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New Member, Initial Plans, Review/Advice Requested!

Started by khanklatt, November 12, 2019, 03:38:00 AM

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khanklatt

Hi all, just getting into DIY lights, and thought I'd share my initial thoughts of where I'm headed and why, to see if my research has led me to a reasonable path or if there are tips I can benefit from.

My build this year, to make my dumb display an intelligent one, is to upgrade my eaves only until the DIY bug fully bites me and I build out further.

Controller: To start out, I ordered a F16v3.
Lights: Since I'm building out about 145 ft. (45m) linearly, and to minimize power injection, I've chosen 12V strips (WS2815) with 30 pixels/m density (IP65)
Layout: I'm planning to mount the F16v3 in my garage in a central location that would make power injection to 4 out of the 5 "zones" easier. (If "zone" has a specific meaning in this context, I am not aware of it, and am using that term in the generic sense to refer to an area I plan on running a separate power injection lead wire to).
Power: I was planning on buying a Mean Well 350W PSU (NES-350-12) but this may not be big enough... (See Q1)
F16 Output Connectors: I ordered 3.5mm Connectors which should make connecting to the F16 easier.
Output 3.5mm->Wire: I'm planning on using pvc jacketed 4 lead wire out of the F16's 3.5mm connector to the starting point of each run. See Q2.
Output Wire->SM JST 4-wire harness M/F: I bought SM JST harness wires to connect the lead wire. I'm thinking the leads should clip into the first 5M strand. To allow for end-to-end strip connections, I purchased some 4-lead LED connector clips for less than 5M lengths along a run.
Power Injection: My longest run is likely to be about 42 feet; let's call it 3 back to back 5M strips, give or take. See Q3. Because these are 12V strips, I'm expecting I can inject every 5M, which means injecting once at the start and end, and twice in the middle.
Channeling/Mounting: I'm going to go with the aluminum channel route, but would appreciate tips on the diffuser that does well with 30 LEDs/M density, would fit the strips, and the power injection leads along the way. I also live in a rainy area. See Q4.
Strip-Strip/Turning Corners: I bought 4 pin LED connectors (L style). See Q5.
Enclosure: I'm thinking of a CG-1500 Enclosure to mount the PSU and the controller in. I did not buy a Falcon mounting plate. See Q6.

Q1: If this PSU is running 10 strips, and assuming that the 2815 strips draw as much power as a 2811 (2.77A/33.3W per strip according to the Falcon manual) this would imply 27A and 333W of power at full load (100% brightness of all pixels). The PSU is rated at 29A and 350W, which seems potentially inadequate to also run the F16v3 under the premise that PSUs are not 100% efficient. This seems borderline, should I be looking at a bigger PSU, especially if I add more strips next year? 600W Mean Well or some other size?

Q2: What AWG wire should I use for my four-wire leads that run to the start of each strip? I've seen some installs that prefer to put pigtails right out of the F16, presumably to simplify swapping inputs and runs. I figure I can always do this later, so I was going to go right out of the F16 straight to the strips with the wire run. Good idea or not? Since these strips have dual data inputs for resiliency, what's the most elegant way to connect the B0/D0 wires to the F16? Use heat shrink solder between the two harness cables so they're cross connected at the start of the run?

Q3: What AWG wire should I use for power injection? I'm guessing PVC jacketed two-lead (red/black). An XLights YouTube video showed a single cable where midpoints had been stripped to wire in LEDs. (At this point in the video: ). He used solder ring heat shrink looped on the power lead, and heat gunned to connect his strings. In a strip application, I'd just inject the end of the strips. Seems legit, am I missing something?  It would also seem that at power injection points, I shouldn't continue to draw power through the strips. I guess I can pull the V12 pin from the strip-strip connections to allow injection to provide power to strips 2 and 3 in any given run?

Q4: How to mount the power injection cables so the risk of blocking the LEDs is low? Any tips for making these more water tight, to protect the LEDs and power cables? What kind of water-proofing (between power injection, between strip-strip, between harnesses/between connectors) is recommended, beyond my guess at exterior grade silicone? I'm thinking about buying these, or similar: https://www.amazon.com/Litever-Aluminum-Channels-Trimless-Mounting/dp/B01IY1L2B2

Q5: Is this a reasonable way to connect outdoor strips, or should I stick with the harnesses?

Q6: Should I buy a mounting plate? Or are standard motherboard standoffs and custom holes on the enclosure a reasonable way to secure equipment to the enclosure?

Here's a diagram of the "zones" as I called them and their lengths and the F16 placement, in case it helps, each color is a separate "zones".
 
(image page URL: https://ibb.co/WkJPdN4)

Thanks in advance for any helpful tips or even "yup, sounds right" so I know my research hasn't misled me!! :)

Poporacer

Quote from: khanklatt on November 12, 2019, 03:38:00 AMHi all, just getting into DIY lights, and thought I'd share my initial thoughts of where I'm headed and why, to see if my research has led me to a reasonable path or if there are tips I can benefit from.

My build this year, to make my dumb display an intelligent one, is to upgrade my eaves only until the DIY bug fully bites me and I build out further.

Controller: To start out, I ordered a F16v3.

Great Choice

QuoteLights: Since I'm building out about 145 ft. (45m) linearly, and to minimize power injection, I've chosen 12V strips (WS2815) with 30 pixels/m density (IP65)

I am not sure if the F16 is compatible with WS2815 Strips (it isn't listed on the website) Strips can be difficult to work with and can be problematic. They can be difficult for some people to solder and many people report high failure rates. I would suggest going with bullet or square node pixels.

QuoteLayout: I'm planning to mount the F16v3 in my garage in a central location that would make power injection to 4 out of the 5 "zones" easier. (If "zone" has a specific meaning in this context, I am not aware of it, and am using that term in the generic sense to refer to an area I plan on running a separate power injection lead wire to).

That is a good plan

QuotePower: I was planning on buying a Mean Well 350W PSU (NES-350-12) but this may not be big enough... (See Q1)

It might be big enough but a little early to determine depending on the actual pixels used and brightness.

QuoteF16 Output Connectors: I ordered 3.5mm Connectors which should make connecting to the F16 easier.

I am not sure what connectors you are referring to but I would suggest purchasing pigtails to match the connector of the lights you purchased

QuoteOutput 3.5mm->Wire: I'm planning on using pvc jacketed 4 lead wire out of the F16's 3.5mm connector to the starting point of each run. See Q2.

You don't need 4 lead wire if you go with WS2811, and the 3.5 mm is that for each individual wire? if so, that is a little on the large side

QuoteOutput Wire->SM JST 4-wire harness M/F: I bought SM JST harness wires to connect the lead wire. I'm thinking the leads should clip into the first 5M strand. To allow for end-to-end strip connections, I purchased some 4-lead LED connector clips for less than 5M lengths along a run.

JST connectors are not waterproof but many people have used them without any problems, but your environment might be an issue. I recommend using the appropriate pigtails.

QuotePower Injection: My longest run is likely to be about 42 feet; let's call it 3 back to back 5M strips, give or take. See Q3. Because these are 12V strips, I'm expecting I can inject every 5M, which means injecting once at the start and end, and twice in the middle.

Many people find that the pixels are way to bright at 100% and will reduce the power. You can figure the power injection at 100% and be safe or determine what brightness looks best in your installation and then determine your power injection from there.


QuoteChanneling/Mounting: I'm going to go with the aluminum channel route, but would appreciate tips on the diffuser that does well with 30 LEDs/M density, would fit the strips, and the power injection leads along the way. I also live in a rainy area. See Q4.

This might change if you change your mind on your pixel type.

QuoteStrip-Strip/Turning Corners: I bought 4 pin LED connectors (L style). See Q5.

Same as above

QuoteEnclosure: I'm thinking of a CG-1500 Enclosure to mount the PSU and the controller in. I did not buy a Falcon mounting plate. See Q6.

