Author Topic: Newbie help request with pixel strip project  (Read 356 times)

Offline kompeitou

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2018
  • Location:
  • Posts: 8
  • Kudos: 0
Newbie help request with pixel strip project
« on: October 04, 2018, 08:33:24 PM »
Hello all,


I am an excited LED noob from SoCal (LA area) and I'm hoping someone can give me some direction or guidance.  I've been wanting to install LED strips around our home facia bottom edge for year round holiday use.  I had watched a few videos on youtube about setting it up with an raspberry pi and home assistant.  I thought I had a handle on it and was researching equipment and watching tutorials.  In my research I found this website and forum and then that made me rethink my plan.


I like the falcon controller idea and I'm sure I'll want to expand my lights for future halloweens and Christmases.  This year I'd just like to get the LED strips up.

My original plan was to use these aluminum channels around the bottom facia edge. 
Then run the WS2811 12v LED strips and power inject along the way.   I was going to use the solderless connections


I thought I would keep the controller and raspberry pi in the garage and connect to one point at a corner of the garage soffit.   The soffits are covered and coated with stucco (see photo), so I cannot really hide wiring behind the eaves (maybe a short length).  I can access the soffits from the garage, and certain parts of the attic. 


When I stumbled on to this website it made me rethink everything. 
So now I'm thinking of just going with the Falcon Controller ready to run, a raspberry pi, channels, and WS2811 strips.


I thought I could just run one connection to the entire strip, but would it be better to break the 35m of strip into smaller segments and use the falcon controller to power each segment (thus not having to power inject)?  Wouldn't that be a waste of falcon controller slots?  Can I use the ready to run Falcon setup, raspberry pi, and still power inject?  (Saving controller slots for future projects).


I don't mind spending money up front if it means an easier/simplified build and I can expand on it in the future. 


I've attached some photos of the house with measurements, and what the underside of the eaves looks like.


If I someone could point me in right direction for equipment and setup.  I've been reading the forums, but I usually end up with more questions than I when I started. 


Thank you.

Offline tbone321

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Join Date: Oct 2014
  • Location:
  • Posts: 1,539
  • Kudos: 46
Re: Newbie help request with pixel strip project
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2018, 01:47:50 PM »
Lets keep in mind that a WS8211 strip is not a dumb strip, it is a string of independent pixels with each pixel depending on the pixel before it.  Each pixel in the string thinks that is is the first one in the string and takes the first three channels of data it receives for itself and recreates the rest oi the data string and sends it on to the next node or pixel which does the same thing to the end of the string or data stream, which ever comes first.  Because of this, every node in the string is potential point of failure for the rest of the string and the longer the string, the more points of failure you have.  The same holds true for power injection points.  Many who use power injection like to separate the positive line at each injection point.  The problem is that if one of you injection points fails, the the string from that point on also fails because if the nodes in that segment of the string are not getting power, they cannot pass the data on to the next segment.  Because of this, I am not much of a fan of long strings on a single controller port. 


I would break up the strips to each eave and put each one on its own port.  This will both reduce or eliminate the need for power injection and if a node fails, the impact would be reduced to just the nodes after the failed on on that segment or eave rather than the rest of the entire string and eaves they are attached to.  It looks much better and is much easier to debug and repair if just part of one eave stops functioning rather than most of the house if the failure happens close to the beginning of the string.

Offline kompeitou

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2018
  • Location:
  • Posts: 8
  • Kudos: 0
Re: Newbie help request with pixel strip project
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2018, 08:58:54 PM »
Thanks for the reply.


I'll break up the eaves.  I didn't think about the failure aspect of one long string.  After watching a few more design and setup videos breaking it up into sections seems like the easier thing to do design-wise, installation wise, and as you point out now, repair wise. 


From a design standpoint, would it be better to have the LEDs start from the center of the house and work their way out and around?  Or have them all going in the same direction?

Offline kompeitou

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2018
  • Location:
  • Posts: 8
  • Kudos: 0
Re: Newbie help request with pixel strip project
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2018, 08:37:08 PM »


A few questions I'm hoping someone can help answer, I've attached some photos for reference.


1.  My LED strip had 12v dongle (I'm assuming), is this for power injection?  I was not expecting this dongle, so I wasn't sure if I needed to inject power at the start AND run the 3 wire connection to the controller.




2.  I've laid out how I think the order of wiring will connect (minus the custom length of 3 pin wire).  Is this correct? 

Offline tbone321

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Join Date: Oct 2014
  • Location:
  • Posts: 1,539
  • Kudos: 46
Re: Newbie help request with pixel strip project
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2018, 12:09:20 PM »
The connector may be a power supply point rather than an injection point.  Strips tend to use multiple LED's per channel and tend to draw more power than the strings at full intensity and even in the picture, you can see that the power connector is using a heavier gauge wire than the data connector.  You can check with either a continuity tester or an ohm meter to see if the red wires on the two connectors are connected together.  If not, then you may need to run power on the two pin connector and of they are, then run a test using only the data connector and make sure that the strip operates properly on its full length at full intensity.  Make sure to do any testing with the strip unrolled from the spool.  They can be damaged if left on too long rolled up.  The layout looks fine provided the power connector is not needed.

Offline kompeitou

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2018
  • Location:
  • Posts: 8
  • Kudos: 0
Re: Newbie help request with pixel strip project
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2018, 08:34:05 PM »

Update:

I installed and connected the eaves of the house.  Five strips around the eaves, 1 partial strip on the gable.  I used aluminum channels from Amazon, drilled and screwed directly to the eaves.  I bought some 15' and 25' extensions from Ray Wu and soldered some new connections to the LEDs to match his waterproof connections.  My first time soldering.  I still have the garage door to do.  Everything works in test.  I just have to dial it in with the settings and learn how to use xlights and upload some patterns/sequences.  Just trying to keep it simple this year.


This is at 100%, I dialed the brightness down to 40%.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZHRanEqn2I
« Last Edit: November 18, 2018, 08:42:43 PM by kompeitou »

Offline kompeitou

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2018
  • Location:
  • Posts: 8
  • Kudos: 0
Re: Newbie help request with pixel strip project
« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2018, 11:56:54 PM »



After 3 days of pulling my hair out trying to figure out why two strips were not behaving, I found out I had a bad Cat5 cable from the Falcon controller to the differential expansion board.  I was going crazy trying to figure out why I was getting the wrong colors and flickering on two strings.  Argh.


So happy I figured it out.  Lights are up just in time for Christmas.


Debating on outline the garage door.

https://youtu.be/Ns786Ly6w9A

 

Back to top