2016 Plans

Discussion in 'The Development Lab' started by Camknox, Dec 28, 2015.

  1. Camknox

    Camknox New Elf

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    Hi folks,

    After some discussions with the minister of finance we've decided to start implementing a controllable variety of lights. So with that in mind I've been designing up what I'd like to do. I'm hoping the very knowledgeable minds here can help guide me and fill in the blanks here and there. Here goes;

    I've decided to scrap quite a lot of sections of lights that are currently made up of the Kmart etc string lights. These have been covering my vertical posts and the icicles have been dangling under the eaves. Instead I would like to create some arches (even though the area is squared off) to go between each vertical roof post. I'd like these to be of the iRGB LED type so I can program them. I've measured and the mounting arch would need to be 5.6m long so a 5m strip of iRGB should do I guess per arch (so x4).

    The wife has requested some form of strip lighting around the edge of the lawn. I was also leaning towards iRGB LED strips, though they would probably have to be inside some form of clear tubing (I guess?). Measured distance would be 23m around the main lawn and 7m down the side of the driveway.

    I've acquired some spiral planters from Bunnings 3x 1.5m and 2x 1.2m. I intended to cover these with iRGB LED strip also. Not sure if they would be best inside some form of clear tubing also? I haven't measured but am allowing 5m of strip per tree.

    We've also picked up a bunch of ropelight motif things from Kmart and Bunnings. Several santas, some trees and some reindeer etc. All are 240v (/36vDC) powered so they're probably going to need to be dumb display items.

    From what I understand, correct me if I'm wrong, each section of lights will be 1 channel of a controller; so a 16 channel controller can do 16 sections of lights. Each section can be lit or doing something at the same time as other sections or independently. Each LED within the channel is a single pixel and can be programmed independent of the whole channel. So LED 1 can be green, 2 red, 3 green etc.

    The way I'm picturing it is laid out as such;

    The spiral trees will each be a single channel (5), the front lawn will be another (1), the driveway edging another (1), the arches will be a single channel each (4). So I believe a 16 channel controller will work?


    So from all of the above I think my shopping list will be something like;

    iRGB LED Strip Lights (5m) x 9
    iRGB LED Strip Lights (50m) x 1
    What sort of cable do I use to connect the strip lights to the controller? CAT5?
    16 Channel controller
    Some form of program etc
    Anyone know of a WiFi module to link the controller to a PC? Or alternatively something to run the program without needing to be connected to my main PC?
    I can get hold of 12vDC power supplies no worries. So I figure since everything is localised around the front lawn a single 25A supply should work. Maximum cable run will be the 23m section.

    Have I missed anything? Should I be reconsidering something? Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    [font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif][​IMG][/font]
     
  2. AAH

    AAH I love blinky lights :) Community Project Designer

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    There's a few misconceptions in your plans.
    One output of a pixel controller isn't limited to 1 strip of lights. They are generally limited to 170, 340 or 680 pixels (1,2,4 universes). This isn't likely to match up to 1 strip of lights. For example http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/5m-DC12V-30leds-m-10pcs-ws2811-ic-meter-10pixels-led-digital-strip-IP66-waterproof-in-silicon/701799_1590021437.html is 10 pixels per metre so 50 per 5m strip. Depending on the pixel controller used you could control 13 5m strips from 1 output.
    Depending on whether you are using 5V or 12V strip the number of pixels per metre vary as does the number leds per pixel. 5V strip has 1 RGB LED per pixel whereas 12V has 3 RGB LEDs in series per pixel.
    If you don't want your show running from your PC then a Raspberry Pi (or BeagleBone Black) running Falcon Player is a cheap ($50ish) option. Both of these boards actually have additional "capes" that will take the place of conventional pixel controllers.
     
  3. the grinch

    the grinch I guess I could use a little social interaction

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    Must comment on your artwork awesome job santa and reindeers look great lol I couldn't do any better I draw great stick men . Sounds like you have some great plans well done but yes plenty of research and questions required .
    Goodluck mate
     
  4. ozstickman

    ozstickman New Elf

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    I'm only new too so I'm going to follow this post. Just learnt the difference of 5v to 12v led I didn't know.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    Camknox

    Camknox New Elf

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    Wow this I did not know. Thank you! I'm assuming that the strips you linked were approximately what I should be aiming for then?


    Will I be OK ordering through Alibaba or should I find an Australian stockist of stuff?
     
  6. AAH

    AAH I love blinky lights :) Community Project Designer

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    Those strips are the "common" sort used. In the ACL 101 there's a link to a number of the commoner strips etc as well as a number of reputable Aliexpress sellers like Ray Wu, Paul Zhang and BenBrown (of ScottLed). BenBrown is often in ACL chat.
    There's not really an Aussie distributor of cheap strips (Altronics and a few others sell it for 3 times what you can get it from China for). I hope to keep some on my site for "emergency supplies" for those that run into problems and need some ASAP.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    Camknox

    Camknox New Elf

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    Awesome! I can see I'm going to have so so many questions. I think what I really need is a place to start. Where should I start first you think?


