MakerBot At Work: Making Clips To Attach LEDs To The San Francisco Bay Bridge

Last week I posted on the process of scanning one of the cables of the Bay Bridge, in preparation for designing an LED attachment strategy for the Bay Lights project. Here’s a bit more info on what we came up with.

bay bridge clip

Bay Bridge LED attachment clip test

The brief is to attach strings of high-intensity Philips outdoor LEDs to the vertical suspension cables of the bridge. Initially, the thought was to just zip tie them into place, but Philips engineers pointed out that this would damage the data and power cables. Ideally we would also come up with a solution that simplifies the work of the installation crews, by allowing for easy positioning and assembly.

A first step was to design a clip that would allow attaching pre-existing rails to the cables, and have the LEDs latch into the rail. However, this would have been expensive and unsightly. I had the idea to just use the clips to go directly onto the suspension cable. I was also able to add side channels for the extension cables that go to other segments of the LED cable. (The extension cable is the thick black one on the side). The clip is designed to clip securely to the data cable, and to guide the zip tie into the right position.

The plan is to test a strand of LEDs on the bridge this week, using 55 clips printed on a Makerbot (!). If all goes well, then we need another 25,000 of the things…

Here’s a video that describes the process in a bit more detail: