New and ready to learn

Discussion in 'New Members Say Hello' started by libertyts, Oct 28, 2015.

  1. libertyts

    libertyts New Elf

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    Hey All,

    So, I'm pretty new to this. I have been doing Christmas lights for a number of years, but always "dumb" displays with a whole lot of me running around pressing buttons, etc. As much as this may have been amusing to witness every night for weeks on end, I would much prefer to start moving to a properly controlled, programmable setup. I am out in Bungendore (near Canberra) on the main road to Batemans Bay, which means I have perfect positioning and essentially free word-of-mouth advertising.

    I have a very small amount of lights at the moment due to a separation at the start of last year, so slowly building up the stocks again. At the moment I am almost purely "fairy" style LED lights. I am going to grab a few more bits and pieces over the next few weeks, but at this stage I will be working with "dumb" lights this year. I am going with a fairly small and simple display this year due to the fact that I have started so late and am still getting back on my feet financially.

    Oh, I should mention, I do Systems Integration in IT. So a fair bit of scripting\coding and problem solving. Therefore not afraid of betting my hands "dirty" with the good old bits! :p

    What I would love some advice on is what my best options are to proceed from here. I am thinking of using AAH's (Hanson Electonics') PI36 as I quite like the Raspberry PI's, it's reasonably priced and kind of solves a few problems at once. Any opinions either way on this as a "beginner" controller?

    I currently can't decide on a power supply... It appears that most of the LED strings, etc around (BigW, Bunnings, etc) are running at 30VDC which is making the search for power supplies difficult and my back pocket is getting quite worried at some of the pricing. Any suggestions on where to look? I don't want to go too budget and risk causing noise or fire, etc. But I also don't want to spend $1,000 on a PSU this year... Should I be reconsidering my lighting options?

    I have read through the 101 PDF and it was absolutely fantastic, a resource that I very much appreciate.

    I hope to learn more from you guys over the next weeks, months, years...

    Thanks

    Chris
     
  2. djgra79

    djgra79 Senior Elf

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    Hi Chris, welcome to the madness :)
    Plenty of friendly helpful folks in and around the forums, and feel free to jump in to chat anytime of the day, as there's always a handful of people ready to field your questions.

    Regarding PSUs, many members use the cheaper options from China, mainly cos they're cheap, and will often buy 2 or 3 in case of failures. I guess you get what you pay for. On the flipside, a number of members use the Meanwell PSUs as they are built quite solid, but can be a bit pricey for some. All comes down to personal preference I guess.

    Are the LED lights you have from the likes of Kmart/Big W? You can use these to begin with, just need to check they are the older style that have 3 wires coming out of the multi-function controller (MFC.) If there are only 2 wires then these are not able to be used by cutting up and re-wiring to DC controllers.

    Then once your more confident you can move onto dumb RGB strips/nodes or jump into pixels which (from experience this year) isn't that scary at all!

    Cheers, Graham
     
  3. Beacy

    Beacy It's so much better on the dark side

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    Chris


    Welcome to the hobby that will empty your wallet faster than your wife. I no longer buy retail lights all my stuff including PSU's are straight from China far cheaper. I have used Ray WU in the past but he appears to be too busy for his own good and I have just switched to www.etop-led.com - Paul Zang basically same price and 7-10days from order to delivery - all strip and strings custom lengths with Pig tails attached.


    Michael (Beacy)
     
  4. OP
    OP
    libertyts

    libertyts New Elf

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    Thanks Graham,


    For PSU's I have seen the likes of these: LFWLP350. On the surface they look alright and they aren't horribly priced and I won't have to power too much this year really.


    The LEDs currently sitting in the garage are the BigW ones from last year and they do have the 3 wires going towards the LEDs which is nice. Stupid question... Why are the 2 wire versions unusable? I have not looked at them at all to know what the wiring is like.


    Next year I hope to go MUCH bigger. This year will essentially be a trial for me to see how much work is involved, how I can best wire this house up and what hardware I like.


    Thanks for the help so far.
     
  5. Beacy

    Beacy It's so much better on the dark side

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    You need to log in to chat there is much that u need to go through
     
  6. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    Welcome to ACL

    The reason the 2 wire light sets are unusable is that their original 8-function controller reverses the polarity to control the two channels within the light set. The three wire ones have the power just turned on/off and our controllers do this.

    It's probably a bit late to try to get computer control this year but don't give up on the idea. I don't really like giving advice on power supplies because they're potentially dangerous but here goes. L_Tay and David_AVD sell Mean Well power supplies which are very good quality. Ray Wu sells cheap ($20 US plus postage) supplies but they're not approved in Australia. Ray is in China so they'd be slow to arrive but he also sells many other items worth considering.

    Also I think the word you're looking for is "static" not dumb because dumb is a category of lights switched by turning the power to them on and off. "Smart" or pixel lights receive data and are always powered. These typically allow the colour and brightness of every single light to be individually controlled.

    The PI36 would work because the Raspberry Pi can simultaneously send data to E1.31 controllers. E1.31 controllers are mainly for pixels but many of them have a DMX output to allow you to add more controllers for dumb channels. Dumb channels include store-bought lights in a controlled display.

    I agree with Beacy suggesting you visit the chat.
     
  7. Bird

    Bird Proud LOR user

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    to ACL Chris
     
  8. scamper

    scamper Senior Elf

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    You can get power supplies a lot cheaper direct from china and they are mostly pretty good.
    http://www.aliexpress.com/item/power-supply-27v-250w-27V-9A-power-suply-250w-27v-mini-size-power-supply-unit-led/891728595.html
    This is one I purchased for my big w strings and it works well.
    for the price of the RS one you listed, you could get a couple of these for a backup.
    The suppliers all have different carriers for shipping that they use so you can get them fairly quickly too.
    I have ordered from china and Brisbane on the same day and received my parcel from china a full week before the supposed air freight from Brisbane.
     
  9. AAH

    AAH I love blinky lights :) Community Project Designer

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  10. bjpc2716

    bjpc2716 need more lights to light up the world

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    welcome to acl
     
  11. fasteddy

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

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    Welcome to ACL

    Feel free to have a chat if you are passing my way in Albion Park, ill be glad to show you a few things
     
  12. benbrown

    benbrown Apprentice Elf

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    Welcome to ACL. Please join the chat room and learn more.
     
  13. kel

    kel Dedicated Elf

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  14. dale82

    dale82 Senior Elf

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    Welcome to ACL, you will learn heaps here :)
     

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