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Dave H1

2013 Pixel Post Mortem

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Now that the lights are off for 2013 and the planning begins for 2014, some of us are wanting to take the next step into rgb pixels.  I was wondering how all the “early adopter’s that used pixels and strips in this year’s show held up???

 

Do you mind sharing the good and the bad (and hopefully no “bashing of vendors”)

What worked??

What didn’t work??

What was the environment that your pixels operated in (snow, rain, ice…?)

What would you/will you change??

Did you experience a “high failure rate”?? (like there is an acceptable standard)

How did the Technicolor Pixels survive??

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

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This was my first year trying RGB.  I had four corocanes with rectangle led modulels from holidaycoro.  No issues with the leds. I started with a tinypix controller and it worked perfect when testing in the basement next to the show computer but could not get data to the controller when outside.  i switched to a E6804 and it worked great.

 

i am adding a pixel tree next year with a E682 controller.

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I attempted to have a mega tree with pixel strings. I don't wanna talk about it. :-(

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1500 WS2811 square pixels, 4 TinyPix controllers, 4 sets of CCPs 1 hiccup with 400 total CCPs. 2 hiccups with the 2811s. Removing power for a couple of hours cleared the problems.

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I was really happy with how things EVENTUALLY turned out with our CCP Megatree. But, the CCP controllers are not even close to being weather resistant. They are barely even moisture resistant, even with everything sealed tight and mounted per instructions. We lost 4 of 8 controllers due to moisture intrusion prior to our set up week, so we had to wait another week for replacement controllers I ordered from LOR and for waterproof electrical boxes (4 medium Sockit boxes held the 8 controllers and worked great) from Amazon. So we were a week late firing up the show, but once it was running, the Megatree was even more impactful than I had thought it would be. It's such a distraction from the rest of the show, I may not set the rest of the display up next year! JK...

 

The RGB roof line was a week-of-Thanksgiving emergency project (I had all the components and measurements, but it was supposed to be next years project) that turned out way better than I thought, considering the late entry and emergency re-sequencing I had to to on our 18 song set. Used RGB PixaBulbs from DIYLedExpress and was happy with their performance, though I've lost 3 or 4 of the bulbs to one of the RGB led's 'burning out' (or whatever that would be called). The controller was an E682 from SanDevices, and I was very happy with how easy that was to put together, test and set up. A little bit of a learning curve, but really not bad.

 

The Megatree star is from Holidaycoro, as were the Actidongle, controllers and power supply. Very happy with how that turned out and performed also.

 

Very happy with the CCP's, but again, the controllers should not be left out in the elements at all. Cost me +$500 extra to recover from that...

 

Here is the obligatory video of one of our songs:

https://vimeo.com/82625029

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I have been using LOR's CCB for two years.  The first year one controller failed because of water.  I now mount them in a home buillt enclosure to keep out the water.

 

This year I added a set of CCPs.  No problem with that since I put it in a plastic bag before hiding it in the wreath that is in my house.

 

One think I hate about the LOR controllers I have been using (CCP, CCB and the 16 channel controllers) is you have to open up the entire unit, exposing it to the elements when you hook up the communication cables.  I really wish they had the connectors accessible externally, but then again, more chances of water infiltration.  It really got me Friday, when I was taking down all of the controllers.  Unscrewing 8 screws on the CCBs and CCP controllers to disconnect the comm cables.

 

Walt

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I have been using LOR's CCB for two years.  The first year one controller failed because of water.  I now mount them in a home buillt enclosure to keep out the water.

 

This year I added a set of CCPs.  No problem with that since I put it in a plastic bag before hiding it in the wreath that is in my house.

 

One think I hate about the LOR controllers I have been using (CCP, CCB and the 16 channel controllers) is you have to open up the entire unit, exposing it to the elements when you hook up the communication cables.  I really wish they had the connectors accessible externally, but then again, more chances of water infiltration.  It really got me Friday, when I was taking down all of the controllers.  Unscrewing 8 screws on the CCBs and CCP controllers to disconnect the comm cables.

 

Walt

 

Agreed. I now use 2 8-12" Cat5 'pigtails' per controller, and then attach cat5/6 two way female connectors to those. But LOR should come up with a solution for their own products.

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...the Megatree was even more impactful than I had thought it would be. It's such a distraction from the rest of the show, I may not set the rest of the display up next year! JK...

 

 

 

I agree with this statement.  My tree was only used in 2 pieces of music because of its overbearing nature to the rest of the display elements.  My family on the other hand said I should use it in every song, which I won't be doing.  I think that selective use to punctuate may be the best use and is how I will use it next year and maybe 1 entire piece of music dedicated to the tree so it can show off what it can do.

