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starting with RGB


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Maybe I am in over my head, but even after reading many posts on the subject I am still lost.

Please correct me if this is wrong. My understanding is that you can get "dumb" RGB strip lights, pixels, etc. and these can be controlled by the regular 16 channel LOR controller. If done this way each color (r, g, and B) uses a separate channel??

It is also my understanding that you need a special controller for smart pixels.

How do I know if the strip lights I have are smart or dumb? I know they can be cut every (?) lights..and there are r,g,b,and black wires. How.are these powered and connected and what connectors are best to use?

Does each need to be powered individually or can they be connected without messing up the lighting sequence.

Any suggestions on dumbing it down for me would be great..or if there is a simple starter package that would help me figure it out by playing with it a bit?

Thanks a bunch:)

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RGB dumb strips all change colors together and smart strip can control each light on the strip. Dumb and smart strips can only work with dc voltage, so you cannot control them with your a/c controllers. You would need to use a cmb 24d controller or their are other options for dumb strips. You can program the dumb strips with light-o-rama by using the steps you mentioned above

Edited by razrbkchristmas
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There is no such thing as dumb pixels. There are dumb nodes, but not dumb pixels. A pixel is an individual light in a smart strip/string.


You will know if the lights are smart/dumb when you buy them. The price will be higher, and it will say it where you buy them. Also, the wires will be different, often having three wires, or if they have four then they will be different colors.


Each dumb set of lights has a black (+) , a red, a green and a blue wire. The black is the positive, shared between all the LEDs, and the other wires connect to the corresponding color LEDs. These are all negatives. They are the ones that are dimmed and controlled by the controller you choose.


If you are sticking to LOR, then you will want the CMB24D controller. It's quite simple. The lack of a case and seeing the circuit board scares some people, but its ok, and pretty hard to go wrong. The CMB24D can be daisy chained directly off your LOR network.

Other controllers all run off DMX, which I guess you are not familiar with. This is the protocol used for theatre and stage and concert lighting. Light-O-Rama can control it through a couple of different ways. More on that later.


You can get a good DMX RGB controller for about three quarters of the price of the CMB24D, and it will do exactly the same thing. They will connect in a similar way and are easy to use.

Also, remember about currant draw and amps and voltages. There are are limits on all controllers to how many you can have.


If you want pixels, you will need DMX. There are two main types of DMX used by LOR users. E1.11 is the DMX used for stage lighting and stuff. It requires a dongle. A second LOR USB485 can do this, as DMX is RS485 based, just like LOR. Only use a USB485 if you have a good pc controlling it, or you get glitches in the channels and timing. RGB DMX controller run on this, but, as it can only have up to 512 channels in a universe (A network of DMX channsls is a universe), you can only connect 170 pixels (Each pixel has three channels). It sounds like a lot, but you will soon realize you want more.

The other type of DMX is E1.31. This is used for very complicated lighting, such as lots of pixels. This connects to your network, and connects to your PC over ethernet, just like you are connected to this forum. These controllers can control from around 2000 to 10000 pixels each, and allow for multiple (>16  normally) universes. Most E1.31 controllers have one or more E1.11 outputs to connect ordinary DMX devices.

Smart pixels have a protocol and a voltage. 5v is cheaper, but 12v carries over long distances better. I use 12v to the prop then have a 12 to 5v step down.  WS2811 is a popular protocol. I only use WS2811 and WS2801, but there are so many more. The protocol is understood by an "IC" chip in each pixel. It decides it, works out the commands for itself then has a tiny tiny RGB dimmer that sets the LED to the correct color.


This should help you understand. If you have any questions, just ask. I don't know much about dumb RGB power though. I have been running three 300 LED strips off 60watts for the past year. Woops.

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I think everyone already covered it for you above here. I'll try to add the overall sense of them.

Dumb strips/strings are where the entire strip lights up, any color, but all one color and you can change it on the fly in the software as you wish. You will need the controller CMB24 from LOR, a 12 volt power supply, weatherproof enlosure if outside and a stand for it to keep it up off the ground. It connects to the LOR network. Wiring was already stated above, black is +12V and each primary color gets a "-12" from the controller too. By applying the negatives, selectively from the software, you can create any color but again, the entire strip lights up that color.


Intelligent strips/pixels/nodes, there are many types as already stated and they'll have at least 3 wires, possibly 4. There's +5 or +12 to them depending on the type, -5 or -12, data and clock lines depending on the type. Intelligent nodes allow you to address each and every LED there therefore you can do chases, colors...whatever you can dream up. Again, you'll need an enclosure if outside, power supply for it, an E1.31 controller card is the usual for these, stand and etc...The controller card, there are a couple of them available. The JoshuaSystems P12S and the San Devices E682 and similar depending on your requirements. HolidayCoro has a new card out too that is supposedly good but I know nothing about it. As already stated, these connect to your computer through a GB Switch and there's changes to the computer to make it communicate but that's easier than it sounds. The result is that depending on how you use these, will depend on what all you can do with them. Personally, I used them to run a pixel tree which I did animation on. It was the hit of the show here!


LOR is about to come out with new software that will make all this a lot easier to work with from a programming view. Please remember that LOR's AC controllers are only for controlling AC outputs to regular LED or Incandescent strings. Those you can on/off, dim/fade, twinkle, shimmer and etc on or to whatever is connected to it. Some LED strings don't work well with them. Strong suggestion or warning for you...stay away from "Martha" LED strings available at HomeDepot. They will not work with our controllers and there's been at least one report of them catching on fire.

Edited by dgrant
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Here is a post from a couple years ago. Hopefully you can find something useful in it.


Holiday coro has some real nice videos on what rgb is. I personally never went to the Aussie site...too much work to sign up. Learned from holiday coro and LOR training videos.

If you scroll down the linked topic to my first post I have a list of my components. You can hopefully get an idea what you would need to get an rgb element going by looking at these.

It seems a little overwhelming at first, but rgb is easy. And versatile. Once you start playing with it it will get easier and easier.

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Thank you all so much. My head is spinning, but I am sure I will be able to make some sense of it sooner or later.

I think I just need to get all of the necessary components and then use trial and error to work through the things I am confused about.

Thanks again. This is a great place to get information. I really appreciate all of the pointers and advice/links..


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