Author Topic: Utility Poles Christmas Star Controllers  (Read 2331 times)

Offline Blickensderfer

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Utility Poles Christmas Star Controllers
« on: February 15, 2016, 07:03:15 PM »
I need some help with an idea that I need to achieve.

Background:  The town that I live in is small and they currently have the Christian Christmas Star on 30 utility poles through downtown.  They have cool white C7 strings of lights outlined and needs replaced. The mayor would like to add color and would think it would be very cool to be able to control each of them and run seq patterns on them.   

Proposal: I would like to use a raspberry pi on each star and drive 2  170 count 2811 strands of pixels with C9 facets outlined.  Each Pi will have SD storage with seq and setup as slaves.  I would use wifi (probably need external hi db gain antenna) to keep synced but this is where I'm having issues in design.  I was thinking of a mesh network because there are trees blocking line of sight to the town tower that over looks the area.  As for the mesh network hardware.  I was thinking about using zigbee but never used it.  I don't know what the max distance between each zigbee to be able to communicate can be.  Or is there something else out there that is low cost?  Ideas???
Dan Blickensderfer

Offline Blickensderfer

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Re: Utility Poles Christmas Star Controllers
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2016, 07:05:16 PM »

Offline CaptainMurdoch

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Re: Utility Poles Christmas Star Controllers
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2016, 09:07:54 PM »
Can the poles see each other down the street or are there tree branches in the way?  If there are a lot of other wifi access points around, they may drown out your wifi unless you use directional antennas everywhere.

Maybe some komby gear could be used, but I am not sure on the range of that.
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Chris

Offline Blickensderfer

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Re: Utility Poles Christmas Star Controllers
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2016, 07:07:22 AM »
I would say each one could see the next one or the one on the opposite side of the street.  I would say they are spread apart from 100 to 150 feet.

I was searching and ran across open wrt. There r some cheap home routers that you can change the firmware and turn them into a mesh.  I would like to use an omni antenna on each as much as possible.

Offline Skunberg

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Re: Utility Poles Christmas Star Controllers
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2016, 08:20:55 AM »
Dirk over at DIYC org  is the zig bee expert. If the stars are far enough apart that you don't need them sync'd each pi could run a canned sequence. Slow fades from color to color look very nice and wouldn't require sync.

Offline ThreeSizes

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Re: Utility Poles Christmas Star Controllers
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2016, 09:18:46 AM »
I'm wondering if you could drop a few Ubiquiti PicoStation (M2HP) access points around (I'm thinking maybe 2 given the distances you are talking about). They are outdoor rated and have a stated range outdoors of 500m (1640ft). The trick would be linking the access points together, but you could connect them together using Ubiquiti NanoBeam (NBE‑M5‑16) which get you point to point ranges of 10km.  The NanoBeams would be using 5GHz and the PicoStations using 2.4GHz so you'd not be competing with each other. And you get each of these for under $75 each, so under $300 for the "infrastructure".  I would also recommend going with a USB WiFi Adapter which has an actual antenna and is detachable if necessary for better placement, I use these myself: http://detroit-electronics.com/Wifi_Adapter_Dongle_For_Raspberry_Pi/wifi-for-raspberry-pi-antenna, but Edimax also has some version with external antennas.





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Offline CaptainMurdoch

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Re: Utility Poles Christmas Star Controllers
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2016, 10:03:20 AM »
I think your issue with using normal 2.4Ghz wireless frequencies over such a wide area is going to be interference.

Every house that has a wireless router is a point of interference and there are only a limited number of channels and even fewer channels which don't overlap.  This is why I asked about directional antennas to reduce the interference.  If each light is 100-150 feet apart then that means that each light can probably 'see' 6 or more houses.  If only half of those have wireless, that's up to 3 frequencies you may have to avoid.  3 light poles 300-450 feet apart have potentially 9 houses with WiFi and your odds of coming up with a clear channel become even lower as you go down the street from light to light.  Line of Sight might help here since that signal would possibly be stronger than signals coming from the adjacent houses, but when trying to do 30 light poles, there are bound to be some anomalies.

