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Santacarl
05-20-2016, 05:17 PM
Hey All,

I am repurposing some LED mini lights that came off my leaping arches.....which I turned into pixel arches....

Anyhow.... I am planning on using tomato cages and wrap the LED mini strings around the tomato cages and I started to wonder if all that exposed metal on the tomato cages is going to be a problem with blowing fuses in wet weather. Lots of rain in my area during the season.

The LED mini's are all non replaceable types so there's not a lot of area where moisture can get in like there was in the old days of incad mini lights.

Does anyone have any thoughts or experience with such a setup? I'll likely convert to pixels at some point but the big expensed budget this year was for leapers...in the meantime I hope I'm not creating a nightmare by using these cages....

Do I need to put something under them that would insulate or interrupt the path to ground or can I just get away with sitting the bare metal cage on the ground?

Thanks for any discussion/thoughts.....

chadowamsley
05-20-2016, 06:12 PM
I had 15 of these at one point. I just zip tied the lights to the cage and placed on the ground. I live in Florida.

Santacarl
05-20-2016, 06:18 PM
I had 15 of these at one point. I just zip tied the lights to the cage and placed on the ground. I live in Florida.

Thanks for the feedback Chadowamsley...... We probably get about the same rainfall.... I couldn't help myself when I ended up with all those lights off the old leapers....Couldn't stand having lights that weren't being used... :razz:

Skunberg
05-20-2016, 06:39 PM
I don't recall anyone having fuse problems. Lots of people have had gfci problems. If you do have a gfci issue just throw a peice of plywood under each one to get the wire out of the ground.

jnealand
05-20-2016, 09:52 PM
I used metal floral wreath holders with incans wrapped around them and then upgraded to LEDs. Never had an issue with the metal stands, I even pushed them in the ground to keep them from blowing over.

algerdes
05-20-2016, 10:40 PM
I don't recall anyone having fuse problems. Lots of people have had gfci problems. If you do have a gfci issue just throw a peice of plywood under each one to get the wire out of the ground.

As said, no problems with blowing fuses, just tripping the GFCI. We are converting them all to pixels this year. Never have problems with pixels, dumb or smart.

Santacarl
05-20-2016, 10:53 PM
Thanks for all the comments.....Hmmmmm GCFI....all my stuff uses those..... I thought about the plywood idea and wondered if it would insulate enough....looks like it will....

Ruppro
05-20-2016, 11:21 PM
Don't know that it will help, as this is my first year, but I also am building Mini Trees, using Tomato Cages and Mini ican lights. In HD I found Rustoleum Undercoating (http://www.homedepot.com/s/rustoleum%2520undercoating?NCNI-5), Black Rubberized Undercoating Spray Paint that I am using to prevent GCFI/Fuse issues (I hope :unsure:). My only recommendation is to make sure you let it dry for several days before working w/ the cages, even after 1 day they were still a little tacky and my fingers got coated.

uncledan
05-21-2016, 12:54 AM
I've had a fair amount of issues with my mini trees with incans over the years. Gets pretty wet in California where I live. Bought new home in 2014 and I'm down from 70+ to 54 mini trees. They were made of 42" tomato cages wrapped in chicken wire with 300 white incan each Upgraded them in 2015 with 100 dumb RGB bullets each. Have 5400 pixels to retrofit from dumb RGB to Pixels this year. 2015 was pretty much 100% DC with no AC power in the yard except my tune to sign and static fence around perimeter of my yard. Not a single tripped GFI or any issue whatsoever once going DC. With cost of pixels so low these days makes no sense to do anything else for me.

Santacarl
05-21-2016, 01:40 PM
I've had a fair amount of issues with my mini trees with incans over the years. Gets pretty wet in California where I live. Bought new home in 2014 and I'm down from 70+ to 54 mini trees. They were made of 42" tomato cages wrapped in chicken wire with 300 white incan each Upgraded them in 2015 with 100 dumb RGB bullets each. Have 5400 pixels to retrofit from dumb RGB to Pixels this year. 2015 was pretty much 100% DC with no AC power in the yard except my tune to sign and static fence around perimeter of my yard. Not a single tripped GFI or any issue whatsoever once going DC. With cost of pixels so low these days makes no sense to do anything else for me.

Not surprised about the DC results. In my case...I have 56 strings of LED strings that I can't see throwing away and mini trees was about the only thing I could come up with to utilize them.... We'll see how it works I guess....

