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New version of the E680 pixel controller, just built 1st one up.

Discussion in 'The Development Lab' started by jstjohnz, Jun 17, 2011.

  1. jstjohnz

    jstjohnz Apprentice Elf

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    I have just assembled the first prototype of a new version of the E680 pixel controller, somewhat un-cleverly named the E681. Nothing revolutionary, just a re-work of the hardware to add some requested features.

    New in the E681:

    Same 16-string capacity as the E680. OK, I guess that isn't new.

    Single PC Board 6.8" x 4.1". Quite a bit larger than the E680.

    Designed to mount one (and power supply) or two (external supply) in a standard CG-1500 enclosure. Makes it easy to use the very inexpensive CG-1500 enclosure as a housing for your controllers. There's room for an E681, a power supply, and a small ethernet switch. Or 2 E681s if your power supply is external. Mounting holes mate directly with CG-1500 standoffs.

    DC-DC converter for controller power means the controller can operate off of any pixel voltage. No more heat sink! Now you can power the controller from the pixel power supply regardless of the voltage of your pixels. Eliminates the need for a separate supply, although that option is still available.

    Regulated +5VDC output for powering a small ethernet switch There is an on-board power connector that can supply 5VDC to a small ethernet switch such as the Trendnet TE100. The switch ports allow easy daisy-chaining of multiple pixel controllers (without having to worry about supplying AC power to the switch's wall transformer).

    3.5mm "Euro Style" pluggable screw terminal blocks for pixel connections. Eliminates the crimp pins! Pixel connections attach to pluggable screw terminal blocks. Shamelessly lifted from (and compatible with) the PIXAD8.

    Upgraded pixel power input connectors, will handle up to 32 amps on each side, or 64 amps total.

    Individual mini plug-in automotive-style blade fuses on each pixel string output.

    Optional buffer ICs for driving pixel clock and data lines. If not needed, a set of dip jumpers allows for driving pixels directly from the CPU pins. The optional buffer chips allow for a full +5V drive capability when needed. Selectable +3.3V or +5V on *each* buffer chip for compatibility with both 3.3V and 5V pixels.

    Pluggable resistor networks in all clock and data lines for enhanced line driving capability. Some pixel types can be driven over longer distances if a series resistor is used in the clock and data lines. By using pluggable resistor networks, it's easy to change these when needed for a particular application.

    Pictures soon....
     
  2. dmoore

    dmoore Senior Elf

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    Choices, choices, choices!

    Who shouldn't have pixels in 2011?
     
  3. kane

    kane Dedicated Elf

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    Hi Jim

    The cost for us in Australia to get the parts from Mouser and Saeglar makes these units quite cost prohibitive (postage more than doubles the cost) - most of us will find it's just easier to just get a PixAd8

    However, I'm sure there's plenty of people that are keen to play around with putting together their own. Would it be feasible from your end to offer a package with all parts supplied?

    Cheers

    Kane
     
  4. OP
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    jstjohnz

    jstjohnz Apprentice Elf

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    I will look into that and let you know.
     
  5. OP
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    jstjohnz

    jstjohnz Apprentice Elf

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    A few pictures as promised.
     

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  6. fasteddy

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

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    Very nice Jim, Ive enjoyed playing around with the E680 myself and the addition of fused outputs is a great addittion to an already great board. I do agree with Kane though that the shipping of the parts to Australia can make this project expensive, when i last looked i was up for $60 shipping just in parts without the board as mouser didnt have all the parts so there was 2 lots of shipping costs. Its unfortunate that the shipping cost for us down under make this project more expensive than it has to be as it is a great controller for those that enjoy building their own.
    On saying that though if i was to build a few of these or buy my parts with other Australian members then this would definbetly reduce the cost per unit to the point where this could be a great valued project
     
  7. smartalec

    smartalec Im a SmartAlec what can i say! Community Project Designer

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    so basicly is it best for us Aussie's to wait for a co-op for parts an boards?
    if so, is there any planned dates or yr when there maybe such a coop?
    thanks
     
  8. fasteddy

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

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    Alec,

    I doubt ill be doing a co-op unless there was a large demand, then i may think about it, but what i was using was a hypothetical to say that with the more controllers bought the better value there is with this project as the shipping costs go down as well as some of the parts depending on numbers of boards. So if there were a few people interested then the reduction will help make it a lot more affordable.

