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Dumb RGB lighting


Grady29
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Hello,

I am not completely new to LOR- I have a small system of only 48 channels and been fooling around with the light shows for a few years now, as time permits.   I have been using traditional lights since the beginning and I decided to add some dumb RGB  lights to my display this year.  I would love to jump into the smart RBG's and start using the pixie controllers, but based on my research, it seems that it may be too much to take on.   I have some questions about RGB's. 

A little background on how I setup my display.  I currently have 3-CTB-16D boards.  I have 2 mounted inside my garage and home run all my outdoor displays back to the panels in the garage using SPT wire.  My third control board is mounted inside a water proof enclosure and I have it setup near my mega-tree with a cat-5 wire going to the 3rd board from the boards in the garage.  I don't use a show director- I run everything from my computer.  Almost all my lights are LED, except for a few of my older displays, which are incandescent.  I have a FM transmitter (which I don't like and probably need to upgrade).

 

1) I am running the advanced version of LOR software (current version)- will that be sufficient?

2)  From what I read, I will need PI's (power injectors) for each of the dumb controller boards(CMB24D).  Depending on the load I have hooked up to each board, is it possible to hook up one PI to more than one board?

3)  What is the common/typical setup used for placement of the boards-

      a) Is it common to mount the boards in a garage and then run wires to each of the pixel ports.  This would be a lot of wires to home run to the garage but then the board and PI would be indoors and less likely to get wet and easier to plug the PI  into an           AC power source.

'or'

       b) Is it more common to mount the board in a water proof enclosure close to the outdoor displays?  Though an extension cord would be needed to run to each of the board locations for AC power.  Also, depending on where my props are located, I

           probably still would need extensions for some of the props to be plugged into the board.

4) Is there any issues I should keep in mind when using both CTB-16D boards and the dumb RGB controller boards?   Any issues when making sequences?

Excuse me if I sound like I am clueless on how to hookup these RGB controllers.  It's a whole new world for me and still trying to figure out how it all comes together and the best way to put it together for myself.  If someone thinks I should take en entirely different approach or I should jump in to smart RGB with the pixie controllers and not waste my time with dumb RGB's, I am open to suggestions.

 

Thank you for any and all advice.

 

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Tip

If you do not already have the dumb nodes and controllers.

A smart pixel/ node can always be sequenced as a dumb node however a dumb node can never be sequenced as a smart node.

The pixie series controllers 2/4/8/16 are the easiest and most affordable to use.

You will need the pro level license but it is worth it and S5 makes it so easy to sequence a caveman can do it. - I apologize if there are any cavemen out there reading this.

feel free to hit me up with any questions regarding my tip.

JR

Edited by dibblejr
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💡 Low Voltage (other than Signal) does not like Long or skinny wires. Your Enemy I * R (= Voltage drop). A CMB24 RGB output) is fused at 4A (~48W @ 12V ). So Distance depends on what you are driving (the load). 10W floods on 20' extensions (16 +20') behave . My tree uses 50 bullets (~4A) on 15" of feeds (dongle, extension+string in pigtail)

Also You don't (normally) Power inject CMB24. (the Dumb Controller) nodes.

👍 mixing all Dumb type controllers on the same LOR network (115K max AND those are not Gen 2 AC). Think about it: Dumb is 1 Channel per PORT. That is a Lot of controllers to push the limits (of a Black Adapter).  (OTOH Smart = 1 Channel per COLOR, Per Node (typ 3 channels per bulb)

As to sequencing: Just think of a (dumb) RGB port as 3 AC ports (R G B stings attached), with the exception that the colors can now blend (256 shades)

 

 

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dibblejr-

Thank you for the reply.  I did not know that I can 'dumb' down smart RGB.  To me that makes sense to invest in the pixie controller now and as I learn, I can easily migrate to smart RGB.

TheDucks-

Thank you for the reply.  Your voltage explanation makes sense as I have dealt with similar situations when running my landscape lights.  As I read more in the forums and LOR manuals, I am starting to understand a little more and it raises more questions.

Here are a few more questions (assuming using a Pixie controller):

1) My understanding is that I can have up to 100 pixels/port recommended, with a max of 170?  (If I run 170, would need a power injection)

2) I should run an enhanced network if I plan to run smart RGB's due to the vast amount of data (use a USB485HS)?

3) Can I use just the USB 485HS for both the traditional controllers (AC) and the pixie boards and daisy chain them?

4) Two voltage options for RGB's- 5V or 12V.  Seems 12V better option to help mitigate voltage drops?  Any benefits to 5v?