The CG-1500 is a good enclosure but might get cramped if you put more than just the power supply and Controller. You can put a mounting plate on the door for added mounting area.

QuoteQ1: If this PSU is running 10 strips, and assuming that the 2815 strips draw as much power as a 2811 (2.77A/33.3W per strip according to the Falcon manual) this would imply 27A and 333W of power at full load (100% brightness of all pixels). The PSU is rated at 29A and 350W, which seems potentially inadequate to also run the F16v3 under the premise that PSUs are not 100% efficient. This seems borderline, should I be looking at a bigger PSU, especially if I add more strips next year? 600W Mean Well or some other size?

It is always best to get the specs for the actual pixels you are going to use. Different manufactures can have dramatically different power requirements

QuoteQ2: What AWG wire should I use for my four-wire leads that run to the start of each strip? I've seen some installs that prefer to put pigtails right out of the F16, presumably to simplify swapping inputs and runs. I figure I can always do this later, so I was going to go right out of the F16 straight to the strips with the wire run. Good idea or not? Since these strips have dual data inputs for resiliency, what's the most elegant way to connect the B0/D0 wires to the F16? Use heat shrink solder between the two harness cables so they're cross connected at the start of the run?

I wouldn't go smaller than 18AWG but that could depend on the length. The dual data might be a good thing but many people report very little failures with the WS2811 pixels when purchased from one of the more reputable vendors.

QuoteQ3: What AWG wire should I use for power injection? I'm guessing PVC jacketed two-lead (red/black). An XLights YouTube video showed a single cable where midpoints had been stripped to wire in LEDs. (At this point in the video: ). He used solder ring heat shrink looped on the power lead, and heat gunned to connect his strings. In a strip application, I'd just inject the end of the strips. Seems legit, am I missing something?  It would also seem that at power injection points, I shouldn't continue to draw power through the strips. I guess I can pull the V12 pin from the strip-strip connections to allow injection to provide power to strips 2 and 3 in any given run?

It would depend on if you are using the same wire for multiple injection points and the length of the wire. There are many post in regards to power injection and every application is unique, so until you have your layout/pixel specs it is hard to tell


QuoteQ4: How to mount the power injection cables so the risk of blocking the LEDs is low? Any tips for making these more water tight, to protect the LEDs and power cables? What kind of water-proofing (between power injection, between strip-strip, between harnesses/between connectors) is recommended, beyond my guess at exterior grade silicone? I'm thinking about buying these, or similar: https://www.amazon.com/Litever-Aluminum-Channels-Trimless-Mounting/dp/B01IY1L2B2

I am going to punt on this one

QuoteQ5: Is this a reasonable way to connect outdoor strips, or should I stick with the harnesses?

What is reasonable is what works for you.

QuoteQ6: Should I buy a mounting plate? Or are standard motherboard standoffs and custom holes on the enclosure a reasonable way to secure equipment to the enclosure?

Mounting plates are fairly simple to build... If you have the tools and skill. You will have to decide it it is worth your time and effort to build your own.

QuoteHere's a diagram of the "zones" as I called them and their lengths and the F16 placement, in case it helps, each color is a separate "zones".
 
(image page URL: https://ibb.co/WkJPdN4)

Thanks in advance for any helpful tips or even "yup, sounds right" so I know my research hasn't misled me!! :)
If to err is human, I am more human than most people.