I do have a question though..... Did you try your mini trees without the chicken wire? Or, did you find that you needed it to make the trees more full/round? I am actually using 2 cages for each tree...I'm hoping that gives me enough of a rounded/full look......but I hadn't thought of the chicken wire so I'd be interested in hearing more....

Santacarl
05-21-2016, 01:45 PM
Don't know that it will help, as this is my first year, but I also am building Mini Trees, using Tomato Cages and Mini ican lights. In HD I found Rustoleum Undercoating (http://www.homedepot.com/s/rustoleum%2520undercoating?NCNI-5), Black Rubberized Undercoating Spray Paint that I am using to prevent GCFI/Fuse issues (I hope :unsure:). My only recommendation is to make sure you let it dry for several days before working w/ the cages, even after 1 day they were still a little tacky and my fingers got coated.

I thought about spraying the base with something like this.... But I wondered about coverage....just a tiny gap and the electrons could find their way to ground although I suppose it does eliminate the majority of surface area and thus lower the odds of a current path to ground.... Plus...I wondered about how much product I would use to cover those tiny wires on a cage......

masterful
05-21-2016, 04:14 PM
Hi there.
I use 20mm pvc pipe to make all my mini trees.
I can take them apart each year and store all the lights and pipe in 1 box.
Going to be making 8 more this year with dumb rgb strings I didn't use last year.
All dc 5v super bright 8mm leds.

algerdes
05-21-2016, 05:02 PM
It is the ability for stray "energy" to go to ground from the accumulated electrical signals on the tree. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters see it as what would normally be interpreted as someone taking a electrical hit and then it does its job. In many cases, if you remove the ability for it to get to ground (as in putting the tree on a piece of plywood or making your trees from non-conductive materials), then it won't trip. (Verified the hard way. :| )

The wonderful thing about the DC side is that the power supply is between the GFCI and the lights. Nothing is transfered from the lights to the GFCI. Also, the lower voltage makes it much safer for us working with the lights (again, verified the hard way. :| )

Edit... Written before the last two entries made it to me. Saying the same thing. :)

uncledan
05-21-2016, 07:47 PM
Not surprised about the DC results. In my case...I have 56 strings of LED strings that I can't see throwing away and mini trees was about the only thing I could come up with to utilize them.... We'll see how it works I guess....

I do have a question though..... Did you try your mini trees without the chicken wire? Or, did you find that you needed it to make the trees more full/round? I am actually using 2 cages for each tree...I'm hoping that gives me enough of a rounded/full look......but I hadn't thought of the chicken wire so I'd be interested in hearing more....

I wasn't happy with the results without chicken wire. Two cages was definitely better than one but the chicken wire made them much fuller and look more like a tree. Its all trial and error. Building 77 mini trees with chicken wire was a bloody mess for my hands...

chadowamsley
05-21-2016, 10:23 PM
I would use two cages instead of just one. I used one cage and i wasnt super happy with the triangular shape, but still worked for me a couple years. Using a second cage would have gave it a more round shape.

DanJ
05-21-2016, 10:37 PM
I have used tomato cage-based minitrees for three years (AC incans) and I have not experienced any shorting of wiring onto the cages. I have had some GFCI trips, but that was because I did not setup my AC outlet correctly--so it got water in it during a hard rain and the GFCI tripped... But no problems with those minitrees, at least not with AC incans....

uncledan
05-22-2016, 02:11 AM
I would use two cages instead of just one. I used one cage and i wasnt super happy with the triangular shape, but still worked for me a couple years. Using a second cage would have gave it a more round shape.
Two is definitely better than one. One gives a triangular shape as you mentioned. Installing lights with chicken wire makes things much easier when affixing lights on tree and gives a round shape to the tree. I found the easiest and best route was one tomato cage wrapped with chicken wire myself. Making them the first time is a bloody pain but they've been working great for close to ten years for me. Now time to strip the 5400 dumb rgb off and get the new 5400 bullet pixels on....

DanJ
05-22-2016, 11:13 AM
Oh and by the way I am in Louisiana and sometimes we get really torrential downpours!! I have only had the one problem and it was "on me"---not a problem with the trees so to speak... I bought some receptacles after Christmas last year and I will get all my plugs up in the air--last year I had some down lower than they should have been and when one minitree would turn on the GFCI would trip!! So it is actually an easy fix...