5) I would need to run individual extension cords to each power supply, though I may need only 1-20A, 110/120V circuit to power my power supplies, depending on the total power I am using?

6) Voltage option solely dependent on power supply used to power pixie board?

7) How would I terminate the end of a light string to prevent water from entering connector?

8) As an simple example- if I want to make a tree and want 8 vertical strings(lines), can I use 1-50 pixel string to make 2 vertical strings (25 pixels per string)?  I would then need 4-50 pixel strings to make the 8 vertical lines.  The rest is in the programming to make a line of 25 pixels appear as one vertical string?  ( I hope I made some sort of sense here)

 

Thanks for all the help as I begin to understand RGB's.

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There are settings deep in the HU and the controller itself that will allow you to have the pixie series controllers and smart nodes act as if they are dumb.

There is really no need for it though because in S5 you can add a ME row and if you want the lights to be the same color just sequence it to the ME row.

If not it is as simple as adding number of smart pixels and sequence each pixel separately or in groups.

With the exception of my 10 Light O Rama singing trees I use the pixie for smart nodes abs when I want the same color just manually sequence them.

JR

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at 100 nodes and 12V I see no need for PI  (KISS and not push it if you don't have to)

Enhanced network is a Plus for complex sequences.

You could, but ...  AC controllers can't do the 1000 speed. Gen 2 controllers can't even do 500. But WHY not run the AC /Dumb stuff on a Black @ 115 and the Pixies on the Red (HS)?

5V is more efficient, but has more I*R cares. IMHO PI needs more wires.

I assume you are planning  on HC nodes? Buy their Plugs and Caps to cover unused connectors

Power supplies MUST match the nodes used. Pixie 8 and Pixie 16 have BANKS, that can have different voltages BUT Caution that you never mix up which string gets connected where (IMHO use different style cords)

I run 3 @ 350W supplies on a single 16Ga extension (under 50'). 4 supplies run, but frequently trip the GFCI from show transients , so avoid on the same GFCI

You can certainly FOLD between 25 and 26 in your prop.   50 node bullets (3" centers) come out about 12'

 

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1 hour ago, Grady29 said:

dibblejr-

Thank you for the reply.  I did not know that I can 'dumb' down smart RGB.  To me that makes sense to invest in the pixie controller now and as I learn, I can easily migrate to smart RGB.

TheDucks-

Thank you for the reply.  Your voltage explanation makes sense as I have dealt with similar situations when running my landscape lights.  As I read more in the forums and LOR manuals, I am starting to understand a little more and it raises more questions.

Here are a few more questions (assuming using a Pixie controller):

1) My understanding is that I can have up to 100 pixels/port recommended, with a max of 170?  (If I run 170, would need a power injection)

2) I should run an enhanced network if I plan to run smart RGB's due to the vast amount of data (use a USB485HS)?

3) Can I use just the USB 485HS for both the traditional controllers (AC) and the pixie boards and daisy chain them?

4) Two voltage options for RGB's- 5V or 12V.  Seems 12V better option to help mitigate voltage drops?  Any benefits to 5v?

5) I would need to run individual extension cords to each power supply, though I may need only 1-20A, 110/120V circuit to power my power supplies, depending on the total power I am using?

6) Voltage option solely dependent on power supply used to power pixie board?

7) How would I terminate the end of a light string to prevent water from entering connector?

8) As an simple example- if I want to make a tree and want 8 vertical strings(lines), can I use 1-50 pixel string to make 2 vertical strings (25 pixels per string)?  I would then need 4-50 pixel strings to make the 8 vertical lines.  The rest is in the programming to make a line of 25 pixels appear as one vertical string?  ( I hope I made some sort of sense here)

 

Thanks for all the help as I begin to understand RGB's.

1- you can run 170 pixels per port however need to reduce the power down, mine is set for 30% and they are plenty bright.

Unless you intend to have light strings with long extensions in between them (per port) no PI required. PI sounds cool and all but can add  more problems down the road

2- Yes, and a Pro License is required. You may also need additional networks if you go over my recommendation of 1600 nodes. A little less than LOR but I leave a safety net

and after beta testing and having a lot of pixie controllers I found 1600 to be non problematic for props with a lot of graphics/ data

3- yes, it is backwards compatible

4- 12v is the only ones I use and recommend

5-  I run quite a few pixel controllers on each of my plugs without fail. I have 16 receptacles and my own breaker box for my show.