Reys Dad

QuotePower Injection: My longest run is likely to be about 42 feet; let's call it 3 back to back 5M strips, give or take. See Q3. Because these are 12V strips, I'm expecting I can inject every 5M, which means injecting once at the start and end, and twice in the middle.
I'd did this exact run last year. You only need to inject once between strips 2 & 3 (pixel 301) and the power from the controller goes to strip 1. The link below is extremely useful for figuring out injection points. Ray's 12V 2811 strips use 36 watt's roll/150 = .24 watts/pixel. You can also play with the power percentage to see how that affects your injection points/requirements


http://spikerlights.com/calcpower.aspx

One thing you might want consider in the future is going 5v for some items. Especially if you add something like a mega tree down the road. It's more injection but the watt draw is typically 1/2 of 12V which means you don't need as many power supplies just more wire and distribution cards.

khanklatt

Quote from: Poporacer on November 12, 2019, 11:44:35 AMLights: Since I'm building out about 145 ft. (45m) linearly, and to minimize power injection, I've chosen 12V strips (WS2815) with 30 pixels/m density (IP65)

I am not sure if the F16 is compatible with WS2815 Strips (it isn't listed on the website) Strips can be difficult to work with and can be problematic. They can be difficult for some people to solder and many people report high failure rates. I would suggest going with bullet or square node pixels.

Quote from: undefinedF16 Output Connectors: I ordered 3.5mm Connectors which should make connecting to the F16 easier.

I am not sure what connectors you are referring to but I would suggest purchasing pigtails to match the connector of the lights you purchased

Quote from: undefinedOutput 3.5mm->Wire: I'm planning on using pvc jacketed 4 lead wire out of the F16's 3.5mm connector to the starting point of each run. See Q2.

You don't need 4 lead wire if you go with WS2811, and the 3.5 mm is that for each individual wire? if so, that is a little on the large side

Quote from: undefinedOutput Wire->SM JST 4-wire harness M/F: I bought SM JST harness wires to connect the lead wire. I'm thinking the leads should clip into the first 5M strand. To allow for end-to-end strip connections, I purchased some 4-lead LED connector clips for less than 5M lengths along a run.

JST connectors are not waterproof but many people have used them without any problems, but your environment might be an issue. I recommend using the appropriate pigtails.

I'm only quoting the parts I wanted to respond to, but thank you for providing feedback on all of the questions, it's most appreciated!

Re: Lights... To the points above, I hope, for my sake ;), that you're mistaken about the 2815. To be honest, I was thinking that surely they were compatible, but hadn't checked! So now I'm nervous I have to send the strips back, but some digging seems to indicate my chances are better than 0%:

https://deskgram.cc/p/2126644151922924002_19542860
https://falconchristmas.com/forum/index.php?topic=10714.15

From what I've seen on some DIY'er product pro/con tables (e.g. YouTuber "The Hook Up" ) suggests that FastLED, NeoPixel and WS2812fx signaling are supported on both 2811 and 2815 12v strips. I realize that's no guarantee of compatibility, but at this point the products are on their way and I have to cross my fingers. 


Re: Output Connectors/Wire: These are the green blocks you see here: https://www.pixelcontroller.com/store/img/p/1/3/4/134-large_default.jpg PixelController calls them "3.5mm Connectors". So my thought was just to connect the 4 lead wires to those and avoid the extra effort of the pigtails.

I was just sort of linearly following the transition between the controller towards the lights component, by component to make sure I didn't leave anything out. :)



Output Wire->SM JST 4-wire harness M/F: Thanks for the suggestion for pigtails. Which ones to use? I mean the strips have the JST's, so I'm trying to avoid extra soldering. Maybe I have crappy quality solder, or maybe i need to learn how to use flux, but my circa 1998 edition radio shack solder kit and I are not good friends... If you can point me to the pigtails I should use to connect strips end to end, or to use the pigtails from the 16V3 3.5mm connectors, I'd appreciate it.

(My issue with soldering is that it feels like the solder never "takes". It melts, it seems to attach to the leads, but the wires don't seem to "glue" together when the solder cools) I guess I'm more of a software guy than hardware. ;)

Thanks again, Poporacer (love the nickname too, lol).

khanklatt

Quote from: Reys Dad on November 12, 2019, 01:04:05 PMI'd did this exact run last year. You only need to inject once between strips 2 & 3 (pixel 301) and the power from the controller goes to strip 1. The link below is extremely useful for figuring out injection points. Ray's 12V 2811 strips use 36 watt's roll/150 = .24 watts/pixel. You can also play with the power percentage to see how that affects your injection points/requirements

http://spikerlights.com/calcpower.aspx

One thing you might want consider in the future is going 5v for some items. Especially if you add something like a mega tree down the road. It's more injection but the watt draw is typically 1/2 of 12V which means you don't need as many power supplies just more wire and distribution cards.
Bookmarked, and noted, thank you!

