Author Topic: Newbie with some questions  (Read 495 times)

Offline tegguy

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Newbie with some questions
« on: December 19, 2018, 06:22:21 AM »
Alright everyone I've seen these orchestrated Christmas light displays before and the engineer in me has always been curious how they work and if it was something I'd want to get into. I've been reading quite a bit on the introduction stuff and I have a couple questions I can't seem to find the answer to.

1) If some was wanting to get their feet wet to see if this was something they wanted to dive into it seems like all they'd need is a raspberry pi, a pixel controller, a strip of LED's, and a power supply. Is this correct?
2) What is the best source to find power supplies?
3) I've seen differential controllers (I think that's the name) mentioned and if I understand these correctly there is basically a main hub (F48) that all it does is transmit data across ethernet and then there are smaller controllers (F4V3) throughout the display to deal with the power issue of long runs is this correct?
4) How do these work I've heard mention of Renard protocol but also ethernet protocols so is the communication done via IP address or something else?
5) I've heard a lot about power injection but I haven't found any articles on how to accomplish this. I'm assuming it's just a separate power supply that will feed into the LED power lines for the strips is this correct?
6) How do you make the choice of 5V or 12V LED's? It seems arbitrary with the biggest difference being the length of run it can support and the amount of power used.

I'm looking to start small playing around with some LED's in my office and then decide if this is something I want to proceed with long run (if I can convince the wife to let me).

Thanks in advance.

Offline K-State Fan

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Re: Newbie with some questions
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2018, 06:27:47 AM »
1) If some was wanting to get their feet wet to see if this was something they wanted to dive into it seems like all they'd need is a raspberry pi, a pixel controller, a strip of LED's, and a power supply. Is this correct?
Could get a Picap instead of the controller.  I would get a string of pixels instead of strips.

2) What is the best source to find power supplies?
https://holiday.lighting/


Offline JonB256

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    • Granbury Christmas Lights
Re: Newbie with some questions
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2018, 06:56:39 AM »
Since this is the Falcon Christmas forum, a few things get more attention.

First is the use of the Falcon Pi Player (FPP) operating system that installs on either Raspberry Pi or Beaglebone mini-computers.
Highly recommended and super support from the forum.

Second, a strong preference for the Falcon hardware sold in "the store" above, aka http://www.pixelcontroller.com

Power supplies - I am a 12v person for almost everything. I buy power supplies from Amazon (12v, 350watt, aluminum housings) or will get them when I order bulk pixels from China.

as a "getting your feet wet" exercise, buy a Raspberry Pi 3B+, buy a Falcon PiCap, some WS2811 based pixels and a 12v power supply.

https://www.amazon.com/ALITOVE-Individually-Addressable-Advertising-Waterproof/dp/B01AG923EU/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1545227591&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=ws2811+pixels+12v&refinements=p_89%3AALITOVE&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/eTopxizu-Universal-Regulated-Switching-Computer/dp/B00D7CWSCG/ref=pd_bxgy_267_img_2?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B00D7CWSCG&pd_rd_r=7de7bbcb-0395-11e9-90c0-f9307a5a46b8&pd_rd_w=cnwvx&pd_rd_wg=PiZ3g&pf_rd_p=6725dbd6-9917-451d-beba-16af7874e407&pf_rd_r=DPGB21A64NGTBCHR6DNR&psc=1&refRID=DPGB21A64NGTBCHR6DNR



Offline zwiller

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Re: Newbie with some questions
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2018, 08:11:11 AM »
Very good points made already.  I can tell you've done your research based on the questions asked.  There is a limit to how much understanding you can get without doing it yourself and comes a point you just dive in and go for it.  I think you're there.  Once you get blinking with the picap and feel ready to take the next step post another thread with your layout plans and we can offer more advice.     

I will mention there are distance and voltage limits with pixels and this must taken into account when building a layout.  There are many ways around them such as power inject/PI but ideally you want to keep distance to first pixel short like 10' and the length of pixels in string to 120 or so.  Lots of opinion and you can push it but that is mine.  Also, start researching sequencing software.  Xlights is popular but there are others.  Try them all and use what clicks for you.  Alternately, buying them is an option. 
Sam
 Last year's video: https://vimeo.com/150560653

Offline pixelpuppy

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Re: Newbie with some questions
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2018, 12:02:34 PM »
I've seen these orchestrated Christmas light displays before and the engineer in me has always been curious how they work and if it was something I'd want to get into. I've been reading quite a bit...
That sounds exactly like me 5 years ago.  Get ready for a fun long ride.  Once you get on, its hard to get off  ;D
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If some was wanting to get their feet wet to see if this was something they wanted to dive into it seems like all they'd need is a raspberry pi, a pixel controller, a strip of LED's, and a power supply. Is this correct?
Like other have said, a Raspberry Pi and one of Dave's  PiCap are a great entry-level solution.  https://www.pixelcontroller.com/store/index.php?id_product=47&controller=product
I also like Dan's Beagleboard capes like the F8-B+ or the F8-PB. https://www.tindie.com/products/dkulp/f8-pb-led-pixel-controller-for-pocketbeagle/

Both are very good with a lot of functionality and easy to configure with a web browser.
Quote
I've seen differential controllers (I think that's the name) mentioned and if I understand these correctly there is basically a main hub (F48) that all it does is transmit data across ethernet and then there are smaller controllers (F4V3) throughout the display to deal with the power issue of long runs is this correct?
Yes and No.  Yes, the F48 is a differential controller which transmits RS485 signals (NOT Ethernet) over twisted-pair cable.  This means you must have differential receivers at the other end of the cable to connect pixel strings.  The F48 main board has all the intelligence and does all the work, but it can not drive any pixels directly off the main board.  The differential receivers are simple and inexpensive signal converters with no on-board intelligence.  This arrangement is intended where you have many props that are spaced relatively far apart (more than 10-20 feet or so) but want to control them all from one main board/location

The F4V3 is NOT a differential receiver.  It is a separate controller that can drive 4 pixel strings directly off the board.  This is for props that are generally closer to the controller.  There is also the F16V3 which can drive 16 pixel strings directly off the main board.  This is great for mega-trees and similar situations were you have a bunch of pixel strings in one area.   Both of these controllers can be expanded with additional expansion boards.  See the pixelcontroller.com website for the different expansion options https://www.pixelcontroller.com/store/index.php?id_category=8&controller=category
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How do these work I've heard mention of Renard protocol but also ethernet protocols so is the communication done via IP address or something else?
The one's we've mentioned so far are NOT Renard controllers.  These are E1.31 controllers.   They receive data via IP packets over Ethernet and convert it to serial pixel data on the output ports.  These controllers also have the option to output Renard serial data, but that is not their primary function.  That option is most commonly used by people who want to control a mix of pixels and AC lights (Renard is a popular protocol for the AC light controllers)
Quote
I'm looking to start small playing around with some LED's in my office and then decide if this is something I want to proceed with long run (if I can convince the wife to let me).
If you want to start REALLY small, you can get a Pi Zero for $5 and attach one or two 5V pixel strings directly to the GPIO pins.  Same FPP software to learn and use.  Nice and compact (and CHEAP) for playing around on the desk  8)


And one more suggestion:
Put your location in your profile/avatar.  Let us know where you're from.  There are local groups all around the world and as great as the forum is, its also great to get together with 'locals' and share ideas  :)
-Mark

Offline TxBillbr

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Re: Newbie with some questions
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2018, 12:48:33 PM »
<humming Hotel California> You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave...
 ;D ;D

 

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