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Basic System for kids to set up

Discussion in 'The Development Lab' started by fxxxrr, Sep 24, 2015.

  1. fxxxrr

    fxxxrr New Elf

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    Looking at "helping" my kids set up a basic musical display
    can I use one of these with basic Big w style lights? obviously removing the controller that comes with the lights
    do I need a 5v version? or will the lights handle the 12v or I may just use the 12v output to control relays that switch 5v I'm going to use old atx style computer power supplies if need be
    the way I see it is this will give a basic display that appears to be controlled by the music...

    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/24-Key-IR-Wireless-RGB-LED-Strip-Light-Music-Sound-Controller-Dimmer-Salable-/400898450501?hash=item5d5768e445

    whats everyones thoughts?
    cheers
     
  2. scamper

    scamper Senior Elf

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    I think you need to look a little further into this.
    The Big W leds usually require around 27v and the new ones are wired in such a way that they have half wired positive anode and half positive cathode, which makes it even harder to wire to a new controller.
    Have a look through the wiki and read the ACL101 manual http://auschristmaslighting.com/forums/index.php/topic,1889.0.html
    this may help you a little more.
    If you want, jump into chat there are a heap of people in there that are always willing to point you in the right direction.
     
  3. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    I'm really sorry but none of those plans are likely to work :(. I agree with scamper.

    That eBay item may not work with Big W lights because they typically require 30V DC (or somewhere near that). You could try asking the seller if it will handle 30V.

    I don't know much about computer power supplies but you'll need something that can give you 30V (ish). You won't know the exact voltage you need until you measure the current draw. Diodes can increase the voltage to make it the same for each light set. Power supplies are also the most dangerous display component, especially if you're involving kids.

    There is also some uncertainty about this year's Big W lights (as scamper mentioned). If there's a multi-function controller, they need to have at least three wires between the controller and lights or they can't be used with controllers other than the original.

    For the above reasons, dumb RGB would be easier to work with than Big W lights IMO. It's available in 5v and 12V, you know exactly what voltage you're getting and it has the added advantage of basic RGB control. You can only control each light set as a single RGB light, no chasing back and forth like pixels. The only real disadvantage of dumb RGB is the string length limitation due to voltage drop.

    If the Big W lights are suitable and you want to get them, I'd recommend a DMX controller and a USB dongle (this will work with dumb RGB too). USB dongles aren't the most reliable display component but they're cheap, easy and it isn't hard to use a different DMX data source later for better reliability. Don't get a 240V controller either; they're not designed for lights with low voltage plugpacks.

    If you're starting from scratch then my suggestion would be to read every new post on this forum and keep logging into chat. I enjoyed learning and made it routine. You'll find yourself gradually understanding everything more and more and it will be easy to make informed purchases. In future, you may find yourself replacing the Big W/dumb RGB lights with 5V or 12V pixels (they're easy once you have a few working). If you haven't bought the Big W lights, I suggest considering spending time learning more and going straight to a more advanced 2016 setup. Advanced might not mean large.

    Chat is a very good way to talk directly with other lighting enthusiasts who have achieved what you're aiming to do.

    Again, sorry if this was a bit of a blow but keep reading, asking questions (very glad you asked this one) and posting your shopping lists; you'll get synchronised lights working and it will all be worthwhile :).
     
  4. Habbosrus

    Habbosrus New house (again) 2017

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    Getting the kids involved is an awesome idea. As the others suggested, the BigW lights take a higher voltage. However, you can pick up cheap 12v rgb strip and modules off eBay too if you want something relatively quick and cheap. I had a look and that same seller has rgb led strip x 2 rolls for $11 (http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/10M-2X5M-3528-5050-RGB-SMD-Flexible-Tape-Light-LED-Strip-DC-12V-LED-Lamp-Salable-/191556768854?var=&hash=item2c99ac5456). They are cheap and easy to connect to the musical controller, coupled with your power supply and a couple of connectors would get you and the kids up and running quite cheaply and quickly. In this day of instant everything, kids will lose focus if it's not something quick. It would be a good foray into the musical lighting world for the kids. I have some 4 pin connectors that I got a couple of years ago that will snap onto the strip (or you can solder to strip). I'll post them to you along with a little heat shrink so you can get the kids up and running. We don't want to stop the next generation of lighting enthusiasts before they get a chance to start.
    There are many, many options open to you. This is just one simple and inexpensive way of getting them started.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    fxxxrr

    fxxxrr New Elf

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    thanks for the reply guys,
    the main reason I wanted to use the BigW style lights is I currently have a gazillion of them and similar for kmart 2 dollar chinese shop etc etc i have been putting up lights for a few years now but only using the multifunction controllers that come with the lights wheni drag them out of the roof i will check but i thought most of them were 5 or 12v but i could be wrong.
    i didn't do lights last years as we were away, but last time i thought they just look a bit tacky blinking away in the own sequences oblivious to each other, and thought i need a little structure to the blinking lol

    this seemed a cheap way out lol cos as my kids will tell you I'm a tight ass lol
     
  6. scamper

    scamper Senior Elf

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    You can still get into controlling lights by buying some controllers and dumb strips and make some kind of prop such as a mega tree or several small tress etc and then use all the big w lights as background fill.
    I did that last year as it was my first year and the controlled lights just didn't cut it.
    I also attempted to use big w lights on a controller, but it was almost more trouble than it was worth when I could buy strips from china so cheap.
    This year unfortunately the dollar has dropped so it isn't quite so cheap. The idea is spread the cost over the year and buy a bit at a time.
    good luck with whatever you decide.
     