    I can probably swing some cash around in a week or so to be able to get all of the lights sorted. I have no idea how much a controller is and I can guarantee I have no idea how to set up or what a Black bugle thing is. Does the bugle thing have WiFi or not actually needed as it's a standalone?


    I'm already starting to think that my eyes are bigger than my abilities.
     
  8. AAH

    AAH I love blinky lights :) Community Project Designer

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    The 1st step is to move into ACL chat for a week or 2. Asking questions in there will get you sorted faster than just about anything.
     
  9. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    It is too early to order anything. You need to understand more about the options available and why they have certain advantages and disadvantages.

    Not trying to criticise in any way here but it's worth learning as much as possible as soon as possible. As I read through your post, these are the things that come to mind:

    Don't throw out your store bought lights even if you don't use them in 2016. If they're older LED sets then they'll probably be compatible with DC controllers and you can use them with a computer controlled setup. Hold onto them because it will be very hard to replace them due to design changes in store bought lights making newer ones unusable. If there is an 8 function controller then there needs to be at least 3 wires going to the lights. This doesn't matter if there's no 8 function controller. If you are sure you'll never use them again you might be able to sell them here.

    Many of the strips come already sealed in clear tubing. AAH posted one example. 7 metres should be fine but 23 metres will need power injection. Voltage drop will happen within the 23 metre pixel strip and significantly mess up the colours. You'll need to cut it in half and reconnect your power supply at both ends of each half.

    I have not had much luck with ropelights. I prefer strips. Ropelights are not repairable and you can't lower the voltage they run at if you want them to share a power supply with your other store bought lights for computer control. They also need to have at least 3 wires if there's an 8 function controller. A dumb display item is one that is computer controlled but the controller is switching on and off the power to it. This is different to pixels because the controller sends data to the pixels that are always powered. Dumb display items and pixels can't share a controller.

    Your usage of the word channel is incorrect. Each pixel controller output has hundreds of channels within it. Each pixel uses three channels; one each for the red, green and blue LEDs within it.

    The choice of cable depends on a few factors. If it is a short cable run and you want to power through the controller then anything thick enough to avoid voltage drop should be ok. If you use WS2811 or WS2812B pixels and you want a long distance between the controller and first pixel then coaxial cable or maybe a twisted pair within a CAT5 cable is a good choice. In that situation you wouldn't use the controller's positive output and you'd power the lights directly from the supply. Thicker and shorter cables carrying power will suffer from less voltage drop.

    When adding up current draw to determine power supply requirements, it is always better to measure the actual current draw. The values given by the sellers are usually higher than the actual current draw.

    Great picture, it really helps visualise what you're trying to do. Many members of this forum are likely to be visual thinkers with their own display planning.



    Keep reading and asking questions. Chat is a great place to learn too. It is best to ask questions rather than regretting your decisions about what to buy or not knowing how to put everything together. Of course you'll need to order in time to put things together but it is probably still too soon at the moment. That said, I don't think you're biting off more than you can chew but you'll need to keep working on it throughout the year.
     
  10. tooms

    tooms Apprentice Elf

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    Hi Cam,

    I'm based in Kalgoorlie as well, I've recognised your name from facebook.

    I'm on Jarvis place and had mostly a pixel display this year, all though it wasn't super great it was my first year and I learnt a bit about pixels.

    I used 12v 2811 types of strip, bullet node and square pixel nodes, I'm happy to give you a few short strings of pixels you can play around with to see how they work. I used a pixlite16 controller with vixen, directly ethernet connected to the pixlite controller was a raspberry pi running fpp with a wifi module in it so I could upload my sequences from vixen on the PC into the falcon pi player (fpp) and change things on the fly.

    Unfortunately I had never seen pixels before they rocked up in the post so I had completely no idea what I was doing! .. I think once you see them and have a fiddle around in xlights and vixen with a controller you'll soon figure out how you can put your display together.

    Send me a message if you're interested.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    Camknox

    Camknox New Elf

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    So a quick update;


    Following some awesome advice I've gone ahead and order a bunch of ws2811 12v strips as my main RGB lighting. I've also picked up a Pixlite16 controller to make the pretty stuff happen and a bunch of connectors and stuff to join everything together.


    I've been having a read around and a lot of what I was reading is saying that the Pixlite will be fine for controlling anything with DMX signalling but doesn't work for my store bought 3 wire Kmart jobs. Am I on the right track here?


    If it can, I'd love to know how to set them up so I can make them do all the things that the normal controller would do (twinkle, solid on etc). Also what about the coloured Kmart strings (3 wire). Is there a way to make the individual colours come on etc?


    Everything is on track otherwise and I'm looking forward to everything arriving (about 2 weeks I'd say and it will all be here).
     
