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Another Noobie in need of advice

Discussion in 'How is my display put together...' started by mike williamson, Jul 9, 2015.

  1. mike williamson

    mike williamson Apprentice Elf

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    I to have jumped in without fully understanding what I wanted.
    Last year I got 2 LOR 240v controllers and the stand alone player with transmitter. This year I am wanting to outline my roof ,gutters and fence line with rgb weather smart or dumb ether way .
    What is the best way to do this? Keeping in mind I will also add to in years to come.I have measured and I'm looking at about 100m in total.
    Broken down into 8-9 individual sections (roofpitch x2 windows x3 gutters x1-2 fence x1 and garage x1) What exactly do I need. Im lost ... I've got basic understanding of the rgb lights themselves but the power supply and CONTROLS do my head in. Help..
     
  2. lizardking

    lizardking IT IS STILL ALL BENS FAULT

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    are you going 12v or 5 v either way the components are the same you have an option of power supplies in either 5 or 12 v http://www.aliexpress.com/item/12V-350W-switch-mode-power-supply-LED-power-driver-AC90-260V-input-DC12V-350W-output-constant/1948832565.html
    then controllers you have the J1sys controllers http://clap-supplies.com/
    the pixlite controllers http://www.advateklights.com/pixlite-control/
    they are both pixel controllers
    for dumb lights you have
    http://www.hansonelectronics.com.au/
    all products apart from the power supplies are available from members here
     
  3. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    Hi Mike

    The smart vs dumb decision is quite easy. If you want the strips to be able to chase/leap then you require smart/pixel strips. Dumb strips are controlled as a single RGB light and are one colour along their entire length at any time.

    Dumb strips are quite easy to set up. You will need a controller that switches the power to them. Every strip is only three channels. Power supplies power the controller as well. Really the only thing to watch out for is that you don't exceed the current that the controller can handle. Power injection is impractical with dumb strips. For these reasons I would recommend 24V dumb strips over 5V. 12V is of course somewhere in between.

    Smart or pixel strips (different names for the same thing) require E1.31 controllers. These must support the pixel type with the most common being 2811/2812B and 2801. 2811/2812B pixels have three wires but the signal can't travel as far between pixels or between the controller and first pixel. Null pixels (pixels that are just there to reduce the distance) can help with this and so can coaxial cable depending on the controller). 2801 pixels are known for being more tolerant of long distances between pixels but they have 4 wires which means more soldering and tangling and they tend to be slightly more expensive.
    When using E1.31 controllers, knowledge of networking comes in handy and so does a computer with an ethernet port.

    The voltage to choose depends on your requirements. 5V strips require more power injection (connecting more power due to voltage drop along the strip) but they offer individual LED control. 12V smart strips have 3 LEDs per pixel meaning you can only control the LEDs in groups of 3 but they can have longer distances between injection points. The longest I have tried is 6 metres 12V and that had no issues so you could go at least 12 metres if you power at each end. An advantage of having 3 LEDs per pixel is that you don't need as many channels to go the same distance.
    There is one 12V option with individual LED control which is the INK1003 strip. It's a bit expensive but it can simplify things if you desperately want individual control.
    I would not recommend more than 30 LEDs per metre because you won't believe how bright they are.
    Also keep in mind that voltage drop can occur between the power supply and lights; you can use DC-DC converters to get around this but your power supply will need to provide a higher voltage than the strips need so the converter lowers it.

    When deciding on controllers, the first decision is whether you want smart or dumb strips. After that it is a matter of adding up your channels. This is simple for dumb strips because every strip is three channels. For smart strips you need to multiply the number of pixels by 3 because each pixel has a channel for red, green and blue. The pixel controllers usually have specifications in universes. Each universe can have up to 510 channels which is 170 pixels. If a controller has two universes per output (for example) then it can control 340 pixels on each output. Keep in mind that pixels occasionally die which can cause all pixels in line after the dud one to turn off until you replace the dud one. It is common for pixel controllers to provide more data/universes than the number of pixels that can be powered directly through them. In this case you need power injection.
    I would recommend getting a controller with a DMX512 output as this would be able to control your existing LOR boards with the help of a crossover cable. Dumb strips are often used with DC DMX-512 controllers and you could get a simple USB DMX dongle.

