How are rope lights run around frames?

denno020

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Nov 22, 2016
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Hi,

I have always wondered how the LED motifs are created, and how people might make their own. I'm not talking about using pixels, just regular LED rope light. Do people purchase different colours and then chop them down/solder them together to make up the different parts of the image?

I have been trying to find other posts that talk about it, but the only information I can find is about attaching pixels to the frames, and that's not what I want to do.

I would love to try and make my own motifs, but I don't know how the different coloured sections are put together
 

Kitman

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I think you will find that the commercial rope light motifs are done by soldering the exact number of led lights in the correct colour order all together in a string before putting the lights into the waterproof tube, then the ends sealed and connectors put on, then they wrap the rope light around the wire frame and done.

The reason why we generally use pixels on wire frames is so that you can program each pixel to be the correct colour instead of having to chop and join rope light together to get the right colour. Really it's just about what takes less time.
 

denno020

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Thanks for the reply.

May save time but certainly adds cost and complexity.. I don't know how people can afford so many pixels, the things aren't cheap! lol
 

Kitman

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Yes I know that they aren't cheap, I am currently re wiring all 9 of my 3d reindeer wire frames with pixels, not only is it a big job to take the old one's off and put new ones on but it is going to cost me as much as I originally paid for the reindeer some 8 years ago.

However this gives me much greater flexibility with the prop, if I want all 9 reindeer to be the same colour, I can, if I want half to be one colour and the other half another colour I can, if I want to have different colours in the reindeer I can. When sequencing to music having that flexibility can be great, and of course hopefully the pixels will last another 8 years before needing to be replaced.

Also getting joinable rope light that doesn't require large voltage to drive them can be tricky, so you save on electricity costs with pixels and being that we are in South Australia the state with the highest electricity cost in the world I think saving on the ongoing costs outweighs the layout costs. But each to their own.
 

denno020

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I suppose the appeal of the rope light is that I would only have to plug it in and I'm done (already shows the right colour). With pixels, I would need controllers and to program them properly, and then to protect those controllers from the weather. I don't have a dynamic display at all, mine is very much static, but I guess it can't hurt to purchase a controller and have a play around.

Thanks for your replies, I'm still very new to this :)
 

Ralphyf1

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With pixels you can buy a 'tester' which gives a variety of patterns and can be set and forget. They are about $4 from Ray Wu. All you need then is a power supply and one of these small things that work very well. That way you can use it in your static display and go to full controllers later on if you want to. The problem with rope lights is when they fail they are almost a rubbish bin job where it is very easy to replace a dud pixel. cheers
 

denno020

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Thanks guys. I might just have to get onto the pixel bandwagon. It's something I would like to do eventually, so might as well start now
 

Kitman

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Ray Wu also sells some basic controllers that you can just plug an SD card into with the sequence pre loaded and it will just loop that, I don't believe they are very expensive.

If you are looking at getting into pixels anyway then you certainly need to start somewhere and re wiring a small wire frame could be a good starting point.

Just remember if you run into any issues there is plenty of help on the forums or you can always jump into chat or join the Zoom sessions.
 

lytnin

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Jul 26, 2010
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North Richmond NSW
When I made my train and carriages many many years ago out of ropelight, I used clear rope, and sprayed the different sections with different coloured glass paint. Haven't used them the last few years, but the colours are still good.
 

the grinch

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angle vale s.a.
Alternatively you can just use strings of led lights as we have done in the past and yes glass paint or similar works fine even on the leds
 

denno020

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I've tried search Bunnings for "glass paint", but I didn't seem to find anything.. Can you provide some links to where it's sold? This sort of paint, which I assume dries with a fair bit of transparency, would be great for other projects, not just Christmas lights
 

scamper

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collie
My wife modified some basic white frames a few years back just by attaching cellophane to the bits she wanted to change colour.
I thought it was a stupid idea, but 5 years later they still look ok. A little tatty but surprisingly good.
She obviously used a quality material though, and they were only indoors, in the window though.
 
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