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Starting out... need help and guidance


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Hi 🙋🏻‍♂️ 

hmmm not sure where to start.

I am ready to buy a kit and start tinkering for Christmas 2021.

I need some advice as to what set up to purchase:

I want to try and do most of the stuff by myself including the sequencing since I have time to tinker. However I am willing to forgo to sequencing if that is a bit too over ambitious for my first year.

here is what i know I want and I just need help determining if this is possible and what setup I need.

Me and my two next door neighbors (one to the left and one to the right) want to do something. I am in the middle house so there will be three of us. I will be in charge of most of this and don’t mind. 
 

here is what I know I want as part of the grand show.

1) I definitely want atleast 3 singing faces. One per house.
(Maybe a pixel tree per house but I don’t know yet)

2) wireless transmission between the three houses (ELL). *not sure if this will work. I see some stuff on the two signature starter kit and it says it doesn’t work with the ELL

3) FM music synced to put on a light display/show from the three houses. 

4)  a)Smart Pixels bullets on the roof lines the upper roofline is about 63 ft 

 B) Smart Pixel bullets on lower roof line 45ft

5) most likely a few floods per house

6) Possibly a few windows outlined or some nets if I can figure this all out. I have a lot of window and very tall ones as well so I would love to maximize my display

7)I have a physical tree outside my house which I typically wrap the whole tree and limbs myself with standard white LED bulbs. Not sure if I can do something fun with these old standard plug 🔌  string lights. 
 

8)pixel arches

I also have regular led net Christmas lights that i typically drape over my cypress trees and garden roses bushes. 
 

I would love more of an appearance of movement/waves type of light display  with my light show as opposed to stuff just turning on and off. But maybe that’s not an options. This is partially why I was thinking smart pixels since each node can be changed individually. 


I am a bit lost on how many controllers /channels I would need per house since each would run its own system synced with a ELL transmitter(if possible).

i was looking at the Tso signature show time central starter.  But want to make sure this can support what I would like it to do before i start to take the plunge on this investment. 
 

any other thoughts on what equipment I would need. 
 

Also I thought I read somewhere that the singing faces aren’t compatible with the ELL. Maybe someone can help straighten a few of these things out for me and help me determine what kind of set up i need to run a three house light show all synchronized. 

 

 

Edited by NorthernLights
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  • NorthernLights changed the title to Starting out... need help and guidance

ELLs only work with the AC controllers, not the pixels.

How far apart are the houses and why wireless if there next to each other? Is there some reason you can't run standard  Cat5/6 lines across the yards? I would suggest that you can probably run Pixie controllers close to all of the props (tress, rooflines, etc) which shortens the actual connections to the lights and only have to run the data lines from the computer at your house off to the controllers.

You will want to buy or request some of the guys here send you some of their sequences so that you can see how it's done. It will give you a much better idea of how it all works and get you going faster. Also,  you'll probably want a pretty widescreen monitor to build your Preview. Your preview can have pictures of all three houses so you can see exactly what you want to do and what props to add. In S5 version of the software, EVERYTHING starts from the Preview. Get it right and the rest is MUCH easier.

I hope you've all discussed who will be buying and storing which controllers and lights. You might to put out there real fast "your house; your lights." Things can get pricey really fast, not to mention where to put it all after it comes down.

Good luck!

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Sorry, but you may not be able to use the ELL's for wireless, these don't support the network speeds required for many pixel devices or the LOR singing faces {if those are what you're considering}.  Most of these require a 500K network speed and an Enhanced Network to function correctly.

For your first year, you really should start off small and only your own house to learn how all this works, doing a multi-house project takes a lot more knowledge and work to get it all working together for a smooth flow.   Not knowing how the software works will kill your endeavor very quickly.   And may even push you to selling everything you just bought and get out of it before you even get a start in this hobby because you may get severely frustrated when things don't work like you wanted them too.

I recommend first and foremost, download the version of the LOR Software [DEMO] that you plan on learning and using for the shows you create, get a good grasp on it first, it IS the HEART of how all this works together and is the most important to know BEFORE even setting up a real show.    The Demo won't control controllers or lights, you need a license for that.

