Author Topic: Announcement: Motherboard for the Amp  (Read 1733 times)

Offline lrhorer

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Announcement: Motherboard for the Amp
« on: April 13, 2017, 12:56:10 AM »
A few months ago, I came up with an idea for a modification  to the uAmp board that would allow a more flexible deployment, especially in the case where the start and end points of a pixel string are at the same place.  Examples are meteor tubes, starbursts, Ferris wheels, animal sculptures, etc.  The modification also allows for powering the local display with some voltage other than the main power feed.  There are a number of pixel devices that are only available in 5V or 24V varieties.  I had a discussion with corey872, but we were unable to come to an agreement, so I am offering this motherboard co-op for those who may be interested in this modification.  It offers plug-in support for the uAmp and for a buck converter.  Here is the main discussion:  http://falconchristmas.com/forum/index.php/topic,6845.0.html  The board is honestly a little bigger than I would like, but one reason for that is the uAmp takes up more space than the minimal components required to provide its electronic functionality.  The other reason is the configuration pins take up a fair amount of space.  In small quantities, the boards themselves run $3.53.  In quantities of 50 or more they run $2.12.  If we can put together an order of 100 or more, the price should come down significantly.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2017, 05:52:53 AM by lrhorer »

Offline lrhorer

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Re: Announcement: Motherboard for the Amp
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2017, 01:20:06 AM »
Here are the features of the motherboard:

  • Solder points with strain reliefs for the input connector, the output connector, and the local display element.
  • Plug-in points for optional local power converter.  (Example converter: http://www.ebay.com/itm/3A-Mini-DC-DC-Step-Down-Converter-Module-Adjustable-3V-5V-16V-Power-For-RC-Plane-/262130707028?hash=item3d08352a54 )
  • Optional power insertion point.  The board can be used to insert additional power for extensive or widely separated displays.  Power is supplied to both input and output.
  • Optional uAmp.  The uAmp can be removed if it is unnecessary for both the local display element and the next display element.
  • Optional uAmp feed locations.  The uAmp can be inserted either prior to the local display or after the local display by simply changing a shorting jumper.
  • Optional local display duplication.  By moving a shorting jumper, the output can be changed to feed from the last pixel of the local display or from the board input.  This allows the first pixel of the next display element to have precisely the same starting address as the first pixel of the local display element.  Handy for duplicate display elements.
  • Optional fixed configuration.  By soldering in the shorting jumpers instead of purchasing sockets, the boards can be given a fixed configuration, saving the cost of the sockets.  Preferable if one encloses the board in heat-shrink tubing.
Motherboard with uAmp installed and no buck converter


Motherboard with uAmp and buck converter installed


Brief demonstration video: http://fletchergeek.com/images/uAmp%20Demo%20Video.mp4 
Changing to any one of the six configuartion options is as simple as moving a jumper.  The milky Pex tube uses 12V pixels.  The clear acrylic tube uses 5V pixels.  Both use the same 12V main supply, with the buck converter installed on motherboard of the acrylic tube.

Here are the configuration options:

P26 - P25  Local display fed by board input
P26 - P27  Local display fed by output of uAmp
P29 - P28  uAmp input fed by board input
P29 - P30  uAmp input fed by last pixel of local display
P32 - P31  Board output fed by last pixel of local display
P32 - P31   Board output fed by uAmp
« Last Edit: April 13, 2017, 05:49:36 AM by lrhorer »

Offline lrhorer

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Re: Announcement: Motherboard for the Amp
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2017, 01:46:25 AM »
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Offline lrhorer

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Re: Announcement: Motherboard for the Amp
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2017, 01:46:46 AM »
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Offline lrhorer

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Re: Announcement: Motherboard for the Amp
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2017, 01:48:28 AM »
Please make note of any interest in a purchase of these boards in this thread.

Kit #1:  Bare PC board with no sockets or buck converter

Kit #2:  PC Board with 5 Sockets (for optional Buck converter or uAmp)

Kit #3:  PC Board with 9 sockets (for configuration matrix)

Kit #4:  PC Board with 14 sockets (for configuration matrix and optional Buck converter or uAmp)

Kit #5:  PC Board with 19 sockets

Kit #6:  Optional 5VDC 1.8A (3A with additional cooling) buck converter.

This is an example of the sockets I used.  http://www.newark.com/samtec/sl-101-g-10/socket-strip-2-54mm-through-hole/dp/11P6557  They are rather expensive, but I am sure I can find some cheaper ones if there is a desire to purchase a large quantity.  I chose these because they are low profile.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2017, 05:13:53 AM by lrhorer »

Offline Emuney18

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Re: Announcement: Motherboard for the Amp
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2017, 04:20:34 PM »
I'm a bit lost and confused. I don't understand what this does. I am building a starburst and planned on having data travel down each spoke out from the center and then come back to the center behind strip to start the next spoke. How does this device help me?


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Offline lrhorer

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Re: Announcement: Motherboard for the Amp
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2017, 02:23:10 AM »
Possibly in more than one way, depending on your topology and the pixels you will be using.

First, it can help a bit with organizing your wiring.  When I did 9 starbursts with 8 arms each, I wanted to be able to disassemble the stars for easier storage.  I also wanted to be able to re-assemble the stars very quickly and easily, without having to worry about the order of the arms or having any specialized / unique arms.  To that end, I connectorized all the arms, but wiring in all the connectors proved to be a very time consuming task, given the total number of arms.  Had I had these boards available, I could have saved a ton of time and effort.  The issues here are power and number of solder connections.  Running power from the beginning of each string all the way to the end of each string and back is very inefficient, and providing power for even a single starburst display becomes problematical.  If each arm is 1/2 meter, then for 8 arms the power will have to run a maximum of 8 meters.  That is a lot.  It also means making connections for 6 points per arm.  That doesn't sound like much, but with 8 or more arms per starburst and 8 or more starbursts, it adds up.  A much better solution is to only return the data from the end of each string, not the power.  Instead, power all the arms directly from the central hub.  These boards allow one to manage all that quickly and easily.

The second item where this board can help is if the pixels you choose are only available in 5V configurations.  With the starburst, this is perhaps less of a concern than with more geographically diverse displays such as a long string of meteor tubes.  Nonetheless, even with starburst displays, getting 5V to several displays can be a challenge.  It is much easier and far more efficient to run 12V on the mains and deploy an inexpensive buck converter at each element.  This board has a plug-in space for a buck converter.

The Falcon equipment allows for very high pixel count strings.  In general, deploying very high count strings requires insertnig power at multiple locations.  This board allows for simple and easy power insertion at any point along the display.

Finally, the uAmp is an option whenever the distance between display elements is large.  For the starburst itself, this is usually not an issue.  However, if several starbursts are on a single data line, the distance from one starburst to the next may be fairly large, and adding a uAmp might be called for.  Of course, the uAmp can simply be added to the transmission line, rather than the display, but this board provides an easy plug-in port for the uAmp.

The bottom line is a single starburst display may not have a great need for these boards, unless the pixels in the string are 5V, but they can be of significant use even when used with starburst displays.  They simplify the wiring and make the power efficient.

Offline JimWright

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Re: Announcement: Motherboard for the Amp
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2017, 07:47:42 PM »
I am also have a question. When will the micro-amp coop start? Jim W

Offline jnealand

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Re: Announcement: Motherboard for the Amp
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2017, 12:07:35 PM »
I am also have a question. When will the micro-amp coop start? Jim W

Wrong thread - go here  http://falconchristmas.com/forum/index.php/topic,7144.0.html
Jim Nealand
Kennesaw, GA
Lynx, Falcon, XL, FPP

 

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