About 18 months ago built a proof of concept design that used the NeoPixel strips from Adafruit and an existing board that i had designed for another project. The board was about 4in X 6in and so it was HUGE and HEAVY. I don't think we actually got it to fly but we did use it for a ground display at one of our Night performances. It also gave some early ideas of battery capacity needed. Most importantly I realized that the LED strips that I had chosen had an LED density that was much higher than needed. The kites are at the end of 120 feet of line and the spectators are usually another 50 feet behind us so 150-170 feet from the kites. The strips I originally picked had 60 LEDs per meter and at 120 feet it was clear that we could get a very cool effect with half as many. This was good news because less LEDs means much less weight for the overall system. I settled on the srips with 32 LEDs per meter. Each leading edge has 47 NeoPixels. Less LEDs saved weight in three areas. 1) the LED strips were lighter 2) the Battery could be smaller and lighter 3) the power regulator could be smaller and have less heat load.
After I returned from the festival, I started work on a custom board using Thru-hole technology. I knew this was not going to be the final version but I had never make a surface mount board and wanted to be sure of the rest of the design before tackling that.