Putting together a shopping list; question about spacing

DeepShadow

New elf
Joined
Dec 25, 2021
Messages
5
Location
California
Hey all,

I'm new to this hobby, just got a small 2 port controller and raspberry pi, and am starting to think through prop construction. Since I know next to nothing, I'm hoping I could get some tips/lessons learned before I purchase the lights.

I'm just planning on creating a wreath and outlining 3 windows as a start. I see that the strands for bullet lights and strips come in different spacings. From any of your experience, is there a specific spacing that looks best when viewed from a car at the sidewalk? Do you have any examples in pictures that you could share with me?

Any tools I should look at getting? I read in another thread that pixel pliers are helpful for certain situations.

Thanks in advance!
 

i13

Dedicated elf
Joined
Jul 5, 2013
Messages
1,156
I'm not sure whether this helps answer your question but many suppliers allow you to choose custom wire spacing between the pixel nodes. It would be worth stating that you're referring to the centre-to-centre spacing when you specify this. It's not always precise so you're safer if you add some headroom. Note that adding headroom will increase the voltage drop so you don't want the wires between the pixels to be too long.

When the pixels are mounted, I would have thought that spacing in the range from 5 to 10 centimetres (2 to 4 inches) would be sensible. How far away will the pixels be from the viewers and what size are the windows? My 2016 display had some pixels that were vertically spaced 19cm (7.5 inch) apart at 0:29 in this video. In my opinion, these would have been too far apart for a window outline. The pixels visible at 0:32 were spaced 9.5cm (3.7 inch) apart. This was a large house which was a long way back from the road and the video was taken from the far side of the road. View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QV94P64Fqrs

As a general thought, if your house is smaller or close to the street then it would make sense to space the pixels closer together.

A simple tool that's worth having is a pixel tester: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32261108366.html
They're available from many pixel suppliers or you can get one through Ebay. Having one of these allows you to test your wiring without putting a more expensive controller at risk.
 

TerryK

Retired Elf
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
510
Location
West Central Ohio
For strings, I would suggest a pixel spacing of 4 inch using 18 AWG wire. While there are in some situations advantages to custom strings, I have yet to see any real advantage to it. Strips can be obtained with either 30, 60, or 144 pixels per meter. Most props work nicely with 4 inch spacing. If stretched, 3 inch pixel spacing might work (but stretching is not recommended) and there are props where 4 inch will not work without modification and props where 2 inch may be fine.

Strip or string pixel spacing is not the same as viewing distance of pixel spacing. That is more aligned to pixel resolution such as if 2 pixels are turned on next to each other, what is the viewing distance before they begin to appear as a single pixel. That depends upon the viewing distance and the individuals display decisions; for most it is I think 2 inch.

Regarding tools, perhaps a heat gun to shrink heatshrink, a nice soldering pencil, wire stripper, and one or two wire cutters one probably a small flush cut, and small inexpensive DVM. Anything else will I think depend upon what type of strings, strips, or connectors you go with.
 

Iain

Apprentice elf
Joined
Nov 13, 2018
Messages
64
Location
Darwin
I'm just planning on creating a wreath and outlining 3 windows as a start
I made 5 corflute props last year and I found that time consuming... I would probably buy them pre-drilled and designed if I was going to do it again. There are some great wreath designs out there. They come with wiring diagrams (which can be complex and something I didn't realise) and spacing designed for off-the-shelf pixels. There's also boscoyo strip which you can use for window outlines, and it comes with holes for a range of spacing options.
It's not always precise so you're safer if you add some headroom
Another thing I didn't realise! In the end I found that 9cm holes were comfortable for wiring with 10cm spaced bullets, so long as the prop was thin. 9cm was difficult for some bullets that had to go through the wooden frame though as I needed more slack to get the bullet back and into the hole.
 

DeepShadow

New elf
Joined
Dec 25, 2021
Messages
5
Location
California
I made 5 corflute props last year and I found that time consuming... I would probably buy them pre-drilled and designed if I was going to do it again. There are some great wreath designs out there. They come with wiring diagrams (which can be complex and something I didn't realise) and spacing designed for off-the-shelf pixels. There's also boscoyo strip which you can use for window outlines, and it comes with holes for a range of spacing options.

Another thing I didn't realise! In the end I found that 9cm holes were comfortable for wiring with 10cm spaced bullets, so long as the prop was thin. 9cm was difficult for some bullets that had to go through the wooden frame though as I needed more slack to get the bullet back and into the hole.
The boscoyo site I didn't even know existed! Wow there's a lot of helpful stuff there. I'll take a look at those.

I'm afraid I'm not sure what corflute is - are those ones that come with wiring diagrams? Are there wiring diagrams for the boscoyo props?

Thanks for the help!
 

uncledan

Full time elf
Generous elf
Joined
Dec 27, 2014
Messages
471
Location
Buellton California
The boscoyo site I didn't even know existed! Wow there's a lot of helpful stuff there. I'll take a look at those.

I'm afraid I'm not sure what corflute is - are those ones that come with wiring diagrams? Are there wiring diagrams for the boscoyo props?

Thanks for the help!
Wiring diagram is all integrated into xLights
 

TerryK

Retired Elf
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
510
Location
West Central Ohio
There is a supplier list in ACL's Wiki. I have purchased from Gilbert Engineering and Boscoyo for Coro. For RGB pixels: RGB Man, Wally's Lights, Wired Watts, and Amazon (BTF Lighting).
 
Last edited:

Iain

Apprentice elf
Joined
Nov 13, 2018
Messages
64
Location
Darwin
I'm afraid I'm not sure what corflute is
Corflute is basically 2 thin plastic sheets held together with “fluting” or lots of little joining pieces. Most realestate and temporary picket signs are printed on it. It comes in varying thickness but is not particularly strong. You can drill through it for lights.

Some shops make their Christmas props out of corflute. There’s also another product which has many more flutes holding it together so is stronger, but I can’t remember what it’s called or who uses it!

Buying a premade prop will come with a wiring diagram as uncledan said. If you make your own prop you have to define your own wiring path. This can be tricky if you have a complex prop, as you don’t want to do the same line segment multiple times otherwise you waste lights, if that makes sense. If you get this far in your own design just come back to the forum and we can help you with it!
 

Indigogyre

Journeyman Elf
Generous elf
Joined
Jun 26, 2021
Messages
89
Honestly, unless you really want the experience of making a prop, it is certainly a lot cheaper when you order from GE, or Boscoyo. I bought some simple stars for under 40 cents each. That's a lot less then my material and labor costs to make them. As long as you are smart about ordering the costs can be kept down per prop. I've ordered from Boscoyo, Gilbert Engineering and Wired Watts ( A lot of Wired Watts) and have no problems at all. This was my first year and things went very well overall. Most of my misc. controller needs and pigtails came from wired Watts along with 1,000 pixels.

Dean
 
Top