6- all of my pixie8’s have at a minimum  of 2 x 35”w psus, pixie16’s 2 x 500,  pixie 4 - 1x at least 350w

7- I always use 3m 5200 marine silicone, and shrink wrap, I can provide video

8- yea, use folds in the prop def

# of pixels per string = 50

# of folds per string - 1

# of strings - 8

I can give videos of my builds, and a lot of other videos supporting the answers.

JR

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5 minutes ago, TheDucks said:

at 100 nodes and 12V I see no need for PI  (KISS and not push it if you don't have to)

Enhanced network is a Plus for complex sequences.

You could, but ...  AC controllers can't do the 1000 speed. Gen 2 controllers can't even do 500. But WHY not run the AC /Dumb stuff on a Black @ 115 and the Pixies on the Red (HS)?

5V is more efficient, but has more I*R cares. IMHO PI needs more wires.

I assume you are planning  on HC nodes? Buy their Plugs and Caps to cover unused connectors

Power supplies MUST match the nodes used. Pixie 8 and Pixie 16 have BANKS, that can have different voltages BUT Caution that you never mix up which string gets connected where (IMHO use different style cords)

I run 3 @ 350W supplies on a single 16Ga extension (under 50'). 4 supplies run, but frequently trip the GFCI from show transients , so avoid on the same GFCI

You can certainly FOLD between 25 and 26 in your prop.   50 node bullets (3" centers) come out about 12'

 

Enhanced is Required for pixies.

With S5 and a CTB16 G2 FW update they can now run at the higher speeds

I have never run anything at 1000k.

IN NP it still says “1000k reserved for the Pixcon16”

Now with the pixielink higher speeds and e1.31 is doable.

JR

Edited by dibblejr
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Thanks everyone for all the info.  Helps a lot.

A few more questions:

1)  It sounds like a toss up on whether I should keep my black and then add a red(HS) or run everything off the red.  Curious how many people run everything (traditional and smart RGB) off the red?  The only hesitation I have is that I need to run another dedicated cat wire back to the computer and if I won't gain much out of it, I may opt out to do that further down the road.

2) If I am running all 12V pixels, and assuming the PS is sufficient to run all those pixels, can I use a jumper wire from one bank to the other on the Pixie8?

3) Looking on HC website, they offer 2 versions of PS, waterproof and the non-waterproof (Meanwell power supply). Has anyone used the non-waterproof outdoors and mounted it in a waterproof enclosure?  If so, any issues?

4) Where are some good sources for the PS's & RGB strings?

5) Does it matter which side of a light string gets hooked up to pixie controller?

6)  I have 3 windows I would like to put RGB's around.  They measure 13'x7, 10'x7' & 8'x4'.  The 2 larger windows are adjacent to eachother and the smaller window is a little further away.  Looking at the length of the RGB strings, it will take multiple strings to cover each window.  Suggestions on how someone would wire the windows and connect to the pixie controller?  Trying to get an idea on how to go about this to give me a starting place.

 

Thanks again for all the advice!

Edited by Grady29
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5 hours ago, Grady29 said:

Thanks everyone for all the info.  Helps a lot.

A few more questions:

1)  It sounds like a toss up on whether I should keep my black and then add a red(HS) or run everything off the red.  Curious how many people run everything (traditional and smart RGB) off the red?  The only hesitation I have is that I need to run another dedicated cat wire back to the computer and if I won't gain much out of it, I may opt out to do that further down the road.

2) If I am running all 12V pixels, and assuming the PS is sufficient to run all those pixels, can I use a jumper wire from one bank to the other on the Pixie8?

3) Looking on HC website, they offer 2 versions of PS, waterproof and the non-waterproof (Meanwell power supply). Has anyone used the non-waterproof outdoors and mounted it in a waterproof enclosure?  If so, any issues?

4) Where are some good sources for the PS's & RGB strings?

5) Does it matter which side of a light string gets hooked up to pixie controller?

6)  I have 3 windows I would like to put RGB's around.  They measure 13'x7, 10'x7' & 8'x4'.  The 2 larger windows are adjacent to eachother and the smaller window is a little further away.  Looking at the length of the RGB strings, it will take multiple strings to cover each window.  Suggestions on how someone would wire the windows and connect to the pixie controller?  Trying to get an idea on how to go about this to give me a starting place.

 

Thanks again for all the advice!

Depending on how many pixie controllers you have you should be able to run everything on the one red adapter. It is required for the show but black can be used for testing.

You can jump the pixie 8 banks. If you need it, I have build videos.

However I recommend 2 at least 359 psus on a pixie 8. This will stop the banks from using more power than the other .

Once again I have build videos for that.

Then wattage is limited to the outdoor psus.

