Author Topic: Waterproof pixel ends  (Read 1490 times)

Offline PeteyHall

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Waterproof pixel ends
« on: July 18, 2017, 08:44:12 AM »
Last year I got a few thousand pixels which had the non-waterproof connectors at the front and back so they could be daisy-chained together (standard typical strings of 50).  Last year I cut off the ends, soldered them together into a longer string and waterproof'd them using shrink tubing with adhesive on the inside to seal the connections.

As I'm about to start working on a much bigger project this year, and the thought of having to repeat the process isn't appealing, I wondering if I can keep the daisy chain connectors where two strings get joined and just use the shrink tubing to seal the connections of will over time the connection go bad.  I know I'll have to solder/seal where the pigtails connect to each string, but just wasn't sure about the daisy chain connections.

Not trying to be lazy, just trying to see if I can speed up the build process this year.

Thanks


Offline jnealand

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Re: Waterproof pixel ends
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2017, 10:19:34 AM »
if you have not ordered the lights see if you can order them with waterproof connectors on them.  I know Ray Wu will do that and will also make strings to custom lengths.  I just received my order of strings that are 120 nodes long.  Now I do not have to piece things together.  If you do not change the length between the nodes the pricing is the same on a per node basis.  Adding connectors is basically just adding the cost of the connector.
Jim Nealand
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Offline algerdes

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Re: Waterproof pixel ends
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2017, 08:19:49 PM »
If you have already received the strings, yes - you can encase the connectors in shrink tubing.  (We have done it here several times with no problems, even when we opened them up to break the strings and found nothing (water, rust, etc.) inside.


The better way would be as Jim states, ask to have them made to a longer length.
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Offline PeteyHall

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Re: Waterproof pixel ends
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2017, 04:17:37 AM »
If you have already received the strings, yes - you can encase the connectors in shrink tubing.  (We have done it here several times with no problems, even when we opened them up to break the strings and found nothing (water, rust, etc.) inside.


The better way would be as Jim states, ask to have them made to a longer length.

Thanks. Unfortunately I already have the strings and can't return them.

If you've done the same thing, just waterproof'd the connectors, I'll give it a try this season and see how it works.

Thanks for letting me know!!


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Offline Ebuechner

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Re: Waterproof pixel ends
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2017, 06:01:25 AM »
I don't see why what you're asking wouldn't work with just a couple of extra steps.
I would put some silicone gel in those connectors before you plug them together (I've used those connectors outside with gel in them with no problems) put heat shrink tubing over the connector and shoot some silicone into each end of the heat shrink tubing then shrink it down and let the excess squeeze out.
The way I see it you don't have anything to lose if it doesn't work out in the end you just have to redo it buy soldering your connections.
I've also sealed heat shrink tubing around loose wires by shooting Hot Melt glue into the ends and letting it shrink around the wires from the heat of the glue but silicone stays more flexible.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2017, 06:17:15 AM by Ebuechner »

Offline JonB256

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Re: Waterproof pixel ends
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2017, 07:50:36 AM »
I just leave my pixel ends open.  If they are plain wire, I just trim so no conductor is showing. If it has a connector, I just elevate above the ground or roof shingles, them point them down for drainage. I've always been more concerned and had more problems with trapped moisture, not transient moisture. I've found water to be very sneaky about getting into connections but it will exit if given a path.

Offline Gary

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Re: Waterproof pixel ends
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2017, 12:00:50 AM »
I would err on the side of caution and JonB256. Murphy's law dictates that when you waterproof something, it will prevent water from escaping, but not from entering.  ::)


Thought I'd throw another idea out there: Instead of using silicone sealant (which I've read that some aren't electronics-friendly), you may want to consider using Corrosion X. From what I've seen on the forums over the years, it's sprayed all over light controller circuit boards to keep them dry and prevent corrosion, but if you buy Corrosion X for Guns, it comes with a fine applicator tip so you can neatly dab it on where your plugs mate together. I called the company and they confirmed that it's the same stuff as regular Corrosion X (which is electrical friendly) but packaged differently. I placed a drop into each the female conductor of my so-called "waterproof" connectors for the same "Murphy's Law" reason stated above.  :)


I the end, what works best is gravity. When I was soldering strings together last year and using heat shrink tubing, I held the tubing in an upside-down horseshoe shape and let it cool and harden into that shape for places where I had control of how the wire was going to be mounted (i.e. zip-tied onto a prop). This way, the water sheds off the tubing's "roof" instead of it gathering in a tubing "cup".

