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  • Scott Kuehn

Custom LED Sign for Tosa Wine and Papa Johns in Wauwatosa, WI Using 16mm light board


When I started working with Tosa Wine & Spirits I would never have imagined what was in store for us. The project seemed pretty straight forward. Take an existing pylon sign with a 4′ x 8′ cabinet and retrofit it for the install of a 2′ x 8′ LED sign. The interesting thing is that all the other companies either didn’t offer a proposal or would only do this by replacing the entire box. Our customer had a tight budget so replacing the box really wasn’t an option.

I started off by pulling the municipal ordinances in Wauwatosa to determine what the city would allow. The ordinance stated that we had to stay inside the current sign footprint and not exceed the current 64 square feet of signage (32 square feet per side). We also had to freeze the image and only change it once every 24 hours. No flashing or rotating text. I then sat down with the planning manager to talk to him about issues that the city might have with what we were trying to do. He mentioned that they would greatly appreciate it if our new sign had an optical eye to adjust the brightness automatically as they have a few LED boards that have been installed that don’t auto dim and they are a great distraction. All of this was good news as our LED’s come with a built-in auto dimmer. The auto dimmer serves two purposes. First, to dim the sign at night. Second, to brighten the sign in direct sunlight. As our sign faces east/west, this is a critical feature of our sign. Time to get the specs of our new LED board.

Our manufacturer for the LED’s supplied us with complete drawings, for both the frames and the panels so we could get detailed measurements and figure out what had to be done to make this work. Our designers and installers worked on the final design for hours to ensure that this would work. Once we had drawings of our own, we applied to the city for permits. This included presenting to the Planning Committee as they were concerned with the brightness features and they wanted to make sure we understood that the image couldn’t change within a 24 hour window. We reassured them that all the municipal ordinances would be followed. We left the meeting with our permit. On to the tough job of constructing the new/old sign.

My fabricators had to remove a good deal of the old sign to make room for the LED’s but they also had to add structure to the inside of the sign to maintain the structural integrity. Not to mention that we were adding about 300# to the sign. One of the really nice features of a 16mm LED sign is that the quality of the picture is near photo quality. Our installers worked until 10pm to get this sign completed and required the services of a master electrician to complete the electrical hook ups. A little custom sheet metal work to finish wrapping up the exterior of the sign and we have a sign that anyone can be proud of.

If you are looking at getting into the world of LED message boards and it just seems too overwhelming, contact Optimum Signs at 262.289.9481 or email us at info@optimumsignswi.com. We will take the confusion out of the project and deliver an awesome sign that you can be proud of.

#LEDsign #electricsign #backlitsign #electronicmessageboard #customsign #retrofitsign

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W134 N5504 Campbell Dr.

Menomonee Falls, WI 53051

Tel: 262.289.9481

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