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Newbie with plan in place and ready to pull the trigger. Would like suggestions!

Discussion in '101 Display Basics' started by HeyRay2, Nov 17, 2016.

  1. HeyRay2

    HeyRay2 Apprentice Elf

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    Hi fellow decorators! I'm new to RGB / LED lighting this year and a have been doing some research and planning for the last month and I am ready to pull the trigger on obtaining my lights and controller(s) (I know, I'm starting WAY LATER than I should be!) and I would welcome any input / suggestions / corrections on logic that any one can provide.

    First off, I've sketched out my plan and come up with the following:

    LED RGB strip lighting:
    • 8 windows
    • Garage Door Frame
    • Front Door Frame
    • Roof lines
    RGB "bullet" pixels:
    • 4 - 50 pixel snowflakes over the garage door
    • 1 - 180 pixel star above the garage roof
    Based on my measurements and calculations (as shown in the attached layout image and spreadsheet), I believe this works out to:
    • approx. 77 meters of LED RGB strip lighting (just under 16 5m sections)
    • approx. 400 "bullet" pixels
    I plan on on using 12v lighting and decided on the following key items to power the lighting / system:
    • One 16 output controller: Falcon F16v2, PixLite 16 MkII or the brand-spankin' new HinksPix 16 (LINK)
    • (3) 12v 350w power supplies: Something from Ray Wu or Amazon (this seems to have good reviews (eTopxizu 12v 30a Dc Universal Regulated Switching Power Supply 360w
    • 5m DC12V WS2811 150LEDs (10pixes/m) led digital strip from Ray Wu (LINK)
    • 18AWG wire 100pcs/string DC12V 12mm WS2811 addressable RGB led smart pixel node from Ray Wu (LINK)
    Based on my calculations, it looks like I'll working with about 3500 channels and 920 watts. It looks like I'll need to break the display up into about 11 outputs (each plan output group is denoted with the yellow boxes / orange text in the below diagram) on the controller and do power injection for some (all?) of the runs. I plan on trying to centrally locate the controller and PSU (shown as "C" and "P" on the attached diagram) and use CAT 5 for data cables and 18/16/14 gauge 2-core wire for the power injection cables.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I'm working to get my head around power injection and will draw up a diagram for how I plan on making it work and will reply back with my plan for people to laugh at ( :D ). In the meantime, I would welcome any input / suggestions / correction any of you wonderful folks have!

    Thanks in advance and Happy Holidays!
     
  2. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    Looks as though you know what you're doing but there's not much time left. A display like that isn't something that can simply be thrown together in a couple of weeks. Posting your plan on the forum is a good idea.

    The main suggestion I'd have is to avoid Ray Wu's 12V nodes. These run at higher currents than they should and the result is wasted power and more voltage drop than there should be. They don't take advantage of being 12V so you may as well get 5V for better efficiency. You have a large number of nodes in a small area. Having 5V in the setup would also allow you to make some of the nearby shorter strips 5V. This would increase their resolution and voltage drop isn't such a problem for short lengths of strip.

    Learning about power injection will be very important with any of the controllers that you listed. Without power injection, you won't be able to take advantage of the large numbers of pixels per output that they support. Power injection also alllows you to run 5V and 12V lights end-to-end.

    One of these is a good idea in your first order. It allows you to test your pixels without setting up a controller https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/DC12V-WS2811-LED-smart-pixel-controller-With-76-kinds-of-patterns-2048pixels-controlled/701799_32261096741.html

    These end caps may come in handy too if you plan on cutting and joining strip. I still recommend putting heatshrink over these to reduce physical stress on the solder joins as you move the strips around but the end caps are good for waterproofing. Ray doesn't mind if you buy a small number of these alongside other items.
    https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Silicon-end-cap-8mm-10mm-12mm-optional/701799_459153462.html

    It's always a good idea to buy a few more pixels than you actually need. Pixels can fail and you might need null pixels.

    Edited because of an incorrect link
     
  3. OP
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    HeyRay2

    HeyRay2 Apprentice Elf

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    Thanks for the reply! I appreciate the information and suggestions!

    I chose 12v nodes based on my research that it seems like 12v nodes don't suffer from voltage drop issues as badly as 5v and can run longer distances before needing power injection. I'm not averse to switching over to 5v, but would welcome any sources you can suggest for 12v nodes that don't have efficiency issues that Ray Wu's nodes have.

    Thanks for the suggestion buy extra nodes. I planned on have at least one extra LED strip and 25-50 more bullet pixels than I need. Would you suggest having more on-hand than this? If so, I'll grab more just in case or for testing / playing around. I planned on grabbing some of those end caps, but then also considered just ending each strip with a 3-core pigtail soldered and heatshrinked on and then using endcaps that fit the pigtails. This way I figured I would rearrange or extend any of my runs should my plans change in the future.


    Regarding power injection, I think I've got the basic idea of it down, it seems somewhat similar to how you would wire in multiple batteries into a car stereo system (something I have a bit more experience in). Let me know if the below diagram makes any sense.

    [​IMG]


    For power injection, do you have to run a wire back to the power supply for each injection point, or can you use "T connector" points in the power line as well similar to how I have for the line that connects the LED strips?
     
