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my head hurts from thinking so much!


dfluke
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I'm looking to get some WS2811 strips from Ray this year, and so far I've been favoriting the sansdevices controller.

 

I have 3 main questions that I think I know the answer to, but my brain hurts from so much reading.

 

One thing just escapes me - and it's whether or not to use dumb or smart strips.

If I'm correct, dumb strips light up all at once. I can not "chase" down the strip, because the entire strip is all on or all off.

1. Is that correct?

To do an effect where lights move horizontally across the building, I'd need a smart strip. We don't have much money for our project, so I'm trying to be cost effective. 

 

2. Also - with the controller, it is unclear if I need to hook up each 5 meter strip to a separate connection on the controller board, or if I could plug one strip into the controller, and then daisy chain another strip off the first strip Our building is about 118' long and 41' tall. ( Here's a part of a video to see what we're working with: 

)

 

I'd like to do some effects with this strip behind our fire escape staircase and maybe even outline the building and/or windows, and add some circles/hoops.

 

3. We use LORs idmx interface to go from pc  to rs485 to dmx for the light bars in the window interior lights..so I'm also trying to figure out how I connect it all to use the Showtime software/superstar software. Can this be inline with LOR or DMX?

 

All of your help is greatly appreciated. I just feel super overwhelmed with information.


Shoot, I think I should have posted this in another forum(too many windows open). If a mod could move it I'd appreciate it. I don't want to double post.

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I'm new at smart and dumb strips/pixels as well. I can however address part of your questions. So first, you need smart strips to chase pixels and you'll need the controller to do it with. The SanDevices controller or the JoshuaSystems controller...both will work and they use E1.31 protocol to communicate DMX over TCPIP. Its not as hard as it sounds...actually its quite easy. Next, you can only connect like 512 pixels to one universe on the controller. So lets say you buy Ray Wu's WS2811's, they'll come in 50 pixel strings, 3 channels each pixel, therefore you could do 3 strings in series, consuming 450 channels on universe 1. I'm not positive about the San Devices card since I don't own one but the P12S/X from JoshuaSystems has 12 universes on it. What you do need to do though is "inject" power between the 2nd and 3rd string, if you put them in series. You'll need the appropriate power supply(s) too.

 

To do RGB dumb strings, they are not controlled with those same controllers, rather a DC Controller such as LOR's 24 channel DC board and  a power supply. Each of the 3 colors, consumes a channel, so you could do 8 strings/strips of RGB dumb LED's. Yes, all lights on the strip will light up at the same time and to whatever color you select...but you can change the color to anything you wish!

 

This will be my first year with RGB dumb/smart...12 string pixel mega tree and RGB dumb windows. We can help you set up the communciations and its easier than you think. 

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Thank you for explaining the controller / universes. It makes sense to me. 

 

A quick follow up - how do you know you need a power injector between the 2nd and 3rd string? Is it just because of voltage drop? I have an electrician friend who does all the math for our show but I'm meeting with him next week so coming prepared is always best.

 

Again, thank you!

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One thing just escapes me - and it's whether or not to use dumb or smart strips.

If I'm correct, dumb strips light up all at once. I can not "chase" down the strip, because the entire strip is all on or all off.

1. Is that correct?

Yes. (Although the entire strip can be any color, not just on or off. Think of a dumb strip as an RGB rope light.)

 

To do an effect where lights move horizontally across the building, I'd need a smart strip. We don't have much money for our project, so I'm trying to be cost effective. 

Based on that video, it looks like you started with a bunch!

 

2. Also - with the controller, it is unclear if I need to hook up each 5 meter strip to a separate connection on the controller board, or if I could plug one strip into the controller, and then daisy chain another strip off the first strip

As you and dgrant said above, you need to inject power after the first strip, or the pixels will get dim (and possibly more pink) near the end. The simple reason is that the metal traces in the strip are really thin, so can't carry enough power for more than one strip.

 

I'm building a pixel tree this year where 3 strings of 50 pixels each are connected to each controller output. Since the strings go up, down, and then up again, it's easy enough to inject the power at the bottom, between the 2nd and 3rd string. In your case, since you need to go 118', it may be better to have an additional power supply located halfway down the building near the injection point.

 

If you are still thinking about dumb strips, you'll connect them to the controller, which should be located near the middle, and run 18-gauge 4-conductor cable in parallel if you need additional power injection points. In the case of dumb strips, the connection to the controller is the connection to the power.

 

3. We use LORs idmx interface to go from pc  to rs485 to dmx for the light bars in the window interior lights..so I'm also trying to figure out how I connect it all to use the Showtime software/superstar software. Can this be inline with LOR or DMX?

Yes. When you use pixels, you discover that a DMX universe (the output of an iDMX) can only control 170 pixels, or about 3 50-pixel smart strips. Using multiple iDMX devices gets expensive, complicated, and the bandwidth of the LOR network won't support that many. So most pixel displays use E1.31 (with the Showtime software) and a pixel controller from SanDevices or Joshua 1 Systems

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