Author Topic: BBB-based controllers versus Falcon controllers  (Read 339 times)

Offline nutz4lights

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BBB-based controllers versus Falcon controllers
« on: June 17, 2019, 01:44:01 PM »
I was recently introduced to the BBB-based controllers (thanks Chuck) and I'm intrigued.  I have read through all of the 'Intro' threads and most of the 'Group Buy' threads since the 2018 forums posts.  I'm trying to understand how these compare to Falcon controllers and where each has their strengths.  I currently run somewhere around 15 of the various Falcon controllers (F4V2/V3, F16V2/V3), but I have some new controllers to add to the display this year.  I'm looking at the F8-B and the F8-PB as opposed to something like the F4V3 that I have at least six of currently in the display.  The F4V3 is $125 and can control four string outputs with 1024 pixels per string.  The F8-B states that it can drive 700 pixels into eight string outputs $51.


The one difference that I think I'm seeing is that the BBB-based controllers all only seem to reference ws2811 pixels while the Falcon controllers offer many pixel types.  I only purchase ws2811 pixels, so that works out great for me.  Is that it?  Is there anything else?


Thanks for more interesting options!

-Louie
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Offline dkulp

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Re: BBB-based controllers versus Falcon controllers
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2019, 01:55:50 PM »
Couple things:
1) The $51 doesn't include the Beagle, so you do have to add that.  Other things like SD card, wifi adapter if you want/need that, etc...


2) The 700/string is at 25ms timing.   If you do 50ms timing, it's more like 1400 pixels per string.    For some reason, the Falcon doc really just assumes 50ms timing.


3) The BBB's do only drive ws2811 pixels and DMX/PixelNet.   That's it.   No other options.   


4) The BBB's differential outputs currently only offer support for the "dumb" receivers.  I hope to rectify that in the future, but without one to really work with, I don't know if it's possible or not.


5) The DMX outs on the BBB controllers are via a full RJ45.  If you need DMX, you WILL need to make a custom cable.  The F4v3 has jumpers and such so you don't have to.


6) With expansion and differential receivers, the F8-B can drive 36 strings of 1400 pixels (50ms) which is WAY more than any of the Falcon controllers.   


HOWEVER, one thing to keep in mind: the BBB controllers run the full FPP.   This is a plus and a minus.  On the plus side, it gives you things like master/remote mode with local storage (so no need for e1.31), DDP protocol, full linux capabilities, PixelOverlayModels, etc....    On the minus side, installing and configuring FPP is way more complex than the simple firmware on any of the fully hardware based controllers.

Offline Emuney18

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Re: BBB-based controllers versus Falcon controllers
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2019, 07:11:28 PM »
I will yield to Dan on the technical details.  Once you add a 32GB sd card and WiFi dongle if needed you just over $100 for 8 outputs, so very comparable to an F4 in price.  Since I also like to spread around controllers and not do much power injection and often need more than 4 outputs, I can get 2 F8 boards for the price of 1 F16. 

I have all my controllers which includes F16s, F8s and zeroes connected over WiFi so I like the full FPP because its one less device to setup since I dont need a remote Pi although the new 2.x is making that even easier.

These boards are small enough that you can fit other things like distro boards inside a cg1500 easily. 

I do prefer the F8-PB over the F8-B because I find them slightly easier to mount since the PB is on top of the F8 board it sits flush with the mounting plate.   Whereas there is a gap between bottom of the F8-B board and the mounting plate underneath the pixel connections.   I also dont need the Ethernet port on the BBB. 

Offline AAH

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Re: BBB-based controllers versus Falcon controllers
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2019, 05:46:46 PM »
My HE123 boards are also BBB based and the HE123 board itself is a motherboard with 16 fused outputs. There's 4 30A power inputs to the 16 outputs which are supplied with 7.5A fuses but you can run up to 10A fuses. With the optional daughterboards you can go up to 48 local 2811 outputs or 16 local + 32 long distance or 32 local + 16 long distance. All the board options allow the same 30A, 7.5A/10A ability. Like most/all of the other BBB based boards it doesn't offer the pixel type flexibility of the F16 etc but even with a BBB it works out at about half the price of the F16V3 for 16 outputs. With daughterboards installed it works out even cheaper per output.
http://www.hansonelectronics.com.au/?s=he123&post_type=product

Offline JonB256

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Re: BBB-based controllers versus Falcon controllers
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2019, 08:14:17 AM »
I run many BBB (and RasPi) boards with Capes/Hats as controllers. That means they run in Bridge Mode and I use DDP protocol instead of E1.31.

