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Hello from Huntingdale in Victoria

Discussion in 'New Members Say Hello' started by jcarlton, Feb 2, 2016.

  1. jcarlton

    jcarlton New Elf

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    Hi all,

    I've been lurking around ACL for the past 3 christmases.
    Christmas 2016 will be the year I finally make the leap to computer controlled lighting.
    I’m located in Huntingdale, Victoria (south east suburbs of Melbourne) and my past Christmas displays have only consisted of a very modest number of (non computer controlled) Big W style fairy light strings along the roof ridge line, windows and (icicles) along the gutters, as well as a couple of inflatables purchased from Masters on boxing day this past Christmas.
    I currently have no electronics or lighting background so I'm starting from scratch regarding both knowledge and tools, but I’m now intimately familiar with the 101 and have pretty much read every forum post so my confidence level is growing.

    High level plan for this Christmas 2016:
    • Pixel Controller
    • Show Computer
    • Sequencing Software
      • I'm leaning towards xLights, although I’ll continue to evaluate Vixen 3
    • Props
      • Computer controlling existing Big W-style fairy lights
      • Tile roof ridge line (~32m total length) + some window & door outlines (~27m)
        • 12v (square/flat) WS2811 pixel string
        • Mounted on PVC conduit
        • I’ll be sure to confirm with Ray Wu that these can be delivered with LEDs running at ~10mA per colour (~30mA per 8mm LED). I've read a number of recent posts that have identified that some people have received 12v pixel string from Ray Wu that is running @ the full 18.5-20mA per colour (~55.5-60mA per pixel) which results in pixels running hot, and increasing power injection requirements.
        • I'm currently leaning towards string as opposed to strip as I personally feel that the distinct pixels looks more Christmassy to me than the diffused (neon-look) lines of strip. I understand that I'll be giving up a few benefits of strip such as being easier to mount, having more directional light, and being brighter (with closer spaced LEDs running @ full 20mA per colour). I plan to buy a few strips for other props, so I can do some hands-on testing once I've actually purchased some lights and see if I'm happy with my initial decision.
        • If I’m not confident that I can obtain the square 12v pixels running at a lower current from Ray I’ll consider 5v pixels (more power efficient, and potentially brighter, but more susceptible to voltage drop). I have a fairly small roof and there are a couple of places where my roofline forks and a single injection point could feed power down 3 branches of less than 50 pixels. I’ll just need to manage the combined current of feeding power to 3 x ~45 pixels as it will impact the voltage drop calculations and choice of power injection cable.
      • K-Mart stars
        • I picked up 8 stars from K-Mart @ $4 each.
        • Plan to drill out the holes to 11.5mm and insert leftover 12v pixels.
      • 4 x 2.5m Leaping arches
      • 360 degree megatree
        • Still deciding on the final configuration, but I’ll probably settle on 32 strands of 50 pixels
        • 5v WS2811 (bullet style) pixel string
        • I intend to use mounting strips from Boscoyo Studio
        • Leaning towards clear mounting strip (as opposed to black) and bullet style pixels (as opposed to flat / square), with the goal of improving visibility of lights facing away from the viewer.
        • I’ll inject power at the base of each strand (ie. every 100 pixels, utilising backfeeding) via 3-2-3 T splitters from Ray Wu.
        • Options still under consideration:
          • Increasing to 36 strands x 56 pixels, which would be taller, denser, and better utilise both the 2 power supplies and the capabilities of each output of the F16v2 pixel controller.
          • 3" (7.6 cm) spacing (3.6m tall) vs 4" (10.1 cm) spacing (4.8m tall)
          [list type=none]
        • As my display will be fairly close to the street (megatree is likely to be "planted" about 8 - 9m back from the street), and I don’t have a huge yard (and unfortunately most of it filled by 2 large bushy trees :( ), I’m leaning towards as smaller tree (32 x 50 pixels) with 3" pixel spacing as to not dominate the display (too much).
      • I’ll require 2 x 5v 350W power supplies from Ray Wu for the megatree regardless of the options I finally settle on. Assuming 18.5mA per colour. 3 x 18.5mA = 55.5mA per pixel:
        • 32 x 50 = 1600 x 55.5mA = 88.8A / 444W = 63% utilisation of 2 x 350W power supplies
        • 36 x 56 = 2016 x 55.5mA = 111.9A / 559.5W = 80% utilisation of 2 x 350W power supplies
    • Pixel icicles along gutters (15 - 20m)

    [*]Additional notes
    • Orders with Ray Wu will be split into (hopefully no more than) 2 separate orders in order to ensure that each is below the A$1000 customs limit. I’ll wait for the 1st order to arrive before placing the 2nd order.
    • I’ll be sure to contact Ray Wu directly in order to have shipping quote reviewed prior to finalising each order
    • I’ll being purchasing spares of pretty much everything
    [/list]
    I plan to post my shopping lists for feedback prior to making my first couple of orders with Ray Wu.

