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Ed K

Cutting, soldering, and waterproofing a CCR for arches

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I will make arches that are 8’ long, with 25 CCR pixels in each arch, and will have two arches using one CCR.  I will cut the CCR at 25 pixels, solder on 18AWG, 4-wire extension between the two pieces, use GE Silicone II (or maybe even the silicon sealant that LOR includes in a white tube with each CCR), and use heat shrink to waterproof the new ends of each ribbon half.  Each half-section of the CCR will go inside 1" inside diameter HDPE tubing from Home Depot (their "Shark Bite" branded tubing).


Has anyone actually cut and extended a CCR, with soldering, and are there any tips for assuring cutting, soldering, and waterproofing the CCRs works?  There are a lot of useful videos on cutting and soldering RGB strips, but I haven't seen a video or forum discussion on good practices for cutting and soldering a CCR.  I’ve soldered each of my pixel strings, which seems to be easier, and less risky, than soldering LOR’s CCRs.


DevMike noted in one of his posts that “the timing signals sent across those (Cosmic Color Device) wires have little room in tolerance and after about 6 feet this becomes a real issue.”  My extension will be less than two (2) feet.


Cutting the CCR will void the warranty.
 

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Cutting/soldering/weatherproofing a CCR is the same as it is for any other type of ribbon.  Your extension distance should be no problem.

 

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I did the same thing using 2 CCr's to make 4 arches. I didn't put them in any type of tubing, used zip ties to secure them to 1/2" grey pic pipe.

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2 hours ago, larryk5 said:

I did the same thing using 2 CCr's to make 4 arches. I didn't put them in any type of tubing, used zip ties to secure them to 1/2" grey pic pipe.

Thanks for responding.  Anything special that you did to solder or waterproof the two pieces of CCRs, other than being careful with soldering, and using silicone and heat shrink?  

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hey Ed

Didn't I send you a link about arches? in that he details how he cuts, extends, and seals the ends of the CCR. 

http://forums.lightorama.com/index.php?/topic/32176-cut-ccr-into-two-units/?p=297018

I sealed my 12 arches like you are describing. tip: after you solder and use silicon, wait 24 hours before you use your shrink tube. If it does not set up enough, the shrink tube will misshape the end of the tube and could leave unwanted gaps. That was my experience anyway.

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15 minutes ago, saxon said:

hey Ed

Didn't I send you a link about arches? in that he details how he cuts, extends, and seals the ends of the CCR. 

Ahh, you did, and I filed it with construction of arches.  Thanks -- it's really clear how to do it, along with using molex connectors.  

Good tip on waiting for silicon to set for 24 hours in case it's not even.

 

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Glad you got it. I don't use the molex connectors or CCR, but hank did a pretty good job detailing his instructions.

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The only thing that I can add is that I used shrink wrap that has adhesive built into it. Makes the connection stronger!

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I too am using 2 CCR's to make four arches however I am using 2" High Density Polyethylene tubing. I used Matt Johnson's construction technique (he has a great video depicting assembly process). I am housing both my CCR controllers and power supplies in one enclosure between arch 2 and arch 3 feeding in opposite directions. I am also using Holiday Coro pigtail waterproof cables for connections from arch to arch and arch to enclosure. After soldering on pigtail to CCR, I covered connection with silicon from Holiday Coro.

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I like Matt's arches, too, and just wanted to go a bit smaller, but still inside HDPE tubing. 

My main concern was cutting, soldering, and waterproofing the CCR.  The suggestions are exactly what I was looking for, so thanks.  I just need to do it carefully. 

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I am not cutting CCRs, but have quite a bit of both smart and dumb RGB strip as part of my year round landscape lighting.  Therefore it is up year round and it gets rained on, sprinklers, etc on a regular basis.  Most has been there for about four years without any having water problems.  This is what I do for most of my connections.  If you need to slip the heat shrink tubing over the wire or strip's outer tubing, do it now!  It's really annoying to get a great solder job and then realize you have to take it apart to put the heat shrink tubing on.  Been there, done that, got the T-Shirt!  With a little effort, you can slide the tubing back a little (you only need about a quarter inch), and gently clamp it at the first cut point back from the end.  I use a pair of hemostats (Doctor's pliers) to clamp it so the tubing stays pulled back.  Solder the wires, making sure to not have any short circuits.  Note that on many strips, there are solder pads on both the top and bottom side of the strip.  If there are solder pads on both sides, you can alternate sides allowing larger spacing for your solder work.  After the soldering, test it to make sure it works because it's a royal pain to take it back apart.  After you KNOW everything works properly, the water proofing can begin.  After un-clamping the outer tubing, and working it back into place, I squeeze a little GE Silicone II into the end of the strip (on both sides of the strip itself).  The intent is to completely fill the end of the outer tubing.  Then slip the first piece of heat shrink tubing over the end of the strip.  The first piece will overlap the end of the tubing and the outer jacket of the wire cable by about a quarter inch.  Heat shrink it.  Wait for it to cool BEFORE slipping the second piece of heat shrink tubing into place.  The second piece of heat shrink tubing will be about a half inch longer than the first piece so it overlaps the first piece by about a quarter inch on each end.  Heat shrink the second piece.  Both pieces should be the two layer heat shrink tubing that has the goo on the inside and you want to make sure that you apply enough heat that the goo starts to ooze out ALL THE WAY AROUND the joint.

If you follow these directions, you will almost certainly cover up the first LED with heat shrink tubing or bury it in silicone.  I consider that a small price to pay for never having it leak.

You can see some photos of some of my strips near the bottom of this page:  http://newburghlights.org/Landscaping.html

The photos of the steps at the very bottom were the first strips I did and you will note that there is no heat shrink tubing at all on these.  I don't do it this way anymore.  I have not had any leaks on these, but the location is fairly well protected from large amounts of rain, and I put a lot more silicone into the end of the tubing.

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Jim,

Your pictures and narrative about preparing and installing LED strips are incredibly valuable for understanding what works for year-round water-protection (and cooling) of LED strips.  Because your strips are up and used year-round, your methods have to be a best practice. Thanks for posting these for all to see and learn.  


Your tips are great:  Testing and re-testing before enclosing any connection is the one thing I can say I do every time:  primarily to confirm that I made all electrical connections correctly, and to avoid any re-work.  And thanks for letting me know about using heat shrink with adhesive, and double heat-shrinking.  I haven’t opened a CCR yet (too expensive to cut before I know what I need to do), but if the solder pads are on both sides of the ribbon, I’ll follow your tip about soldering every other side for more spacing between the solder pads.
 

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My experience with hot glue is that it dries out after 2 or 3 seasons and will crack. It is fine for stiffening joints, but not for long term water proofing.

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I use hot glue on things that don't need to be flexible. The shrink tube with adhesive has more give than hot glue.

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2 hours ago, MattBrown said:

My experience with hot glue is that it dries out after 2 or 3 seasons and will crack. It is fine for stiffening joints, but not for long term water proofing.

I read about that also on a DIYChristmas forum. I won't use (and don't own) hot glue.  Thanks for the tip.

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