Offline Bill Ellick

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Re: Waterproof pixel ends
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2017, 04:37:09 AM »
Just saw this thread and wanted to chime in with a note on silicone sealants.  I ran a test outside for 9 months on various sealants and the effects of weather, sun, wind, rain, snow, etc. on them using strips of pixels (groups of 4) with copper phone wire soldered to the strips and then the sealant.  I did not use heat shrink at that time as I wanted the test to just be on the sealants.
I found that GE silicone II was the best one out of all other stuff that I tried.
Latex silicone, liquid electrical tape, hot glue, silicone grease, paint, and tar were tested!

The hot glue was the worst as it dried and cracked within a little over a month.

Now a word of WARNING on silicone sealants!  There are neutral silicone sealants which is the type you want to use on this stuff and then there are acetate silicone sealants which will EAT AWAY electrical connections and some other materials!

As a rule of thumb, the acetate silicone sealant types will have a very strong smell of vinegar to them while the neutral stuff is pretty much odorless.

GE silicone II is a neutral type but there are some variations of it that can have acetate binders in them for special uses.

I "prefer" to use an electronics silicone if I am going to seal up something like connections that I don't intend to take apart along with using heat shrink with a glue liner in it to ensure a good seal.

Using a high shrink type heat shrink can also make a tighter seal (ie: 3 to 1 or up to 6 to 1 shrink ratio).

I use this for my sealant at any rate. 

https://www.altex.com/GC-Waldom-Electronic-Grade-Silicone-SealantAdhesive-3oz-Tube-19-155-P141838C10576.aspx

There are other types of neutral sealants out there nowadays as well but I have not tested or tried any of them out at this point.

Just thought that I would throw this out there for others to know!  As Gary and Jon noted, there are many ways to do things and products to use for those purposes.  I use Corrosion-X on my guns and can attest to its great properties as well.

Offline Gary

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Re: Waterproof pixel ends
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2017, 11:35:45 PM »
Something I wonder about is using silicone sealants inside heat shrink tubing... does it take a long time to dry and cure if it's sealed inside? ...sort of how silicone inside the caulking tube doesn't dry out unless it's exposed to air? Well, of course an opened tube that's "plugged" for re-use at a later date does have a limited shelf life.

Offline Bill Ellick

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Re: Waterproof pixel ends
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2017, 05:05:42 AM »
Yes, it certainly takes a much longer period to set up and cure when encased for sure.  I used to use it under heat shrink but now I use the glue lined heat shrink which will do "pretty much" the same thing with less mess and hassle.

Back quite a few years, using silicone under heat shrink could also cause issues sometimes with data signals, power, or other things due to it being "fresh" rather than cured.  But that was with different formulas of silicones, different electronics, and other factors.  Drove some (me included) a bit bonkers to see a problem with a freshly made up connection having troubles that slowly went away until it was finally traced back to the interaction of the silicone and the signals.  With the newer "environmentally safe" formulas though, that is pretty much a thing of the past although I would be interested in finding out if it does cause any interference in low-level signals like pixel data?

I am more of a potting compound person myself due to it setting up within an hour, staying somewhat flexible for life, waterproof, and electrically neutral (depending on the compound used).  But it has drawbacks for this hobby by being very shelf life limited, you have to mix up a fairly large amount at one time, it has to be used fairly quickly, and can be messy to work with.

 

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