PIXAD8 Testing and Production Notes ...

j1sys

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Well, I may have been quiet the last few weeks. I was VERY busy.

PIXAD8 PCBs arrived April 18th. Quickly assembled one and proceeded on testing. Worked on hardware and software all week and finally on Saturday afternoon got rolling test patterns working on a sting of WS2801 lights.

Now working on LPD6803 and then proceeding on to TM190X. Still a lot of software work to do, but that's what I do best. Have to finish E1.31 code, add ARTNET II code, add configuration screens etc.

But the hardware is fully tested at the logic level.

Today I received a 50 amp 12VDC power supply. I used MR16 50 watt mini-spots to test full loading on one of the power busses. Nothing melted (the wires to the lights got real hot but halogens will do that) but the +V and Ground traces got a little warmer than I would like under FULL load (28 amps). The whole room was getting hot with 350 watts of halogens trying to set my work table on fire. A note on the power supply: at first I had trouble with onrush current. I can't connect more than 12 amps of lights and turn power on and off at the power strip. For testing I had to use the individual string fuses as a switch and add a string (2x 4 amps) at a time. This is a problem with my supply and the use of halogens for testing.

Bottom line:

1) The logic is solid.

2) The software is functional but needs a lot of refinement to be ready for prime time but I have no worries on that issue.

3) Three mounting holes between the connectors across the front of the board do not have enough clearance around them for the screw head. Easy PCB design fix. Adds .5in to board length.

4) +V and Ground traces will be beefed up. Add 50% to +V and 100% to Ground. It was half sized but double layered. The power/heat didn't dissipate well enough. Adds .75in to board depth.

5) While redesigning I will switch from the standard blade fuse to the mini-blade fuse. The docs and listing for fuses and fuse holders from Keystone were confusing and I finally found the holder style I wanted in the mini-blade size.

So a good week of work with a lot of progress. I will refine the PCB design tomorrow and submit it soon. I will order a small first run of 55 boards, have 5 boards hand assembled, do a quick test and then, hopefully, release the others for production. If the 5 boards have problems I will junk the 50 PCBs and make any final tweaks necessary.

Attached are some photos of one board with just fuse holders and connectors being used for load testing and some photos of another board fully assembled with an ECG-M32MX sitting on top hooked up for software testing and development.

I also have the ability to remotely download firmware updates just about tested and will probably release this combination as the first boards that won't require a PICKit for updates. It still might be a good idea to have one available somewhere to borrow in case of an emergency since this is a new technique for me and could have some little quirks at first.

Everybody asks price. Still have to figure all costs but probably looking at $120 per set. People have asked about an enclosure. I looked into having an enclosure with pigtails or connectors and all of them added a lot of cost or reduced the amperage per string for a reasonable cost solution. I am going to acquire a quantity of CG-1000 and CG-500 enclosures (if it fits into the CG-500). I think a weatherproof enclosure with your cables coming into the box (any size or type) is more flexible. Of course you can make your own enclosure. I expect the CG-1000 to come in at about $15 including a mounting plate that adapts our hole pattern to the CG-1000 layout.

-Ed

oops - photos were too big. I will add a reply in a few minutes with links to the photos on our site.
 

dmoore

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j1sys said:
3) Three mounting holes between the connectors across the front of the board do not have enough clearance around them for the screw head. Easy PCB design fix. Adds .5in to board length.
Hot diggity dog - screw terminals!

j1sys said:
Everybody asks price. Still have to figure all costs but probably looking at $120 per set. People have asked about an enclosure.
This pricing includes the ECG-M24H "motherboard"?

Lookin' good!
 

SmartAlecLights

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I reckon i have the perfect case for it allready at that size, has see through lid an all.
Looking Sweet as

Just let me know when its time to send you money.
 

