are so thin, you’ll never see them with the lights on or during the day.
The Mercury Theater !
<< Click here for a larger photo. Although the photo doesn’t do the ceiling justice. I must say that I’m proud of my owner, this home theater of his turned out nicely. I think I’ll stick around for a while.
I’ve had enough fun for one day, don’t bother me. goodbye.
Mercury (and Sebastian Bach)
Thank you Tommy (and “friends”) for all your insights and support !
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