Santacarl
05-22-2016, 12:25 PM
I would use two cages instead of just one. I used one cage and i wasnt super happy with the triangular shape, but still worked for me a couple years. Using a second cage would have gave it a more round shape.

Now I'm rethinking the chicken wire....I haven't started wiring them yet and so far just have the cages done...had to fix the top so it looked symmetrical with the rest of the tree....

Maybe I'll try to find a small roll of chicken wire and experiment a bit.

Santacarl
05-22-2016, 12:26 PM
Oh and by the way I am in Louisiana and sometimes we get really torrential downpours!!

Ahhh....so you get the downpours right before I do in MS.....Wish you guys would quit sending us 'them clouds'.....LOL

Santacarl
05-22-2016, 12:36 PM
It is the ability for stray "energy" to go to ground from the accumulated electrical signals on the tree. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters see it as what would normally be interpreted as someone taking a electrical hit and then it does its job. In many cases, if you remove the ability for it to get to ground (as in putting the tree on a piece of plywood or making your trees from non-conductive materials), then it won't trip. (Verified the hard way. :| )


Hmmm, hadn't thought of that.... So in essence anyone walking up and touching a tree would become the path to ground....OUCHIE....

I have something like 25 wireframes that I've been using for 7 years....never had a GFCI trip....but all those wireframes (built them myself) are painted and the lights are in plastic clips and don't come into contact with the wireframe....so I don't know if it's the paint or clips or a combination or that I just haven't had any stray electrons floating around on them.....

My concern was that these mini trees are unpainted and use no light clips..... I thought about painting the tomato cages but that would be a nightmare....

jnealand
05-22-2016, 01:05 PM
Carl, just make one and put it out in the yard. You have plenty of time to see if the look and feel meets your expectations. Plus you can turn it on when a storm hits and see if it fails.

Santacarl
05-22-2016, 01:43 PM
Carl, just make one and put it out in the yard. You have plenty of time to see if the look and feel meets your expectations. Plus you can turn it on when a storm hits and see if it fails.

Jim....we think alike....only maybe I'm a bit slower! :biggrin:

Skunberg
05-22-2016, 01:57 PM
I think the wiki shows how to cut the middle ring and have them straight.

algerdes
05-22-2016, 03:58 PM
Hmmm, hadn't thought of that.... So in essence anyone walking up and touching a tree would become the path to ground....OUCHIE....

I agree. That "someone" might (and most likely will be) ME. (People are kept away from the setup and we shut down power [timer] after hours.)


.... I just haven't had any stray electrons floating around on them.....

We didn't notice anything either for the first several years. Then we became "cautious" and added the GFCI protection. Most of the time, all is well. A good rainstorm, or sometimes just a sprinkle, and "SNAP". Out goes the power feed to the LED props. Don't get me wrong, we appreciate the GFCI doing its job. Just something about the mini-trees, made out of 3/16" metal rod, wrapped in LED strings, and stuck into the ground to hold them during the winds. They are all fed from Renard SS24s. Some I made, some were purchased "ready to go".


My concern was that these mini trees are unpainted and use no light clips..... I thought about painting the tomato cages but that would be a nightmare....

I wonder if that would help or not. How about wrapping them in plastic chicken wire?

Santacarl
05-22-2016, 06:01 PM
I wonder if that would help or not. How about wrapping them in plastic chicken wire?

Yeah....I thought about that..... Lowes has some but it's pretty expensive stuff...considering. Something like $20 for a 25' roll whereas galvanized wire is like $9 for 50'........let's see 18 trees....42" tall.....14" at the base.....So I figure I might be able to get 4 trees per roll using that Hdpe stuff....if I'm lucky......

I was toying with another idea.... I have some old plastic light stakes.... They have a round loop at the top where you could clip onto the bottom of the tree....use 4 of them and then push them into the ground....I think, since the cages are clipped to the plastic the clips will serve to keep the wind from blowing the trees over....but that takes me back to insulator issue.....somebody (ME) touching and becoming the ground rod..... But I figure the only time it would be a problem would be in saturated situations where there is water still on the trees or puddling on the ground....but that might be manageable....I could even unplug the trees on nights like that....if necessary.

