Author Topic: Extreme Newbie Alert!!  (Read 1574 times)

Offline agengler11

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Extreme Newbie Alert!!
« on: January 02, 2017, 12:19:28 AM »
Thanks in advance for helping me. I am very new to the extreme lights display scene. I want to create all of my decoration pieces and have them all be self contained with a controller built in with only Cat6 and power coming from the backs of them. I built my first mega tree with a 16 strands of 32 12 MM nodes and I want to build much much more including Coro stuff. Is there a controller that can handle smaller decorations like with only one 100 node light set or do I have to keep buying 150 dollar 4 channel  boards.


I want to keep everything E1.31 because I am a network guy buy please tell me if I am going about this all wrong.

Offline Bill Ellick

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Re: Extreme Newbie Alert!!
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2017, 06:36:06 AM »
I too am looking at keeping a lot of my display items "self-contained" with only power having to go to them.  Right now I am running all LOR but am going to change over to XLights, FPP, and a Pi and start adding pixels.  I want to keep my LOR stuff as I have 272 channels of it running 80% LEDs that cost a good amount so why throw away something that works!

I bought some ESPixelSticks to run separate items.  I have not gotten to testing yet but from what others have reported, I don't see why they won't work great.
Here is a link to the DIY Forum on the last group buy for them.  You can get a lot of info there and from Shelby's site.
http://doityourselfchristmas.com/forums/showthread.php?43773-ESPixelStick-V2-Group-Buy-E1-31-WiFi-Pixel-Controller-kit

I am not sure yet about using a power supply on each item along with the stick to control pixels or maybe running something like a 24 volt "main" around the yard and using DC to DC converters with each item for power for the pixels and stick.  Pros and Cons to either DC running around the yard or AC but may use a combination of both.
I will be running all 5 volt pixels but the sticks can run either 5V or 12V.

It is also possible that you could use a PixelStick in one item and have a couple of items close to it that the stick could control.  Distance would be the biggest problem but there are data line amplifiers around (uamp:  http://falconchristmas.com/forum/index.php/board,47.0.html) that are cheap and would do the job easily.

Hope this helps a bit and Happy New Year!

Offline corey872

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Re: Extreme Newbie Alert!!
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2017, 11:29:06 AM »
... a controller built in with only Cat6 and power coming from the backs of them. ...

Welcome to the forum.  I'm sure others will be along shortly with way more advice than I could ever muster.  I will mention two things to get started:

1) While you can certainly set up your display in any way you see fit, the 'controller at every prop' is sort of an old way to do things.  It stems from 'way back in the old days' (ie 3-4 years ago) when controllers could only send data a few feet.  Now most Falcon hardware can send data 30-40 feet or more and it can be boosted with a uAmp, Afterburner or differential expansion boards if necessary - so all the 'processing' power can be (economically) concentrated at the hub and power/data can be sent dozens to hundreds of feet directly to props with no need for the expense of an individual controller.  Though if you still want a controller, that is where the uSC comes in handy.

2) How ever you plan your set-up, keep an eye on the Group Buy, Vendors and For Sale threads.  We try to buy equipment in large groups (co-ops) to drive the price down.  A lot of group buys are announced in the spring/summer and sometimes are the only opportunity for the year to get in a 'ground level' / cheap prices.  You may get lucky and catch some hardware 'for sale' in small batches, or catch an after co-op sale, but the ideal way to get as much hardware as you need at the lowest possible price is through the co-op.

So ultimately: plan early, design for the most robust layout, watch for the sales and have fun!

Best wishes for a great 2017 show!
Corey
 2018 uSC, Afterburner, uAmp co-op - pending May-June 2018.  Remaining boards are now FOR SALE

Offline agengler11

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Re: Extreme Newbie Alert!!
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2017, 04:38:15 PM »

Here is a link to the DIY Forum on the last group buy for them.  You can get a lot of info there and from Shelby's site.
http://doityourselfchristmas.com/forums/showthread.php?43773-ESPixelStick-V2-Group-Buy-E1-31-WiFi-Pixel-Controller-kit



The link doesn't seem to work. Do you have any extras you want to sell or can you help me find a way to buy one?

Offline agengler11

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Re: Extreme Newbie Alert!!
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2017, 04:47:02 PM »
1) While you can certainly set up your display in any way you see fit, the 'controller at every prop' is sort of an old way to do things. 



I would think it would be easier to run a cat6 and a pair of power leads.  So if I am imagining this correctly....you have a centrally located controller in the yard and run the channel wires from the controller to the props?

Offline Bill Ellick

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Re: Extreme Newbie Alert!!
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2017, 05:23:58 PM »

Here is a link to the DIY Forum on the last group buy for them.  You can get a lot of info there and from Shelby's site.
http://doityourselfchristmas.com/forums/showthread.php?43773-ESPixelStick-V2-Group-Buy-E1-31-WiFi-Pixel-Controller-kit



The link doesn't seem to work. Do you have any extras you want to sell or can you help me find a way to buy one?

Hmm, link works for me.

You will have to wait for another group buy or for someone who may have extras to offer some I am afraid.  I will probably order another 10 or more in the next buy.  There are several forms of the pixel stick controllers out there and a fellow over on the Australian Christmas Lighting forum is designing a new one now.  There are a couple of other people on the DIY site that make them as well.  So there should not be any problems finding some pretty soon.
I do believe that Shelby Merrick who did the group buys for the ESPixelStick is going to have another group buy sometime this year but it will probably not happen for a bit yet.

Corey is correct also that you can just use a controller in a central location and run cables out to different items rather than use a small controller in each item.  The new version of the Falcon controller that David Pitts is coming out within a few months has more features added to an already great controller.

I guess I should have stated that I like the stand alone aspect of items as I take some of mine to different places in town and use them at other peoples houses sometimes so being able to move them around is good for me.  Also I have a 200 foot front by 200 foot deep yard so I like to change it up every other year of so and stand alone items make it easier for me to do.

Offline agengler11

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Re: Extreme Newbie Alert!!
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2017, 08:59:06 PM »
Looks like the site was down for a few minutes, I was able to get the link to work. Thanks!

Offline Bill Ellick

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Re: Extreme Newbie Alert!!
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2017, 06:13:58 AM »
Your welcome for sure.

You probably want to make yourself a rough drawing of your area that you are going to have items in and get some distances between things for a starter on this project.  It will certainly help you plan out things and give you also some ideas for future things as well.
Then you can really see if using dedicated controllers in items is necessary or if you would be better off just having a controller centrally located and use some form of amplifier or differential outputs and running cat 5 cables to each item instead.
That is one of the beauties and sometimes confusing points to this hobby!  ;D  There are many different ways to accomplish the same end result and each has pluses and minuses but in the end it is your show.

Take a look at Davids Falcon controller if you have not yet.  It is rapidly becoming the "go to" controller for many, myself included.  There are other ones out there that are very capable as well but David was in on the start of FPP, using Pi computer, and designing controllers for pixels so he is really the "guru" right now.
The ESPixelStick is a very low cost option for things as well but may not be necessary for you.  I forgot to link to Shelby's site about the board and software so here it is in case you want to study it more:
http://forkineye.com/ESPixelStick/
Also here is a link to a discussion over on the AUS forum about another pixel stick design that is in the works:
https://auschristmaslighting.com/forums/index.php/topic,9370.0.html

I find that this forum, the DIY forum, and the AUS forum can give you an almost limitless amount of knowledge on things!
There is always new and interesting things to ponder and look at in this "hobby" that makes it fun and a challenge as well.

 

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