Just starting off and hoping for some help & advice!

Discussion in '101 Display Basics' started by bill55, Jan 6, 2018.

  1. bill55

    bill55 New Elf

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    Hello everyone!

    I’ve been reading the forums for a little while now and have read the entire 101 guide a couple times. I thought it might be a good idea to just post what I was planning or wanted to achieve and get some input and advice from the experts before doing anything. I work in IT/Engineering and have plenty of networking experience and have soldered quite a bit over the years. I feel confident I can pull this off.

    I’d like to get something done for Halloween this year, then have some additional stuff for X-mas (Mega tree?). I am in Ohio and we definitely get snow so keep that in mind. I plan on keeping everything on the facing of the house and things in the yard and not on top of the roof otherwise it could get buried in snow and you’ll never see it. See my attached pic for where I plan to do a house outline. I’m missing a couple measurements, but you can probably make a decent guess. I am open to suggestions though and willing to make changes.

    I want pixels for sure. I was thinking of strips for the house outline. Then nodes for decorations in the yard or if I do anything else like snowflakes, talking faces, etc. on the house.

    My house is 2 stories so keep that in mind as well. I have a decent amount of area to cover so I’ll have some longer runs if everything is coming from 1 location. I was planning on mounting the strips to pvc pipe or similar so they’d be easy to put up and down. Along my roofline I do have access to the attic space behind where these would be mounted so I’m hoping to run wiring there and have it come out where these would connect. You would see no wiring and I could leave the wiring in place all year. Hopefully.

    So after all my reading here are some initial questions I have.
    • Are strips the way to go for my outline? Opinions seem to vary.
      • Do I want 12v or 5v lights? I’m guessing 12v since it would be better for distance.
      • I was looking at these from RayWu. LINK
    • How many power supplies would I need?
      • Since my house is 2 stories would I need additional to avoid longer power runs?
    • Do I want the Falcon controller or maybe a Advatek Pixlite?
      • Which model?
    • Is xLights the way to go for software?
    I just want to start out in the right direction and not buy the wrong things or make any obvious bad design decisions. Sorry if this first post is overwhelmingly long!

    Thanks so much!
    Bill

    Ps – I’ll try and get photos of the house posted soon.
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. AAH

    AAH I love blinky lights :) Community Project Designer

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    Happy 1st post,
    Xlights is definitely the sequencer of choice and playback from a Raspberry Pi is also a great option as it's pretty versatile and frees up your PC during showtimes.
    If it's convenient then a data and power distribution point at the left eave of upper story or else 8' or so below that at the top of the garage would give you sensible and short cabling routes.
    I use that same IP level strip (IP66) as it's the easiest to repair. I haven't had to repair any in 3 years yet so it's been a moot point. A lot of people prefer the IP67 or IP68 versions and some hate strip.
    The number of power supplies is dependent on the total power and also potentially whether you go with 5V and 12V or a mix.
     
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  3. MacArthur St Light Fusion

    MacArthur St Light Fusion Apprentice Elf Generous Elf

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    Hi Bill,
    I'm by no means an expert on this, but last year was my first year with pixels and I know first hand the learning curve you are about to go through.
    As for me... I run all 12v pixels. House lines are done with strips, and props are all nodes like you said. Personally for me that looks the way I want it. You will see multiple arguments around strips vs nodes and Falcons vs Pixlites vs everything else! What you need to do is work out the look you are going for and don't get stuck on doing what everyone else says THEY like.
    That said, the only way my show go up and running was with the help from the guys on this forum... Chat, zoom, forums, etc etc.
    I guess all I can comment on to try and help is that I run all 12v, 3 Falcons, show is run by a Beaglebone Black which I connect to wireless to turn show on and off, but all controllers are connected via ethernet.
    The only other advise I can give is to go with xLights and start now! Get your layout sorted so you have a good idea on what builds you have in front of you, and just start playing with the software. It's so easy to use yet there are an almost limitless amount of looks/effects you can get with it. And the developers are making the software better every day!

    Anyway, we are all here to help if you have issues, and this is what my take on 12v, Falcons, BBB & pixels looks like:

    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCkdlCmCSCE&t=9s


    Cheers and have fun!
     
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  4. OP
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    bill55

    bill55 New Elf

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    Is my best bet putting my design into xlights and seeing how it looks in there before I order lights or anything? I don’t need to have a controller or anything else before I do it in xlights right?

    I plan on using 12v lights unless there is a reason not to.