I think I might take Jim's suggestion and set one up and do some testing in wet conditions......Of course just because a test tree doesn't trip the GFCI doesn't mean that 1 of the other 17 won't.....

algerdes
05-22-2016, 06:14 PM
Please, keep us informed as to your findings. We are currently converting all our LED/120 volt to Pixels (dumb and smart, 12 volt DC) - but there is always the fact that everything in this hobby/passion is fluid.

Santacarl
05-22-2016, 09:41 PM
Please, keep us informed as to your findings. We are currently converting all our LED/120 volt to Pixels (dumb and smart, 12 volt DC) - but there is always the fact that everything in this hobby/passion is fluid.

Will do.... I'll probably convert them to pixels at some point when they start to give me trouble but until then I'll add new pixel components with my meager budget.... I made a major purchase (56 of the 100 count LED stringers) a few years back and it wasn't cheap....so I'm holding my breath to try to get my money's worth out of them....Everything else is already converted to pixels....even the leapers that these stringers came off of are now pixels.....I HAD to find a use for them.... :biggrin:

I still have a lot of wireframes that use LED minis....so I'll be in the 110v business for a while....and won't ever be all pixels....it took a lot of time to build all those wireframes and they've become tradition....

jnealand
05-23-2016, 11:00 AM
Try putting your LEDs up for sale, you might be surprised at how much you can get for them. I have sold most of my LEDs and used the money to buy more pixels. Just thinking of the difference between what you paid and what you can get as a rental charge for the time that you used them. Worked for me.

chadowamsley
05-23-2016, 11:46 AM
Jim has a point. This past year i sold all the leds i used on my house, 4 colors, and was able to purchase pixels to replace them in the presales.

beeiilll
05-23-2016, 11:52 AM
I use 42" mini tree frames from Christmas-LEDs.com (http://www.christmas-leds.com/productinfo_v3.aspx?productid=MNTREES). They are very strong nice frames and are powder coated so no leakage to ground problems. I did modify the frames and added 24" - 1/4" cold rolled legs onto them as I easily get 2 feet of snow up here in upstate NY.:shock:

The frames are 2 piece and assemble with 4 bolts so easily disassembled for storage if necessary. I painted the extensions on mine with Rustoleum Forest Green paint to match the powder coat.
I keep them assembled myself and used green garland wrapped around them and then 4 strings of 140 LEDs each (R,G,W,B) around them with garland and LEDs tie-wrapped onto the frame. I soldered and heat shrinked 25 foot extensions onto each LED string so I can place them around easily without extra cords or electrical connections from the controllers.
The darn things will outlive me no doubt :wow:!

I have 10 completed ones and 6 more of the frames that I will probably do with pixels now instead of LEDs but I just can't bring myself to tearing the completed ones apart yet as they are beautiful and everyone comments on them during the display season. I guess once the LEDs start failing I will consider replacing them with pixels but for now they are super.

Yes it was costly to build them in the beginning but they have been running since 2008 without any failures and still look great. I do tend to spend extra on things but it is nice to be able to get them out and place them and they work every year so far. I do use GFCI receptacles for power and have never had a trip yet in all the years no matter how much rain, wind, or snow they get on them.

jimboha
05-23-2016, 02:08 PM
Of course just because a test tree doesn't trip the GFCI doesn't mean that 1 of the other 17 won't.....
Or that the combination of 18 wouldn't leak enough to trip the GCFI.

I use tomato cages (sometimes doubled, sometimes I add a 14ga stringer or two to keep them fuller). They are wrapped with incans which are zip-tied to the wire cage. I wrap the bottom rings of the cages (that contact the ground) with some black water heater pipe insulation foam (only $1.35 for 6' length - I get 1.5 trees per piece). I also stake them down but I use PLASTIC tent stakes and plastic cable ties to connect stake and tree base.

I did have some GFCI issues last year when it rained heavily, but I was able establish that it was NOT due to any of the mini-trees. (I think it was from some long extension cords that ended up under leaves next to the fence.)

Jimboha

jnealand
05-23-2016, 09:14 PM
In my experience incans have way, way more tendency to cause a gfci trip than LEDs. I do not remember ever getting a trip after the last of the incans went bye bye. And most (99%) of mine went away after I got rid of the lawn lights. Of course like Bill I used a powder coated frame - floral easels, but I cannot say that helped or not.

