Author Topic: Picap questions  (Read 906 times)

Offline gleaminx

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Picap questions
« on: March 03, 2019, 04:00:17 PM »
I won a Falcon PiCap at a Mini Expo yesterday.  I wasn't really in the market for one and was going to power all my pixels through F48 receiver boards and a F16v3.  However, now I own one.  So, I am trying to figure out if this is going to be useful in my set up.

Some background: I have an F48, Raspberry Pi 3B+ and a Gigabit switch all in one box in my garage.  I have FPP v2.6 loaded on the Pi and was planning on having the FPP control my scheduling my show from xlights.  I have read the PiCap can feed the Pi from the GPIO port.  I was planning on offloading audio from a USB dongle to an FM transmitter.   That would free up the USB port for my audio.  Yay! 

Question 1) Would a PiCap be a good replacement for a F48 receiver board?  I was going to run 680 pixels (p1 90 pixels, p2 208pixels, p3 48 pixels, & p4 334 pixels) out of the receiver board.
Question 2)  I read that the PiCap does not drive enough current for the RPi3B+, is that correct?
Question 3) I guess I'll power the PiCap with a 12v PSU.  How many amps does the PiCap need for it's power input if it is powering itself and all 680 pixels at 30% brightness (680 pixels at 30% brightness should be around 13.8amps)?
Question 4) How does the Picap get configured in xLights?  Is it from the setup page as an E1.31 network like a controller or does it get controlled by FPP?
Question 5) If the Cap is controlled by FPP is there any latency that would cause it to get screwed up in my show from xlights?






Offline JonB256

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Re: Picap questions
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2019, 06:57:52 PM »
I can answer a couple of questions.

I had trouble running a Pi3b+ with a PiCap supplying the power. Others have not. Short of replacing the installed voltage regulator with a higher capacity unit, I would just provide a 5vdc input direct to the RasPi via its micro-usb.

I did use two PiCaps this last season. Since I had two Pi3b around, that's what I used and had no problems. While those Pi's do have wireless, I drove them in Bridge mode from their Ethernet port. There is no latency concern that way. With the dual WS2811 outputs, it functioned just the same as if I'd used two differential receiver outputs.

Offline algerdes

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Re: Picap questions
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2019, 07:07:48 PM »
One thing you may want to look at:  If you use 12vdc pixels, feed the 12vdc to the PiCap. It will convert the 12vdc down to 5vdc and then you can set it to supply power to the RPi at the same time.  This saves having to send a second power feed to the pair.  We use this and it works great. 


I've not used 5vdc pixels in several years so I can't say if there are any "gotchas" in doing so. 
Sequencers: Vixen3 and xLights
Players: FPP and xSchedule Controllers:  Renards - SS24/SS16; E1.31 - San Devices E682 - Falcon F16, F4, F48 - J1Sys - DIYLEDExpress E1.31 Bridges.  Much more!

Offline JonB256

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Re: Picap questions
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2019, 08:25:47 PM »
If you use 12vdc pixels, feed the 12vdc to the PiCap. It will convert the 12vdc down to 5vdc and then you can set it to supply power to the RPi at the same time. 

This was the point of his question and my answer. I could not get my Pi3b+ to run well with 12vdc applied to the PiCap. The regulator on my PiCaps did not supply enough amperage because the 3b+ needs more than a 3b. The log files showed frequent undervoltage messages and then finally would lock up.

I'm hoping Dave Pitts will upgrade to a 3amp supply on newer PiCaps.

Offline algerdes

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Re: Picap questions
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2019, 09:42:37 PM »
Thanks for the clarification.  Didn't catch that.
Perhaps it is good that I haven't changed from the 3B to the 3B+.  :)

Offline bloojoop

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Re: Picap questions
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2019, 10:49:17 AM »
...
Question 1) Would a PiCap be a good replacement for a F48 receiver board?  I was going to run 680 pixels (p1 90 pixels, p2 208pixels, p3 48 pixels, & p4 334 pixels) out of the receiver board.
Question 2)  I read that the PiCap does not drive enough current for the RPi3B+, is that correct?
Question 3) I guess I'll power the PiCap with a 12v PSU.  How many amps does the PiCap need for it's power input if it is powering itself and all 680 pixels at 30% brightness (680 pixels at 30% brightness should be around 13.8amps)?
Question 4) How does the Picap get configured in xLights?  Is it from the setup page as an E1.31 network like a controller or does it get controlled by FPP?
Question 5) If the Cap is controlled by FPP is there any latency that would cause it to get screwed up in my show from xlights?


