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5 Rows of lights, 5 columns, 10 circuits


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Has anyone installed diodes inline to lights to enable triggering the lights with multiple circuits.  Was looking at making a grid of 25 stars placed in 5 columns, and 5 rows.  Instead of running 25 circuits to control each light independently I was in hopes of creating waves up down, or left right with just 10 circuits.  Was hoping that if I added a diode inline to each light, and wired each light to two circuits it would work?  No idea what size of diode it would take, and or if it would work.  Diodes are supposed to let power thru one way correct?

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Real short answer is it could be done, but would take more than just a diode. It would also highly limit what you could do for lighting.

My opinion is it would not be very practical.

Longer answer if desired.

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Multiplexing.  I assume the Stars are DC not AC.  You will not control them using a just a diode with AC. 


If they are DC, you will not need a diode. 


If you can tri-state your outputs, you will only need 6 pins to control up to 30 stars using Charliplexing.



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For AC controllers, the one person I knew who went as far as doubling his utilization using relays wished he just bought the extra controllers.

Charliplexing can get you places, but I know of no tri state ability on outputs of lighting controllers. And, if you have to troubleshoot it, the most likely place it will get you is the looney bin.

Sequencing anything more than doubled outputs is going to be a real pain as well.

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Steve Lelinski is who I'm thinking of. I actually had forgotten how he did his tree. After watching one of his videos I thought he was using pixels and just staying away from all the fancy patterns.


But like Kevin said, I'm not sure dealing with relays and doing a bunch of extra wiring is worth it for a 5x5 matrix. Adding one controller gives you individual control.

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Hi Reg!


Yes I did my Mega Tree in a similar manner using mechanical relays to switch the neutrals.  It works great for me.  I have 24 segments, 4 colors each, works out to 96 channels around the tree.  I wanted 4 vertical layers, but to do 4*96 was crazy.  Instead I use 4 channels for relays to switch the neutral.  Basically turning on a relay channel turns disconnects the neutral for a set of 4 vertical layes.  (Because it's RGBW, it's a bit more complicated, but no reason to get into it here).

To do something similar for this, you'd wire the hot for each vertical row of 5 stars back to 5 channels on the controller.  Then working across, you'd wire the neutrals to a Normally Closed relay, each horrizontal row tied to it's own relay.  Each relay would then be wired to 5 channels.  Now, if you turn on channel 1, you'll get your first vertical row lit.  If you turn on the relay #1, the top star will go out.  If you turn on relay's 1-4, then only the bottom left star will be lit.


Some effects you can do with this setup:

  • Chase left and right in columns - Just chase channels 1 to 5. 
  • Chase up and down in rows - Channels 1-5 on, chase leaving one relay off (for example: Relays 2,3,4,5 on will make row one light.  Then 1,3,4,5 will make row 2 light.  And so on...)
  • Turn on a specific star.  By turning on a specific column, and turning off all but one specific row, you can individually light any one star.
  • Vertical Cross Fading/Fading Chases these will work.  (You can turn on column 1, then fade it down as column 2 fades up)

But you can't:

  • Turn on two speccific stars in different rows.  Thinking of it as a matrix, say you tried to turn on 1,1 and 3,4.  Well you'd also get 1,4 and 3,1 lighting.
  • Any kind of matrix effects, scrolling text....  Not gonna happen.
  • Horizonatal Cross Fading/Fading Chases these won't work (You can't turn on row 1, then fade it down as row 2 turns on or fades up.  Fades would be controlled by the vertical channels, so you'd have to fade all 5 down to get row 1 to fade down, thus you can't be fading them all up at the same time.)

Twinkle would likely produce some interesting looking results, shimmer would do nothing. (all the relays would pulse at the same time as the lights are trying to turn on, thus turning everything off)


Is it worth it?  For my setup, absolutelty.  I went into it knowing the limits, and knowing that what I wanted to do worked within those limits.  I spent probably an extra $100-$200 in wire and relays.  Compared to buying 6 more controllers to acheive the effects, it was a bargain.  (Of course, pixels hit the scene a couple years later, and would have been the better, cheaper option, but oh well.)

Is it worth it for you?  You'll need 5 SPST (Single Pole Single Throw) Relays, and some extra wire.  The relays can probably be gotten for around $2 each.  Can you live with the limited effects?  If so it's much cheaper than 15 extra channels (a whole extra controller!)  BUT for the cost of that extra controller, you can do so much more that it might very well be worth it.


I'll try to check back on this thread.  If you're interesting in this method I'll be happy to help more in detail and show you some pictures of what I've done.



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I have a 4x4 - 16 snowflake grid on one wall of my house.  I enjoy having complete control over it.  I can make the snow Fall down, up right, left, shimmer ya know pretty much anything I want.  I use one controller to do it all. 


I crunched some numbers and it sounds like a lot to buy two controllers, but really when you break it down you could do it for $8.25 per star.  That's using two DIY CTB16K boards at regular price.  During the sales you can pick them up for $99 each.  That'd make it $6.18 per star.  So if you can do it for less, go for it.  But would the savings be worth the headache?

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2 controllers running a 16 x 16 grid, gives 256 channels (or pixels), I can do the hardware to make this happen HOWEVER, figuring it out in the sequencer would send me to the loonie bin !


I've never worked with RGB LOR stuff, but understand the basics, what would I do in the software if I wanted to control this feature ? superstar ?



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