2018 - Lawrence Drive Lights "Overall Display Build Part 1"

LawrenceDriveLights

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Hi all, I thought I would start a new post about my adventure into our new sequenced Christmas lighting display.


Now I am completely new to this and don’t have a background in IT or anything like that. I am just one of those people who fumbles around to try and figure something out and normally has to google “How do you do ………” which seems to help a lot as well as asking questions on this forum and of lately in ACL chat and the Friday evening zoom sessions.


Anyway enough about me and more about my crazy idea for a Christmas light display. The background for this is for last couple of years we have done a very basic static light display with basic cheap store purchased 240V lights and a few blow up Christmas themed things (Santa’s, reindeers etc) just your average Christmas light display (or if the truth be told, below average). Now this display set up had no planning I would just throw a couple sets of lights up, plug them in and yep all done. I thought I was getting technical by utilising a timer to switch the lights on and off!


Then feeling very proud of myself after setting up Christmas lights I would Google Christmas light displays and of course came across the numerous Youtube clips of the large sequenced Christmas lights displays and thought yep that would be cool and started to think I wonder how they do that? That is so much better than just a random bunch of flashing multi-coloured lights going blinky blink.


Well after a bit more goggling I found about the Light-O-Rama set ups, and at first they looked good in particular they had a “Plug-n-play” set up, which I thought would be great then I noticed the costs involved in this type of set up and it seemed a bit limited.

I then come across the ACL forum, well that was a blessing in particular the numerous youtube clips uploaded from the ACL mini presentations and the information provided in the forum threads.


At the same time I also come across the couple of very popular sequences shared by Logan in particular Cant stop this feeling. View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N79YZmuU7ac


And Logans star wars Uptown funk.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cw8qLiqu01w


After viewing them lots and thinking yep that is cool I was sold so speak, I want sequenced Christmas lights!

My basic understanding gained from the forum and youtube videos etc was the following;

Computer program (something like xlights) sends data to a pixel controller which then controls the smart LED pixels (WS2811 type led) with some 12v or 5v power supplies thrown in the mix so to speak.


Ok first step then was the computer program, now that was a easy decision with Xlights and I just so happened to have a near new unused Laptop sitting around which I could utilize for a “show computer”. My first step was to download xlights, I wont go into much detail here but I did have the usual newbie issues with xlights in particular with channel numbering, but again after a bit of youtube viewing I came across one of Keith’s videos which sorted me out. Note: I believe the latest xlights now has a feature to assist with rectifying the channel numbering.


After having a bit of a play around with xlights I decided I would go with the following set up for our Christmas light display which would consist of a nice simple outline and some spiral trees.


So I managed to whip these models up in xlights and get them to run a very basic animation sequence (I hadn’t even thought about adding music yet).

Phase - 1

Great I thought, I better just tip my toe in the water and grab a pixel controller, power supply and some lights and see if I can make them go blinky, blinky before I jump in too deep.


This basic shopping list included;

12v 30amp power supply similar to this; https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/AC-110-...824116?hash=item1c814457f4:g:QpUAAOSwnHZYbL0q



Some lights similar to these.

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/50pcs-B...537056?hash=item3b06c35ce0:g:JPMAAOSwZVlXnsUK


Now for a pixel controller, now this is where I was starting to get confused and a little frustrated, I wanted to be able to keep it simple for my display and by the looks of all the support etc provided by the ACL forum etc a Falcon Pixel Controller was the way to go.

https://www.pixelcontroller.com/store/index.php?id_product=48&controller=product

Then I discovered these are only available via group purchase with the ACL forum and being a bit impatient and not sure when the next group bye was going to be (this was January 2018), or by purchasing direct from USA and having to use a freight forwarder.

So with a bit more googling I purchased a Advatek Pixlite 16 Controller as they where available from Australia.

After a few weeks everything arrived, great I thought and after much fumbling around I managed to get my pixel controller making my single string of WS2811 pixels go blinky, blinky. To be honest the biggest hurdle I had was sorting out IP addresses and configuring the controller outputs and channel numbers etc as I had never done anything like this before.


Ok Phase 2 - Design my layout and order some more lights!

I had designed my basic layout in xlights and it was something like this (Basic House outline and some spiral trees)

View: https://www.dropbox.com/s/l5a4nmus4ifj8dp/My%20Layout%20V1.jpg?dl=0





In helping with the design for my layout I did make up a very basic spreadsheet to help me with my power supply requirements from calculating the current draw from the pixels and also keep track of channels and universes etc.


