Permanent Outdoor Lights (Christmas lights)

You can do it before the season, but you’ll probably pay more for supplies. BTF-Lighting prices are a bit higher on Amazon, but arrive in a few days instead of a few weeks.

I’ve seen them, but just to look at doing all of this again and what I have in my Amazon cart, I just found out that the ESPixelStick is currently unavailable right now. And since I saw this post a few months ago and looking into doing it more, and finding DrZZz and his Duo (which seems to always be sold out) or his QuinLED-Dig-Quad, I am finding I need to learn some more stuff out. I am sure right now they are all getting bombarded with orders, so maybe as, @jeffeb3 did, waiting until after the season might be a better route regardless. I think I might start small-ish and go for a tree…and show the wife what it can do, and then talk her into the house.

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I ordered bith my digi quad whatever boards from the china shop. They took about two weeks.

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I also just set up Cheap DIY Ambilight TV Project with Hyperion and Raspberry Pi - YouTube. It’s super simple to physically set up, the configuration is a bit more challenging but the ambient lighting matching the edge of the screen is super cool!

It’s also indoors, and doesn’t require ladders… so big wins.

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good to know! I didn’t know you could get them from other places, as well as I have seen the NodeMCU boards, but thought there was another part that I would have to get with them. Here is where I am saying I need to learn a lot more on this to fully formulate my plan and how I want it to work, as well as what software & firmware to use. It was a deep hole that I got myself into and thought I had it figured out, and then got a little lost again…so…yeah!!

that’s awesome. You should start your own thread on what/how you did that. I’ve been considering doing something like that.

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These:

are cheap and easy to flash to get started with simple WLED setups.
These: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B093PH2K32/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
are a lifesaver for those who suck at soldering (me).

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Thinking I needed more than the NodeMCU board was one of my main hurdles, as the forums and instructions all seem to assume that we all know what those are, how they work etc.

There’s a premade controller which is just an ESP8266 with a power plug on one end and the JST connector on the other end that you can get on that fantastic Chinese boat that I’ve linked previously but here it is for ease: ATHOM Pre Flashed WLED 5V WS2812B LED Light Strip Controller|Home Automation Modules| - AliExpress

And that is where I was at and got lost before. I know I watched a video from DrzZz that showed his Digi-duo which I think was pretty much just a NodeMCU board seated into another board that had the power connections and a fuze and capacitor, etc, etc. But I also thought I saw someone else say they just used the NodeMCU…and the ESPixelstick that @niget2002 said he used had a similar set up as DrzZz. From there I could follow along with the firmware and the software (WLED and Xlights), it was just trying to figure out what board/controller to use.

I know a little bit to really get myself into trouble, so I guess my question with the NodeMCU is what pins are used on the bottom to connect everything to? I understand the power injection, but how do I power the NodeMCU, and what pin do I use for the Data to the LEDs. That was the crux of my issue.

Those connection kits look like a life saver. I have been improving my soldering skills, but trying to get the covering off those LEDs (I had some left over from another project I have been working on) was a PITA, and it looked like a very small pad to try and solder to. Then again, I think that was a 144/m strip that was left over.

Done.

The WLED forums help out a bunch with PIN assignments also when you flash your board and open up WLED on it (all it needs is USB power at that point) it is set to the default pin for data, I think it’s P4 if I remember?

Power goes to to the 5v PIN, and ground goes to any GND pin on the board. Next, you want to make sure that there’s a common GND wire going between the board/power/light strips.

Technical writing is not my forte so just ask if I’m not communicating clearly enough!

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A lot of what is on those daughter boards is the power conditioning for the Esp32. That way the same board can work on both 5v and 12v strings.

The daughter boards are what caused me to finally take the plunge.

Can I ask if you could expound upon this a little more? I understand the voltage difference, but just curious as to your thought process with the daughter boards. Are those just a bit more versatile? or you just had more options at that point?

It was just easier.