Now for the license, from all you want, you're going to need the PRO license of the software, most of everything you want will REQUIRE that license level, or things just aren't going to work or be supported you want to do.  And another thing you're going to need are the Red High Speed adapters, 3 houses, I'm thinking is or may require 3 of these adapters to run your show.

And for running the show, are you going to use a computer or one of the Director units?  If a Director {no computer required to run the show}, I'd strongly suggest the N5-G4 with the real time clock, mainly because it also has 4 network support and should give you enough networks for your multi-house plan {but, again, I would not recommend something that large for your first year}.

And you also say you have regular Christmas lights you may want to use, so you need at least one{if not more} 16 channel CTB16PC AC Controllers for each house that may have AC powered items like standard Christmas Light strands, Blow Molds, Inflatables, etc.    Most of LOR's Pixel Controllers with some exceptions come with their own RGB Lights, some you buy the RGB Lights, Power Supplies and Weatherproof enclosures all separately, so you need to know what type controllers you will want depending on what or how you're going to set up the lighting around your house {and the other 2 when the time comes}.

Not trying to burst your bubble, nothing like that, just trying to explain to what you are getting yourself into for your first year.   You might be able to pull it off, it depends on how quickly you can learn how to use the LOR software and know the hardware you're using.

All we can do for you here is make suggestions, but how you accomplish what you are wanting to do and what hardware/software you use/need is completely up to you.

Just giving my suggestions and food for thought before you take a serious plunge that you could end up regretting.

Good Luck on whatever or which way you opt to go with this.

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Since, I was looking at the TSO Central Package - I will say that the Mini Director only handles 1 network - you will want to support 2 or more networks if using Pixels (if running show from Director)

Since you are talking Singing Trees and other Pixel effects - you are now talking additional Pixie Controllers and a High Speed (Enhanced - Single Direction) Network - thus requiring the Red Adapter (if running show from PC) - the TSO Package comes with a Black Adapter

When your talking Bullet Pixel Strings - figure 50 to 100 Pixels per Pixie Port - or at least 1 port per Pixelated bush, windows outline, Arch, etc.. So you'll be adding additional Pixie Controllers

A 50 Pixel String with 4" spacing is 16.5 feet lighted - a 100 Pixel string is 33' - you got to do the math

Also consider the distance between the Pixelated items - as it may be better to have smaller Pixie Controllers - rather then a larger one with a lot of extensions

You can kind of come up with a list of things you need by making a (Software) Preview of your Home with the Items you really want in your Plan.. Then plan your First Purchase with the Most Haves and latter expand upon your actual plan with additional purchases

I would also figure each House separately and purchased separately - then Sync them together through the Multi-Network Director(s)

Edited by KYHI
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Thank you so much everyone. 
 

I will definitely be tinkering with the demo software to help determine what i need to purchase. This is good advice. I think this will help to provide the structure I need.

to answer a couple of questions...

 

@tloganI have no opposition to running cat5 cables. I just prefer the cleaner look but if this is the only way then so be it. 
good point. About the your house your lights. Depending on how expensive this gets I’m willing to get the controllers but the lights may need to be them. 
thanks I’ve wanted to justify to my wife(maybe soon to be ex after all this holiday light endeavor) why I NEED a wide screen computer monitor
 

@Orville

I would like to use a stand alone director (no computer if possible) 
thanks for the shopping list. This is exactly the kind of guidance I am hoping as I would rather buy something that can run a lesser show. Then to buy something that I will have no use for because the capacity of the device is too simplistic. I’d rather take the ferrari and drive it 5miles per hour knowing that it will take some time to get to my end goal of wanting to take it to the track and handle twists and turns. Than to buy pinto and realize it will never go 100mph even on its best day and have to take it to the dump.

thanks for the list.

 n5g4 (what kind of differences does this have compared to the one suggested by theduck) n4g3. But it sounds like the wireless setup may not be ideal even if I could use it. Sounds like I would still have lots of problems around speed running the singing faces and pixels which may not be ideal for my vision.

Ctb16pc ac controller 
Pro license 

red adaptersx3

I definitely take no offense and appreciate the honesty upfront. I may end up starting with my house for 2021 and expland in 2022. I’ll see how fast I can learn. Seems like covid will provide lots of in time hobby tinker time. 
 

