newbie in design phase

charliedog

New elf
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Jan 1, 2021
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4
Hello- I have been reading and watching videos over the past month or so. I would like to submit my order within the next week or so to hopefully get in on a pre-sale discount. My primary goal for year one is to have an outline of my house and windows. I plan to use conduit+chromastrip for the outline. My secondary goal if time allows would be a small mega tree (~8-10 feet 270 degrees). I was thinking 9 strip of 100 lights (50 up 50 down).

For my first year I am trying to minimize splicing of pixels and avoid power injection. For this reason I plan to use 12V WS2811 lights spaced at 3" for my outline/windows. I plan to use a falcon F48 with multiple differential receiver boards. Doing this allows me to keep each run under 100 nodes. I plan to buy 100 node string and cut each to length. My current plan will have a lot of excess pixels cut off and probably more differential boards/power supplies than needed. This will definitely not be the cheapest plan but I think it will minimize the chance of failure on the roof lines, which would be hard to fix once they are up. The extra pixels and available ports will hopefully also allow easy expansion into props in year two.

Let me know any suggestions, I am all ears. The Picture below is color coded into differential receiver groups. The groups with multiple differential receivers would be daisy chained in smart mode.
*I also just realized my photo has an error, the group for the tree would have 3 350 power supplies
 

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Srmorgan

Apprentice elf
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Jan 26, 2020
Messages
60
If I read this correctly you will only have 900 pixels on your tree. That puts you at 18 amps on 30% brightness. You can run that off of one psu. Trees are dense pixel props that get really bright at 100%.
 

i13

Senior elf
Joined
Jul 5, 2013
Messages
947
I'd suggest ordering pixels that are already cut to length but yes, having spares is a good idea. In order to minimise power injection, an option is to choose pixels with 18 AWG wire between them. If you mount the pixels, order them spaced slightly further apart than you need so that they're okay if the spacing turns out to be a bit short. Ordering them spaced too far apart will increase the voltage drop due to the wire length.

For the tree, I'd suggest 5V due to the efficiency. If it has 1000 lights, 5V would enable you to run the entire tree from one power supply instead of two or three. I'd expect that you'd need to power the 5V strings of 100 at both ends. If voltage drop still happens, reducing the brightness should help.

Power injection isn't too complicated if you do need it. In my display, everything is powered through injection and I don't have anything powered through controllers.

It's likely that a Falcon F48 version 2 is coming out this year so you might want to wait. It's planned to support a lot more pixels than the current model. In the meantime, a cheap tester can be used to make sure all of the pixels work. Some of the pixel suppliers sell them but here's an example on Ebay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/DC5V-12V-M...m2d18e071fd:g:rDkAAOSwKtdfdC1E&frcectupt=true

Which pixel supplier(s) do you plan to order from? I'm assuming that you're planning to use nodes/strings because you haven't mentioned strips. Is this correct?
 

charliedog

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Jan 1, 2021
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4
thanks for the quick input.
You are correct, I am planning string/nodes.

I am planning to make lengths of conduit/chromatrim with the correct number of pixels for each straight section of roof line. I thought this would make installation easier. None of these sections will be exactly 50 or 100 nodes. Most are in the 60-80 node range. I was planning to buy 100 node lengths and then just cut each to the desired length.

I live in the USA and will likely buy my nodes from RGBMAN or DIYLEDExpress. Their prices seem almost exactly the same as buying from the aliexpress vendors from china.

I like the idea of using 5V for the tree. I never even considered 5V because I knew I would likely need 12V for the house outline to avoid injection and thought I should just stick to one voltage. It really dose make sense for the tree though. I have seen some store advertise spools of nodes with "power injection wire every X nodes." What exactly does that mean? Is the Power wire cut every X nodes to inject power? Would it be a good idea to buy four spools of 250 5V nodes with power injection cable every 50 nodes and then I could just use one differential receiver and one 5V power supply for the whole tree?
 

i13

Senior elf
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Jul 5, 2013
Messages
947
I have no experience with RGBMAN or DIYLEDExpress. Most of my pixels came from Ray Wu plus I did one order with benbrown in 2016. The suppliers in China often offer strings with custom numbers of nodes or spacing between them. If you do order from them, try sending an email to request a manual quote because Aliexpress sometimes automatically calculates higher postage costs. Note that you'll probably want to keep your connector type and wiring standard consistent between orders.