I will do my best to answer.  Congrats on winning the PiCap by the way!  First a little background. I have been testing with one this year and haven't actually used it in a show yet.  I have had good success in my testing.  I am using a 3b+ but have several 3b's too.  I am using 12v pixels and am driving the PI directly from the PiCap utilizing the on board regulator.  I have not had any problems with it locking up or any other low voltage issues but I do know others have had some issues.  I have a 300 node test matrix configured and have run sequences on it for about 2 hour run time but the PI has been powered up for about a week or so without rebooting as I test and try.  I am using all wireless in my testing using a dedicated wireless router. (I am also testing several ESPixNodes from Jeremy at JBoards).   
1) I believe it would make a good replacement for the diff reciever for your 680 nodes.  I would plan to split those between the 2 ports.  my test rig has had up to 300 nodes on one port but I know it is capable of more.
2) I have not had any problems with low voltage on the PI via a 12V supply to the PiCap.  If you do experience the issue, it should be easy enough to change the jumper to sever the power between the PiCap and the PI and run a separate micro USB supply to the PI.  Again in my testing I have not had to do this.
3) I have run several PI 3b+ with 2.5 A 5v power supplies with no issue.  I would account for 3A just to be safe.  3A at 5V is 15 Watts or about 1.25 A of 12V. 
4) On the setup page in XLights, I configured it just as a E1.31 controller.  I happen to prefer to configure for unicast (but multicast works too) and just set the IP address of the PI and what every universes make sense depending on your setup.  Then when configuring props, I use the #universe:1 starting channel and configure the controller connection on the prop to be either port 1 or port 2 depending on the connection.  Then in xLights you can upload to controller, output, FPP capes/hats, Pihat and it should configure your channels on the PI pixel output page in FPP.  I hope that makes sense.  Or you can just configure the PI pixel output page manually to match your channel configuration that you setup in xlights.  Once you enable the PI pixel outputs, FPP should reboot and will disable the onboard Audio.  I am using a USB sound card for sound (configured in FPP settings).  I have tested in bridge mode (picap will just receive data just like a regular controller), Master/remote, and standalone.
5)  If you are playing your show via the FPP instance on this PI, then the output would be direct to the lights with no network transmission at all so I would expect no latency. 





--Ron

Offline bloojoop

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Re: Picap questions
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2019, 01:21:48 PM »
I will add that my PiCap is brand new and just received it after it was on back order for a while.  I don't know if the regulator (buck converter) was updated to be a higher amperage or not but I think I read somewhere that they were looking to up date the regulator.  That may be why mine is working well.




Offline gleaminx

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Re: Picap questions
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2019, 04:53:14 PM »
Thank you everyone.  Excellent response Bloojoop!

Offline CaptainMurdoch

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Re: Picap questions
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2019, 06:26:09 PM »
I will add that my PiCap is brand new and just received it after it was on back order for a while.  I don't know if the regulator (buck converter) was updated to be a higher amperage or not but I think I read somewhere that they were looking to up date the regulator.  That may be why mine is working well.

David did mention updating to a higher amp part but I dont know when those started shipping.
-
Chris

Offline n8huntsman

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Re: Picap questions
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2019, 10:05:56 AM »
I ordered mine late Dec. and it was back ordered till Jan. 7th? I have two of them connected to 3B+ Pis. Im powering both pis via the pi cap, one with 5v and another with 13v and havent had any issues.

Offline Zimerhonzl

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Re: Picap questions
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2019, 01:24:39 PM »
My PiCap arrived last week from back order as well.  I have a 12v 5a power supply to just test out the DMX output, but am not having luck powering the Pi.  I am hoping to reduce cabling and enclosure size.  Any suggestions?  The PiCap is as shipped and it looks like the Pi Power jumper is where it should be.  The power supply is reading 12.9v and the power light on the cap comes on, but no luck with the Pi.
Thanks in advance!
-JZ

Offline n8huntsman

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Re: Picap questions
« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2019, 08:54:20 AM »
My PiCap arrived last week from back order as well.  I have a 12v 5a power supply to just test out the DMX output, but am not having luck powering the Pi.  I am hoping to reduce cabling and enclosure size.  Any suggestions?  The PiCap is as shipped and it looks like the Pi Power jumper is where it should be.  The power supply is reading 12.9v and the power light on the cap comes on, but no luck with the Pi.
Thanks in advance!
-JZ
Post a pic of your jumpers

Offline rjrichar87

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Re: Picap questions
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2019, 08:02:36 AM »
Another question:


I see on the Pixel Controller website it says that the PiCap can run 2 strings of WS2811 type pixels.
My question is.... is it able to run strips lights (WS2812) or is it specifically WS2811

Offline JonB256

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Re: Picap questions
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2019, 08:08:48 AM »
Another question:


I see on the Pixel Controller website it says that the PiCap can run 2 strings of WS2811 type pixels.
My question is.... is it able to run strips lights (WS2812) or is it specifically WS2811

WS2812 - no problem. Sometimes listed as WS2812b but same protocol

Offline rjrichar87

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Re: Picap questions
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2019, 08:21:01 AM »
Another question:


I see on the Pixel Controller website it says that the PiCap can run 2 strings of WS2811 type pixels.
My question is.... is it able to run strips lights (WS2812) or is it specifically WS2811

WS2812 - no problem. Sometimes listed as WS2812b but same protocol




Thanks Jon. Kind of figured it would be no problem, however, would hate to blow something up

 

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