    The above is just the core components, and I know it's missing a LOT of items that I’ll eventually need in order to get a show up and running (eg. cables, FM transmitter and/or speakers, outdoor enclosures, fuse blocks, crimper, crimp connectors, heat shrink, heat gun, soldering station, multimeter, cable ties, silicone, network switch, etc.). I hope to also document all of these little things in one or more posts over the course of the year in order to obtain feedback, but also to provide a reference for other first timers like myself.

    Hopefully I'll be able to contribute some value to this very helpful community over time :)

    Jason
     
  2. djgra79

    djgra79 Senior Elf Generous Elf

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    Hi Jason and welcome to ACL from another SE member (Cranbourne)


    Great that you have a solid plan and it looks pretty good (not that I'd call myself an expert). My only feedback would be what I was given myself in a similar post last year and that is that you may have too many elements to do in your first year. Don't get me wrong, not trying to put you down at all, just hate to see (worst case) you only get a fraction of it done by Dec 1st, especially if you don't already have most of the tools and equipment needed. You might have a quick learning curve though and you've definitely done the right thing by starting early in the year and posting your plan here in the forum.


    Jump into the chat room at anytime to get some live feedback on any questions you have and good luck with it all, looking forward to seeing your progress during the year!


    Cheers, DJ (graham)
     
  3. DavidJ247

    DavidJ247 Full Time Elf

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    Hi Jason, welcome from another 1st year Vic newbie. I have some similar plans /elements to build throughout the year, looking forward to following and sharing progress. Keep us posted.
    David.
     
  4. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    jcarlton that is a fantastic post. I'm really pleased to see how much reading you've done and it really shows that you know what you're doing and you're on the right track. The lack of electronics background shouldn't be an issue. I also agree with your approach deciding that different voltages suit different applications.

    A few little points to note
    • You can use DMX controllers driven from the F16v2 if you prefer.
    • Big W lights bought in 2015 won't work with a DC controller.
    • The correct voltage for the Big W lights varies depending on the colour and the year you bought them. You can test them and modify them so they all use the same voltage but that can be time consuming. Was worth it for me.
    • The diffused neon look of strips in videos is actually due to cameras not picking them up properly. They actually look clear and you can see each LED. 30 LEDs per metre is more than enough.
    • Have a look at the design of the megatree that lithgowlights made. It has a particularly good 360 degree viewing angle. He used very thin rope and cable tied the bullet style nodes pointing upwards.
    • Using the F16v2 without the expansion board means up to 680 pixels per output. You can divide this up into the strands for your tree and work out how many LEDs per strand uses this capability most effectively. One problem with 680 pixels per output is that one dud pixel can halt up to 679 others. You can make spare strands and use the waterproof connectors from Ray to make dud strands easy to swap out quickly. An expansion board might have helped with power distribution too.
    • 56 5V pixels per strand might be pushing the limit unless you power at both ends or half way up instead. Haven't needed to try it myself but it would be worth asking about.

    The first year is the hardest but your chances of getting it going look fantastic. Looking forward to seeing the shopping lists; it is always a good idea to post them the first time you order.

    Keep up the good work
     
  5. firebug

    firebug Senior Elf

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    Welcome to ACL Jason... 8)
     
  6. fasteddy

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

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    An official welcome to ACL as we have seen you lurking around for some time, so great to see you officially introduce yourself to the community. It does seem like all the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fall in place for you as you have a fairly decent plan for 2016. I13 has brought up some great additional point for you, so we look forward to seeing what you do for 2016
     
  7. AAH

    AAH I love blinky lights :) Community Project Designer

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    Welcome to ACL
    Now that we a venue for the Melbourne lighting mini you should think about heading along on May 14-15. There's much to see and learn.
     
  8. kel

    kel Dedicated Elf

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    [​IMG]
     
  9. Devo

    Devo Apprentice Elf Community Project Designer

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    Welcome to ACL (officially!)

    Great to see another fellow Victorian aboard the CLAP express :)
     
  10. OP
    OP
    jcarlton

    jcarlton New Elf

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    Thanks for the welcome Graham,

    I totally know what you're talking about. I think the key for me will be to continually keep the ball rolling throughout the year, otherwise a week or two without at least thinking about a project soon turns into a few months. I know that this project will require a lot of time and attention, for this first year in particular. I'm hoping that most of the elements I've settled on will be fairly simple to contruct now that I'm starting to get my head around voltage drop, cable current ratings, and fusing requirements. Although I'm concerned about my ability and the effort required to actually fabricate the mega tree, but as it was probably the main element I've seen in other displays that got me interested in computer controlled lighting I'd like to at least give it a try.

    Just be glad I didn't mention yard outline, house (brick) outline, any coro elements, virtual santa, flood lights, "tune to" sign, tree topper, spiral mini trees, singing faces, etc, etc, etc. :p

    I can also live without having the lights synchronised to music for my first year, and instead just sequence some fairly simple animations.
     