    But then there maybe plans for a co-op over at DIYC or Jim may be planning one, i just havent heard of any co-op but that doesnt mean there wont be one done by someone else.
     
  9. mschell

    mschell Full Time Elf

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    Not to discourage you guys, but I did try to start a group buy/coop for the E680 shortly after Jim started offering boards. Didn't get too many people interested. It would take at least 10-20 to get some of the quantity discounts.

    On the other hand, I did find another source for parts that, in most cases, was better than Mouser by more than 10%.

    Shipping to AU/NZ isn't too bad if the size is right. I shipped some small PCBs in a Flat Rate envelope for $13.95 US.

    Jim charges $15 US for a board shipped to the US. That includes the EPROM. It's probably cheaper in multiples. I can come up with a quick $ amount for the parts.

    Again, it probably only makes sense for at least 10 "kits".
     
  10. kane

    kane Dedicated Elf

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    I don't think anyone is expecting the parts cost to come down (not that they'd be complaining) - more just to get the delivery costs to a reasonable level for a single item.

    For example, the parts at Mouser came to around US$30 for tng5737. If I import the exact same parts list to Mouser, and specify that I am in Australia, it prices them at AU$39 (US$41 approx) They then sting us $39 for delivery. But, if I choose to get 10 sets of the parts, it seems to hits a threshold and gives free delivery (even to AU)

    For the Wiznet module (at $20), Saelig quoted something like $60 for delivery for a single item. But again, changing the quantity to 10 still only costs $60 odd to ship.

    So if there was interest in getting a few sets in, and someone re-distributing throughout Australia, then it could be worthwhile.

    In any case, it's probably worthwhile waiting to see how far off the e681 is!

    Cheers

    Kane
     
  11. OP
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    jstjohnz

    jstjohnz Apprentice Elf

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    A couple of possibilities. I don't have a problem in putting together a more comprehensive kit that would include the parts that are difficult to source there. I'm thinking as a minimum it would include PC board, eeprom, CPU, and Wiznet module.

    If there's anything else on the BOM that's hard to come by let me know and I can add it to the list. I can ship a small flat-rate box to Australia for about $15.
     
  12. Wombat

    Wombat Full Time Elf

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    Did anyone check if its comparable to someone like Farnel for the parts to get them locally?
     
  13. kool-lites

    kool-lites Full Time Elf

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    Wiznet modules are a right pain to purchase here. I got mine for Ben.

    BTW, I hope to have a couple at the Sydney Mini.
     
  14. kane

    kane Dedicated Elf

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    Just did a check of the first 5 parts, and they're anywhere from 2-4 times the price for each part, so that's probably not a good option. For example, the P8X32A-D40 is approx $10 from Mouser, but $30 at Farnel

    If we could get all parts (including pcb etc), delivered to AU for around the $100 mark, I think there'd be a few people keen - just not sure how that would eventuate.
     
  15. mschell

    mschell Full Time Elf

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    Did a quick calculation of cost for what I ordered recently. Note that I ordered from two suppliers, Mouser and Future Electronics, to get all the parts, except for a few resistors and terminal blocks that I had already.

    I also ordered extra stuff for other boards. Even so there isn't as much multiple qty discounts as you might think reflected here.

    All prices are US $ and are for one E680.

    Cost of parts - $ 35
    Shipping - $18 to me
    PCB/eprom $15
    Total $68

    If you split the shipping from the supplier over 10 kits, it's only about $2 per kit.

    So, say total cost of components is $37 + PCB $13 => $50 US plus shipping to AUS/NZ for 10 kits.
    .
    I'm assuming a slightly lower cost of the PCB due to shipping multiple ones in the same box. We'll have to get this confirmed.

    All of this should go into a small flat rate box, which is about $14 US, plus PayPal fees.

    I would need to verify all of this before I confirm final costs, but it seems like we're under the $100 US or AUS number with room to spare.

    I'm willing to run a group buy if we get a minimum of 10.
     

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