    With power supplies, once you know what voltage you want, it is a matter of knowing how much current you want each one to supply. It is best to measure how much each strip draws rather than going by the seller's listing for the strips. When injecting power, always cut the positive line in the strips between each supply but leave the negative one connected. It is not recommended to use a cheap power supply to provide more than 85% of its maximum current capacity.

    Another question often raised is which software to use.

    Also check out the ACL 101 Manual if you haven't already.
    http://auschristmaslighting.com/forums/index.php?topic=1889.0

    I've probably raised as many questions as I've hopefully answered. Please keep asking because it is always best to make informed decisions.
     
  4. gerry

    gerry Senior Elf

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    Welcome to ACL Mike

    The different choices can be overwhelming. Last year was my first year and I what I ended up with was
    WS2811 12V pixel strips for the house outline . I bought these from Ray Wu (rolls of 5m each) and he put connectors at the required lengths.

    I also have 2811 12V pixel strings for 360 degree mega tree ;

    I used 2 j1sys P2 controllers for the strips and a Pixlite 16 for the megatree - this also has 4 DMX outputs for dumb strings which I have also used.

    You could also use smaller Pixlite 4 controllers (instead of 1 pixlite 16) and have more of them ie one at each end of the house

    Check out the new Falcon controller (F16v2) just released - I think a bulk buy my have just ended , but am not sure.

    BTW - I selected what I did , because after much reading these choices appeared to be 'middle of the road' and at the time I bought them , commonly used by folks here (Oz/NZ).

    Many folks are running their show on the Raspberry Pi with a Falcon player (software) instead of using a PC.

    I used LSP last year , but have moved to xLight this year.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    mike williamson

    mike williamson Apprentice Elf

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    Thanks guys I think
     
  6. OP
    OP
    mike williamson

    mike williamson Apprentice Elf

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    Okay I've been working it out and i am looking at 137m over 8 areas/sections i want to control. What is best RGB strings or strip ? What do I need ??? Anyone around ELLENBROOK (perth) available to give me a hand to work it out? I've no idea what controllers i need( or how they work)
     
  7. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    There is no single best RGB light; it depends on things including what effect you're looking for, whether you want to compromise to save money and how much time you have to set things up (e.g. are you alright with setting up extra power injection for 5V pixels). It would help if you could provide more info on these points.

    Strips create bright defined lines and last better in the weather. Strings (also called nodes) are more spaced out and not as perfectly aligned. It is easy to use both in the same display.

    You need to decide whether you want dumb RGB lights or pixel (smart) lights. I have explained the difference in my previous post in this thread; the choice of which you want completely changes the type of controllers you'll need. Pixels are slightly more expensive than dumb RGB but IMO they are more than worth the price difference.

    If you're considering strings rather than strip, the voltage you choose has slightly different pros/cons. For strings, 12V is less power efficient and not quite as bright as 5V but again, 12V can cover longer distances without needing power injection.

    The choice of which light type(s) is yours and no-one can make it for you; I (and others here) am happy to give you as much info and as many explanations as you require to help you make that decision.

    There are a lot of choices of controllers for any light type. I suggest deciding on light type(s) first.


    Everyone here remembers how it was being new to computer controlled lighting. There are no stupid/repetitive/annoying questions and I don't plan to stop answering them. Things always seem easier as you gain more experience.
     
  8. scamper

    scamper Senior Elf

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    Depends on your budget I would say.
    137m is a lot of strings / strips. they come in 5m lengths (normally) so you need about 28.
    as an example. 28 lengths pixel nodes = $510
    28 rolls pixel strip = $775
    dumb strips are slightly cheaper pixels would be around $470 and strips around $650
    On top of this you will need power supplies, controllers and cable.... lots of cable. Then plugs sockets, heat shrink, tape, solder, boxes (to house controllers etc) now you have got the bug and you want to make different props. so the list goes on :p
    I am not well off, so I ordered my bits as I could afford it and prioritised my display. So I outlined my windows, then I made some "north poles" more as a winter project to learn and test. then I made a mega tree, then some more outlines.
    This year, I have been ordering more lights every time I get some spare money and will work out what I do with them when I get some spare time.
    If you can get hold of Kane on here, he lives in Trigg and I am sure he can give you some advice.
     