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Agreed. I now use 2 8-12" Cat5 'pigtails' per controller, and then attach cat5/6 two way female connectors to those. But LOR should come up with a solution for their own products.

This is precisely the reason why I'll be looking into a different pixel/bulb source this year. It almost seems like a slap in the face - we spend more for LOR products, twice as much and then some actually, and then have to deal with something that is such a bush-league PITA. And not just a regular PITA but a ROYAL one.

Cripes - even William Bruce was smart enough and consumer-oriented enough to devise a simple and watertight way to connect comm cables without having to remove the two 2 screws on HIS cases, much less 8. I'm tempted to just cut the comm cables and bring the controllers in out of the weather rather than waiting until the weather warms up to take all those dam screws out of each one.

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This was my first year trying RGB.  I had four corocanes with rectangle led modulels from holidaycoro.  No issues with the leds. I started with a tinypix controller and it worked perfect when testing in the basement next to the show computer but could not get data to the controller when outside.  i switched to a E6804 and it worked great.

 

i am adding a pixel tree next year with a E682 controller

Do you happen to have a video of the corocanes? was it the length of the cat5 cable that caused your CC not to work outside?  I've been thinking of trying those but I'm on the fence trying to decide. 

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12 CCR's worked flawlessly on my mega tree, made a " happy holidays" sign out of CCP's. CCP sign stopped working somewhere along the 3rd to 4th week of the show. I had just mounted the controller on the back of the sign in an upright position. When it warms up enough to take it down I'll update ya's on whether it survived or not!

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I bought the cheapest dumb strips I could get on ebay rated IP65 for my dumb trees and didn't have any issues with the strips - my target was $12 or less including delivery. Being critical, I can say there was some variance in pixel colors, but no one but me would ever notice.
Time will tell how these hold up. We now have a foot of snow and won't be coming down anytime soon. I also bought the cheapest 27 channel DMX controllers from China with only one issue- a dip switch is bad. All items purchased from China showed up eventually-- some long waits from some sellers who made me very nervous.  I have 6 CCP's that worked well with one pixel failure early in setup and corrected.  I placed 5 controllers inside the soffits or attic, so no weather issues for me.   I never did figure out why one of my dc24 channel controllers was not properly outputting the programming.

 

Steve

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Second year using Ray Wu pixels for my pixel tree:

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/RGB-full-LED-pixel-module-WS-2811IC-DC5V-input-50pcs-a-string-IP68/563831930.html

 

Had one pixel that for a day or so would show red whenever green was called for in addition to green.  Cleared by itself before I did anything about it, and never returned.   Woke up one morning to find abut half of one string white.  Figured I was going to have to replace a couple pixels when I got home from work.  It was working fine when the evening show started and the problem never returned.  It had rained the night before, but I really don't think that related as the bottom half of the tree gets watered by the lawn sprinklers every three nights and that gets it far wetter than the little rain we had.

 

I have 25 meters of 12V 505 dumb strips (also from Ray Wu):

http://www.aliexpress.com/item/DC12V-5m-one-roll-5050-SMD-30LEDs-m-led-strip-waterproof-by-silicon-tube-IP66/587735379.html

 

These are all permanently installed and are used all year round for my landscape lighting.  I have had a total of 3 pixels (9 LEDs) have one color fail (Red failed on one and Green on two others).

 

I had bought some dumb strips off ebay several year ago and had so many pixel failures that I trashed them.

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The problem I see with LOR putting external cat5E connections on their products is that they sell as parts so unless you bought an entire setup you would still need to devise a way to put in your own connections. I put my controllers in various enclosures and have put in my own external connectors. Not a difficult process but does require extra time but since I am making custom boxes anyway I do not mind. But I also can see a desire by customers for different onnectors so I guess it is a matter of LOR determining the demand/cost of production to decide what they will do. I am sure that custom boxes would cost more.

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Do you happen to have a video of the corocanes? was it the length of the cat5 cable that caused your CC not to work outside?  I've been thinking of trying those but I'm on the fence trying to decide. 

 

I think about 100 feet. I have my computers in the basement and plug into a network port that is wired to the outside of the house.

 

This video is a test of the corocanes.