@KYHI

sounds like the tso since it’s the mini director may not be what I want. Thanks. I was enticed that everything was all in one. I was hoping that I could get an set up system, enclosure, power supply, transmitter, and controller all in one. I have been reviewing soldering videos as this is what I am lacking experience on. Not scared but just horrible when I attempted a couple of times(utter failure, but I never watched these video before So now I feel more confident)

Ill definitely need some smaller pixel controllers. My display will be rather spread out for my house. Good advice and suggestion. Thanks for the measurements on the pixel strands. Sounds like I need 100node strand. Is it possible to run 2 100 connected together or would the drop off be to great? I have been reading about power injection I guess the other question would be, can I connect the start of the upper roof line and the end of the roof line to provide a Power to decrease the dimming and color/intensity issues?

 

@TheDucks this almost looks exactly like what I want. One question.. does the wireless show produce only a mirrored display? Or can I sequencw the other houses to have a different display? The other two houses have a different track layout and their display is likely to be different. Also I want the singing faces to have different voices. So one face may be person 1 and faces 2 and 3 may be a person 2 and 3

 

Looking forward to playing with the demo. 

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When is comes to How Many Pixels per Run - then you are actually talking "How Many Amps - Watts Per Run"

A 12v Pixie Controller supports 4A (48 Watts) per Port - each Port can Address up to 170 Pixels...

With that being said - there are many factors to keep in mind - the Full White (Wattage) of the string/strip - the intensity level (percentage) you run each LED at - the total length of the run (Voltage Drop)...

To me, it is not just about the Pixel Count - it is about the LED count - as you will not find power specs per pixel - but list by LED

The Bullet and Square Nodes are single LED Pixels - The C9 Bulbs are Dual LED Pixels - The 150 LED Ribbons are triple LED Pixels

I figured one (5050 RGB LED) draws about .30 watts - thus leaving a small marge of safety

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Posted (edited)

I originally was going to do bullet nodes by my heart wants c9 on the eaves of my house. 
 

Looks like this website has white sting 50ct c9 pixels

so I assume I would need to run 3 of these together for my top roof line

 

25ft each strand? Did I do the math right? 6” spacing for 50 bulbs equals 25ft

need to cover 63ft for the top

Edited by NorthernLights
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With 63' at 6" spacing - you would need 127 C9 Pixels - Now do the math on the Wattage - 127 Pixels x 2 LEDs / Pixel x .3 watts / LED = 76.2 watts for that run - thus I would figure using 2 Pixie Ports for that run

Also notice I added 1 extra Pixel - as your count will start first Bulb at 0", then every 6" there after

Edited by KYHI
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9 hours ago, NorthernLights said:

Thank you so much everyone. 
 

I will definitely be tinkering with the demo software to help determine what i need to purchase. This is good advice. I think this will help to provide the structure I need.

to answer a couple of questions...

@Orville

I would like to use a stand alone director (no computer if possible) 

thanks for the shopping list. This is exactly the kind of guidance I am hoping as I would rather buy something that can run a lesser show. Then to buy something that I will have no use for because the capacity of the device is too simplistic. I’d rather take the ferrari and drive it 5miles per hour knowing that it will take some time to get to my end goal of wanting to take it to the track and handle twists and turns. Than to buy pinto and realize it will never go 100mph even on its best day and have to take it to the dump.

thanks for the list.

 n5g4 (what kind of differences does this have compared to the one suggested by theduck) n4g3. But it sounds like the wireless setup may not be ideal even if I could use it. Sounds like I would still have lots of problems around speed running the singing faces and pixels which may not be ideal for my vision.

Ctb16pc ac controller 
Pro license 

red adaptersx3

I definitely take no offense and appreciate the honesty upfront. I may end up starting with my house for 2021 and expland in 2022. I’ll see how fast I can learn. Seems like covid will provide lots of in time hobby tinker time. 

 

 

Looking forward to playing with the demo. 

Sorry didn't catch that typo, there is no N5-G4, that should have been been N4-G4,  This new replacement computer keyboard I have is driving me crazy because I'm not accustomed to it yet!  And sometimes I hit more than one key and it takes the wrong one, in this case 5, instead of 4 when I hit them both at the same time.  Just not accustomed to these "flat" keys as opposed to "raised" ones which I've used for years.