The next step was to order some more lights and after more reading etc l decided to go with Ray Wu from Aliexpress. https://www.aliexpress.com/store/701799?spm=2114.10010108.0.0.1ece70b4am9Vvi

I was a bit hesitant about this, I had not used Aliexpress before and I did find Ray Wu’s shop a bit tricky to navigate around and to find exactly what I needed and then I was reading about how to email Ray with your orders details and you could save some money on the shipping as apparently the Aliexpress site calculator is expensive.


So I sent a email to Ray Wu (Email:ray@rita-light.com) with my order details and as I was still 100% sure on my layout I thought I will just order the following and I will be sure to have enough plus some spare.


10 x 100 string bullet 12v WS2811 pixel nodes

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/bul...de-all-BLACK-wire-IP68-rated/32806855578.html


I also ordered some extra wiring connectors or pigtails so I could cut and shut the strings as required.

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/10p...e-and-female-male-connector-s/1019853359.html


I did also order a very basic pixel controller to help with testing everything.

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/DC1...1.html?spm=a2g0s.13010208.99999999.283.xqh66L


Now my initial design layout didn’t require 1000 bullet pixel nodes, but I thought I would get some extra’s just incase I want to add a couple of more things maybe later this year or next year, future proof myself so to speak!


I received a quote back from Ray Wu including shipping and I was happy with the price and sent my payment off and received a tracking number a couple of days later and within about a week or 2 a box of pixels and stuff arrived.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/yw4n6wpc8m1zqaa/Photo 4-1-18, 1 25 10 pm.jpg?dl=0

I was then able to connect some of the 100 count strings to the pixel controller and get some very basic sequences displaying. I thought this was fantastic I was hooked so to speak.



Phase 3 - Time to make some props.


To help keep this thread short I have made separate forum threads for each of the types of props I have made.


In Summary
House Outline – Drilled conduit to suit 12mm bullet pixels.
View: https://www.dropbox.com/s/q0fq9i7h1snm4i6/Photo%2015-3-18%2C%2011%2053%2043%20am%20%281%29.jpg?dl=0


Here is a link to my House Outline Build Thread
https://auschristmaslighting.com/th...se-outline-using-conduit-bullet-pixels.10928/

Pixel Count Total = 372 Pixels
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Next was some Spiral Trees
Spiral Trees – Using Tomato frames and 12mm bullet pixels (not strip)
View: https://www.dropbox.com/s/122bphso47au8pw/Photo%2011-4-18%2C%201%2019%2050%20pm.jpg?dl=0

Here is a link to my Spiral Tree Build Thread
https://auschristmaslighting.com/threads/lawrence-drive-lights-spiral-tree-build.10924/

Ok with the simple layout of the house outline and spiral trees I starting making some very basic sequences in xlights, while they where ok it was lacking with the variety due and some different props could help with that.

Pixel Count
Outline 372
Spiral Trees (no stars 300
Total = 672 Pixels


Phase 4 – More Props

--------------------------------
Arches
I liked the look of arches as they seemed to compliment a lot of Christmas type sequences and I liked the leaping arch type effects.

Firstly I was going to simply use some bent conduit and cable tie some bullet nodes to them so I made one up roughly and while it looked ok I liked the diffused look from having the pixels inside some transparent tubing.

Here is a picture of one of my arches (including sticks n stars which I will mention later).
View: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ld0tfuod8ggt43s/Photo%2013-6-18%2C%2010%2021%2002%20am.jpg?dl=0


Arches – Using Air Seeder Tubing and square pixel nodes (not strip) build thread.

https://auschristmaslighting.com/th...-seeder-tubing-with-square-pixel-nodes.10925/

Pixel Count
Outline 372
Spiral Trees (no stars 300)
Arches 200
Total = 872 Pixels

To Be continued....
 
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LawrenceDriveLights

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Part 2
Phase 5 –
While waiting for the air seeder tubing to arrive I did start to think, hmmm a MegaTree would be a nice addition and with all the great effects including singing faces it might add a bit of wow factor to my basic display, and I cold then use Logan’s sequences which I liked.

I will try and keep this short!

First ideas was a nice flat MegaTree maybe 12 or even 16 strings of maybe 50 nodes per string, I did have a nice location of the side of my yard where a MegaTree would fit.

