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John G

Dazed and Confused

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I am looking at doing a Pixel tree next year and thinking about an 8ft 180 degree tree with a star on top. Possibly some arches in front. After reading every thing I am really confused now. If anyone has any suggestions on how to start and what to purchase it would be a great help. Your suggestions about size of the tree and number of pixels would be great.I have not purchased anything yet but want to start on the right foot. I have read where some people are purchasing pixel's from china to save money. I have never done any outside lighting but believe I want to jump in.

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Many of us buy from either LOR CCR"S, HolidayCoro here in the US or from Ray Wu in China. If you buy from Ray Wu, it will save you money and he is a reliable seller but, order extra strips just in case. Both LOR and HolidayCoro are excellent sellers/vendors. Ray will honor his products but shipping takes time. For a pixel tree, one decision first, dumb or intelligent pixels? This will dictate the pixel and controller types. The strips/nodes are somewhat similar in price although the intelligent are usually a hair more expensive. Dumb strips are where the entire strip is all one color but any color and changeable on the fly via the software. Normally we use an LOR DC controller and 12 volt power supply plus an enclosure. Intelligent pixels/strips/nodes are where you can control every led therefore animation is possible. These instead use a Pixel controller such as LOR's Pixcon16, HolidayCoro's AlphaPix16, San Devices E682 and JoshuaSystems P12S. Each have different capabilities and limitations so do your homework. Each are capable of either 5Volt or 12Volt and in several cases, both....again, depends on the types of pixels that you buy. Yes, you'll need a power supply(s) and enclosure.

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Thanks for the reply. I want to go with smart pixels so I can have animation. Which of the controllers would you recommend? From what you said it depends on the Pixels so that being said which pixels do you recommend. I have been looking at Ray Wu's because of the price. Also I will go with 12V to reduce the electrical load. I not certain if I will be able to sequence to music very well so will sequences you purchase work with any set up? One last question what software is best for beginners?

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WS2811 are the most popular pixels and just about all the controllers out there can use them:

Pixcon

Pixie

Alphapix

Falcon

Pixlite

E682

Just to name a few.

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17 minutes ago, John G said:

Thanks for the reply. I want to go with smart pixels so I can have animation.

If nothing else it gives a lot more flexibility.  there are two major flavors of which way to go.  The easy way from a hardware standpoint is to use LOR's Cosmic Color Ribbons or Pixels.  The only real downside to using CCRs or CCPs is that they cost more.  The other major direction is to use pixel strips or strings from a third party and controlling them with an E1.31 controller.  There are a number of different options for E1.31 controllers.  Here is a chart that does a lot of comparison:  http://nutcracker123.com/nutcracker/rgb_controllers/  This chart does include the LOR PixCon16 controller which can run either via E1.31 or via a LOR network.  It also does not include the new LOR Pixie controllers which is not an E1.31 controller since it only runs on a LOR network.  Personally I am using SanDevices controllers and am very happy with them.  Much of what people will tell you about what is best is their opinion (including mine).  Almsot all of them will do the job.  However once started with one, there is a desire to stay with the same since you become familiar with them.  There are several types of pixels used, but one of the most commonly used types is WS2811 or WS2812.  These are available in both strips and several shapes of pixels.  Here is a tutorial on pixels from the SanDevices website:  http://sandevices.com/aboutrgbpixels.html  Watch the PowerPoint at the end too.  the LOR Pixei controller I mentioned earlier will control most of the pixel types as well.

As for 5V vs 12 volt, there are advantages and disadvantages to each.  Most (not all) 12V pixels control three RGB LEDs at a time, and the ones that have individual control waste quite a bit of power in order to accomplish that.  Almost all 5V pixels control one RGB LED at a time.  12V generally allows longer cable distances than 5V and maybe less of a requirement for power injection.

You can take a look at my webpage for explanations and photos of how I did things.  Suggest starting with my pixel tree at:  http://newburghlights.org/pixel_tree.html  Then follow the links for other pages under the technical details section.

Last thing is don't be afraid to ask questions.  You will end up with many and it's easier to ask first before buying a bunch of stuff only to find that it won't work together.

 

 

 

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Welcome to the mad house of pixel lighting :)  My first year of doing this and I wished I'd done my homework better.

Quote

Which of the controllers would you recommend? 

a loaded question, like asking which car is better, everyone has their own opinion. Being on a LOR forum we will all recommend LOR products of course ;)

Ask the same question on one of of the other 7 christmas forums and you'll get 7 different answers.

apart from the 4 @dgrant listed there's also products from advateklights and Falcon. 

The type of pixels will be somewhat determined by how you are physically going to hang them. bullet or square nodes appear to work well in pixel strip holders as in LOR's pixel tree similar pixel strip holders are available from other vendors too.

I haven't ordered from Ray, but have been informed you should email him your order to get a better price on the freight.

Mostly. LOR, and a few others, have two versions of sequences, one that can't be modified (which may not work with any set up) and one that can be modified (should work with any set up, but often more expensive). There's also free sequences around which are a great way to see how others sequence and to learn how to do it yourself.

LOR of course ;)  but there are 2 other popular contenders, each has their own quirks and suit particular programming / UI preferences. Download them, have a play (you can set up example layouts without having actual lights) and decide which is best for your needs/budget.

 

Confused yet? :)

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I was thinking of  8ea. 100 pixel strings for the tree which would take 8 channels of the controller and which would leave me 8 channels for a star on the tree and some arches. Am I thinking of this correctly. Or will that make buying pre made sequences a nightmare to work with the system? What is the best solution for a 16 string tree with a globe or star and 3 to 6 arches??

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Just because you get a controller that has 16 ports don't think that you can run a tree with a star and a couple of arches. First off pixels don't like distance so unless the arches are right next to the tree then you will be running power injection and null pixels and that is a different ballgame for new lighters. Pixels don't like extension runs over 12-15 feet and get very finicky. If you want to run several things then get several smaller controllers instead of one large one.

Edited by Mr. P

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