  9. dale82

    dale82 Senior Elf

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    Once you decide what path your going down, there is always the option with Ray Wu to attach the Pigtails for you, It was the path that I went down due to the fact that I did not have a great deal of time and knowledge of soldering.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    mike williamson

    mike williamson Apprentice Elf

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    Thanks guys. With raywu adding connectors to lights do I just send him a list of the length I need and get him to add connectors to ends ? What about power injection ca nn/will he add them if asked?
    EG--20m strip =4x5m or will it be 1x20m strip? Can I then ask for power inject every 5m if needed
    Is that how it works?
    This way all of my strips will be purpose built .
     
  11. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    Yes; you should be able to ask him to add connectors to the ends of strips of any length you want (not sure if he can do more than 5m lengths). Ray may charge for this but he'll give you a quote first.
    The power injection is done between the lengths of pixels that you order. The maximum length or number of pixels that you can have between injection points depends on which pixel type you end up choosing.
    If using strings (nodes), power injection is the same. Although it's easier to use a single length than with strips, I would still recommend using multiple shorter lengths connected together to make it easier to store, put up, untangle and repair. I would suggest using multiple sections the same length and keeping a spare section so you can swap a faulty section easily and repair it. Always order a few extra pixels to replace dud ones (you can cut out the bad pixels and solder new ones in their place).

    Ray sells T type splitters which make power injection simpler. Always remember to cut the positive line in the pixels half way between each power supply. http://auschristmaslighting.com/forums/index.php?topic=5530.0
    Use one of these where you require power injection between the lengths of pixels.

    Summing all this up, if you wanted a 20 metre length of a particular strip that required injection every 5 metres, order 5 metre lengths and place them end-to-end when you put them up. Use a T splitter between each 5 metre section.


    Unlike with pixels, power injection is not practical with dumb RGB. You'd need to run multiple thick wires back to your dumb controller which may not handle enough current per channel.

    When ordering from Ray, I have only ever asked for total lengths of strip. He has sent it in 5 metre lengths plus whatever is left over. For example, if I asked for a total of 17 metres of a strip that he usually sells in 5 metre lengths, he would send me three rolls of 5 metres and an extra 2 metre length to add up to 17 metres. I have never asked for custom lengths because I don't find it hard to cut/join and I don't want to wait for Ray to customise it. Ray has sent custom lengths of strip for other ACL members. You can also ask for custom spacing between the lights in the pixel strings; just make it very clear that you're referring to the centre-to-centre spacing or they won't be quite right. I haven't received an order with custom spacing so I can't comment further on how accurate it is.

    Always check that all of Ray's connectors and T splitters are internally wired the same way, don't have shorts within them and that his wiring is consistent when adding them to your pixels.

    Can you solder? If so then it is always a good idea to order a few spare connectors as you'll never know when you'll need them.
     
  12. OP
    OP
    mike williamson

    mike williamson Apprentice Elf

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    Is it easer to replace pixels in strings or strips? NO I'm not very good at soldering.
     
  13. fasteddy

    fasteddy I have C.L.A.P Global Moderator Generous Elf

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    I find it the same but both are different in the way you replace them

    If you are not very good at soldering then strings are easier as you can just cut out the damaged pixel and rejoin the cable or replace the pixel. this could even be done without soldering and using a crimp instead

    With strip then you do have to have some soldering skill to replace a pixel but after some practice then this will seem as easy as repairing a string
     
  14. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    Fasteddy is right, however, there are different types of strips. Some are waterproof in silicone tubing and some have a resin coating. I've always used the ones in silicone tubing because they don't discolour in the sun. Strips are quite easy to join once you can solder but waterproofing them again is also required. I use a short section of 12mm heatshrink with silicone in it and shrink it only until it matches the size of the silicone tubing. You can't see it at all unless it covers one of the LEDs even if you use black heatshrink.

    It is worth mentioning that pixel failures are often caused by rain damage. Pixel strings are more prone to this than the strips in silicone tubing unless you accidentally puncture the tubing. Pixel failures in strips can be caused by bending them too tightly/often or by creasing them.

    Soldering is well worth learning. See this thread for how to make it easier. http://auschristmaslighting.com/forums/index.php?topic=7262.0

    After my previous post, I also want to add that you'll need 2 core (or whatever type) connectors if you use the T splitter so that you can connect it to the power supply. I don't know if the splitter comes with them or not. Remember that you'll need to get a splitter with the same number of cores as your pixels require.
     
  15. OP
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    mike williamson

    mike williamson Apprentice Elf

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    Ok this 1most probably a dumb 1 but , power supply , do they come with AU 240v input plug? I've been looking and non of them look like they have plugs on them.
     

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