I didn’t want to have to mess with providing a clean voltage to the esp32 or dealing with figuring out the software, fuses, etc etc. When I ran into the espixelstick I was like, “oh man… this is my answer to everything”.

I don’t mind DIY’ing stuff (I have fully automated aquariums that I wrote all the code myself), but in this case, I needed/wanted something more ‘off the shelf’.

Does the daughter board convert the 3.3v logic to 5v?

Also with a 5v string I just hooked my ESP8266 directly to my 5v power supply, no conditioning or anything like that. I haven’t had any issues so far with that setup. I do wire the strip directly to the supply and not through the board though, just to keep the big current away from the board. I can’t think of anything easier!

Thanks for the reply, and it completely makes sense. I sort of want to do the same thing, but as I am looking at everything, I would like to save as much dinero as possible. I’m not saying I want cheaply made parts, but getting quality parts for a cheaper price, that would also help me in getting the CFO onboard.

If I am remembering correctly, I think I saw someone used 12v LEDs powered by a Meanwell 12v PS (or something like it), and just used a buck converter to power the NodeMCU. I know this is very crude (thanks MSPaint) but would something like this work:

@gspitman You just pin-pointed where I got lost in seeing something about the logic boards and whatnot in the electronics set up, so really looking to see if my drawing would work, or if there is something I am missing/needed that @niget2002 is saying would come with the daughter board as you have asked.

I’m not an electrical expert by any means, but I know that the board and the strips need a common ground connection, I don’t know if that works having it before the buck converter (experts please reply).

If you go 5v, you can eliminate the buck converter to go the lowest cost. Depending on the length of the strip you may have to “inject power” by wiring power on both ends.
image

How long of a string are you looking at?

Tracking on the Power Injection (PI). from what I have read, depending on what LEDs you get (5v, 12v, 24v) will determine how long the string can be before PI is needed. I know most projects for houses will be using the standard 5m (16.4ft), and most youtube videos I saw said that it wouldn’t hurt to just PI at the end of each of those lengths. My concern was more of what was actually needed for the control board (NodeMCU, ESPixelStick, DigiUno, QuinLED-Dig-Quad, etc). Saw some say that all that was needed was the NodeMCU (maybe with a logic board to ensure 3.3v on the data line to each strand), with others linking to some control boards/PSU combos that were starting at $400USD for just the control board (that would make it a little out of budget).

Then there is the question of how many are needed. Is it one per strand (no logic needed) or can one NodeMCU control multiple strands with a logic board to ensure each strand gets the full 3.3v (if I am even saying that correctly). I know that $400 board was capable of controlling like 16 different strands (hence the price), but that is where I got turned around and flipped upside down on what exactly was needed. I still need to measure my roof line to figure out how many LEDs are needed, and then go from there. I have a spare 24v Meanwell PS I was going to use on one of my 3D printers, but I can always repurpose that. I also have the buck converters as I was going to redo the electronics enclosure and incorporate an RPi with Octoprint on that printer as well. SO I understand that side of it, it was more of the what kind of controler is needed, how many, and is there anything else needed (i.e. logic board, fuze, capacitor, resistor).

The power injection is why I went with 12V. I managed to avoid PI on all the lights on my house (but I do have 4 starting locations). The worst is the string along the upper roof, which has a long wire at the start and then goes all the way across the roof. I bumped up the PSU adjust screw to about 13V to end up with 5V at the end of that run.

The pain image with the buck converter looks about right, except the ground after the buck converter may not be on the common ground. The converter might keep it the same, but it might not.

I have done a lot of installs in my house with dupont cables, soldered cables, even breadboards. I wanted something I could fix with garage tools, up on a ladder. So I went with soldered wires, covered in heat shrink filled with hot glue for all the exterior connections and the digi quad board has screw terminals for attaching the wires there. I ended up crimping ends on the wire to keep the wires from fraying in the screw terminals. I have a lot more confidence in this setup than I have on other project that live indoors.

I could have done all of that without the daughter board. Certainly.

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