Pixel Tree

Gilrock

Full time elf
Joined
Jan 4, 2013
Messages
397
Location
Tucson, AZ
Well like usual I get energized to work on my display during xmas and then near end of January I begin putting things off and its usually November when I start ramping up. Luckily I'm not one of those people that tries to turn on lights Dec 1st. I'm happy if I get things running by about the 15th because 2 weeks is enough for me.

So I'm not sure if I'll get it done but I was trying to build a pixel tree similar to Ruprect's using the strap method. I made like one strap in January and then kept putting off the rest of the work till now. I've spent the last 10 days trying to build the frame and work on the straps. I found out the pigtails I had bought were the wrong ones. I always use 3 core and I accidentally had bought 4 core so I had to place a new order a few days ago so its shown as shipped but still in China.

For the frame I bought the cheapest welder Home Depot had. I've done a little welding before with better equipment. With this welder the welds aren't coming out pretty but it will get the job done. I'm trying to build something a little different than I've seen others do. Everyone else seems to attach the straps and then lift the whole pole. I'm trying to build the top ring such that I can raise and lower it using a pulley. I just finished the structure today and the top section is raising and lowering good so I hope it works as well after I attach the weight of the strings. I'm just using a rope right now but if its too hard to pull by hand I may attach a cable and a boat crank.

Here's the base. It didn't come out perfectly round like I'd like but its close enough. I drilled the holes first but that caused them to become weak points when I was bending the metal into a circle. Also when welding the spokes the heat seemed to cause the metal to bend at the junction like the metal was able to relax the stress when heated.



This shows the assembly I welded up to hold the pulley at the top. There is a coupling on top in case I want to attach another pole section to hold a star.



Here's a photo showing the top ring in the lowered position. It's about 6 feet off the ground when lowered due to it hitting the coupling that attaches the 10' pipe to the lower pipes.



This is a photo showing the top ring raised to the top. With my 4" pixel spacing my pole needed to be at least 15' from the base ring.
 

BundyRoy

Dedicated elf
Joined
Apr 9, 2014
Messages
1,026
Keep that motivation going CCL, you're on a roll. I'm backing you in to be ready before the 15th this year. Good job, so far, now get stuck into it.
 

Jamie

Lighting up the night.
Joined
Dec 16, 2010
Messages
399
Location
Warwick
Nice job.. I like the pulley set up.. Cant wait to see it come alive..
 

bluzervic

65,768 Channels, 185 Universes
Joined
Dec 31, 2011
Messages
533
Location
Fremont, Calif.
Very nice....wish I could weld a bottom like that.


I would use the 4 core stuff if you are pressed for time... you can always cut the extra wire. That is what I did with my pixel-canes


-Blu
 

Gilrock

Full time elf
Joined
Jan 4, 2013
Messages
397
Location
Tucson, AZ
Got all 32 straps punched out now...and a tired right shoulder. I have the grommets pressed into 16 of them now. The bummer is my pigtails sat in Los Angelos all day yesterday. I guess Thanksgiving messed up the normal delivery schedules because usually it makes it to the my house almost the same day it comes in that port. This would have been a perfect couple of days to get the soldering done.

So I've started spending time trying to add the pixel tree into my sequences. Since I'm on a short schedule I found a couple ways to speed up the process with some creative sequence cheating. Finished two songs yesterday. First I had to add all the new DMX channels for the tree. OMG LOR sucks so bad for that step. I really need to finish my ChannelThis software so I could fix things like this so much faster. I did use my program to renumber all my universes that changed numbers this year for my channel configuration file.

For one song I just copied the data in LOR for one of my arches. Since the arches are 50 pixels and the tree is 42 I selected pixels 9 to 50 in the arch and pasted it into the newly created channels. The tricky part is since the strings in the pixel tree go up down up down I had to reverse the data for every other string. To accomplish that I found the ClipboardFlipper program from ItsMeBob and used that to flip an LOR clipboard to reverse the data for every other string.

For the second song I copied the data from my 12 CCR tree which made it a little more tedious because I couldn't just paste the same data 12 times. I had to copy each string over and use the ClipboardFlipper to reverse half the strings. Again I had to forego copying the lower 8 pixels from the tree data.

Then I converted the sequences into xLights and inserted some Nutcracker sequences in certain spots. I found out if your trying to preserve imported data you better have a nutcracker row that sets the effect back to None otherwise when you save the last effect you entered overwrites all your data all the way to the end of the song. Been there done that...had to re-convert and start over...lol.
 

Gilrock

Full time elf
Joined
Jan 4, 2013
Messages
397
Location
Tucson, AZ
My pigtails and splitter cables arrived yesterday so the soldering race is on. Got about 8 strings soldered up last night until I ran out of heat shrink. I attached 4 strings to the tree to test out the power injection scheme and they worked great.

Its looking like the tree will get completed so I ordered a bunch more goodies from J1SYS yesterday. I got the idea that for my pixel tree power injection the easiest way would be to use one of the piggyback cards that normally sits on top of the P12S boards since it would give me fuse protection and nice easy connectors so I contacted Ed and found out he will sell the P12X cards individually.

I'm also thinking of using this same strap idea to mount pixels to my roofline. The idea would be I could mount hooks on the roof to attach the straps and use a turnbuckle to tighten them up. If it works it will be much easier to stow away than using PVC pipes. Every time I order from Ed I find out there is a new board available that I haven't seen advertised. I ordered another P12S and the piggyback card is a new P12D that has the capability to do the long distance 5V pixel runs. The P12D provides the driver channels and I ordered 6 of the receiver cards.
 

Gilrock

Full time elf
Joined
Jan 4, 2013
Messages
397
Location
Tucson, AZ
I've got 16 of the 32 straps installed on the tree. It's nice to be able to lower the ring to add more and then raise it back up but I'm not getting equal tension on all the straps. Even though the straps look a bit uneven during the day when I looked at the tree at night you would never know it. In fact since I installed the first 16 to face the street I'm not sure the back half of the tree is going to add much to the display.

The one thing I'm a little disappointed in is the 5 VDC strings seems to get interrmittent flashes in them. My 12 VDC ribbon tree colors stay rock solid. I thought maybe it was not enough power injection but I would expect to see the issues in the later parts of the strings but it seems to happen anywhere in the string. Currently I have injection at the bottom only so it's every 84 pixels. No one else has noticed what I'm seeing. The pattern is usually changing fast enough it's not obvious. The thing bothering me is I just bought some J1SYS differential boards to run 5 VDC over longer distances to be able to have colored pixels along my roofline so I'm afraid it will react the same way and those boards can't be changed to 12 VDC.
 

Baf05

Full time elf
Joined
Dec 15, 2012
Messages
249
Location
Canberra
Gilrock,

I had the same issue as you, my 5v pixels were flickering, like you I thought my injection was enough, however after reading a thread on adding running three power supplies to a p12r, I tried! Seems to have fixed my issue.

So I suggest that you my need to add more power, in the form of another power supply and see how you go.

:)
 

arw01

Full time elf
Joined
Dec 30, 2013
Messages
384
Location
Eastern Washington
Didn't Shell have issues like this with her matrix? Turned out the firmware for the controller was at fault. Once she updated, flickering went away!
 
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