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idahocampers

Pixels flickering

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Help!  Lol

I have 500 holiday coro brilliant bulbs outlining my roof 

I am running a pixie 16 with 50 bulbs per port powered with a 350w supply

I ran 18ga solid wire to each run the longest is about 100ft max

When I press the test button they come on but flicker bad

Where do I start to Troubleshoot?

THANKS

Steve

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Let me add, if possible you want your controller mounted on the prop or structure with very short runs. That’s more for data but also your ps is being pushed to or over the limit. I have 750w 12v running my Pixie16’s but it’s overkill. 

JR

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I don’t know. But the ill affects soon tell. I’m guessing 20’ since some of my cables are 10-15’ with no ill affects

you can inject power if you can’t shorten but still 100’ with injection sounds far

JR

Edited by dibblejr

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I don't know the Brilliant Bulbs specifically, but 100 feet is almost certainly WAY too long for the data.  Power is not really a problem as you can just use larger wire to keep the voltage drop acceptable.  You could use null pixels, but with 16 strings and a need for several null pixels per string to cover the 100 feet, that is a lot of pixels.  A far better solution as JR suggested would be to move the controller closer.

3 minutes ago, idahocampers said:

What cable do you run

It depends.  Most of my permanent stuff is using 16/4 speaker cable.  For my pixel tree, I'm using 18 AWG SPT1 (two conductor cable for power and ground and half of another cable for the data).  Those are only a few feet long.  For my GE Color Effects, I'm doing the same thing except those are up to 30 feet long.  Note that the GECE bulbs CAN run a much longer distance between the controller and the first bulb because of the low data speed that they use.

 

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I can only speak about my controller....Sans 682....but the principle is the same. 

You don't need power injection to go 100' to your lights from your controller.  Null pixels is the answer. The question is how far apart you can have them.  

I have two different Sans cards.  The 682 and the 6804.  With the 6804 I am able to go 25' then add a null pixel....25'.....null pixel...etc up to my lights.  682 I can only go 20'. 

Now the proper thing to do is test before you add it to the yard.  But test using a sequence and not just the tests that the controller has preprogrammed.  My controller preprogrammed tests worked and the sequence failed...flashing pixels. Bringing the null pixel closer fixed it.

I use the standard extender cables you can get anywhere....I personally use Ray's 4 pin extensions in 25' 10' and 5' lengths.  I want my display to be made using easily accessible components that are inexpensive.  And since I still have dumb rgb in the yard it makes more sense to just keep using the 4 core cables.  I purchased much better cable as I had a similar issue you are having but found that the null pixels corrected it....and changing the resistor packs on the 682 allowed 25' distances.

I posted all my testing and findings in another thread in these forums but the bottom line is try 25' then a null pixel then 25' etc.  If it still has issues try 20'.  The loss of the data signal is the cause so you just need to refresh that with these null pixels....

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5 minutes ago, dibblejr said:

 

https://m.aliexpress.com/item/32279633328.html

If you do decide to purchase from Ray email him your order and ask for best shipped price. Don’t pay attention to the shipping cost calculated as you add to cart. It will blow your fuse!

JR

I have ordered from Ray he does a great job

Thanks

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5 minutes ago, idahocampers said:

So what is a null Pixel?

In it's simplest form, a null pixel is just another pixel (identical to what you are using).  Most pixel controllers can be set for a number of null pixels on each output.  For example, let's say that with experimentation you learn that you need a null pixel every 20 feet and you need to get 75 feet.  So you add pixels at 19, 38, and 57 feet.  You tell the controller that there are three null pixels on that output.

JR posted a link to Ray Wu's store with WS2811 null pixels.  That works fine if you are using the same type of connectors.  I'm not, so I would just use a pixel wired into the cable.

 

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37 minutes ago, idahocampers said:

I'll try moving my box up on the roof closer and see if that works

Thanks for the help

Steve

That should do as long as you can mount it ver close to the light connectors.

Best of luck

JR

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12 hours ago, k6ccc said:

In it's simplest form, a null pixel is just another pixel (identical to what you are using).  Most pixel controllers can be set for a number of null pixels on each output.  For example, let's say that with experimentation you learn that you need a null pixel every 20 feet and you need to get 75 feet.  So you add pixels at 19, 38, and 57 feet.  You tell the controller that there are three null pixels on that output.

JR posted a link to Ray Wu's store with WS2811 null pixels.  That works fine if you are using the same type of connectors.  I'm not, so I would just use a pixel wired into the cable.

 

How do i assign a null Pixel in SE?

 

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3 minutes ago, idahocampers said:

How do i assign a null Pixel in SE?

 

You don't.  A Null pixel does not exist as far as SE is concerned.  It is set in your pixel controller.  Below is a partial screen capture from the outputs page of one of my SanDevices E682 controllers.  The red arrow points out the location where you set the number of null pixels for each output.  How your particular pixel controller sets null pixels will vary somewhat, but the concept is the same.  as previously noted, some pixel controllers have a single setting all outputs on the card as opposed to this card that has a setting for each individual output.  BTW, for other SanDevices uses who don't think that this page looks familiar, the controller is using SanDevices beta firmware 5.023.  You can ignore the green arrow as that was done to answer a question in a different message topic.