 

<iframe src="//player.vimeo.com/video/83432261" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><a href="

">Corocanes</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/user9457188">David H</a> on <a href="https://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>

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This will require a bit longer post (sorry, I will try to give a lot of details maybe it does help others)

What worked

  • Networking for E1.31
  • J1Sys Controllers (ECG-P12S, ECG-P4)
  • Frames
  • Backup plan
  • Viewers response to the pixel setup
  • When it worked - AWESOME

What worked somewhat

  • Using Madrix to drive the pixel matrix

What did not work

  • Technicolor pixels – failed after the first rain
  • Square pixels – failed due to water

Weather

  • Between 6F and 69 F, rain total for December was 12 inches… mix between ice, rain, snow and sunshine.

What to do better:

  • Waterproofing
  • Long “burn in” time before mounting stuff on the roof

The original plan was to build a 96 x 35 matrix for my roof out of Technicolor pixels attached to frames build out of PVC conduit (16 frames, 6 string each). I had 35 ct Technicolor strings custom built (they took about 8 weeks longer to produce than originally promised) to save myself a lot of soldering. The first catch was that 4 inch spacing refers to the cable length, center to center the pixels are 5.5 inch. I ended up manually spacing out the pixels which added a lot of time to the frame built. Overall building the frames took about 5 times the expected time.  In the end it was luck that we only managed to get 4 frames up on the roof when the first rainfall hit with 2.5 inches of rain – out of the 24 strings only 4 actually survived without issues. The other 20 had between 1 and 6 failed pixels. We ended up pulling all the frames off the roof and started the season without the planned matrix. This came after the big scare of the pixels not being able to actually handle 12V…

 

Software wise – only the matrix was driven by Madrix, all other pixel elements (and Madrix itself) was controlled by LOR – I ended up with about 700 channels total in LOR + 16,400 in Madrix with one LOR network and 41 DMX Universes….

 

After a bit of thinking, I made an emergency order for WS2812B pixel strips. Instead of mounting the frames vertical, I decide to flip them and extend them to cover the entire 5m of the strips. Since those strips have a much higher pixel density (30 pixel / meter) I ended up putting 9 strips on a single frame and built 4 total frames. The new design did cover about 2/3 of the height and half of the width of the roof but it did look a lot better. On the strips – 3 arrived with broken pixels already; luckily I had ordered a few more. Over the rest of the season, I lost two more strips since I had one more replacement, I could swap one and shift things around for the second broken one. This plan however did also add one more unplanned ESG-P12S controller to the mix as well as a full replacement of all the power supplies

 

Once it was up – it was pretty awesome! Having a 16 ft x 9 ft matrix with 5400 pixels (36 x 150) makes for a great tune-in sign (amongst other things).

 

I also used the square pixels down the gutters and around the windows. Early in the season there was not a single day where I did not have to replace pixels even though I had sprayed them with LeakSeal… For the gutters I ended up using strips as well. On the window frames it seems I finally got to a point where they work.

 

Using Madrix is a different topic – in a nutshell, V3 has a bug where it crashes if someone sends to many remote commands in a short time frame. I worked around by re-building the effects in Madrix Action Script.

 

On the networking: since I do this almost every day, it was a “no worry” item. In addition having fully managed Cisco switches with trunking, VLAN and multicast capability certainly helps (even though it may be over-engineered)

 

What to do better:

 

Somehow I do want to recover my investment into Technicolor pixels. Plan right now is to buy C7 and C9 covers and a bucket of PlastiDip followed by a lot of testing. Those would then be used elsewhere in the display. It seemed the water did get into the pixels around the LED, so the additional cover should help.

 

I also want to expand the roof matrix using the same WS2812B strips.

 

One additional thing I have learned is to “burn in” all props in real conditions – so the frames should be done in August and I just leave them outside. Climbing around the roof to replace pixel strips in freezing temps is just no fun.

 

Not entirely sure what to do about the square pixels, maybe I need to write them off.

 

Sorry again for the long post…

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Vienna

 

Not long winded at all.

 

Just the type of detailed info I was looking for

 

Did you spray the entire square pixel with Leak Seal or just the back???

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Dave - from what I saw the issue is water getting into the pixels around the LED, so I tried the LeakSeal around the LED and around the wires. I have to say it did not work as expected, partially I have to blame myself - it was way too cold when I tried to spray them. I did find a video on youtube where someone used PlastiDip which will be my next try... from what I saw it also adds a lot less of a film than LeakSeal does... That however has to wait until it get's warmer....

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do you have the link to the video on YouTube??

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LORiP:

 

Hope you get your pixel tree up and running. It will be a great addition to your show.

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No wonder I couldn't find it on Utube

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I remember when that video surfaced a few years back.  I believe that is what prompted the voids at the wire entrance/exits to be filled with epoxy resin.  Seems that the lens are now the primary point of access for water now.

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