  7. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    This is the cheapest alternative if the eBay item won't handle 30V
    http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/27channel-easy-constant-voltage-dmx-decoder-with-RJ45-interface-DC7-24V-input/701799_1558064774.html
    I use several with 31V and haven't had an issue in 2 seasons (just be careful with the CAT5 sockets because they can be fragile). It'll work with a simple USB dongle connected to a computer playing the soundtrack but you'll have to use a sequencer. You only need one USB dongle because it can run several of these. You can also throw in some dumb RGB lights as they're sold by the same seller. Dumb RGB lights need a lower voltage but you can do that as in example 2 here
    http://auschristmaslighting.com/wiki/Controller_Setups_and_Settings

    The majority of my display is store-bought lights with the 27 channel controller because I was in exactly the same situation as you are two years ago. I didn't find it too hard to set up.

    As you have a variety of lights, you'll need to use diodes to increase the voltage that some of them require so they can share a power supply. You may need to cut out LEDs or use relays if there are any light sets that already require a particularly high voltage. You'll need a way of measuring current draw and you'll need to do some soldering but hopefully not an excessive amount.

    To test the light sets, connect one channel to the power supply with the lowest voltage it can output. The current draw should be the number of sections with 5 wires plus the end section (for 2 channel light sets) multiplied by 10mA unless the box has LED specifications with a higher current. Add diodes at the negative (not the shared positive) until you have the correct current draw at the voltage you want to use (I chose 31V). I used resistors in the light set itself instead of diodes which was a terrible mistake; it worked but I had to do up to 50 solder joints per light set.

    The setup I'm describing here is not the more advanced one I mentioned before but IMO it makes sense to include the lights if you already have them.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    fxxxrr

    fxxxrr New Elf

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    again thanks
    which USB dongle and RGB sticks would you advise?
     
  9. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    I would suggest this USB dongle.
    http://www.hansonelectronics.com.au/product/usb-dmx-dongle/

    David_AVD sells an isolated one which protects your USB port if there's a short-out but the 27 channel controller is isolated anyway. It should be safer if you want to add non-isolated DMX devices later on. In my opinion a better investment for show purposes is an E1.31 to DMX bridge because of the better reliability but a DMX dongle is still a useful device for testing purposes and USB dongles are easier to set up.

    The choice of dumb RGB items is up to you. I would suggest choosing at least 12V because it's simpler when you want to have long runs of lights. The 12V strings are quite power inefficient but you have strips and modules as other options. I wouldn't bother with strip that has more than 30 LEDs per metre.
    I would suggest going above 12V if you're sure you'll never add pixels with individual control and if you're happy with the smaller range of 24V options. Higher voltages (not dangerously high) are capable of longer runs without power injection and power injection is relatively impractical with dumb RGB.

    The longest run of this strip that I have tried is 9 metres and it worked fine.
    http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/DC12V-5m-one-roll-5050-SMD-30LEDs-m-led-strip-waterproof-by-silicon-tube-IP66/701799_587735379.html

    There are plenty of modules to choose from
    http://www.aliexpress.com/store/group/LED-Modules/701799_209889132.html?PPValue=
    Just don't get any that have the little black chips on them or anything that says smart/addressable/pixel/WS2811/WS2801 because these are pixels with individual control and you need a different controller for them. If you're prepared to get the right controller for them then pixels are actually a better investment IMO.

    There is 24V strip but I can't seem to find it with just the silicone tubing. I can see it with tubing and coating (hard to cut and join), I can see it with 60 LEDs per metre (probably too bright and it won't achieve runs as long) and I can see it with just the resin coating (stronger but discolours in sunlight and not as waterproof).
    The seller might be able to get it if you ask

    There are other options too such as rigid bars http://www.aliexpress.com/store/group/LED-rigid-bar/701799_500464354.html
    Again, avoid the terms above (same as for modules).

    Another couple of things about the 27 channel controller; you might need to solder a couple of extra wires on the back to increase the current capacity and you'll need to make a terminator (really simple to so). It isn't a fused controller either so you'll need to solder fuses into the wires if you want fuses. AAH (Hanson Electronics) sells controllers which don't require you to do these things but the lack of features is the reason the 27 channel controller is that cheap. I've never had a 27 channel controller misbehave in any way.

    More info on the 27 channel controller here
    http://auschristmaslighting.com/forums/index.php/topic,741.0.html

    I can't see any reason why the dumb RGB items wouldn't work with the eBay item but it's quite likely that your store-bought lights won't work with it.

    This is a personal preference but I prefer pixels over dumb RGB. The individual control opens up many more sequencing possibilities; you just need an E1.31 pixel controller and networking/E1.31/universe knowledge to set it up. Many E1.31 controllers have an E1.31 to DMX bridge built in so you won't need a USB dongle. You can run this alongside your store-bought lights which would use the DMX controller. You even have the option of 2801/2811 DC controllers if you want to run DC controllers in line with your pixels. That way there's no DMX.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    fxxxrr

    fxxxrr New Elf

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    thanks, I just cant seem to get my head around it all, but its a lot clearer now I just need to sit down un distracted and have a look at it all.
     

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