Programmable Christmas lights

Anyone on this board have the programmable Christmas Lights on their house?

I’m venturing down the rabbit hole this year finally. I tried this once before many years ago when controllers were still hand soldered and lights were held on with zip ties.

Last week I ordered an ESPixelStick, and a single string of 50 pixels. The idea was to use it as a POC to see how easy/difficult it was to get a sequence setup and working on the small string. I figured if it didn’t go well, I was only out $40.

I was very surprised to see that I easily had a small sequence up and running in about 15-20 minutes. There’s some very good videos on youtube that help walk you through the steps.

This morning I went ahead and ordered the materials to put lights just on the eaves of the house. I figure I’ll start small. If this works out, then I can add features later on.

Can we see?

Not on my house (yet), but made quite a few props with homemade “pixelsticks”

One of my first: https://vimeo.com/242645645
A dress:


Big letters:
Led pingpongwall (made on my mpcnc) https://youtu.be/cz4LdH1b59w

I’m thinking of putting some ledstrip under the gutters of my house now.

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We had a chat about it here, Syn's RGB Lighting Projects. I messed around with it and that setup seems simple, and there are a few links to some videos for larger installations and programming that seemed pretty easy.

I thought I remembered talking about it, but couldn’t seem to find it for some reason.

I did a little video of the POC

I hope/plan on doing more videos as I continue the work.

@gspitman did it.

Also, this weiro was asking:

Christmas Lights

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I created my own “Pi HAT” to control the one string over my garage. Then I discovered this: “Falcon PiCap - PixelController, LLC” https://www.pixelcontroller.com/store/index.php?id_product=47&controller=product

I’m using the software for it, and it is compatible with xLights so you can build out the whole show.

I meant to get them up along my whole gutter line, but that’s just another of the many unfinished projects around here :slight_smile:

Also there’s one spot that’s only accessible by about 15 feet of ladder, and ever since I had one about that big slip out from under me, breaking both wrists, I generally don’t do ladders anymore!!

It’ll happen someday though.

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@jeffeb3 5v or 12v?

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dang it. :frowning: I’m betting I misspelled something in my search, which is why I didn’t get any results.

I went with the ESPixelStick. It will run both the espixelstick firmware and the wled one. These firmwares support the E1.31 protocol and work with Falcon player and all the different sequencers. I only went with Vixen 3 because I used the older version years ago.

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I would think the 12V would work better on a big project like that.

I was asking what you used.

I haven’t even bought the parts. I am just looking at it and imagining it.

I went ahead and chose the 5V LEDs. I plan on running a string of 18/2 along the entire length of the lights. I bought the wider 16mm channel that you can find on Amazon. This should give plenty of room to run the LED strip across the top of the channel and the wire along the bottom. That gives me 6mm for wire for pigtails or any soldering I need to do. The plan is to inject voltage at the start and rear of each strip of lights.

What I’m not looking forward to is standing on the top of the ladder trying to solder wires to the strips after they’ve been stuck into the channel. I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out a better way. I’m hoping when the channel comes in and I start playing with it, I can figure something better out.

One thing I’m thinking of is taking tape and temporarily taping all the strips in place. Then when I have all the lengths cut and I know how much wire I need to hop from one string to the next, I can then take them all down, solder the strips together with the power wire, and then have the wife help hold strips as I pull the backing off and stick them in place.

I watched some videos on youtube of how others installed theirs, but no one talked about that part. They show you how to solder it, and how to install the channel, but not the actual process they used.

Wish me luck. I hope to work on all this on Saturday. If I can get the LEDs installed, I’ll be happy.

Luckily, my house is just a 1 story. So it shouldn’t be too horrible.

Ugh. This is frustrating.

I’m having a voltage/current issue. 2/3rds of the LEDs light up just fine. I have a espixelstick at the start right next to the 5v line. Then I have 412 pixels. I ran a 18/2 power line parallel with the LEDs and I inject more voltage every 150 pixels or so.

Then I have another pixel stick with 226 pixels after it.

I’m using a 5v 60A power supply.

The second controller wasn’t seeing enough voltage to boot.

I went up into the attic and ran a separate 16/2 power line directly from the power supply to the second controller/pixels. The controller was then able to see just enough voltage to boot (4.7v), but as soon as I told it to turn LEDs on, the voltage would drop too much.

The distance from the power supply to the second controller is about 40-50’ maybe?

I’m guessing I need a larger wire to go to the second controller.

Looks like it you line drop is huge at 5V. can you do 12V?
https://www.calculator.net/voltage-drop-calculator.html?material=copper&wiresize=20.95&voltage=5&phase=dc&noofconductor=1&distance=50&distanceunit=feet&amperes=1&x=54&y=17

V drops significantly with load

I’ve been running the same calculator and seeing the same.

The LEDs are 5v. I could do 12v to get power to where I need it, but I’d have to convert it to 5v once it gets there. If I go with a 12V power supply, I could try to use one of these under the eave of the house to get my 5V

https://www.amazon.com/EPBOWPT-Converter-Regulator-Supply-Transformer/dp/B01M03288J/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=5v+buck+converter&qid=1605481405&sr=8-5

Well. that one won’t work. Requires 12V min input.

Can you just get your power supply closer? Jump it through a vent or something?

I’m thinking I’m going to end up sticking a second power supply on the front porch. I was trying to keep the power supply in the garage.

If I try to move the power supply I have, then I end up having to run power back to the start of the first string.

Here’s a picture of the LEDs controlled by the first controller. This was taken last night before I wired up the rest of the LEDs to the left in this picture. The garage door points out the right of the house in this picture and is where the power supply is.

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I’m not experienced in these things but I assumed you could just cut the +&- at some point and use another power supply, leaving the signal wire to run the logic but separate power circuits?