160,000 LED lights mounted to new Santa Monica ferris wheel

June 10, 2008
Orlando, FL, lighting company Eworks Pro Corp. designed the amusement park ride system from scratch.
On May 22, 2008, Pacific Park in Santa Monica, CA, introduced an all-new $1.5 million, 130-ft Pacific Wheel ferris wheel featuring more than 160,000 energy-efficient LED lights that will provide energy savings and complement its solar-power program.
Pacific Wheel The designer of the system, Eworks Pro Corp., specializes in using LEDs to illuminate amusement park rides like roller coaters, tower falls and ferris wheels.

“The system for Pacific Park we designed from scratch,” said Eworks Pro Corp. president Lars Koch. “As we do all our projects. We do the circuit board, the controller, the light panels, everything but the LEDs.”

Koch wouldn’t disclose the name of the LED manufacturer or the specs of the LEDs, but he said the majority of the Pacific Wheel’s LEDs are multicolored RGB with a couple of thousand pure white LEDs thrown in for good measure.

“Every ride is different, depending on the country and what safety certificates they need. Right now, we’re doing a wheel in Germany,” Koch said. The company also installed the LED system at the Resienrad in Vienna’s Prater Park, and the 200,000-LED system on the 156-ft tall ferris wheel at Morey’s Pier in Wildwood, NJ. “Every piece in the system is hand-soldered, tested in house, and customized for the project.”

The lighting package on the Pacific Wheel consists of 440 LED light bars that can change colors. There are 400 7-foot light bars and 40 10-foot light bars. There are 80 spokes (40 on each side) on the Ferris wheel and each spoke has a wire connected to the lighting control box.

The illumination package displays dynamic computer-generated lighting entertainment in the evenings. Depending on the season, the 160,000 LED lights might illuminate a Valentine’s heart, Fourth of July American flag or a Christmas wreath.

“We have our own proprietary Windows graphic interface that can be set up on-site and allows the customer to make simple patterns on-screen with a “virtual wheel”. The pattern can then be replicated on the real wheel,” Koch said. “What can be designed depends on a lot of things, including how close the spokes are together in the center and at the ends.”

The LEDs on the new wheel replaced 5,392 standard light bulbs--2,392 white, 1,500 red and 1,500 blue--on the old wheel.

Pacific Wheel specs

Soaring nine stories above the Pacific Ocean at Santa Monica pier, the Pacific Wheel is a landmark on the Southern California coast and generates solar power and entertainment for thousands of riders each day. In 1998, it became the world’s first solar-powered wheel. Earlier this year, the old wheel was taken down and sold on Ebay.

“The new Pacific Wheel is a thrilling and a memorable experience,” said Mary Ann Powell, CEO and GM of Pacific Park.

The Pacific Wheel generates more than 71,000-kilowatt hours of renewable photovoltaic (PV) power from the sun’s rays. On cloudy days, the Pacific Wheel is powered from conventional energy sources.

In order for the wheel to operate, more than 650 PV modules had to be mounted on top of the Park’s loading area for its roller coaster, West Coaster, and its Midway games building. The PV modules generate the electricity needed to power the wheel.

The Pacific Wheel has 20 gondolas with a maximum six adults per gondola, and the ride can accommodate up to 800 riders per hour.

For more information on Eworks Pro, send e-mail to: [email protected].