You can find power supplies 350 +
for $20-45 on amazon

Xconnect ends are the most popular when building your own and buying pixels. 
 

If you buy the pixels with xconnect and the female xconnect pigtails you will be golden. They only connect one way. Smart pixels are 3 wire these days. Keep that in mind.

windows- make a pvc frame, if two windows are close and one fatter I would place the pixie in between the close ones.

You can get extensions and there are a lot of myths on tje Length of cable runs. I have 2 pixie4’s with over 120’  from controller to lights. The cable goes from my garage through my wall , through the floor joists and up the third floor attic. 6- 20’ extensions but the psu is 500w each.

I have plenty of windows scattered that are controlleD by them as well as more pixies foR my roof.

When doing the Windows my left end window start point is bottom left .

On The opposite end of house my first windo start point is bottom right.

I alternate like that for all Windows until done.

I like mirrored affects where the lights go toward each other although I do sequencing various directions.

Hopefully this helps.

JR

 

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7 hours ago, Grady29 said:

Thanks everyone for all the info.  Helps a lot.

A few more questions:

1)  It sounds like a toss up on whether I should keep my black and then add a red(HS) or run everything off the red.  Curious how many people run everything (traditional and smart RGB) off the red?  The only hesitation I have is that I need to run another dedicated cat wire back to the computer and if I won't gain much out of it, I may opt out to do that further down the road.

2) If I am running all 12V pixels, and assuming the PS is sufficient to run all those pixels, can I use a jumper wire from one bank to the other on the Pixie8?

3) Looking on HC website, they offer 2 versions of PS, waterproof and the non-waterproof (Meanwell power supply). Has anyone used the non-waterproof outdoors and mounted it in a waterproof enclosure?  If so, any issues?

4) Where are some good sources for the PS's & RGB strings?

5) Does it matter which side of a light string gets hooked up to pixie controller?

6)  I have 3 windows I would like to put RGB's around.  They measure 13'x7, 10'x7' & 8'x4'.  The 2 larger windows are adjacent to eachother and the smaller window is a little further away.  Looking at the length of the RGB strings, it will take multiple strings to cover each window.  Suggestions on how someone would wire the windows and connect to the pixie controller?  Trying to get an idea on how to go about this to give me a starting place.

 

Thanks again for all the advice!

Why are you so set on using a single LOR adapter?Many of us run more than 1. All you need is a POWERED USB hub if you run out of PC ports.

FWIW I run 3 adapters. They feed yard 'Zones" (right, middle, left) The Vehicle door is between Middle and Left.

I happen to use the W/P 400W PSU from HC and the are mounted on the back of the CG1500 (see https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OrEZiskjJj2fhwuzkadZ22k9mZ9LZU30/view?usp=sharing)

(the CG1500 has a Pixie8 and a CMB24. 1 PS for each BOARD. 1 lead set of the 3, per bank . OK my strings are not over 100 and not all are 100. For Halloween I do 'Lightning flashes (everything capable of WHITE, at 100% for 1/10 sec a flash. INTENSE 😛),

Pixels HAVE an IN direction for Data w/ground (power can come from both ends). You can use the HC to reverse (#1 at far end LOGICALLY) a string  I do this with my Gutter line and my central 'zone' 100<,cont, 32>,100> ,all have 15' cords down to the controller

100 nodes on 3" centers is ~25' (and ~6A all white) so 100 will do the small window. you need 34' for the medium window (100+50). You need 40' for the Large window. Remember, you can cut (shorten RGB strings) So the Large Window might really be 2 @ 20' strings. highest per/port current draw closer to the controller, lowest furthest (in a perfect case). I lean toward Pixie 4's close to the prop.  (a pixie2 would be great for your big window or a window off to the side. Big is not always better)

The numbering starts at the Feed (or last if reversed)  The excess 'scrap' is also your SPARES (do bag and mark what strings(batch) they came from, so the will match the performance of their mates. You just cut out the bad node and splice in a spare. Fails can be a simple no light or the MUST fix, bad Data as all past that are also OUT. Spares are important!). IMHO the more identical items, means the quickest FIX if you have a 'ready spare'. Swap out beats trying to solder from a ladder

 

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12 hours ago, Grady29 said:

1)  It sounds like a toss up on whether I should keep my black and then add a red(HS) or run everything off the red.  Curious how many people run everything (traditional and smart RGB) off the red?  The only hesitation I have is that I need to run another dedicated cat wire back to the computer and if I won't gain much out of it, I may opt out to do that further down the road.