So after again a bit of research and I decided to use the Boscoyo strip for the MegaTree so I placed a order for some strip.
I also ordered some more pixels from Ray Wu, this square nodes as they seemed easier to fit to the Boscoyo strip with the aid of a drill press and socket.
After a few weeks the strip and pixels arrived and the pixel pushing began.
Yes the drill press technique worked well and I soon had strip hanging up in the shed with nodes nice and evenly spaced at 2’” centres.

I had not decided on how I was going to build the structure for the MegaTree yet.

Now at this time I was also looking into sequencing music to my lights layout with Xlights and downloaded some of the sequences people had shared (thanks to those who uploaded sequences to the Google Shared drive, in particular Logan Carpenter for your Cant Stop this Feeling and Star Wars Funk sequences as these where a couple which gave me the inspiration to go down this crazy Christmas lighting path.


I then decided ok a 16 String x 50 nodes / string Flat MegaTree would be good, but what about a bigger tree! That’s got to be better doesn’t it!


Now this is where the “craziness” begins Phase 6, Phase 7, Phase 8………….


Also about this time the ACL Falcon Pixel Controller group buy had opened (thanks Daryl). I decided that I wanted another pixel controller for my every expanding MegaTree.

I have my MegaTree Build thread here
https://auschristmaslighting.com/threads/lawrence-drive-lights-megatree-build.10833/#post-96889
In summary it is a 180 Degree viewing angle 32 string x 85 nodes MegaTree

View: https://www.dropbox.com/s/v5kn7fu767inb4m/Photo%209-4-18%2C%208%2035%2029%20pm.png?dl=0

This is how the layout would look
https://www.dropbox.com/s/crtipvku1mld7oi/My Layout V2.jpg?dl=0


Pixel Count
Outline 372
Spiral Trees (no stars 300)
Arches 200
MegaTree (latest update) 2720 + Star Topper 170
Total = 3562 Pixels

So I ordered a Falcon F16 V3 pixel controller https://www.pixelcontroller.com/store/index.php?id_product=48&controller=product

I also ordered the new Falcon F48 pixel controller and some differential receivers boards to suit.
https://www.pixelcontroller.com/store/index.php?id_product=52&controller=product


My plans are to use the Falcon F16 V3 to control the MegaTree and use the Falcon F48 for the remainder of the props that will make up my display.


Now the Falcon F48 is total overkill for what I planned but I decided to use it for the following reasons;


1) It was the “new Pixel Controller “and sounded cool :)

2) I liked the idea of using Differential Receiver Boards as I can have the pixel controller and power supplies near the props.

3) I may be able to minimise the amount of power injection as I have lots of channels for example only having 150 to 170 nodes per controller output and I have found with my tests with the pixel controller set to 50% brightness I am not getting any “pinkness” when showing full whites.


4) I liked how the differential receiver boards come complete with fuses etc so one less thing to worry about (I was planning and have since used using some of the Falcon F8 Power Distribution Boards purchased from Binny for some props like the MegaTree etc, https://binny9mm.wixsite.com/binny/for-sale)


5) Hopefully minimise the amount of cabling?


6) Having the power supplies near the props should help with power losses etc from not having to run long leads etc However my front is small so it is probably a bit overkill!

One downside is I will need to make waterproof controller boxes for the Differential Receiver Boards and power supplies, if I want them close to the props.

So I ordered some more Boscoyo strip and I also decided to purchase some other Boscoyo products for example a coro star for above the doorway, some coro stars to add to the top of my Spiral Trees and I also ordered some snow flakes (Boscoyo 24” ChromaFlakes).


So my display has no grown from the house outline and spiral trees, arches and a MegaTree to some Boscoyo stars and ChromaFlakes (snow flakes).


I then need some more pixels so again another email to Ray Wu, however I had found out you can order custom string counts with pre terminated ends (pigtails).

Well this was a game changer for me, as I was spending a bit of time cutting and shutting the 100 count strings I previously ordered to suit the required prop.

Another couple of weeks past everything had arrived and with much delight I could simple push the custom ordered pixels into the coro products, job done, prop built so to speak, again game changer for me!

Well this continued again (I have to keep off the Boscoyo website!) and another Ray Wu order.

This time candy canes and more Chromaflakes (snow flakes) and pixel nodes for MegaTree.



I then turned my attention to a Tune To Sign, I wanted to try some P10 panels (again I had no previous experience with these).