David_AVD

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dmoore said:
j1sys said:
Everybody asks price. Still have to figure all costs but probably looking at $120 per set. People have asked about an enclosure.
This pricing includes the ECG-M24H "motherboard"?
Looks like the price includes the ECG-M32MX processor board and the new pixel drive board.
 

j1sys

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Yes. That's what I meant by 'set'. I get tired of typing ECG-M32MX/ECG-PIXAD8 combo.

Sorry for any confusion.

-Ed
 

christmas-light

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jstjohnz said:
j1sys said:
they come with all connectors and i'll have spares available. may include 2 extra plugs with each (in case you lose them). i buy them in bulk from china. they are 3.5mm pitch pluggable terminal strips. the big ones are 7.62mm (.3in) pitch fixed terminal strips. the pluggable ones were VERY tall and a little expensive.

the fuses in the pictures on the prototype are standard blade. we are switching to mini-blades. both are standard parts at auto stores and walmart type stores.

-ed
Would you mind sharing the vendor/part numbers and pinout of your string connectors? If I re-do my PCB, I'd like to go to pluggable screw connectors for the strings, and it seems like it would make sense to standardize.
Yes that would be cool ;)
 

kane

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PIXADx with onboard ethernet hub?

What would be the chances of being able to get a second ethernet port integrated into a PIXADx ? I have no idea what the innerds of a basic ethernet hub was, but if it was basic - perhaps this would allow daisy-chaining of controllers, rather than running back to base?

Also, given a lot of situations require the controller being placed close to the pixels, there's probably times when only a single output is required (ie PIXAD1) Would this simplify a PIXAD4 at all, or not really make any difference?
 

fasteddy

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Re: PIXADx with onboard ethernet hub?

kanebullen said:
What would be the chances of being able to get a second ethernet port integrated into a PIXADx ? I have no idea what the innerds of a basic ethernet hub was, but if it was basic - perhaps this would allow daisy-chaining of controllers, rather than running back to base?

Also, given a lot of situations require the controller being placed close to the pixels, there's probably times when only a single output is required (ie PIXAD1) Would this simplify a PIXAD4 at all, or not really make any difference?
All you need to use is a cheap network switch to distribute your controllers away from the main show computer
 

j1sys

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Built-in Ethernet switch is possible but I don't see as practical. Won't say it may never happen but there are a few thousand things that come before it in our priorities.

A small $39 switch in several distributed spots in your layout will probably be best.

PIXAD4 may be coming soon. Below that it starts to become costly for the M32MX to drive vs the cost of the PIXAD. Also looking at PIXAD16/32 at the higher end. Looking at a simpler dedicated 10Base-T, 1 universe, 1 or 2 string, with or without POE to drive the lights option. The objective will be as small and as cheap as possible.

-Ed
 

kane

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j1sys said:
Built-in Ethernet switch is possible but I don't see as practical. Won't say it may never happen but there are a few thousand things that come before it in our priorities.

A small $39 switch in several distributed spots in your layout will probably be best.
yeah, fair enough.

j1sys said:
PIXAD4 may be coming soon. Below that it starts to become costly for the M32MX to drive vs the cost of the PIXAD. Also looking at PIXAD16/32 at the higher end. Looking at a simpler dedicated 10Base-T, 1 universe, 1 or 2 string, with or without POE to drive the lights option. The objective will be as small and as cheap as possible.

-Ed
Sounds good - will look forward to hearing about these
 

tng5737

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Perhaps this is a dumb question, but what would be a max distance fromthe AD8 to the actual string? What I am getting at is that the AD8 would probably have to be in close proximity to the strings - like in a megatree - correct?
 

neilric99

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If the PixAD8 has the same design as the Stellascapes E16 then 5M is ok, if it's like the TP3244 then it needs to be really close unless a pixel repeater is added at the output connector

tng5737 said:
Perhaps this is a dumb question, but what would be a max distance fromthe AD8 to the actual string? What I am getting at is that the AD8 would probably have to be in close proximity to the strings - like in a megatree - correct?
 
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