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Thread: First time - Shopping list recommendations

  1. #1
    Junior Elf member
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    First time - Shopping list recommendations

    Hello again!

    After doing quite a bit of reading (and knowing the warnings) I've decided that I'm going to start with pixels. For this year, if I get that far, I don't plan on any music, just flashing lights and some neat effects.

    I've attached a very sloppy diagram of what I'm working with for the first year (blue is where I plan on running lights). The yellow lightning bolt is where I've got standard AC so this is likely where I'm going to house my tech (it's also somewhat shielded from the elements). The plan is run 5v lights, but that may change depending on availability and whether I need 12v for something else.

    I'm looking at about 30 feet of pixels to line the gutters and another 30-40 for the columns, and if I get far enough, about 20 to 25 feet of lights for the garage door (I'll take measurements to be absolutely sure of everything when I've decided on my controller, but these are about right). About 100 pixels in all. My house isn't far from the street (20 feet?) so I'm looking to keep the lights fairly close together (3 inches?).

    100 feet of pixels at about 3 inches gives me 400 lights.

    Here's where I really need help.

    1) For the controller, should I go with Pi and a hat, or falcon (or something else)? I'm thinking about getting a pi to run the show, so it might be worth it to just run everything from a pi or two?
    2) This probably depends on the controller, but I'm not sure whether I should buy 50 pixel sets and set them up separately or power inject. I live in a cold climate so I want to keep things as simple as possible to minimize issues with cold/ice/melt.
    3) From what I understand I need a computer/Pi (and software), a controller, power, and lights as the core tech. Extension cords, something to actually string the lights, etc, are also requirements. I'm just having a bit of trouble with data overload so I'm breaking this into components as to not get overwhelmed.

    Thanks again for all of your help in my previous thread. This has been lots of fun to read/learn about and I'm exciting to keep the ball rolling.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
    DIGWDF Engineer member dirknerkle's Avatar
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    You're smart to step into this conservatively -- especially since it's already mid-October. You don't have a day to waste in acquiring lights and controllers, but especially in sequencing the selections you want to use. Even though you don't plan to have music, many of the sequencers use music to set the duration of the sequences (i.e. select an MP3 file that's 2:30 in length and the sequence defaults to that length). You don't have to play the music -- but it may help you organize your thoughts as you plug the various lighting effects in and test them. Later on, when you decide to play the music, you'll have a few selections ready-to-go!

    I'd urge you to decide on the lights right away and get them on order. Then focus on a controller and your power setup. Again, you don't have any time to waste on that, either. It's likely going to take you the rest of October (and then some) just to acquire those things....

    All of the major sequencers (Vixen3, xLights, HLS) support most of the hardware you'll find listed anywhere in the forum so you need to download and install one and try it out. Find one that you like from the standpoint of ease-of-use and go with it. They all are designed with pixels in mind. Selecting and getting to know your way around a sequencer is likely to take you a couple weeks just on its own.

    BTW, you might update your user profile with your general location. That will give others an idea about your climate and you also may find that there's someone close-by to help you get going!
    Even though the DIGWDF Store has closed, it's still awesome! Thanks to all who have supported us through nearly 7 years of excitement!
    Parts of the store will remain open for downloading documentation, firmware and other files: http://digwdf.com/store


  3. #3
    Junior Elf member
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    Outlining your house is a pretty advanced installation IMO. Would be much easier to start with a megatree or other props that do not deal with power injection or cables that travel long distances. That's how I got started anyways.

    Agree that you don't have a day to waste. It will be a lot of work to get this stood up in a month.

    Sent from my P00A using Tapatalk

  4. #4
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    That's a good suggestion, the only concern I have is that any props will be buried. Last winter we ended up with nearly 6 feet of snow on our yard...

    Good call re lights. I'm looking to pick up bullet lights so I'll have to find my distributor and firm that up.

    I could start with a few window outlines. That said, what's the best approach with controllers? I'd have a few upstairs and at least one downstairs so separate systems. I've read that wifi connections can be tough.. Is the best approach something like Pis with hats or Pis with other controllers in that sort of structure?

    Any thoughts on light distance at a closer range, is 3 inches too much?

    Thanks again!

