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Ultimate Pit Stop

A travel center is outfitted with the best of the ’70s and modern lighting convenience.

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IN THE LAST YEAR, given the pandemic and the uncertainty it has created around air travel, more people in the US have been taking to the road to explore and spend quality time with people they love. A new business chose a spot in Pontiac, IL along the shared Interstate 55/Route 66 corridor to construct its first ’70s-style travel center – a 30,000-sq.-ft. facility with modern amenities such as fresh BBQ, salads and coffee to go, in addition to 70 pumps and e-charging stations. The signage project began with a creative concept from the customer.

Wally’s ROADTRIP letters at night

At night, the Wally’s ROADTRIP letters alternate between yellow and orange due to white or red-and-white rows of LED modules.

“The owner came in with an excellent idea of what he wanted, so typical shop challenges and reworks came about until we got it just right,” said Garrett Newhouse, director of sales at Ziglin Signs , a custom, full-service signage firm in Washington, MO. For instance, the arrow wrapping the Wally’s box flashes and points to the rest of the sign below. “We positioned Great Lakes S14 Faceted LED blue bulbs in two rows on each signface and used a three-circuit controller,” Newhouse said. However, upon review of the lighting effects via videos exchanged with the customer, the team realized a four-circuit controller was needed to initiate the flashing, directional effect, which then required arrow removal and rewiring.

Wally's four-circuit controller.

To achieve the desired flashing and directionality on the arrow, the shop replaced a three-circuit controller with a four-circuit controller.

A second challenge involved the “Roadtrip” box letters on the same sign. The customer wanted the letters to appear yellow during the day, but alternate between yellow and orange (highlighting Wally’s signature color) when illuminated. All boxes have yellow acrylic faces with black lettering. Different lighting configurations were tested using red and white Principal LED Quik Mod modules. The final setup used three rows each of red and white modules which alternately flash from white only to white and red combined. Ziglin also selected G2G Lighting’s Aurora Flex faux neon to create the “Home of the Great American” portion of this 25-ft.-tall sign.

A second Wally’s sign has a 588-sq.-ft. signface and stands 125 ft. tall. “We ran the low-voltage leads to the base of the pole and put the power supplies in a lockable box so they can be easily serviced without a crane truck,” Newhouse said. Throughout the site, Ziglin installed various other signs, including the outdoor building channel-letter signs as well as indoor popcorn and slush signs, and a neon BBQ sign. From concept to opening, the project took one year, and there are plans for nine other Wally’s throughout the Midwest. So, next time you’re driving through America’s heartland, look for this roadside attraction!

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The final “Roadtrip” configuration

The final “Roadtrip” configuration uses three rows of red and white LED modules to alternate orange and white letters at night, and to remain entirely yellow during the day.

Laura Peters is a full-time freelance writer who specializes in technology topics including LEDs and their many applications. Laura was previously senior technical editor of LEDs Magazine, editor-in-chief of Semiconductor International and has over 20 years of experience working in semiconductor manufacturing. Contact Laura at [email protected].

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