View: https://www.dropbox.com/s/jkarga3mqusc6se/Photo%2018-5-18%2C%2010%2058%2047%20am.jpg?dl=0




In summary it is 4x2 P10 panels in a home made enclosure.

See Build thread for Tune To Sign info.
https://auschristmaslighting.com/threads/lawrence-drive-lights-p10-tune-to-sign-build.10926/

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I then received the Falcon Pixel Controllers.

I decided to go with the waterproof “ammo boxes”.

One Ammo Box would house the Falcon F16 and Power Supplies for the Mega Tree, then individual ammo boxes containing 2 x Differential Receiver Boards and 2 x PSU’s to located near the props.


I have done a Youtube build video of these.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9fV2vzt9so&t=41s


Here is a quick picture of my F16 V3 ammo box enclosure layout
View: https://www.dropbox.com/s/75nw9xr8ygp8rga/Photo%2025-4-18%2C%209%2016%2038%20pm.jpg?dl=0




Everything was coming along slowly, and I decided to utilise some more Boscoyo strip and some previously ordered square pixel nodes (as I ordered more custom length strings for my larger MegaTrees) to build 2 x Flat Pixel Trees.


Flat Pixel Tree basic specs are

Flat 12 string x 42 node square pixel trees.

A quick pic of one of the Wall Trees
https://www.dropbox.com/s/s48mrq1lpv7jxet/Photo 27-8-18, 1 04 20 pm.jpg?dl=0

Here is a link to them.
https://auschristmaslighting.com/threads/lawrence-drive-lights-flat-pixel-wall-trees.10929/


Some of the Boscoyo Coro Products I am using

Star Above Doorway
https://www.dropbox.com/s/qg7qrqndi5sgbdi/Photo 15-3-18, 12 09 38 pm.jpg?dl=0

ChromaFlakes x 12
View: https://www.dropbox.com/s/kk38jwar5ffrxr8/Photo%2016-6-18%2C%209%2048%2034%20am.jpg?dl=0

View: https://www.dropbox.com/s/qh18eh4glfqdubi/Photo%2016-6-18%2C%209%2047%2055%20am.jpg?dl=0


Candy Canes x 8
https://www.dropbox.com/s/cskcd2wqe8d334u/Photo 20-6-18, 9 04 59 pm.jpg?dl=0


Current Display is

Pixel Count
House Outline 372
Spiral Trees (no stars 300) + Stars (160)
Arches 200
MegaTree (latest update) 2720 + Star Topper 170
12 x ChromaFlakes (Snow Flakes) 576
8 x Candy Canes 384
Doorway Star 150
2 x "Wall Trees" 504 each (1008)

Total = 6040 Pixels
I then decided to add some "Sticks n Stars" next to the Arches using left over Air Seeder Tubing

See My Arch Build thread for more details of these.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/dv0d3mddge5l4k5/Video 6-6-18, 2 23 55 pm.mov?dl=0

https://auschristmaslighting.com/th...ing-with-square-pixel-nodes.10925/#post-97343

Here are the 8 x Candy Canes on a stand (again for quick installation)
https://www.dropbox.com/s/cskcd2wqe8d334u/Photo 20-6-18, 9 04 59 pm.jpg?dl=0

Here is a link to the Candy Cane info.
https://auschristmaslighting.com/threads/lawrence-drive-lights-boscoyo-candy-canes.10931/

Pixel Count
House Outline 372
Garden Bed 143
Spiral Trees (no stars 300) + Stars (160)
Arches 200
MegaTree (latest update) 2720 + Star Topper 170
12 x ChromaFlakes (Snow Flakes) 576
8 x Candy Canes 384
Doorway Star 150
2 x "Wall Trees" 504 each (1008)
Stick n Stars (18 per stick, 6 in star) 90
Total = 6273 Pixels
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Final Update on Layout
Added Stars to top of Wall Trees
Added Fence Outlines using Boscoyo Strip & Square Nodes
8 x Boscoyo Large 180 coro mini trees inc stars

Here is a pic of my 2018 Layout
 
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LawrenceDriveLights

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I am using the following Pixel Controllers for my display

Falcon F16 V3 to control the MegaTree and Star

Falcon F48 pixel controller and differential receiver boards located near the elements / props for the remainder (except Tune To Sign which is a Beagle Bone Black).