I think I recall from the F16 manual that the F16 can run with two power zones. Makes me nervous that I might mix them up and fry some lights (or worse yet, jumper the board wrong later on), but yes, from the research I did to look at 12V, I think I'll have 5V zones too when I have more highly concentrated displays like the tree you're mentioning.

Perhaps I'll do such 5V expansions on falcon expansion boards, though, so just keep adding 12V strips to the F16 as the "long distance" (12V) control center... I guess I could also wire in a DC12V->DC5V converter, or get a computer PSU that has both in one unit. But that's for another day (or better yet, a future year ;) )  If I pull this off this year, I might be able to avoid ever climbing up on my house again.

Eat your heart out, Clark Griswold!

Poporacer

It looks like someone made the 2815 work, so hopefully you can as well. You can directly wire your extension wire to those connectors I misunderstood what you were saying about the connectors. The F16 comes with those so you really don't need to order any more. Pigtails make it convenient to disconnect your controller from the lights without having to open up the enclosure. Just be aware that there are different styles of pigtails and they are not compatible with each other. If you do go that route, then just make sure if you need more to get the same style. Some of the more common ones are Ray Wu, xConnect, Daniel Zang....
In regards to soldering, if you are soldering wires, there is a product that many people are using (myself included and I love them) they are waterproof solder sleeves https://www.amazon.com/Qibaok-Connectors-Electrical-Terminals-Insulated/dp/B07SXGKX95/ref=sr_1_8?crid=3MBZ0366OEFTZ&keywords=solder+sleeve+heat+shrink&qid=1573622458&sprefix=solder+sl%2Caps%2C185&sr=8-8
you insert the wires and use a heatgun and it solder and waterproofs the connection in one step.

Welcome to your new hobby!
If to err is human, I am more human than most people.

khanklatt

Updating my original post with a few lessons learned in case someone reads what I wrote and draws some conclusions about how to get started...

I'll start by saying, my install is not yet perfect. The latest help thread is here: https://falconchristmas.com/forum/index.php/topic,13126.0.html

That said, there are a few things I'd have done differently, as protips for people trying a similar approach to me.

1. Contrary to poporacer's suggestion, I stuck with the led strips because I thought they would be more convenient (whether they were in the long run I'm not sure since I've never tried stranded pixels). Anyway, the first observation with the WS2815 is that I spent a lot of time planning on power injection, but once I decided to operate my longest strand on two ports (roughly half the pixels) none of my strands seemed to require voltage injection.

That is, if you can afford to do so, using a 12V strand, and few enough pixels to avoid voltage injection would have saved me a lot of time and hassle.

2. I chose the WS2815 because it has redundancy in its signaling leads, so if one gets a short, you can rely on the second one. I assumed that the way to leverage this capability was to just wire both lines to the same output pin on the controller. If this is how it's supposed to work, it didn't work for me. I think it's because the timing of the signal on the line coming across two different length leads is apparently enough to throw off the signaling the LED ICs need to work properly.

That is, wire one or the other signal line for each strand, not both, to the controller.

3. To avoid time and effort on my roof, I chose to run my power injection (see point #1; this was not necessary) on the aluminum channel first, then used the adhesive LED strip on top of that. That meant that I had to completely assemble each run on the ground before I lifted it into place. This was, in retrospect, a mistake. If I had the lesson learned from #1 above, it would have meant I could have first mounted the aluminum channels, then cut/assembled the strips to size, and then use the adhesive to mount the strips directly to the channel (instead of to the flat power cable I mounted in the channels first).

That is, mount your aluminum channels to your eaves first; then adhere your strips to your pre-mounted channels.

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