    Tyler

  5. #5
    Senior Elf member zwiller's Avatar
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    There are 2 common approaches to controllers: centralized and distributed. Centralized is one large capacity controller where lines are long and often power injected. Distributed (my approach) is a multi-controller setup nearest props with shorter lines little if any power injection. There is debate on which is best but I think it's just personal preference. Go with what seems natural to you. Blinky evolves/layouts change/controllers change. Don't sweat it. Odds are you won't do the same thing next year. Ideally, you want to try some things and see what works best before hanging. That is actually my favorite part of blinky: building stuff/mocking it up and testing. Lots of beer going into that. IE: I can hang my outline in like an hour but it took like a month to design and build (custom wood frames). I say grab some pihats and some pixels, jump in, and have some fun!

  6. #6
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    That's all I needed to hear! Thanks again!

  7. #7
    Old Man Winter member Ruppro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zwiller View Post
    There are 2 common approaches to controllers: centralized and distributed. Centralized is one large capacity controller where lines are long and often power injected. Distributed (my approach) is a multi-controller setup nearest props with shorter lines little if any power injection. There is debate on which is best but I think it's just personal preference. Go with what seems natural to you. Blinky evolves/layouts change/controllers change. Don't sweat it. Odds are you won't do the same thing next year. Ideally, you want to try some things and see what works best before hanging. That is actually my favorite part of blinky: building stuff/mocking it up and testing. Lots of beer going into that. IE: I can hang my outline in like an hour but it took like a month to design and build (custom wood frames). I say grab some pihats and some pixels, jump in, and have some fun!
    Not to hijack, but what are you using for your color washes/floods on the house? I have not seen any so full and smooth as yours.
    Matt

    Briar Creek Lights
    2017 My 2nd Year
    2016 150 Renard channels (and a few pixels,110)
    Honorary DIGWDF engineer

  8. #8
    Frosty member
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    Your house is gorgeous. love the style, nice canvas to paint. would be an excellent house for lots of traditional lighting.

    let me throw this out for what it's worth. i see 12v. 30 feet (120 pixels) is just over lots of recommendations for 12v but you can turn down the intensity and probably get it to go. same on the columns but easy to run cable to the end of the pixels... down left column, across to middle, up, over to right column, down, and power back to psu. run #3 is cat five and "heavy power" down the column on right and back to garage door or directly to door if there is no railing there. with that layout you can make do with a four port controller, no power injection (just one possibly two duplicate runs of power), plenty of room to expand because of your dense layout, and a very easy bom. in your case (no music), i would still use a pi for show player. bom is something like:
    pi 3 with memory cards
    4 port controller
    1 psu (try the meanwell)
    enclosure
    4 port switch
    shorty cat 5 cable
    long cat 5 cable
    power cables
    3 pin extensions for columns and connection to roof and jump from front to back gutter?
    pigtails at least 10 (every section of pixel runs)
    solder sleeves
    female pigs for controller
    pixels

    i would forgo the picap solution. if you can afford it, go with a16 port otherwise the 4 port will work and be very usable. if you think you can get it all together yourself, get best you afford of each or there is one vendor that can do 90% for you (holiday coro).

    good luck!

  9. #9
    Old Man Winter member ronp5683's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zwiller View Post
    There are 2 common approaches to controllers: centralized and distributed. Centralized is one large capacity controller where lines are long and often power injected. Distributed (my approach) is a multi-controller setup nearest props with shorter lines little if any power injection. There is debate on which is best but I think it's just personal preference. Go with what seems natural to you. Blinky evolves/layouts change/controllers change. Don't sweat it. Odds are you won't do the same thing next year. Ideally, you want to try some things and see what works best before hanging. That is actually my favorite part of blinky: building stuff/mocking it up and testing. Lots of beer going into that. IE: I can hang my outline in like an hour but it took like a month to design and build (custom wood frames). I say grab some pihats and some pixels, jump in, and have some fun!
    Good advice. I suspect that the proposed approach depends upon what the vendor is selling. :-)

    For me it is about the wiring. You will have a lot. Build up a few props and see what works for you. Also, remember that cost is proportional to the number of lights. So light strips on 1.33 inch centers will cost the most, and large C9 lights on 6-12 inch spacing will be the lowest cost.

  10. #10
    Senior Elf member zwiller's Avatar
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    I had no idea that vimeo link showed a preview (yuck). Looks like I can take you to my home page at least.

    Thanks, floods are RJ's aether II's. http://falconchristmas.com/forum/ind...?topic=2105.15

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