    Need to decide on a controller. Falcon or the pixlite. I want to be able to run everything off of just the 1 controller this year. Will I be ok with just 1? If I need another next year in order to expand I can get one then. I’m trying not to go way overboard on year 1. :)

    Thanks!
    Bill
     
  5. OP
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    bill55

    bill55 New Elf

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    What’s the difference Between the 66, 67, and 68 lights? I also may run everything off of a pi. Either that or a laptop most likely.

    Thanks
    Bill
     
  6. ElSalZi

    ElSalZi Full Time Elf Generous Elf

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    I am where you are, Bill, perhaps a few weeks ahead of you.
    Theres a manual that is written for us new guys (101 Manual) the first 60 pages are information that is very in-depth but somewhat general, but then the 'Rubber hits the Road!' and it gets into the hardware and different configurations. Read it (I had to, at least twice. ) and watch as many of the "Behind the scenes" or "Walk thru" as possible! they will open your eyes to what is being set up by others and will 'demystify' a lot of what you read.

    Then do as suggested by MacArthur above, choose the bits YOU like.
     
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  7. ElSalZi

    ElSalZi Full Time Elf Generous Elf

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    as I understand it its a different level of 'water-proof-ness' :laugh: if that is a word...

    IP 68 is most water proof and lesser numbers is less water proof
     
  8. B4IGO

    B4IGO New Elf

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  9. AAH

    AAH I love blinky lights :) Community Project Designer

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    The difference between the Chinese strip IP specifications is the coatings that are placed over the pcb and within the IP sixty lots silicon strip. The IP66 is a silicon condom that goes over the entire strip and should in reality be 100% water and dust proof. IP67 has a coating of silicon over the pcb and it's again inside the silicon sleeve. IP68 has the entire silicon sleeve filled with a further coating of silicon.
     
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  10. uncledan

    uncledan Apprentice Elf Generous Elf

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    Hi Bill and welcome to ACL. I would recommend nodes or C9 Pixabulbs for house outline if you want to keep things simple, limit power injection and not be repairing strip when its way too cold and wet out. The Aussies seem to have better luck with the strip than most of us in the USA. I replaced the strip on my house outline with C9's in 2017. Much cleaner/traditional look. I received many compliments when the strip was replaced. I didn't hear a "Las Vegas" or "Liquor Store" reference to the appearance of my house once last year. Falcon and Pixlites are both great boards. I would recommend a Falcon F4v3 if looking to start small. Lots of room to expand with the F4v3 and it has more features than any other pixel controller out there. Drop by chat and say hi and ask questions, lots of helpful people in there most the time. And yes... 12v will make life much easier.
     
  11. OP
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    bill55

    bill55 New Elf

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    Thanks for the explanation. Now this sounds familiar from the 101 guide.
     
  12. OP
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    bill55

    bill55 New Elf

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    I have wondered about not looking ‘traditional’ enough with strips. But I want to do Halloween as well and don’t want that to look to Christmassy. I’m afraid nodes would look like Xmas lights. Maybe I’m wrong. Open to opinions and suggestions. Strips would also zip tie to pvc really easily and be perfectly straight. They are also cheaper are not they?

    Do you have any pics or videos? How do you keep straight lines on your outline?

    Thanks!
     
  13. OP
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    bill55

    bill55 New Elf

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    I read the 101 guide a couple times. I need to watch some walk-thru’s. Any suggestions on ones to watch?
     
  14. uncledan

    uncledan Apprentice Elf Generous Elf

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    The C9's don't look Christmassy if using for Halloween. I used them for Halloween as well. I tested nodes on house outline and want too impressed with the results. I really like the diffused look of the large C9 Pixabulbs. I would recommend testing different options before just buying everything to do the house. Watching videos of other displays helps as well. You can see videos of my display in the ACL "Display Video" tab from the past three years. 2015-16 was strip on the house outline and windows. 2017 was the C9 Pixabulbs. I use Boscoyo mounting strips for my house outline. (boscoyostudio.com) Its secured to some aluminum channel on my eaves that stays up all year. Nice straight lines and evenly spaced pixels! Strip or nodes are probably about the same cost to do what youre looking to do. Strip will require MUCH more power injection and more power supplies. If you want a cheap hobby, this isn't it! The little stuff adds up..
     
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  15. OP
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    bill55

    bill55 New Elf

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    Such big decisions. Would you mind linking me to your lights and also the clips that you use?

    Thanks!
     

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