Multiple networks is not really a problem.  I run two LOR networks plus E1.31 for my year round landscape lighting, and add one more LOR  (and a lot more E1.31 devices) for Christmas  As for having a network that has very little on it, My Regular network normally has exactly one controller on it - an InputPup.  I run that network at 56K NON-Enhanced because you can't run an input device on an Enhanced network.  The AuxA network runs at 115K Enhanced, and normally runs two AC and three DC controllers year round - and a couple more controllers for Christmas.  The third LOR network runs my six CCP based arches.  For year round, the three USB to RS485 adapters plug into a POWERED USB hub because my server that runs the show off-season only had one available USB port.  When I switch the show over to the dedicated show computer in October, that computer has enough USB outlets, so I don't need the hub.

For the E1.31, I have a dedicated E1.31 network, and both computers have a LAN connection on that network.

 

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On 8/17/2021 at 8:59 PM, Grady29 said:

Thanks everyone for all the info.  Helps a lot.

A few more questions:

1)  It sounds like a toss up on whether I should keep my black and then add a red(HS) or run everything off the red.  Curious how many people run everything (traditional and smart RGB) off the red?  The only hesitation I have is that I need to run another dedicated cat wire back to the computer and if I won't gain much out of it, I may opt out to do that further down the road.

When I ran my show from my computer, I ran 5 CMB100D's {albeit these are 5 volt controllers} on the Red HS Adapter, and my older G2 CTB16PC Controllers run at 115K on my black USB485B adapter.   Starting in 2020, I started running my shows off an N4-G4 Director unit, now my set-up is the Director is set as Non-Enhanced, Regular, 115K for the Gen2 CTB16PC controllers {Blow Molds-incandescent, and other L.E.D. light strands} for Net 1{Always the Regular Network on a Multi-Network capable Director}, I run 9 CMB100D RGB Controllers that run LOR C9 RGB and LOR Pixel Bullets {18 strands of 50 bulbs/bullets}on Net 2, 500K, Enhanced, Aux A, then Net 3 runs my 2 Pixie2D's that are for the LOR Singing Christmas Trees {Ralphie and Zuzu}, 1,000K, Enhanced, Aux B, and in 2021 I added a Pixie16D, my Pixie16D {Version 1} is on Net 4, 1,000K Enhanced, Aux C and will control additional items,all 12V Smart RGB, 6 H.C. 10W Smart Floodlights and several 12V 100 count square node strands.  Also have a lot of older 12V CCR's I may be adding to the mix, providing I find a good place to use and mount them.

I opted for the N4-G4 Director because of the added network capability and made it easier to run my cat5 to the correct controllers.  Of course, all my controllers and cables are all outside., Even my FM Transmitter is outside in a weatherproof box.  My 2020 show ran just fine with the Director for Christmas.   The computer definitely gives you more options in running a show, as the Director does have some limitations there, but in my case, it was easier to use a Director.   I don't recall if you said you didn't want to use a Director, but in some scenarios, it's easier to use than running cat5 and additional wiring, extension cords and so forth from inside to the outside under doors or through windows.   And it's also an excellent for use if you happen to rent the home in some cases.

So you might want to possibly check into a Director at some point, as it also requires NO USB Adapters, everything is set and controlled straight from the Director, just write your sequences via the HU or Hub {depending on your software version} to an SD Card, plug it in, and let the Director take care of everything.

Just some extra info and input.  The choice is always yours to make, just wanted to give you some idea of another option that could be used.

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I have ran a 2 port director for years and like the ability to just dump shows on an SD card and let em run. No computer/PC needed.

Last year I upgraded to a 4 port director as many extra pixels were added. 

However, as I add pixels, I will need to add additional 4 port directors and you will loose some ports doing this.

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1 hour ago, Vince4xmas said:

I have ran a 2 port director for years and like the ability to just dump shows on an SD card and let em run. No computer/PC needed.

Last year I upgraded to a 4 port director as many extra pixels were added. 

However, as I add pixels, I will need to add additional 4 port directors and you will loose some ports doing this.

Or you could just run off a computer and save the extra $300 you would spend on each director and buy more controllers. 😄

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  • 2 weeks later...

In that location, you could put a laptop in a sealed box and it's not likely to overheat.  Inside the box it will not get all that cold, and depending on the box construction (insulation), it will most likely likely won't get hot enough to be a problem.  Would not be a bad plan to put a temp monitor / recorder on it for a day or two to confirm.  If space is an issue use one of the micro sized desktops (about the size of a book).  Set it up with a monitor, keyboard, and mouse and then move to the intended location.

 

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