  12. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    The PixLite 16 can control the strips. If you're using WS2811 then you'll only be able to use WS2811, WS2812B and INK1003 pixels on the same PixLite controller. The PixLite is not a DMX controller but it does have DMX outputs which might come in handy.

    You will need a separate DC controller to control the K-Mart strings. Many DC controllers have DMX input so you can plug them into the PixLite 16. Another option is AAH's controllers with WS2811 input. The multicolour strings will have two channels within them. Each channel is likely to have two different colours on it but you can't get all four colours controlled separately unless there are 5 wires. If several of your store bought strings are all identical colour, brand and year then they shouldn't be too hard to get set up. I have a HUGE variety here and they all wanted different voltages which meant I had to test and modify many of them to use the same voltage. It was a big task but 100% worthwhile; the lack of static lights here makes the computer control very effective. More variety means more testing but it can be done and it is still worthwhile.
     
  13. OP
    OP
    Camknox

    Camknox New Elf

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    Cheers for the advice there. So now I have that sorted I've been working with Xlights4 and despite the really boring tutorial video (that I gave up on because it was a) too quiet and b) boring as sin) I've managed to not only co-ordinate my first diplay into some semblance of artistic nuffery, but I've even managed to sync it all to my first song. So it looks like I might be adding an FM transmitter on my first year after all! Weeeeeeeee!


    So for my next round of questions;


    1. I have a bunch of storebought LED rope light motifs (santas, reindeer etc). Some of them are 240vAC to 24vDC so that's no worries I have 12v to 24v DC inverters that I can wire inline. As these don't have a control line I'm assuming that they will need to be wired to the seperate controller that I am yet to purchase for the Kmart string lights? I should then be able to turn them on and off etc using whatever control method etc blah blah (I know what I'm saying sort of but probably have the terminology wrong)


    2. Is there some sort of AC relay that accepts a DMX (I keep saying DMX but people keep pointing out it's not DMX which I find odd since it works exactly the same way so whatever) or i.131 or whatever it's called input to be able to turn an AC powerpoint on/off as I want? I have a 240vAC rope light motif that cost me several hundred dollars and I'd really like to be able to switch off the whole house when I want darkness for my display.


    3. FM transmitter should be relatively cheap. Is everyone using an as per the ACMA requirements <1w one or are you getting beefy outside this spec stuff? I have a multitude of radio repeaters that I can appropriate with 100w outputs. What's that local radio stations, you're being drowned out...


    4. The beaglebone black. Where are people obtaining theirs? Element14 seems to be a local distributor but they appear to only sell the raw board and not a kit/enclosure etc.
     
  14. MacArthur St Light Madnes

    MacArthur St Light Madnes New Elf

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    Really sounds like you need to check this website out... They have everything you are looking for...

    http://www1.lightorama.com/

    I started in October by buying the starter kit they have and have progressed from there...
     
  15. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    No. Don't buy from Light-O-Rama; they are overpriced and they have to post all the way from America to Australia. Yes they have pretty much the only 240V controllers but it isn't worth the investment when you consider the 240V controller pricing and the short lifespan of ropelights. You'd be better off reusing the ropelight frame with pixels. See this thread http://auschristmaslighting.com/forums/index.php/topic,8392.0.html
    You could use a low voltage DC controller to run a relay for 240V but that would mean working with 240V which is never a good idea. Someone electrically qualified would know how to put this together quickly and cheaply but it limits you to ON and OFF control without dimming. If you do decide you need a proper 240V AC controller, the best way to get one is to start a thread saying you want one. Many of us started using them and moved on so they're easy to get cheaper second hand. I've been told they're not always good at running light sets with low voltage plugpacks. It probably depends on the plugpack type but you'll still get finer control of the low voltage stuff with a DC controller.
    Another point worth noting about Light-O-Rama controllers when using them with DMX is that their CAT5 sockets are wired in a different order so you need to buy or make a fairly simple adaptor.

    The low voltage ropelights are similar to the store bought lights with the main difference being you can't lower (but you can still raise) the voltage they require. They need to have at least 3 wires if there is an 8 function controller. You could just get a power supply at the voltage(s) they require but that might not match the voltage of the original plugpack. Check VERY carefully if the plugpack actually has an AC output. An AC plugpack won't be a problem but it will usually mean for LED lights that they'll need a higher DC voltage.

    There's an important misunderstanding that needs fixing ASAP if you think DMX512 and E1.31 are the same. E1.31 supports multiple universes of up to 512 (usually 510 for our purposes) channels each. It travels from the ethernet port on the computer (or whatever is running the show). From there it travels through a network switch and to your E1.31 pixel controllers. DMX512 would start at the PixLite controller and travel to your DC controller(s) which run your store bought lights. Each DC controller reads the same signal and doesn't modify it. They're plugged in end-to-end along the DMX data line without a network switch. DMX512 only supports a single universe of 512 channels.
    Controllers are usually referred to by the signal type that they take in. This means the PixLite is an E1.31 controller and your DC controller will be a DMX controller.
     

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