Santacarl
05-24-2016, 05:44 PM
Try putting your LEDs up for sale, you might be surprised at how much you can get for them. I have sold most of my LEDs and used the money to buy more pixels. Just thinking of the difference between what you paid and what you can get as a rental charge for the time that you used them. Worked for me.

Yeah....I thought about that....But I figured I would still need to kick in some $ to make up the difference plus I would need another pixel controller so I decided to wait a year since I busted the budget for this year already....LOL...

Santacarl
05-24-2016, 05:49 PM
I use tomato cages (sometimes doubled, sometimes I add a 14ga stringer or two to keep them fuller)..........I wrap the bottom rings of the cages (that contact the ground) with some black water heater pipe insulation foam (only $1.35 for 6' length - I get 1.5 trees per piece). I also stake them down but I use PLASTIC tent stakes and plastic cable ties to connect stake and tree base.



Jim....

Foam.....hadn't though of that..... do you have a link to a picture of what you use? Or maybe a picture of the base of one of your wrapped trees? I like copying what works! :razz:

jimboha
05-25-2016, 12:22 AM
Jim....

Foam.....hadn't though of that..... do you have a link to a picture of what you use? Or maybe a picture of the base of one of your wrapped trees? I like copying what works! :razz:

Wasn't my original idea, but it seems to work. This (http://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-1-2-in-x-6-ft-Foam-Pipe-Insulation-ORP05812/204760811?fbtLinkClicked=1464149669202|204760801)i s what I use.

You have to consider where you want the 'seam'. Last year I put them all on the outside edge. Note that the foam has a score so you can split it open for installation. This leaves a slit afterwards. This year I put them on top so I didn't have to cut reliefs for all 6 of the tomato cage legs (nested cages). And I put some electrical tape on the top seam - maybe this arrangement is not the best.

32641

Jimboha

Santacarl
05-25-2016, 01:10 PM
Wasn't my original idea, but it seems to work. This (http://www.homedepot.com/p/Everbilt-1-2-in-x-6-ft-Foam-Pipe-Insulation-ORP05812/204760811?fbtLinkClicked=1464149669202|204760801)i s what I use.

You have to consider where you want the 'seam'. Last year I put them all on the outside edge. Note that the foam has a score so you can split it open for installation. This leaves a slit afterwards. This year I put them on top so I didn't have to cut reliefs for all 6 of the tomato cage legs (nested cages). And I put some electrical tape on the top seam - maybe this arrangement is not the best.

32641

Jimboha

Thanks Jim,

I thought maybe those were what you were talking about.... Do you you 4 tent stakes per tree?

jimboha
05-26-2016, 05:51 AM
I thought maybe those were what you were talking about.... Do you you 4 tent stakes per tree?

(I tried to reply earlier but somehow it disappeared.)

No, I used 2 per tree. I only had one fall over in a stiff wind, but it was on a slight slope, and the weld joint on the base ring broke.
I might use three on such a situation, but I find that the 9" yellow plastic tent stakes hold really well in grass/dirt.

Jimboha

mikeh65
05-26-2016, 10:22 AM
I still use 15 trees in my display, all of them 4 color LED, driven but a Ren64 controller and SSR Pods. My Trees are anchored to the ground using hooks made out of the left over wire and cut up tomato cages. I have never blown a fuse on any of my trees. The only thing I will see, is on very wet nights, rain or snow, some of the strings will "glow". They run on the very little power that is left in the SSR because they never truly turn off. Let me also say, I have four of my "Not So Mini Trees" that I built, they are constructed like a mini tree but are 6' tall. They also do the same in very wet weather. I may try Jim's idea this to see if that makes a difference. But, to restate the answer to your original question, no, I have never blown a fuse.

Santacarl
05-26-2016, 10:52 AM
My Trees are anchored to the ground using hooks made out of the left over wire and cut up tomato cages. The only thing I will see, is on very wet nights, rain or snow, some of the strings will "glow". They run on the very little power that is left in the SSR because they never truly turn off

Hey Mike,

I've had 'glowers' in the past on some of my Renard based LEDs..... I solved them by using a 'scrubber'..... I took an old plug...soldered a resistor between the 2 wires and plugged it into the 'glower'....and it bleeds off that small voltage problem REALLY well.... I just bugged me to see those things glowing eerily in the dark....One was on a wireframe snowman.....his mouth would just glow in the dark....nothing else....just the mouth.....really strange looking ..... LOL....

