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A new person - Getting a better understanding

Discussion in 'DMX, E1.31 & Networking' started by AndiK, Nov 12, 2015.

  1. AndiK

    AndiK New Elf

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    Hi all,
    I've been looking in to what others have, and what's available around the sites.
    I'm wondering and asking for a little insight of what people have, or started off with.


    I've been looking at controllers from a PixLite 16 controller to the Plug and play one they have, to a Hanson one (DMX36)


    I have a few lights at the moment the I can use, that are 3 line connections, and am looking at (next year) at getting more lights, maybe more along the line of RGB type, then looking at maybe getting in to Pixels.. but that maybe later, when i save up money! :)


    I'm wondering what others did when they first started did you make your own up, and what did you get, and use, or did you get a plug and play, and grow it all over time?
    I've been looking on the PixLite, and Hanson and the Aliexpress websites, and of course looking at nearly all the posts on here, and the chat rooms when I can.
    I'm not thinking of getting anything till next year, but would love to know what people started out with, as a very new person to this fun new adventure and world i'm wanting to head in to!


    thanks heaps.
    Andi
     
  2. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    I had a good 50 or so light sets with the 3 wires when I joined ACL in 2013. My first task was getting these running with DC controllers similar to the DMX36. The real hurdle was getting them all running at the same voltage which I did by adding a resistor for every 10 LEDs or so on some light sets. This added up to about 650 resistors and a LOT of soldering. I had the DC controllers running with a USB dongle, a very old laptop and Vixen 2. In 2014 I won a J1sys voucher and used a P2 to control pixels alongside the USB dongle. I just used multicast E1.31 and plugged the P2 directly into the computer's ethernet port.

    A point I want to add is what I would have done differently; I would have added diodes at the negative inputs to the light sets to save me soldering so many resistors and I would have used an E1.31 to DMX bridge instead of the USB dongle because the E1.31 was more reliable. I knew I was taking a risk plugging the P2 directly into the ethernet port because that's been known not to work in some cases but I didn't have the knowledge to set up anything more and hence I had the USB dongle. I would still recommend having a DMX dongle for testing purposes.

    You need to buy the right controller type for your lights. The DMX36 will control your store-bought lights and dumb RGB. The PixLite 16 will control pixels to give you individual control over the colour and brightness of every light. It also has a four-way E1.31 to DMX bridge built in.
     
  3. scamper

    scamper Senior Elf

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    Last year was my first year, so I have that feeling fresh in my mind.
    I personally started with dumb rgb strings and strips, mainly because of the price difference and I wasn't going huge to start with.
    This year I am venturing into pixels, again price is a huge factor.

    I read on this site that you should look at the overall cost. ie the cost of controllers, lights, power supplies, wiring etc and pixels would be cheaper because you only need one controller to control thousands of channels.
    But at the time if I was to look at say 1000 lights, that is only 20 strings, then I only needed 60 channels of control and if I doubled up I could run more than 1 string per channel. So it made sense to get dumb strings as they were at least 50% cheaper.
    This year however, I have noticed that you can get pixels for not much more than dumb strings, therefore it is only logical to go with them.
    As far as a controller goes, last year, I hunted around and bought a cheap usb to dmx controller, I have never been able to get it working, so I ended up buying a j1sys controller which was much easier and worked straight away.
    This year, I have bought 2 falcon f16 pixel controllers and they each have 4 dmx outputs, so that is more than enough to control all of the dumb lights I will ever need. they are both run through a Ethernet switch so it is even easier to setup.
    Best of all with this controller, it doesn't matter what strings you get, you can change all the parameters in the web interface so easily (which was helpful when I joined 2 strips together and found that they were showing different colours.
    Lastly, keep and eye out on this forum as there are so many people that share the love, I picked up a bunch of Bunnings type strings that had been modified from a member that was getting out of lighting and also a heap of spotlights and strobes from another. (thanks Kane ;-) )

    Just remember, it is a hobby, an all year round hobby, so enjoy and welcome.
     
  4. AAH

    AAH I love blinky lights :) Community Project Designer

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    I started off controlling lights in 2008 with 8 LOR kit 240V controllers as I didn't know there was DC boards on the LOR site at the time. I immediately modified them so that half of each controller was running 24VAC so that I could power low voltage lights. From there I progressed in 2011 to dmx with a couple of AVD DC48's and a couple of Ray Wu 27 channel boards. The following year the bug bit bad and I started making my own boards and now most of the dc part of my display is driven by my AAHMega60 boards with 2 DMX36 and currently 1 Ray Wu 27 channel board which may get swapped out. In 2013 I added pixel modules driven by a J1 Sys P2. This year I'm going to control via a Pi running FPP and adding more pixel props.
    The 3 major steps I'd say I went with for my display was firstly going to PC control, secondly transitioning from LOR AC to dmx and thirdly adding "Ray Wu" 13.5mm plugs to everything so that you don't spend days out in the yard doing up hundreds of screw connections.
     
  5. DanJ

    DanJ Full Time Elf

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    My opinion--don't be afraid to start on the small side. "Don't confuse small with insignificant"! This is my 3rd year to setup a sequenced display. I started off with 16 AC minitrees and six RGB arches two years ago. Learning all this stuff does take a bit of time. Not difficult, but a lot of little pieces you have to learn for everything to work! I am glad I started small 2 years ago. It got me started. Now, last year I added a 3m 16 strip megatree. I had electronic issues and the display only worked like 2 nights. Was very humbling.... Continuing to swim in the water, so to speak, this year--adding a 5m megatree...

    Don't forget--this is probably the first time a lot of viewers have ever seen anything like this close & personal.
    THEY WILL LOVE IT.
     
  6. OP
    OP
    AndiK

    AndiK New Elf

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    Thanks all... I'll keep looking and exploring and hopefully this time next year I'll be talking about how excited I am I have finished programming... ;)
     

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