It also means I use CAT5 (eth0) as the primary or only connection. Because of their size (smaller), I can more easily put a 12vdc or 5vdc power supply in the same box. (I don't own any Falcon F4v3 boards - they would also fit easily, but a BBB with F8-B Cape has more capability. While the F8-PB is very slick and compact, the lack of an Ethernet port makes it less desirable.

Cost isn't my concern. As I've said many times, once you've spent >$2000 on pixels, why argue about at $50 vs $100 controller.

Offline JerryPlak

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Re: BBB-based controllers versus Falcon controllers
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2019, 07:56:56 AM »
going to Echo Dan Comment
one thing to keep in mind: the BBB controllers run the full FPP.   This is a plus and a minus.  On the plus side, it gives you things like master/remote mode with local storage (so no need for e1.31), DDP protocol, full linux capabilities, PixelOverlayModels, etc....    On the minus side, installing and configuring FPP is way more complex than the simple firmware on any of the fully hardware based controllers.

I now have three of Dan F8-PB BBB controllers for the stand-alone or remote mode purpose!

the Photo of my F8-PB BBB controller enclosures with a WIFI antenna
Jerry Plak

Offline nutz4lights

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Re: BBB-based controllers versus Falcon controllers
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2019, 01:01:50 PM »
Thanks for all the replies everybody, work tied me down this week and I'm just getting back here.


Additional questions... I have seen several references to "full FPP" and I'm a bit confused... maybe I am just missing something.  I have been running FPP on <currently> six Raspberry Pi's to control my 15-ish Falcon controllers for years... isn't that the "full FPP" ?  Am I reading into this, that, the Falcon controller web interface (which is honestly very easy to run) is a more limited version of FPP and that the configuration of these BBB-based controllers will be more complicated than that?  I've never had issue configuring FPP or the controller interfaces and have been using pixel controllers since the J1SYS p12 controllers... is there anything for me to be concerned about?  Is there a video on how to configure full FPP like there seems to be for everything else that we have?


I don't mind including the cost of the BBB into the "controller" cost, it is still less than the F4V3.  I will use these only to drive ws2811 and the one place I am thinking about using it is for my window pixel panels that have around 1200 pixels total.  Currently I use on Raspberry Pi to drive four F4V3's there so that the cabling is minimize.  I'd much rather get rid of the Raspberry Pi and have the BBB with controller in a box right at the window... there are four of them.


Offline dkulp

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Re: BBB-based controllers versus Falcon controllers
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2019, 01:31:54 PM »

If you are already familiar with FPP, then it's likely not something you need to worry about.


For example, if "Joe New User" buys a new Falcon or Alphapix or whatever, they need to figure out how to configure an IP address (or leave as dhcp), configure e1.31 universes for input, configure the pixel output strings, and maybe configure a DMX out.   That's really about it.  The entire web config interface really just presents that information.    For new users, that may already be confusing enough.


For one of my BBB controllers or a Pi Hat or similar, there is all of the above, but the web interface also provides all kinds of other stuff like file uploads of sequences, various modes (standalone/bridge/master/remote), there are tabs for e1.31 OUTPUT in addition to input, Led Panel pages, overlay models, plugins, scripts, events, output processors, gpio triggers, etc....   For a new user, it's a LOT to take in.   So like I said, there are plusses and minus.  There is a LOT of power and capabilities there that you don't get with other controllers, but with that comes extra complexity.








Offline amtrak115

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Re: BBB-based controllers versus Falcon controllers
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2019, 11:11:12 AM »
So, Dan,  will the f40d-pb work with "4-String Differential SmartReceiver Board" or and earlier Differential Receiver Board???


Offline JonB256

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Re: BBB-based controllers versus Falcon controllers
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2019, 12:37:04 PM »
So, Dan,  will the f40d-pb work with "4-String Differential SmartReceiver Board" or and earlier Differential Receiver Board???

per an earlier question, Dan hasn't had a SmartReceiver Board to test, so at this time - the answer is No. But Maybe.

 

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