  11. djgra79

    djgra79 Senior Elf Generous Elf

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    Hi Jason.


    Pick a main element or 2 that you absolutely want to have finished and focus on those. As you fine tune your creative skills and knowledge, you'll find that other elements are a breeze!
    I wanted to convert my roof outline from dumb strip to pixel strip, plus add strip to my garage outline. I was pumped that I got this done and found I still had time to add in 2 new elements I never thought I'd tackle all before Dec 1st: a coro Merry Christmas sign & a P10 sign.


    As far as sequencing goes it can take some time, depending on how detailed and timed you want it to be. Nothing wrong with not having music, not all displays do this. The beauty is that you can have your display blinking by Dec 1st, but over the following couple of weeks you could update the sequences and then once the crowds build closer to the big day, you could launch more detailed sequences.
    I started off on Dec with only 1 barely finished sequence but by the end of Dec I had 5 completed.
     
  12. OP
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    jcarlton

    jcarlton New Elf

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    I've looked at the Ray Wu 27 channel controller, but for a similar price per pixel I thought I'd support the efforts of AAH

    I only purchased a single set of 2-wire fairly lights (some pink Lytworx string from Bunnings) this year, which I understand run with alternating polarity that cannot be properly controlled with the current range of DC controllers. Thanks to this community I purchased these knowing full well they cannot yet be computer controlled, but with the intention of only using them to decorate my static indoor Christmas tree.


    I've investigated this, and understand that this testing would require the purchase of a variable power supply. For the number of existing strings I have I don't think it would be worth it for me to invest in one of these at this stage, nor the multiple power supplies I may eventually need run the strings at slightly different voltages. I'm hoping that ~30v will be "good enough" for all (or at least most) of my strings.


    I suspected that this may have been the case, and I must admit that I haven't taken the time to actually go and see any pixel displays in person. Unfortunately with a 2, 3 and 5 year old, and the sun only just setting @ 8:45 in Melbourne in December it makes it a bit difficult. (The age of the children also go a long way to explain why I've put off this project for the past 3 years)

    Unfortunately you've now given me another option to seriously consider, and "options" are my worst enemy for getting things done :p


    Thanks for the tip. I will have a closer look at his tree.


    I've calculated both 32 x 50 = 1600 pixels and 36 x 56 = 2016 pixels would require 3 outputs of the F16v2 (500-550 and 672 pixels per output respectively), and I plan to have a couple of spare strands of string, heeding the advice often given in this forum. :)

    This is one of the things swaying me towards sticking with 50 pixels per stand. But if I were to settle on 56 pixels @ 3" (7.6cm) spacing I would request Ray Wu to construct the lights with 8-9cm centre-to-centre spacing (instead of 10cm) to reduce overall wire length by 10-20% which would hopefully reduce voltage drop enough to power the additional 6 pixels per strand successfully.

    Thanks for highlighting these additional points to be considered i13.
    The reason why I've already considered most of things is because you and others have helpfully pointed them out to others on this forum. :)
     
  13. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    AAH sells DMX controllers too. The reason I mentioned it is that you have the option which means you can choose from a wider range of controllers. DMX can also travel through very long CAT5 cables without a null pixel. That said, you can still increase the distance from the F16v2 and WS2811 by using coaxial cable.

    A dedicated variable power supply helps for string testing but I didn't use one. I'm quite sure Ray can supply them the same as the 31V one you linked to except with a certain range of voltage adjustment. That is what my Mean Well RSP-320-27 supply (sold as a 27V supply) has and it allows me to adjust within the range of approximately 23V-33V. Resistors would allow me to lower the voltage further but I've never needed to. I personally don't use the cheap supplies for testing purposes. With the modifications I get everything running at 31V.
     
  14. Fing

    Fing Full Time Elf Generous Elf

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    I suspected that this may have been the case, and I must admit that I haven't taken the time to actually go and see any pixel displays in person. Unfortunately with a 2, 3 and 5 year old, and the sun only just setting @ 8:45 in Melbourne in December it makes it a bit difficult. (The age of the children also go a long way to explain why I've put off this project for the past 3 years)

    Unfortunately you've now given me another option to seriously consider, and "options" are my worst enemy for getting things done :p


    Hi Jason,
    have a quick look at my singing faces video, it shows my house outline strip a bit closer than normal and you can see the individual LEDs although the camera still blurred them a bit. these are 12v 30/10 strips. he longest is 18m and i injected at start and 10m only.


    More options, sorry


    http://auschristmaslighting.com/forums/index.php?topic=8561.new;topicseen#new


    Cheers
    Fing
     
  15. gerry

    gerry Senior Elf

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    Welcome to ACL !

    I am in Surrey Hills - so not too far from you.
    Do register and come to the Mini in May.

    I have used 27V rather than 30V PSUs for the BigW lights (there was some discussion on this).

    Also - I have a 32 * 25 mega tree with bullet nodes but have used 12V instead - all my pixels are 12V.
     

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