  4. scamper

    scamper Senior Elf

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    That power diagram is pretty much on the money. That is how I am doing most of my elements now, except I just run 2 pin waterproof automotive connectors at the end of every strand and plug power into each individually, and run a 2 pin waterproof connector from the controller to the strips. I then label every one so I know what voltage it is and also what controller it goes to and in what order it goes.
    This way if you get different lengths or even different brand strips you don't need to reset your f16 virtual strings etc.


    As far as buying extra strips or pixels, look for bulk discounts and just get as much as you can afford, you will get the bug and want more anyway 8)
     
  5. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    Unfortunately I do not know of any cheap 12V node sources that don't have the efficiency problems but they probably do exist and Ray has previously sold them. What you need to look for is ones that draw no more than 30 mA per node. They still use slightly more power than 5V nodes because the extra voltage is always used to create heat. 30mA also means they're not quite as bright but the difference isn't that noticeable. Higher current means that you'll get voltage drop happening with 12V and more power will be wasted (unlike with 5V). Strips do not have the efficiency problem because the extra voltage is used to power the LEDs in groups of three. You have a large number of nodes in a small area so voltage drop shouldn't be too much of an issue if your wires to the power supply are thick enough and not too long.

    The more spare nodes you have, the safer you are. Future orders may not exactly match the nodes that you get in this order and 25-50 extra won't be enough if you accidentally damage some. A spare power supply is also a good idea because they can fail. Assuming no accidents that damage several nodes, 25 to 50 extra should get you through this season. The number of spare nodes is a personal preference thing.

    In the diagram, you need to connect the negative from the controller to the first pixel and not just the data. You also need to cut the positive line in the pixels half way between each power supply. That's not required in the particular case of the diagram because all pixels are powered by the same supply.
     
  6. OP
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    HeyRay2

    HeyRay2 Apprentice Elf

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    Thanks for the input and suggestions. I want to be sure I have secure, water and idiot ("me") proof so I will definitely be labeling and documenting everything so I will be able to keep everything in order.


    Happy Holidays!
     
  7. bjpc2716

    bjpc2716 need more lights to light up the world

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    regarding power supply i would use maxwells
     
  8. bjpc2716

    bjpc2716 need more lights to light up the world

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    sorry mate it should be mean well
     
  9. OP
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    HeyRay2

    HeyRay2 Apprentice Elf

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    Thanks for the further info and suggestions about 5v vs 12v and spare nodes. I'll do some further research over the next few days and then make my decision by the end of the week on which type I want to go with. 5v sounds like it may be the way to go for efficiency. Whichever way I go, I'll snag a while extra strand of each just to be safe.


    Also, thanks for pointing out that I needed to include the ground in the line that comes from the controller to the first set of LEDs. I've updated my diagram accordingly so I don't forget ;) :

    [​IMG]

    As far the disconnecting the positive lead half-way between PSUs, I actually planned on avoiding using multiple power supplies on any one power injection run as my research indicated that it could be a problem (perhaps that what you suggestion addresses, if so thanks!). I'll also grab an extra PSU as a backup just in case of issues.
     
  10. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    The Mean Wells are good but I even had one of them fail. I was probably unlucky but it can happen. Fortunately it was within warranty so I did get a replacement posted to me.

    Multiple power supplies on one output are only a problem if you don't cut the positive between them or if you do cut the negative between them which you shouldn't do. This is how you use multiple voltages on one output.
     
  11. OP
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    HeyRay2

    HeyRay2 Apprentice Elf

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    Thanks for the reply. I was reading up that the Mean Well supplies are known to be some of the best to use. Ray Wu suggested some that were less expensive so I looked for items on Amazon that actually appeared to be the same thing as I was trying to save a bit of money given the high shipping rate from China, and the supply I found seems to have pretty decent reviews for being a knock-off.


    Being a computer guy, I should know better than to try and cheap out on something as important as the power supply, so I'll probably end up going with the Mean Well PSUs and trying to save cash somewhere else.


    Thanks!
     
  12. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    Unfortunately Mean Well supplies from Chinese sellers are usually clones. They may work fine but the genuine ones come from Taiwan.
     
  13. uncledan

    uncledan Apprentice Elf Generous Elf

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    I would consider this year a learning season... You are soooo late in the year to even be thinking about this. I hope you pull it off but you have a rough road ahead of you at this time of the year without even ordering anything yet. Order now! Not the end of the week!
     
  14. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    It is almost the end of the week. IMO there is still sense in ordering at the end of the week because it is not good when you order something and realise it's not what you want or if you forget to add something to your order. If you're confident then yes order now. Posting on the forum first was a good move.

    Contact Ray directly for a shipping quote because the automatic calculator on Aliexpress can overcharge you.
     
  15. OP
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    HeyRay2

    HeyRay2 Apprentice Elf

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    I certainly am late to the game, but I am feeling pretty confident in being able to get this done. I'm pretty electrically inclined (and I conduct electricity pretty well, I know from experience :) ) and I have been working with a Light-O-Rama I picked up at a garage sale a few months back and already have sequences ready to go for that.


    I know that LED is a big step above working with dumb strands on a LOR but I'm going to give it a shot.


    I plan on ordering ASAP, as soon as I'm able to pin down what I want and get Ray Wu to give me a better quote for shipping since the AliExpress store page shipping is ridiculous.


    Thanks and wish me luck!
     

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