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Customer Spotlight

J Squared Systems Logo
November 2023

J Squared Systems

For energy efficiency, longer lifespan and brightness, LED (light emitting diode) lighting can’t be beat. And so, it should be no surprise that in recent years, LED lighting has increasingly become popular in commercial lighting solutions.

In fact, Grand View Research reports that the LED lighting market size value is expected to increase from USD 81.48 billion in 2023 to USD 168.87 billion in 2030, with a compound annual growth rate of 11%.

J Squared Systems specializes as an innovator of high performance, full color commercial LED lighting.

The company, also known as J2, was founded by John Woerner and Jim McCarthy. McCarthy had previously found success with his business, Jim McCarthy Voice Overs, whereas Woerner is a self-taught specialist in LED lighting. They collaborated to form a new company, with a mission to “Be The Hero” to their customers and employees.

Based in Nashville, Tennessee, with about 18 employees, J2 provides LED lighting systems predominantly for car washes and other architectural installations.

Drew Shipps, Lead Research and Development Engineer at the firm, points to research indicating that companies who use LED lighting systems, especially those with full-color components, often see an increase in sales.

“Driving through a car wash at night that’s decked out with color-changing lights is just downright cool,” states Shipps. “Our full-color lighting systems provide an experience like no other for customers.”

Shipps began working on one-off R&D projects for J2 and now develops lighting control devices for the organization’s full-color installations.

“My role involves designing hardware, including printed circuit boards, other parts, and enclosures, as well as writing software systems to run on each device.”

Finding Protocase

A few months after Shipps joined J2, the existing lighting control product was discontinued. Woerner tasked Shipps with developing a new system for controlling the company’s full-color lighting products. While looking for enclosures to house the new product line, he came across Protocase.

“I’d worked with prefab plastic enclosures in the past, but often these involved extensive manual drilling and cutting to be customized to our needs,” explains Shipps.

“Around this time, I came across Protocase, and after browsing the website, I discovered the flexibility and customization options that a custom enclosure by Protocase would offer. At this point, it was clear that to create a high-quality product, I needed to use a custom metal enclosure, and that Protocase was the way to go.”

Innovation is the name of the game

Their first in-house lighting controller, Attitude Solo, proved to be an effective solution for several customers who wished for a simple, standalone system for managing lights at a car wash.

“Almost immediately after launching the original model, we continued to innovate on the design, developing a second-generation model with a new, larger touchscreen and significantly improved functionality, which is what we offer today,” says Shipps.

J2 co-founder Woerner had a long-standing vision to control lighting systems remotely. Eventually, that led to the introduction of the Attitude Control, custom hardware that connects to the light fixtures at a location and interfaces with the website online. This technology literally allows you to control lights from an iPhone!

For both products, the custom enclosures – with digitally printed graphics – were manufactured at Protocase.

Speaking about Attitude Control specifically, Shipps explains: “A Protocase-manufactured enclosure, involving multiple PCB mounts, power and data connections, and digitally printed graphics, was used to house the delicate components inside.”

J2 then developed their own signal splitter, known as the Attitude Quad Mini. Shipps says it’s the smallest device that he had ever worked on. “A high-quality steel enclosure made the Attitude Quad Mini feel sturdy and durable, as compared to the flimsy plastic products we had used previously.”

The Protocase Experience

Shipps describes the experience of working with Protocase as “amazing,” adding that the personal interactions with his Protocase account manager Andrew Vassallo have made the entire process easy.

“All I knew was that I wanted to create products that would provide an incredible experience for our customers,” says Shipps. “Protocase has proved invaluable in achieving that goal, as I would attribute a large part of the overall quality of each device we make to the enclosure.”

Shipps offers praise for Protocase’s commitment to customer satisfaction, recalling one occasion when an enclosure was not manufactured correctly.

“One of the surfaces was supposed to have a graphic printed on it, and somehow that was missed in the ordering process,” shares Shipps. “But no worries. I simply gave Andrew a call, and he worked with the quality control team to get some units re-made, while allowing me to keep the old parts to avoid delays in shipping units out.”

Shipps and J Squared are currently building the second-generation model of the Attitude Control device, a project they are very excited about.

“The design [for this model] involves an LED panel inside the enclosure that can be controlled by the circuitry inside to illuminate different colors and patterns based on the status of the device,” explains Shipps. “The light is then diffused by a sheet of acrylic with a media blast finish, before shining through a cutout shaped into the Attitude logo.”

Shipps was unsure about what would be the right acrylic material to effectively diffuse the light. That’s where Protocase proved to be of great help for J2.

“Andrew was able to get some samples made with different types of materials so I could evaluate which would produce the best effect for the lowest cost,” elaborates Shipps. “Additionally, Andrew and the engineering design team at Protocase were able to take a PNG image I had of the Attitude logo and effectively create a cutout-friendly version to use on the front face of the design. The result is a beautiful enclosure with a luxurious look and feel throughout.”

Protocase Designer makes life easier

Shipps admits he’s not an expert in 3D CAD or mechanical design. That’s why he chose to use Protocase Designer, our in-house design software.

“Instead of waiting weeks for someone else to design a part, or having to spend hours learning a complicated CAD software, I could simply start with a template, add cutouts and standoffs, and send it to Andrew to get a quote within a day or so,” shares Shipps.

While Protocase Designer has a lot of unique features, one quality that stands out is its collection of base templates.

“I appreciate the built-in library of parts and enclosure templates to help me get started,” says Shipps.

Moving forward with innovation in mind

In the future, J Squared aims to keep innovating its lighting technology, particularly developing new ways to control lighting systems.

“As we innovate with the new, second-generation model Attitude Control, we are exploring new ways to distribute signals to lights over a network,” says Shipps. “Hopefully, this will improve the resulting quality of shows and effects, as well as reduce labor and cost of installation.”

“Each device we create as part of this system will be developed to use Protocase enclosures.”