I would definitely want to do some testing or surveying before buying hardware to do 30 poles.

Offline ThreeSizes

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Re: Utility Poles Christmas Star Controllers
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2016, 10:21:29 AM »
I agree you'd definitely would want to do a wireless site survey before proceeding. The PicoStation actually has a built-in spectrum analyzer (AirView) specifically for this purpose.

But given that this is not a high bandwidth application, the critical traffic only being the master to remote sync packets and maybe an occasional push of updated fseq files, even with significant interface or weak signals you should still be fine. There are solutions that could be used and operate totally within 5GHz, but distance becomes a bigger issue at 5GHz than 2.4GHz.

Offline ThreeSizes

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Utility Poles Christmas Star Controllers
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2016, 10:36:54 AM »
I am actual wondering  if I can leverage my access point/ hotspot patch and make a mesh using nothing but the FPP themselves.


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Offline CaptainMurdoch

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Re: Utility Poles Christmas Star Controllers
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2016, 10:41:00 AM »
I'm wondering if you could drop a few Ubiquiti PicoStation (M2HP) access points around (I'm thinking maybe 2 given the distances you are talking about).

Nice diagram.  I didn't notice it until now because I think we were replying at the same time and the forum didn't show me the diagram when it shows me the "there have been updates since you started replying" message.

I would say each one could see the next one or the one on the opposite side of the street.  I would say they are spread apart from 100 to 150 feet.

Can you give us a drawing or something to indicate the basic layout of the area where the poles would be at?  Are these 4 streets in a square layout around the town tower or a grid of streets downtown with the tower in center or ??  Is it fairly flat terrain?

I am actual wondering  if I can leverage my access point/ hotspot patch and make a mesh using nothing but the FPP themselves.

I like it, I like it... :)   This would make a lot of MultiSync users happy if something like this were possible.

Offline ThreeSizes

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Re: Utility Poles Christmas Star Controllers
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2016, 12:27:18 PM »
I like it, I like it... :)   This would make a lot of MultiSync users happy if something like this were possible.

I think something like the attached drawing is doable with the components I have in place. The Hotspot and Bridge modes are already in place, the Repeater mode would need to be implemented but all the components are already there, it would be a hybrid of the Access Point and Bridge modes and you'd need to be able to have two USB WiFi adapters which shouldn't be an issue.

Once we work out all the kinks in the current version of the patch with Bridge, Access Point, and Hotspot, we can take a deeper look at doing this.



Offline Blickensderfer

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Re: Utility Poles Christmas Star Controllers
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2016, 02:18:50 PM »
Here is the aerial view of the village.  I marked up the with the number of stars and with the wireless tower that is owned by the village.

Offline Blickensderfer

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Re: Utility Poles Christmas Star Controllers
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2016, 02:33:32 PM »
On the Hamnet fourm they have the HSMM-MESH running on the Raspberry Pi.  Maybe if that could be used with FPP and have all the Pi's in a mesh setup it would be best of both worlds.

http://www.broadband-hamnet.org/hsmm-mesh-forums/view-postlist/forum-2-hardware/topic-1407-raspberry-pi-mesh.html

Offline ThreeSizes

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Re: Utility Poles Christmas Star Controllers
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2016, 04:24:33 PM »

On the Hamnet fourm they have the HSMM-MESH running on the Raspberry Pi.  Maybe if that could be used with FPP and have all the Pi's in a mesh setup it would be best of both worlds.

http://www.broadband-hamnet.org/hsmm-mesh-forums/view-postlist/forum-2-hardware/topic-1407-raspberry-pi-mesh.html

I'll take a close look at it and see if it would be possible.




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Offline Blickensderfer

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Re: Utility Poles Christmas Star Controllers
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2016, 04:46:26 PM »
Awesome!!!!   ;D

 

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