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Pixel extensions and interconnectivity


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A sa Newbie, I am now understanding that I not only need electrical extensions but I also need 18AWG extensions to go from one prop to the next or to be able to fully use a controller.

I am also seeing that all different light suppliers use their own proprietary pigtails.

How do you guys deal with all that ?
Is there a standard connector somewhere ?
What suppliers do you suggest ?
What is max distance with the 18AWG ?
Any good deals out there for 18AWG ?

PS can one use standard CAT5 cable to extend pixels, seems it would be less expensive....

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How do we deal with it? Smaller controllers. I use the larger controllers on things like my tree or matrix, most other areas are a bunch of smaller controllers so I don't have to do longer runs.

As far as the pigtails, pick one reputable supplier and stick with them as the pigtails are different sizes among suppliers.

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Pigtails can be the largest waste of $.

Best to find a supplier and buy the longest cords with connectors on both ends and cut enough to make your controller pigtail and solder the cut end to the light strands.

Make sure the supplier is going to offer those cables all the time.

When I started with pigtails I purchased from Ray , the problem is they were soon obsolete.

Then I figured I could make my own from long cables, problem solved.

JR

Edited by dibblejr
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I build all of my props, strings, and extensions with IP68 3 pin connectors that I get on eBay for a reasonable price. At this stage of the game select a US vendor and pony up a little extra loot. I use 16/4 shielded speaker wire and water proof the connections and have had no problems with rain or snow. I definitely agree with the smaller controllers closer to the props, that way you are only sending data long distances, (safely up to 250' on some controllers or switches). There are so many different ways to do things, just commit to what you're going with early and stick to it and save money.

Hope this was helpful, light it up!

Z

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I recommend against using Cat-5 for pixel extensions.  Cat-5 is fairly small wire.  Even if you double up the wires (easy to do with Cat-5), the amount of wire in two wires of 24 AWG is about half the amount of wire in a single conductor of 18 AWG.  The only time Cat-5 would be OK is if it was a small number of pixels over a short distance.

As for connectors, take what JR said to heart.  Instead of one large controller that requires that you run long pixel wires, use smaller controllers that are close to the props.  For all of my pixels, I only have the 4 conductor green connectors that directly connect to the pixel controllers:

http://store.lightorama.com/8paofpicofor.html

Essentially all of my pixels did NOT come with pigtails - only a cheapy plastic connector.  I cut those off and solder 18AWG wire on for whatever length I need and then connect those to the above green connectors that will plug onto the controller.  With only two exceptions, the controller to first pixel distance is less than six feet.  The exception is several strings of GE Color Effects bulbs.  Because those use a fairly slow data rate, they can easily go much farther from the controller to the first pixel.

The only place I am using waterproof connectors is within my eves and roofline GE CE bulbs.  Those are mounted to approx 8 foot pipes or 1 x 2 inch wood strips.  I have waterproof connectors between each section so I can easily take them apart for off-season storage.  Those were bought from another forum member who sold me a box of them that he had bought, but were not compatible with the other ones that he had.  I expect that I will never need any more of them.

 

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