As for differences between the N4-G3 and N4-G4, not sure if there may be any difference between the two, although I know the manual shows you can link multiple N4-G4 Directors, so if you needed more than 4 networks this would be possible.  Don't know if the N4-G3 supports this option.   However, this option is only available in later versions of the S5 software suite.  Lower versions of S5 or any previous version less than S5 WILL NOT SUPPORT the N4-G4 Director to Director link.

BTW: I had a 1971 Ford Pinto, owned quite a few of them actually over the years.  One of them I got clocked at 160mph on the interstate!   I never would have believed a Pinto could go that fast with a stock Ford engine! LOL  But this one sure did.  To be young, stupid and live life dangerously...ROFL

 

As for the CTB16PC AC Controllers, those don't really require a PRO license, the PRO license IS required for most Pixel Controllers and Enhanced High Speed Networks, which you will need for the RGB criteria.  {Almost forgot to clar that misconception up.}

 

 

Edited by Orville
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2 hours ago, KYHI said:

The Bullet and Square Nodes are single LED Pixels - The C9 Bulbs are Dual LED Pixels - The 150 LED Ribbons are triple LED Pixels

Both of these statements are incorrect, especially if you're talking about LOR RGB Bullet Nodes and Cosmic Color Bulbs{C9}, both are 150 LEDS per 50 bulb strand, 1 Red, 1 Green, 1 BlueTHREE {3} LEDS PER BULB or NODE. 

They ARE NOT SINGLE LED {Bullet Nodes}or DUAL LED{C9 CCB's}, otherwise you would not be able to get all the colors you do with them.  

I own BOTH types and I can assure you, BOTH are TRI-LED: RED, GREEN and BLUE, otherwise they would NOT be called RGB lights!

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45 minutes ago, NorthernLights said:

I originally was going to do bullet nodes by my heart wants c9 on the eaves of my house. 
 

Looks like this website has white sting 50ct c9 pixels

so I assume I would need to run 3 of these together for my top roof line

 

25ft each strand? Did I do the math right? 6” spacing for 50 bulbs equals 25ft

need to cover 63ft for the top

The LOR 100 Count RGB strands = 33', so 2 of those = 66', you only need 63', so you could wrap 1.5' around each end if they end at the edge of your roof line.   These come with their own controller {200 bulb count total, 100 on each Controller port}.  So I'd think this could work for you.

Another option is to cut off the excess lights you don't need, the extra 1.5' at each end to shorten the strand {the 3' you don't need} to the length you need.  But this also voids any warranty on the strand if you go this route.

 

 

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OK, single Chip - Dual Chip - Triple Chip - .3 watts per Chip - Thus LED Chip

Thus a ribbon strip listed as 150 LED - is referring to Chips not the actual diodes

Which for common reference I am 100% correct regarding LED

Edited by KYHI
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Talking square or bullet pixels. Some are .3 watts per PIXEL, the majority are closer to .6 W per pixel. That's a big difference. You can't assume.

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14 minutes ago, KYHI said:

OK, single Chip - Dual Chip - Triple Chip - .3 watts per Chip - Thus LED Chip

Thus a ribbon strip listed as 150 LED - is referring to Chips not the actual diodes

Which for common reference I am 100% correct regarding LED

That IS NOT what you stated, IC CHIPS and LEDS are 2 different things when talking about RGB Lighting, yes, each set of triple LEDS has A CONTROLLING CHIP.  If that had been stated correctly, my other reply would not have occurred.  I.E. I believe the WS2811 usually is the chip numbr for smart RGB.  Not sure what number/s the dumb RGB uses.  But depending on type of strand, Dumb or Smart, driving/controlling chip should never be referred to as single LED or dual LED because that is incorrect terminology.

I know I used to write up documentation for MPP's in the electronics industry as well as some technical stuff on occasion.

So I stand by my initial commentary, that your references are incorrect.