I chose to utilise the waterproof ammo boxes to house the Falcon F16 and differential receivers boards.
View: https://www.dropbox.com/s/lv3cxfg531tfrdn/Photo%2019-6-18%2C%2012%2047%2008%20pm.jpg?dl=0



Here is a pic of the Falcon F16 ammo box.
View: https://www.dropbox.com/s/p8uawvv6ivg7ff1/Photo%201-9-18%2C%201%2057%2044%20pm.jpg?dl=0



Here is a example of how the differential receiver board ammo box.
View: https://www.dropbox.com/s/cm9lpm4iocaqrx3/Photo%201-9-18%2C%201%2045%2020%20pm.jpg?dl=0



I documented the build of these boxes on youtube.
Here is the link to Final build video.
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9fV2vzt9so


There is also 5 other videos I did including
Part 1 Initial layout out and ideas: View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9Y-mLWnFm8&t=263s

Part 2 Drilling Holes: View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQZPEXmUgDI

Part 3 Mounting Power Supply's: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU0c_kYIRQk&t=3s
Part 4 Fitting Boards & Fan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_62tq3XtXs&t=445s
Part 5 Wiring: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bt6hx15mA1g&t=19s
Part 6 Finished (almost): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9fV2vzt9so

Please Note: This is just how I went about building my enclosures and I have provided the information so FYI, I am not a expert in any of this but just thought I would document in case other people could get some ideas and feel free to make some suggestions etc.

Here is a picture of the completed ammo boxes;
https://www.dropbox.com/s/uk0xt5vflw64278/Photo 1-9-18, 1 45 09 pm (1).jpg?dl=0

And they stack up nicely for storage
https://www.dropbox.com/s/r8wnigj1qwvd56g/Photo 1-9-18, 1 50 54 pm (1).jpg?dl=0


I have a "Main Control Box" with a update to come.
 
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videoman3857

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So tell me Shaun, when do you find time to go out and work to pay for all this stuff :D and 3D print PSU brackets for me ???
Well done.
 
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djgra79

My name is Graham & I love flashing lights!
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I wish I had the $$$ to buy this amount of kit in a first year. I'm not even sure I have this many pixels in my 4+ year old display :(
 

TassyDevil

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Jul 10, 2018
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Wow that is a very comprehensive with lots of information and photos of your set up (I like how you provided the links to the individual items for example the Arches I am going to copy).

Hope I can get my display to look like that.
 

LawrenceDriveLights

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opps I forgot to update this thread

Here is a pic of my main control box.
It is located in a "dry area" near the front door.

I fitted a plastic handle to the top of the enclose to make it easy to move around

Main control box is a metal enclosure I was given (It was bright orange),
View: https://www.dropbox.com/s/shmp3theawyn15z/Photo%2029-8-18%2C%2012%2001%2054%20pm.jpg?dl=0


I added a vent and a fan near the top and some quick legs to raise it off the ground (I did not want to have it screwed into my wall). The bottom of the enclosure is open so air can enter in bottom and exit via vent at top.

View: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ajhhgn6l5v38vz0/Photo%2029-8-18%2C%2012%2002%2012%20pm.jpg?dl=0


It looked terrible in orange so I gave it a real quick hit with white spray paint

View: https://www.dropbox.com/s/yrqgdg21hejxz1y/Photo%2030-8-18%2C%201%2048%2051%20pm.jpg?dl=0



I then cut up some 5mm mdf to mount everything inside the main control box (mdf backing held in control box by 4 x nuts)

View: https://www.dropbox.com/s/1ok4evndxxis04z/Photo%2020-9-18%2C%201%2055%2001%20pm.jpg?dl=0
 
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LawrenceDriveLights

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Main Control Box is to enclose

1 x Falcon F48 contoller
1 x Diif Receiver Board
1 x 12V PSU
1 x Raspberry pi (running FPP as show computer)
1 x Network switch
Plus FM transmitter and some power supplies for F48 etc

It ended up looking like this

View: https://www.dropbox.com/s/muizzyw04dwtexj/Photo%2017-10-18%2C%201%2015%2032%20pm.jpg?dl=0



Also fitted power boards to inside the door.

(Power boards to supply 240V to diff receivers board ammo box enclosures located around my yard.

I did move the EDM FM radio transmitter up to the top of the control box to help prevent any inference

I gave it a "test run" during our Halloween display and it seemed to all work ok and was nice and handy to have all power board switched located inside the door to quick and easy powering and powering down display each night.
 
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