Help with what to buy (shopping list) to run this list of props?

Melinda

New elf
Joined
Dec 30, 2020
Messages
4
Hi, we are just starting out and have ordered a number of props from GE in anticipation of the bulk buy, but also need to deck out the house and mega tree etc. At the moment we have zero hardware and items. I'm hoping for suggestions on recommendations to run all of this, and how many pig tails or extensions etc we would need before ordering.

I've attached some pictures of the planned Halloween & Christmas Layout. I also need to be able to run a projector at least for Halloween (that is the extra "virtual matrix" in the photo). Preference would be a Kulp, I think but the Falcon may be easier as it is more common for when we need help, I'm not sure which size would be recommended for future proofing?. I understand I would need 2 x pi's (don't want to use a pc) 1 for the xlights show and 1 to control the projector planning on a pi4. Also need Mega tree strips around 3.5meters tall, the top thing to hook them on (if there is one available to order) and all of the lights which seems to calculate to 8154 pixels, but I'd be keen to buy 9k to have some spare and potentially convert some old xmas AC props if time permits. I'm also a bit concerned I've under calculated the pixels for the matrix and mega tree, we plan to use a netball pole for the tree and a small trampoline as the base.

We would like to place an order for the pixels and pig tails but not sure how many pig tails are needed and just seeking general advice on what people would recommend as a shopping list to run this set-up/props? Happy to order the controller Falcon or Kulp but seems like Kulp are out of stock and am also presuming we need the Beagle Bone with the Kulp? And would prefer to wait for the new Falcon, but not sure what size would be best, and any power injection that might be required?

I know I will also need basics like ethernet cables, power boards, fm transmitter, SD cards, coverings for the pixels etc. Any suggestions or recommendations would be most welcome!


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i13

Senior elf
Joined
Jul 5, 2013
Messages
994
The top thing to hook the mega tree strands on could be this https://auschristmaslighting.com/threads/12635/

I don't own a Kulp controller but my understanding is that the BeagleBone is its brain and it can't function without one. I'm reasonably sure that this can take the place of a Raspberry Pi running the display but you'll need to get a USB sound card for it. Hopefully someone will chime in and confirm whether I'm correct about this.

Calculating the number of pixels for the tree and matrix should be okay. It's a matter of deciding on the pixel spacing and then drawing it in the preview to see whether you're happy with how it looks. Ordering extra pixels is definitely a good idea.

You can never order too many pigtails. You'll use many more than you expect to and if there are spares, you can use them in future.

The required power injection will depend on the type of pixels (5V or 12V) and the brightness that you plan to run them at. I generally recommend 5V when you have a large number of pixels in a small area (e.g. the matrix) and 12V when you have a small number of pixels spread over a large area (e.g. the house outline). You might want to order custom spacing (with some headroom) and 18 AWG wire between the pixels. If the wires between the pixels are longer or thinner than they need to be, you'll get extra voltage drop that could have been avoided. You can get T splitters as a convenient way to inject power, especially for items like the matrix and mega tree.

There are plenty of things to buy when setting up a display for the first time. You've already listed a few but here are some things that I think of:
  • Soldering station - it is worth having a good one e.g. 60+ watts with a decent temperature adjustment and appropriate tip size(s). A $15 soldering iron won't serve you as well as a better one.
  • Pixel tester https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32261108366.html - saves you from setting up and putting a more expensive controller at risk whenever you want to test your pixels or wiring.
  • Ethernet cables - make sure they're stranded, not solid core.
  • FM transmitter - I disagree with many of the recommendations here. You don't need 100mW to send a signal across the street.
 

bpratt

Full time elf
Generous elf
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Mar 31, 2019
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315
Location
Jimboomba, Queensland
  • Soldering station - it is worth having a good one e.g. 60+ watts with a decent temperature adjustment and appropriate tip size(s). A $15 soldering iron won't serve you as well as a better one.
  • Pixel tester https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32261108366.html - saves you from setting up and putting a more expensive controller at risk whenever you want to test your pixels or wiring.
Pixel testers are also available through hansonelectronics.com.au and da-share.com in Australia. Both these vendors are members here, so you can get these fairly quickly than from China, mind you that you will pay for the convenience for the quicker delivery.

But +1 to getting a pixel tester, rather than testing from your far more expensive controller board.

Soldering station, agree a $15 one is going to be a pain.

I'm a bit of a Ryobi 'fanboi' if you like, and they have a nice solder station available if you already are using Ryobi tools with the 18v batteries, it is a good option.
 

Melinda

New elf
Joined
Dec 30, 2020
Messages
4
Thank-you everyone!! Very helpful suggestions indeed!
 

jollyzee

New elf
Joined
Apr 30, 2020
Messages
20
Location
Louisiana, US of A
I'm running 2 Kulp K8 boards for my display; K8-PB with a PocketBeagle and K8-B with a BeagleBoneBlack. They do not have audio out onboard, however the K16A-B and K32A-B do have audio out jacks on board and all Kulps have to have a Beagle of some sort to function as i13 said.
Being in the States it's easier for me to get them - don't know about down under.
For sound I'm using a soundblaster attached to my Pi4 master in the house; the other controllers are outdoors and I'm using the master/remote setup - works really good
 
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