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Well the C9 Pixels I was looking at lists the specs as

  • LED: Twin SMD 5050 RGB LEDs
  • Max Power Per Pixel: 0.5W

the 300 count SMD 5050 RGB ribbon stripe is listed at 72w - the 150 count SMD 5050 RGB ribbon stripe is listed at 36w

And my .3 watt assumption is based upon Smart SMD 5050 Pixels and using Pixie Controllers

Edited by KYHI
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Thank You Phil

the 12v Bullets and Squares Nodes are rated at .6w per pixel

the 5v Bullets and Squares Nodes are rated .3w per pixel

also found something of some interest > https://www.ebay.com/itm/5pcs-2pin-3pin-4pin-5pin-6pin-LED-Strip-RGB-RGBW-Wire-Connection-Terminal-Splice/324027850623?var=513072293090

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Don't ever ever use the mechanical connectors for strips.

They are horrendously unreliable.

A solder joint is THE only way and even that can be fragile.

Edited by PhilMassey
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11 minutes ago, KYHI said:

Thank You Phil

the 12v Bullets and Squares Nodes are rated at .6w per pixel

the 5v Bullets and Squares Nodes are rated .3w per pixel

also found something of some interest > https://www.ebay.com/itm/5pcs-2pin-3pin-4pin-5pin-6pin-LED-Strip-RGB-RGBW-Wire-Connection-Terminal-Splice/324027850623?var=513072293090

Listen to Phil.  👍 While those look better tan the ones I used, they still rely on pressure.  I also tried 'L" and 'T' fittings on my first attempt of RGB windows (they were porch sheltered) 🥵

SOLDER is the only way to connect to strips

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I tried the T & L "slip under" type terminal connectors a long while ago - the entire order was thrown out

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1 hour ago, KYHI said:

Well the C9 Pixels I was looking at lists the specs as

  • LED: Twin SMD 5050 RGB LEDs
  • Max Power Per Pixel: 0.5W

the 300 count SMD 5050 RGB ribbon stripe is listed at 72w - the 150 count SMD 5050 RGB ribbon stripe is listed at 36w

And my .3 watt assumption is based upon Smart SMD 5050 Pixels and using Pixie Controllers

Yes, that is correct, however, calling them a dual led or a single LED is incorrect, as this is not what they are, they may be called a single LED RGB Chip, but that still denotes 3 LED's per SMT chip/component.  Both SMD 5050 LED components are 3 LED'S in each SMD component, thereby that total for a dual SMD LED = 6 LEDS, 2 each of red, green and blue., whereas a single SMD LED would be a total of 3 LEDS, 1 each of red, green, blue per LED SMT component.

I've worked with SMT components for years and programmed the SMT machines that place them on a circuit board and solder them into place. 

Just for the record: SMT = Surface Mount Technology, SMD = Surface Mount Device.  Both are somewhat interchangeable.

 

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well cool beans - everybody else knew what I meant or was referring to...

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One thing about this thread. A lot of assumptions and a lot of inexperience with pixels and pixel controllers will waste a lot of the OP's $.

ALWAYS SOLDER

But my suggestion to the OP - do not cut brand new nodes, you void the warranty. You simply do not sequence any extra nodes.

More advice, take one person like Phil and get their sole advice from experience, avoid confusion and all of the unnecessary extra verbiage.

JR

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6 minutes ago, Orville said:

Yes, that is correct, however, calling them a dual led or a single LED is incorrect, as this is not what they are, they may be called a single LED RGB Chip, but that still denotes 3 LED's per SMT chip/component.  Both SMD 5050 LED components are 3 LED'S in each SMD component, thereby that total for a dual SMD LED = 6 LEDS, 2 each of red, green and blue., whereas a single SMD LED would be a total of 3 LEDS, 1 each of red, green, blue per LED SMT component.

Orville, you are arguing semantics.  You are technically correct, but NO ONE except you refers to the three LEDs on a RGB LED package as three separate LEDs.  As an FYI, I don't know if you have noticed, but I ALWAYS type "RGB LED" when talking about RGB LEDs to help avoid any confusion.  ONE RGB LED is a single package that has Red, Green, and Blue LEDs normally with some common wiring. 

BTW mainly for KYHI, just to add to some confusion, with 12 volt ribbons that have three RGB LEDs per pixel chip, those three RGB LEDs are in series, so the current is the same as if it was just one RGB LED.  Just a data point for you.

 

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