How Daktronics built a 146′ wide curved digital billboard.

 

In October 2017 Daktronics completed the installation of a massive new curved digital billboard at London’s Piccadilly circus.  The display is 17.6 meters high and 44.6 meters wide (that’s 57 feet by 146 feet).  The sign curves around the corner of the building and can show a large piece of content or multiple sections of different content.  Insider talked with Patrick Halliwell, managing director Daktronics UK about the project. 

How do you manufacture a 146 foot wide sign?

One module at a time.  The display is made up of  11,858,400 LEDs on 5,856 modules.  Each module measures 14.4 inches by 14.4 inches square.  They are put into 640 different sections.  Each section is assigned to a specific location within the overall display to match the curvature of the structure to create the final product – a massive single display in Piccadilly.

 

What’s the process to manufacture a curved LED?

The process involves intentionally engineering specific metal structures for each individual section. The modules are then placed within these curved sections to create the display face that you see today. A great deal of time is spent engineering both the support structure and display structure to ensure a smooth display canvas and a strong and reliable foundation.

Daktronics factory in Brookings, South Dakota

Where were the sign modules assembled and how were they shipped to location?

Each module and section were manufactured in Brookings, SD, USA. They were then shipped to an off-site staging location in London. Then, on a specific schedule, they were transported to the active site in Piccadilly for installation.

What was installation like?

Installing a display of this magnitude in such a bustling and busy city area is a feat of its own. The 640 display cabinets had to be shipped to London, stored off-site and strategically transported to the Piccadilly location for installation. With the masses of people passing the project site on a daily basis, a unique set of hours were devised for delivery and physical installation. This also required a special design to be implemented to build the display in small sections that were capable of being maneuvered by hand due to the lack of access to a crane on-site.

Display sections were transported to the site multiple times per week and lifted to the installation location during the early morning hours to avoid peak traffic times yet maximize installation timelines and efficiency. The installation of the cabinets took roughly 12 weeks to complete the precise installation sequence of the 640 cabinets.  Here’s a 24 second video of the installation of the final cabinet.

Are there any software challenges with a sign this big?

Daktronics has a long history of delivering large scale projects, from similar spectacular installations in Times Square and Las Vegas to iconic stadiums and arenas around the world. Our control systems are designed to be flexible and scalable, accommodating installations of any size or shape. Calibrating color space is always an important aspect of installations like Piccadilly Lights. Advertisers expect perfect color rendition, Daktronics has years of experience to ensure the video output matches exactly to what the customers and brands that are showcased on our display expect.

You can watch a video of the project going live on the Piccadilly Lights page of the Daktronics website.
 

 


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