First year of pixels - controller choices

witters

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Hi All
What a great community. Learning heaps for a little while now. But would like some input on controller options and features as I have only seen them in videos.

Attached is my xlights layout. I would imagine I would need 1 controller on the roof for the lights up there (diagonal and horizontal) and 1 on the ground for the vertical strips. But to avoid running cable across the path and driveway, would prefer to have 2 smaller controllers either side on the ground.
I'm happy with the Falcon controllers with all the recommendations I've seen, but a F16 for roof and ground seems overkill and with little to no expansion in the show is planned wouldn't be using it to full potential. I see that there is some smart receiver boards. Do these have to be used in conjunction with at least 1 full size controller? Or do I go with the F4
If all the controllers are able to get an Ethernet connection to them, does it matter if each controller is not directly connected to each other?
I hear you want each strip of lights to start as close as possible to the controller, so 1x F16 wouldn't do me any good either then :(
So a bit stuck on what is the best solution not having experienced using them and setting up with them. What do you think?
Capture.PNG
Cheers
Ryan
 

layzer1

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I'm new too and I'm on the fence about F16 or F48. It should be interesting to hear what recommendations you receive.
 

algerdes

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Wow. This has been kicked around a lot. You will find quite a bit of "guidance" from many on this on all the sites. With that said, I'll start the responses with this...

Two things need to be decided before you tackle it:
1. How many pixels are you going to use off of each output?
2. Do you think you will be adding a group of pixels in any one area (like a mega-tree or matrix (non-panel)), or will they be spread out across your whole display area?
 

franky_888

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I see that there is some smart receiver boards. Do these have to be used in conjunction with at least 1 full size controller? Or do I go with the F4
You won't get an F4 in Australia without buying direct from pixelcontroller.com and using a shipping forwarder - the only way to get falcon gear in au at present is via the ACL group-buy:


Yes, the receiver boards need an F4/F16/F18 controller to run.

As above and some additional questions:
1. How many pixels? Can you amend your image with the pixel counts?
2. What voltage are you planning for? I feel this is a necessary question, as you *can* get cheaper ways of controlling (ie Pi Hats) but they will need more power injection. Cheaper cost, but more involvement/complexity.

If all the controllers are able to get an Ethernet connection to them, does it matter if each controller is not directly connected to each other?
Not at all, you can daisy chain F16's together, but it's not essential. If you have a central network switch you can just plug them into that.
I hear you want each strip of lights to start as close as possible to the controller, so 1x F16 wouldn't do me any good either then :(
Says who? Yes its *ideal* to start them from the controller side, but it's not essential. You do it however you want - you can change the direction in xlights when you're setting up your show. Just keep in mind that the longer the data run the more likely you are going to need an F-Amp or a null pixel. I use a bunch of @AAH's null pixels in my show, they haven't missed a beat when I haven't wired them up wrong :laugh: I've attached a very dodgy mspaint mock up of how I'd tackle your setup (with the information I have at hand :)) - I counted 14 outputs.

Null Pixel Buffer offerings from AAH: http://www.hansonelectronics.com.au/?s=null+pixel&post_type=product
 

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ICon

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I did my first show last year, with an f16v3 and the start of a couple of my runs on the roof were 12 to 14m away from the controller, with no problems. Running 5v pixels and strip.

i will be buying another f16v3 controller this year, but this is for a major expansion in pixel numbers - first large matrix is being built at the moment.
 

witters

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Thanks for all the comments so far.
So if F16 controller looks like the right choice, my follow up question is. Can I use the smart receiver board in my garage to control the 2 strings on either side of it (as badly picture) so I don’t have to run wires across the path and front of eves.

So for these long runs from ground to top of roof, can you get 10m leads to go from controller plug to pixel string connector? Or so you just wore up your own.

This null pixel is to boost the data signal strength on long runs, yeah?