Santacarl
05-26-2016, 10:58 AM
(I tried to reply earlier but somehow it disappeared.)

No, I used 2 per tree. I only had one fall over in a stiff wind, but it was on a slight slope, and the weld joint on the base ring broke.
I might use three on such a situation, but I find that the 9" yellow plastic tent stakes hold really well in grass/dirt.

Jimboha

Thanks Jim....

I use some of those 9" spikes with my leapers to attach wires to allow me to keep them aligned.... I'll pick up some for tree stakes on my next Lowes run....Thanks for sharing your method....

beeiilll
05-26-2016, 02:06 PM
I would like to ask those of you who have pixels on your mini trees a question on quantity used.
I wonder how many pixels look good on say a 42" - 360 degree mini tree! I was thinking about using 100 when I start making them but would 150 be better or not?

jimboha
05-26-2016, 02:59 PM
Do you mean a 'snubber'?

Skunberg
05-26-2016, 03:00 PM
Do you mean a 'snubber'?
There is a good write up in the wiki on snubbers.

Skunberg
05-26-2016, 03:09 PM
I would like to ask those of you who have pixels on your mini trees a question on quantity used.
I wonder how many pixels look good on say a 42" - 360 degree mini tree! I was thinking about using 100 when I start making them but would 150 be better or not?
I use 48. I got James medium 360 coro mini trees. Left the bottom two rows empty for snow fall and I think it was 4 columns in the back empty. So 270 degrees or something like that. I think they are about 36 inch tall.

Santacarl
05-26-2016, 06:41 PM
Do you mean a 'snubber'?

LOL....yeah what you said! Don't know where I conjured up that term..... My 64k memory does a memory dump when new technology pops up and the old stuff goes to the recycle bin....

Santacarl
05-26-2016, 06:44 PM
I use 48. I got James medium 360 coro mini trees. Left the bottom two rows empty for snow fall and I think it was 4 columns in the back empty. So 270 degrees or something like that. I think they are about 36 inch tall.

Are those pixel trees? Do they 'pop' like a wrapped tree.... I sort of like the look of those and haven't seen a coro tree.....Is it full or does it trend more to the Charlie brown side...? LOL

Skunberg
05-26-2016, 06:49 PM
With so few pixels you would think it would look sparse. But it looks good.

Santacarl
05-26-2016, 06:52 PM
I would like to ask those of you who have pixels on your mini trees a question on quantity used.
I wonder how many pixels look good on say a 42" - 360 degree mini tree! I was thinking about using 100 when I start making them but would 150 be better or not?

Well....I would imagine that 360 degrees for a pixel mini tree might be overkill since so many of the pixels would be on the back side....unless you like the 'glow' that you get when looking from the rear...or unless you have people viewing from multiple angles.... I did my pixel mega tree in 210 degrees....just enough so that you can see scrolling disappear around the back side.... Since the back is open I've stood back there and observed the 'rear glow' of my pixels.... I suppose if you were just looking for a fill color to bleed through that would be okay....and it would give it a fuller look when combined with the forward facing ones....but any patterns will also be influenced by what's on the back side.....I think, at least on my MT, that would be too distracting......

Plus.....you can save a chunk of change if you are building a lot of them.....

beeiilll
05-26-2016, 07:47 PM
Well....I would imagine that 360 degrees for a pixel mini tree might be overkill since so many of the pixels would be on the back side....unless you like the 'glow' that you get when looking from the rear...or unless you have people viewing from multiple angles.... I did my pixel mega tree in 210 degrees....just enough so that you can see scrolling disappear around the back side.... Since the back is open I've stood back there and observed the 'rear glow' of my pixels.... I suppose if you were just looking for a fill color to bleed through that would be okay....and it would give it a fuller look when combined with the forward facing ones....but any patterns will also be influenced by what's on the back side.....I think, at least on my MT, that would be too distracting......

Plus.....you can save a chunk of change if you are building a lot of them.....

I will make a large pixel tree eventually I hope and that will probably be 270 degree as my yard allows wide angle viewing and a 180 degree would look flat.