Null_Pixel.png

 

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In the world of RGB we go from AC to DC power.  AC power can go long distances on short wires.  For D.C. You need larger cables to accomplish the same thing.  There are several reasons but I'll just focus on a phenomenon known as skin effect.  This is where all the electrons move to the edges of the wire.  

So, with DC power you are best to use stranded wire.  That way the electrons move to the edges of each stranded wire.  The more strands the more electrons.  Yes, with AC you use solid core wire that is cheaper.

You still have to worry about each strand breaking due to excessive current.  So even though your typical cat5 cable works due to its strands it is a poor choice due to being small strands of wire.

You could go crazy and get larger stranded wire...AWG 12 and larger...but the price for this wire goes up drastically very quickly.

I have always tried to make my display cheap and functional with commercially available components.  Now I could spend hours creating my cables that will allow the voltage to travel great distances but that will cost time and money.  Using premade extension cords not only saves me time but is also cheaper than purchasing cable, pigtails, solder, heat shrink etc.

I have max runs of 100'. I started my display with standard dumb RGB.  This type of light just needs DC electricity to turn on one of the three colors.  During my testing I can easily go 200' without issue using the standard extensions.

Later I added pixels.  Pixels use 3 wires typically which is the electricity for the chips and the data signal.  Each pixel is a unique address that the data goes to and it pulls whatever electricity it needs to produce its color.  Unlike dumb RGB this data signal needs to be read by each pixels control chip.  So as the data signal comes down the wire it loses its electricity.  The data is just pulses and when they hit below a certain voltage the data is unreadable.

The good news is that when the data hits a pixel chip the signal is refreshed to full voltage.  So to keep this data stream moving along your pixels you just need to make sure it hits a pixel every now and then.  The distance needed is dependent on several factors including voltage, cable thickness and pixel chipset.  12volt pixels can use a larger distance than 5v pixels.  Once voltage for the data hits below 3.5 volts the pixel chip can no longer decipher it.  Obviously it will take longer for 12v to dissipate below 3.5 than 5v.  So when planning your display keep this in mind.

The bad news is as each pixel is energized it takes voltage from the cable.  So even though each pixels data signal is refreshed as a pixel is energized the overall amount of voltage available is reduced.  This is where power injection is needed.

So, a null pixel is really just a normal pixel needed to boost the data signal.  Ray sells null pixels without an actual bulb so it won't use any voltage...but the software still sees it as an addressed light.  Once you install null pixels you can ignore those pixels in your sequencing or you can "turn them off" in your pixel controller.  If you use your controller then it is as if these pixels never existed.  But be careful, because if you say you have 5 null pixels and you only have 3, then the first 2 real pixels will be skipped. 

If you run out of voltage on your cable what happens?  Well, once the overall voltage falls below 5 volts you will start to notice the color white beginning to look wrong.  Once the overall voltage dips below 3.5 volts you get more flashing on the whole string.  Power injection can help boost the power on the cable.  This typically is needed after about 150 bulbs in my testing with 12v.  So I try to keep each output of my controller less than 126 bulbs.  I would rather buy new controllers than deal with injection.

Hopefully this is helpful theory.  The best thing you can do is test before putting your display up.  That way you can correct more easily than when you might need a ladder.

Sax

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My experience is that too much voltage drop is almost always the cause.  I have had to run 12 or in some cases 10 gauge wire to my pixel fixtures to keep them from flickering.  100 ft is a long way in the DC low voltage world (especially if you're running 5v pixels).  Power inject like crazy to avoid these problems.

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1 hour ago, idahocampers said:

How do i assign a null Pixel in SE?

As Jim stated, there's no way to "officially" designate null pixels in the SE.  There's a real easy workaround though.

Last season I was using a Pixie4  (which doesn't allow for null pixels) running 4 identical props at 66 pixels per output.  One of the prop locations required a null pixel due to the distance from the controller.  What I did was to solder the "null" pixel into the cable like usual, and then in the SE I gave that prop 67 pixels.  I moved pixel #1 into a storage area and sequenced pixels 2-67 just the same as the other matching props.  Worked just fine.

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Brilliant bulbs from HC are 12v pixels. 

Move away from 5v pixels to save a lot of money on cable.

Only use 5v for props that are close to the controller. Pixel trees.  Matrix props.  These are good 5v candidates.

But imho you don't gain anything going 5v.  Injecting is painful tedious work.  The 5v bulbs look the same as 12v bulbs. Strips do go from 3 leds on the 12v variety to 1 led on the 5v but I can go to 12v ink to overcome this limitation if I really need to.

Cost of 10 AWG cable though....ouch.  Plus weight for storing...cumbersome to move around...etc etc.

 

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Pixie16 does not have an "advanced option" feature. Cannot program null pixels.

JR

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19 minutes ago, dibblejr said:

Pixie16 does not have an "advanced option" feature. Cannot program null pixels.

JR

So I can just put 51 pixels in SE and ignore the 1st one and program 2 to 51 for my string. #1 being the null?

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