View Full Version : Starting off Next years plans early - Questions from a Newbie

01-05-2015, 07:15 PM
So I decided to get into animating my Christmas display for 2015, and since I already have several Raspberry Pi's, I have decided to go down the route of using them as the "Show Computer" I will be using a Renard Plus 32 (for my existing Incandesent lights), and if budget permits some E1.31 pixel Arches using a e1.31 bridge and pixel extenders. I already have FPP installed on my RPI, and have an RS-485 USB adapter for it for the Renard Plus 32.

My question comes down to the sequence software. What do you guys recommend for me to use. Vixen looks like the preferred choice, but as I understand it I can only go up to version 2.x. I'd rather not spend a large amount of time learning a software package that I know is aging, if their is a better option out their.

Also, I am missing something from my list of items I need to get a show up and running:
Raspberry Pi B+
USB Wifi adapter
USB Memory Stick
USB to RS-485 adapter
7 Port USB powered Hub (12 power supply so it can be powered directly from the 12V power supply for the other boards/lights) (RPI will be powered from this and connected to it on the USB bus)
FM Transmitter
Waterproof Enclosure
12v 350W Power supply
Renard Plus 32 controller (with ACSSR's) and waterproof enclosures

Plenty of Cat5 cables and Extention cords

Future Expansion:
DIYLEDExpress E1.31 bridge and Pixel Extenders (with waterproof enclosures)
2811 12V Pixel string Arches
3 Wire Waterproof connectors
More Cat5 Cables

And my last question is, are their any other users in the DFW area that I can talk shop with locally?

Thanks to everyone, and I look forward to showing off my setup in 2015.


01-05-2015, 11:10 PM
I don't run pixels so I am not much help, but there are lots of helpful people here. Oh yeah, your header is wrong, you are NOT starting early, your timing is spot on.

01-11-2015, 12:40 PM
I have a hybrid display......11 Renard 24's and >4000 pixels (increasing soon) where I use SanDevices E682's for control.

When I started adding pixels I too was not wanting to start 'pixelating' with an "aging" software. I had used Vixen 2.x prior to starting on the pixel trip so I wanted to move to something more pixel friendly. When I started Vixen 3 was having some growing pains and I didn't have the luxury of waiting until it was 'debugged' due to the fact that I needed to get started converting all my old sequences.....

So, after looking around and kicking the tires on all the sequencer options, I settled on HLS. It allows both pixels and dumb strings (incads and LED.) There is a learning curve with HLS however....it uses a different approach in that there are a lot of 'decision points' in the setup of all the options (preview model as a primary example). However, any 'pain' experienced in the learning curve is offset by the control it gives you. So if you're looking for a '1 button' sequencer it's not the right selection as you have to go though multiple key strokes to get things set up and working the way you want. The result, once you're through, though is outstanding IMO as you have soooooo many options to control the design of and the running of your show.

I use Nutcracker to generate effects and then import them into an HLS sequence.....It works really well. The only downside there is that you have to use multiple programs to complete a sequence.....but after a while you get so good at going between the programs that it's more like just switching from 1 mode to another.....click, click....BAM.

If I were only doing pixels I'd just use XL/NC.....but since I have a large collection of wireframes that use single strings of LEDs I need something that will allow me to keep those AND add new pixel segments to my display.....

I haven't checked out Vixen 3 since the new and improved versions hit the street as I was already committed and didn't want to even THINK about switching and starting over again...... This is 1 of those decisions that you need to make REAL sure of before you take a fork in the sequencer road because it's not something you can easily undo once you start.

I use XL/NC to convert the HLS sequence into an .fseq file for the Pi player....which is more keystrokes to do another conversion. It takes a bit of time but it works well once you get into the routine of it.

If you decide to 'kick the tires' on HLS and need some help getting started....drop me a PM....I learned almost as much of what NOT to do as what TO do as I began with HLS.... :happycrying:

01-11-2015, 02:01 PM
... and if budget permits some E1.31 pixel Arches using a e1.31 bridge and pixel extenders. ...


Welcome to our madness.

Budget is a big issue for most of us and I can certainly appreciate adding or subtracting props/elements because of it.

When I decided to take the pixel plunge in 2013, I was extremely budget conscious and was quite concerned about having to spend ~$100 for a pixel controller.

That's when I found the Komby (http://www.komby.com/) system. At that time, the buy-in was about $40 to run as many as 170 pixels (510 channels). The price has gone up (where hasn't it?) but still, you'd be in for maybe ~$50 or ~$60. And, you get wireless thrown in for free.

Best of luck with your 2015 show.


01-12-2015, 03:38 PM
Thanks everyone for the feedback. @santacarl, I will give HLS a few kicks and when I have some questions, I'll drop you a line. I don't mind having to jump through a couple of hoops to make something work, as long as it works in the end.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

01-29-2015, 07:31 PM
This is going to be my first year and I probably have been going a bit overboard just getting started but I will be running 4 x Renard 24SS's via an E1.31 Bridge and so far 1 x Sandevices e682. I will be getting another pixel controller but unsure if I want to go with another e682 or check out the new Alphapix 16 from HolidayCoro as it sounds like a pretty nice card and the pre-sale price is good.

I went with Vixen 3 and have had great luck with it. I already have 4 of my songs sequenced in it and have tested with some of my pixels and lights to make sure everything is working as expected but I don't have everything setup for next Dec. I also have to wait until May to get the pixels I ordered in the Pre-Sale. I would say to check out Vixen 3 and see what you think. I found I was able to do everything I wanted fairly easily and when I had a question the support here has been excellent. It is all about how you group things together and run the effects on the groups. Very cool stuff.

Best of luck on your display!!