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help, question about LED and RGB


docbass06
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Super noob here. Are LED and RGB the same thing or are RGB specialized LED's that can change multiple colors with one bulb? I'm guessing you need a specialized controller to use RGB, but maybe not for regular LED. Is that correct. I'm planning on getting into the hobby next year. Thanks for your help.

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In order, RGB are specialized LEDs, yes to the specialized controller, regular controllers run ordinary LED lights. This is a good time to plan for next year. Pay special attention to all the pre-season sales that will start to be announced between now and January.

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Super noob here. Are LED and RGB the same thing or are RGB specialized LED's that can change multiple colors with one bulb? I'm guessing you need a specialized controller to use RGB, but maybe not for regular LED. Is that correct. I'm planning on getting into the hobby next year. Thanks for your help.

As George said, LED and RGB are not the same thing. I will start with two definitions:

LED stands for Light Emitting Diode

RGB stands for the primary colors Red, Green, and Blue

A LED emits a generally monochrome light when DC current is passed through it. In some cases, LEDs are manufactured with more than one color LED inside the same package. For example when I first started in electronics, Red / Green LEDs were common. Some years later, the Blue LED was invented. This allowed creation of LED packages that contained all three of the primary colors. By varying the current through each LED color in the package (or by changing the pulse width), almost any color could be created.

For those using strings of lights that are AC powered (the stuff that comes out of a normal wall outlet), in order to use a LED string, there must be a rectifier that converts the AC to DC. If you go out and buy a "normal" LED Christmas light string, the rectifier is built in. This is the case with most LOR users.

For those that are using DC controllers and DC lighting, LEDs are easier to implement. The commonly used (at least by us Christmas lighting folks) 5050 LED strips are just a bunch of LED packages that have a Red, Green, and Blue LED in each package. All it takes is a LOR DC controller to drive the RGB strips. The entire strip will light up with whatever color you select. These are sometimes referred to as Dumb strips (because there is no processor in the LED package).

For the high end folks, there are an increasing number of Smart LED RGB strips that are the same RGB LED, but there is a little chip that takes a data stream and can be individually controlled. Typically the strips will have 1 chip for every RBG LED (for 5 volt strips), or 1 chip for every three RGB LEDs (for 12 volt strips). These all take some sort of a controller to run them, and almost all those use a lighting standard called DMX for the control between your computer and the controller. LOR now supports DMX so using DMX has gotten much easier lately. Fairly new to the DMX arena is a standard called E1.31 which uses ethernet to carry the DMX signal from your computer instead of RS-485 serial.

I hope I have not totally confused you...

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Thanks guys. You all confirmed what I had been reading about. For next year I think I will use the stock LED's and then move up to RGB a year or two after that. Thanks again for the help.

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