Thanks again
694E88FA-42E4-40BA-AE69-B5B3120F2173.jpeg
 

franky_888

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Can I use the smart receiver board in my garage to control the 2 strings on either side of it (as badly picture) so I don’t have to run wires across the path and front of eves.
You can, but you still need to get an ethernet cable to it (it needs to plug into the F16/F48 ultimately for it's data). You don't need a differential expansion board on the F16 if you only want to use 1 differential receiver (you can plug this into the DMX1 port I believe). The differential receiver will also need it's own power supply.

can you get 10m leads to go from controller plug to pixel string connector? Or so you just wore up your own.
Not sure tbh. Personally I just use a few of Ray Wu's 3M pigtails and connect them together, I do need to use the null pixels on these though - even when I'm just using one extension. I know of a few that just use ethernet cable (1 pair data, 3 pairs ground) to run their data to the first pixel without nulls, but then you still need to get power there via a separate cable. 4 or 6 Core security wire of a suitable gauge is also a possibility (details are in the 101 manual).

This null pixel is to boost the data signal strength on long runs, yeah?
Yep! :)
 

witters

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Thanks Franky.
I would have a network switch in the garage that could go to the smart receiver and to the F16, would that be ok?
 

Goliath

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I know of a few that just use ethernet cable (1 pair data, 3 pairs ground) to run their data to the first pixel without nulls,
My understanding has been that data is more likely to be corrupted if run through a twisted pair, rather a single wire should be used.
 

Benslights

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yes i never us more then 1 wire for data as you can get corruption. in 6 core i use 1 for data 2 FOR -VE AND 3 FOR +VE
 
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lithgowlights

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My understanding has been that data is more likely to be corrupted if run through a twisted pair, rather a single wire should be used.
That's incorrect. Back before null buffers it was add a pixel to act as a null pixel, or run a negative and data through one pair of cat5 (The other 6 can be left unconnected or connected to the negative line to act as a "shield"). Many of us got 40+ meter runs back in the day with cat5, and some of my cables are still like this now as there is no reason to change them out
 

ICon

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I did some testing with Ethernet cable last year as I had a 305m box, data does get there, but cannot transmit any power due to small gauge, so would have required another cable for power.

i ended up using 4 core .44 security cable (also comes in .22, but this is too small) power and data on the one cable up to 14metres has not required a null pixel. I purchased pigtails and soldered them to the security cable, did not purchase ready made extensions.

It does depend on size of layout, distances and how you want to structure your power, but for a simple single side of house should not be a problems putting it all centrally. to get to other side of garage, go up and overs, feed for top.

Note: Although the ports on the smart receiver are rj45, they are not Ethernet, they are serial so you cannot connect them via a network switch.
 

layzer1

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You won't get an F4 in Australia without buying direct from pixelcontroller.com and using a shipping forwarder - the only way to get falcon gear in au at present is via the ACL group-buy:


Yes, the receiver boards need an F4/F16/F18 controller to run.

As above and some additional questions:
1. How many pixels? Can you amend your image with the pixel counts?
2. What voltage are you planning for? I feel this is a necessary question, as you *can* get cheaper ways of controlling (ie Pi Hats) but they will need more power injection. Cheaper cost, but more involvement/complexity.



Not at all, you can daisy chain F16's together, but it's not essential. If you have a central network switch you can just plug them into that.


Says who? Yes its *ideal* to start them from the controller side, but it's not essential. You do it however you want - you can change the direction in xlights when you're setting up your show. Just keep in mind that the longer the data run the more likely you are going to need an F-Amp or a null pixel. I use a bunch of @AAH's null pixels in my show, they haven't missed a beat when I haven't wired them up wrong :laugh: I've attached a very dodgy mspaint mock up of how I'd tackle your setup (with the information I have at hand :)) - I counted 14 outputs.

Null Pixel Buffer offerings from AAH: http://www.hansonelectronics.com.au/?s=null+pixel&post_type=product
Freddy, given I'm a visual person and the layout you provided witters is awesome, would mind mocking up my display on how you would wire it with a F16v3 from the garage?
 

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