There are different types of 12V nodes to choose from. This thread has info about them: https://auschristmaslighting.com/threads/12161/

Injection every 50 nodes would mean injecting at the top of the tree. Do you have a link to these spools of nodes with power injection wires? I haven't seen them before. I would hope that if they're pre-wired for power injection then they would power inject in both directions. Data is directional but power isn't; that's also why we can power a string at both ends. If you're using just one power supply for the whole tree, you don't need to worry about making sure that you don't accidentally connect the positive outputs of multiple power supplies through the pixels. That said, you might still want to cut the positive line in the pixels half way between each injection point if you use fuses.
 

Srmorgan

Apprentice elf
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Jan 26, 2020
Messages
60
Another option is to us hp server power supplies. They come in 750 and 1200 watt varieties. They need an adapter to use but their cheap and just push on. They only do about 75% if plugged into a 110 outlet but that’s enough to do your whole display at 30% if you wanted to. They are also cheap. I paid $30 for two of them. Since they are so cheap I bought an extra one in case one goes bad. Because of the adapter it’s a quick swap. Don’t have to undo the wires. But they only come in 12v.
 

Srmorgan

Apprentice elf
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Jan 26, 2020
Messages
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Also, power injection isn’t as bad as it looks. VCS 2020 Power Distro / Power Injection - Bill Porter is a great video. I use the solder sleeves all the time. Just strip the wires insert into the sleeve and heat with a hot air gun. There is a small amount of solder in the tube that melts and the tube shrinks making it water proof. And your done.
 

charliedog

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Jan 1, 2021
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Here is an example of one of the spools:
I have also seen various sizes listed on aliexpress

I just finished watching that video. Very informative. With his method it seem like it would be possible to use 5V pixel and power inject only at the bottom of the tree. This would be injecting every 100 pixels but would still keep keep within the 50 pixel rule since the injection would travel forward and backwards. I do have one question about his method. He mentioned he always uses power from his controller connected to pixel #1 and then runs a separate cable for power injection. Wouldn't this mean he is using two separate fused lines? He didn't mention cutting the power cable anywhere, only splicing in his power injection points.

I will look into those HP power supplies. That sounds like it may actually be the most simple route.
 

i13

Senior elf
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Jul 5, 2013
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947
I unfortunately can't see a wiring diagram or anything similar on the listing for pixels with power injection wires every 50 pixels so I can't provide any further explanation. I'd hope that they inject power in both directions. Thanks for posting it though. I'd also be wary about the wire thickness because it isn't stated. Thicker wires means less voltage drop.

You can (but don't need to) power the first pixels through the controller. In the scenario that you describe, I'd suggest cutting the positive wire half way between each injection point with the controller counting as an injection point. You'd put a fuse in each of the positive injection wires with the first fuse being built into the controller. If you're only using one power supply then you'd be able to get away without cutting the positive between each injection point. That said, if you fuse your injection points then I would still recommend cutting it. If you don't cut it then the current has multiple paths available and the fuses can share the load. Injection points need to have a negative wire going to the power supply as well; without this, you're forcing all of the current through the controller's negative output.
 

TerryK

Retired Elf
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Feb 9, 2020
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351
Location
West Central Ohio
... question about his method. He mentioned he always uses power from his controller connected to pixel #1 and then runs a separate cable for power injection. Wouldn't this mean he is using two separate fused lines? He didn't ...
Been a bit of time since I've watched the video but indirectly yes. The first would be the fuse on the controller output (or should be). The second would be the power injection from the supply. Most controllers are fused 5 Amp, additional power injection should be fused relative to how it is designed bu the user.

Another comment, I've ordered from RGB Man. That vendor drop ships from China and as you noted prices compare well to AliExpress. Shipping time is 4 to 6 weeks by ship. As I recall, faster is offered if one is willing to pay for it. Not sure of the Chinese manufacturer, I have had a bad string and RGB Man promptly replaced the entire string. Also as i13 mentioned, wire AWG is not mentioned in the LED Express web page; if it is not indicated I suspect the wire is not 18 AWG but lighter.
 

charliedog

New elf
Joined
Jan 1, 2021
Messages
4
Thanks for the help. Going to draw up another plan this weekend and see what you guys think.

i contacted diyledexpress and they said wire gauge was 18-19. I think I’m just going to avoid them
 

TerryK

Retired Elf
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
351
Location
West Central Ohio
Wire size on the strings from China always run on the thin side.
I also purchase from Wired Watts. Wired Watts is more expensive but devices are typically stocked. I've received Wired Watts orders in 4 days. Paul Zhang has 12 Volt resistor strings on Amazon which is also expedient delivery (for the US). Cost again is more then RGB Man.
 

i13

Senior elf
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Messages
947
18-19 AWG is respectable. Lower numbers correspond to thicker wires.
 
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