Stepping Wire Gauge Up and Down

xarcherdrum137

New elf
Joined
Nov 11, 2019
Messages
2
Hello all,

This is my first year getting into the hobby after a couple of years of considering it but knowing I was about to move and deciding to wait. I've done a good bit of research and feel comfortable that I know all of the major elements that I need, but the wiring to connect it all together is something I've been struggling to find a whole lot of information on. This post is primarily concerned with the termination of that wiring.

Setup:
I will be starting small, and plan to drive 700 lights using a Falcon PiCap on a Raspberry Pi for the controller and the Falcon F8 distro to support power injection. From what I have gathered in my initial research, larger wire is preferred to keep voltage drops to a minimum. I'm not trying to make incredibly long runs for the power injection, but I expect the longest run from power supply to the end of the string to be ~15 feet. I was looking to use 12 AWG wire for this. However, the terminal blocks for making electrical connection on the PiCap and F8 distro support a maximum of only 18 AWG.

Question:
I am trying to figure out how to properly get my 12 AWG wire into terminal blocks meant for 18 AWG and want to know what other people are doing. I looked into ferrules but didn't see any with such a large gauge discrepancy. Do people just solder a short segment of smaller diameter wire to terminate their wire runs? Or is using 12 AWG overkill and I should just go down to 18? Or is there something else that I am missing here? How do you all wire power to your runs?

Thank you.
 

Croydon Lights

Apprentice elf
Joined
Jan 6, 2018
Messages
64
The difference in voltage drop for copper cable at 5 amps and 15 feet would be about 0.11 volts for 12 AWG and 0.48 for 18 AWG
 

merryoncherry

Full time elf
Generous elf
Joined
Apr 2, 2022
Messages
144
Location
Cherry St., Hudson MA USA
Are you using 5V or 12V? If 12V, 12AWG is definitely overkill, the standard extensions they sell are fine. The pixel wire itself is not even 18AWG, and there might be 30 feet of that in your string of 100, so you'll get far more voltage drop from that, and the solution there is going to be to inject power 200-300 pixels down the line if you're inclined to occasionally use full white and expect it to look full white.

If you're inclined to think hard about it, I recommend the Ni Family Lights videos, starting with this one:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTCcCIw-Kw4


If 5V, you'll get a much more efficient show, but you'll have to be a bit more careful with voltage drop.
 

merryoncherry

Full time elf
Generous elf
Joined
Apr 2, 2022
Messages
144
Location
Cherry St., Hudson MA USA
The first problem you'll have with voltage drop on thin extensions tends to be the ground voltage getting pulled up before hitting the first pixel... if it gets too close to the 5V data voltage the pixels will misbehave (flicker, or lock on white, depending on what pixels and how they're hit), but that issue is solved by having data amps handy and putting them in the line as required.
 

xarcherdrum137

New elf
Joined
Nov 11, 2019
Messages
2
Hi all and thank you for your replies. I realize I should have specified but I will be running these at 12V. Am I understanding correctly that 18AWG would actually be fine for me? I saw the voltage drop of almost 1V and figured that would be problematic.
 

uncledan

Full time elf
Generous elf
Joined
Dec 27, 2014
Messages
492
Location
Buellton California
Much better options out there than the F8 distros. You can get higher quality automotive fuse blocks for less on Amazon, etc. More volts and bigger wire is always better. NO such thing as too little voltage drop
 
Top