The mini trees are a frame that I already have. I have 6 frames and enough garland to cover them so would probably use pixels all the way around unless maybe just go 270 degrees and then zig-zag back with them. I have 10 trees that have garland and leds on them already so I will be converting them over to pixels over the coming years. I am very happy with the 360 degree on the leds and people like them as well. The back glow from them is very nice on the snow as well since I live in upstate NY and we almost always have snow for the Christmas season. That is why I was thinking of going 260 degree with the pixels but may just have to build up one with 360 degree pixels and one with 270 degree and see how they look compared to each other! I have not thought about patterns on the mini trees but that does give me something to think about as I will have 16 total of them eventually I suppose it could make a pretty impressive line of them and scroll things across them.
The pixels on the backside or about 90 degrees that are not really visable would be for back lighting or fill in lighting against the snow so there could be less of them in that section of the tree I guess. I have to start thinking in term of pixels and not leds I guess for them!

These are the trees that I will be converting over to pixels.

I will also probably be using something like an ESPixelStick and power supply in each tree to make them independent of cabling other than a power feed to each one although that is not something that is firm yet to me. I like the idea of each one being flexible enough to just stick out there when I do redesigns on the display.

uncledan
05-27-2016, 01:58 AM
I would like to ask those of you who have pixels on your mini trees a question on quantity used.
I wonder how many pixels look good on say a 42" - 360 degree mini tree! I was thinking about using 100 when I start making them but would 150 be better or not?

I don't have pixels on them yet but my 54 mini trees are here waiting for me to strip the 100 dumb rgb off and install pixels which are here waiting... My trees last year had 100 dumb rgb which is a little thin. With 54 mini trees I really don't want to mess with power injection on top and bottom of each tree.. 150 nodes would look much better in my opinion but I can live with 100. If I didn't have so many trees it would definitely be more than 100. I used 42" tomato cages with 100 dumb rgb each with 3" spacing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOprGklzGFg

mikeh65
05-27-2016, 10:53 AM
Hey Mike,

I've had 'glowers' in the past on some of my Renard based LEDs..... I solved them by using a 'scrubber'..... I took an old plug...soldered a resistor between the 2 wires and plugged it into the 'glower'....and it bleeds off that small voltage problem REALLY well.... I just bugged me to see those things glowing eerily in the dark....One was on a wireframe snowman.....his mouth would just glow in the dark....nothing else....just the mouth.....really strange looking ..... LOL....

Where do you plug a snubber in? Seems to me that if you put it on the string you will blow the resistor as soon as the string goes on.

jnealand
05-27-2016, 11:56 AM
Where do you plug a snubber in? Seems to me that if you put it on the string you will blow the resistor as soon as the string goes on.

Snubbers work great on AC light. I just plug them into the end of the string. Besides stopping the low power glow when the lights are supposed to be off, they seem to give much smoother dimming.

Santacarl
05-27-2016, 02:27 PM
Where do you plug a snubber in? Seems to me that if you put it on the string you will blow the resistor as soon as the string goes on.

It doesn't matter which end you plug it in to.....Either end is a basically a parallel circuit so either end bridges (parallels) the 2 AC lines..... either way the resistor bleeds of the excess/stray low voltage and the resistance is high enough that it doesn't generate much heat when the full load is across it.....

jimboha
05-27-2016, 02:41 PM
Where do you plug a snubber in? Seems to me that if you put it on the string you will blow the resistor as soon as the string goes on.

In parallel with the string. It basically goes across the two wires on the power cord - though there are los of ways to actually do it. I put mine directly in the SSR box, right where the power pigtail wires attach to the terminal blocks on the SSR board.

And, yes and no, you can blow it unless you size the resistor appropriately - both resistance and wattage. It does, however, slightly increase your electricity usage.

You should use a resistor around 50K (mine are 47K). You can use a lower value (perhaps half that) or higher (not sure how much higher) - the exact value doesn't matter.

120v / 47K = ~2.5mA (2.5 milliamps). So power dissipated (as 'waste' heat) Vi = (i^2 ) * R = ~0.3W so use a half watt - or better yet a one watt - resistor. If your resistance is too low, or the power rating too low for the resistance, you WILL see sparks! And you'll increase your power usage by 0.3W per string - likely not an issue.


As Skunberg pointed out:

There is a good write up in the wiki on snubbers.
So search for 'snubber'. There are some other posts - you just have to look for them.

Some of those posts also discuss different ways to actually connect/use them. Some are easier/better than others. One of the slicker ideas is to actually put it inside a (male) plug assembly - then you just add that plug to the END of the string with issue.

Jimboha