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Thread: Creating a standard RGB light string

  1. #1
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    Default Creating a standard RGB light string

    I am new to this forum and have only been doing synchronized light shows for 2 years so there is much I do not know. I have developed some software for the Light-O-Rama Cosmic Color Ribbon that allows creation of light shows such as the following:

    http://www.vimeo.com/14428696

    http://www.vimeo.com/13741461

    For further information on the software you can visit www.superstarlights.com
    All my RGB experience so far has been with the Light-O-Rama Cosmic Color Ribbon. The Light-O-Rama Cosmic Color Ribbon is an amazing device but has the following shortcomings:

    1) Price is $250 for 50 pixels
    2) Fragile, hard to mount
    3) If one LED fails, must replace the whole ribbon
    4) One controller controls only one string

    I would like to promote the creation of a standard RGB string of lights that would be versatile, reliable, and reasonably priced. The ideal string would be:

    1) Price of $100 for at least 32 pixels
    2) Constructed more like a string of lights, not a ribbon
    3) If one LED fails, should be able to replace the light
    4) Be able to buy a controller that controls more than one string

    I am mostly a software guy. I have some experience with hardware but not nearly to the level of what I have read on this forum. Amongst the guys on this forum there exists the technical expertise to create the RGB light string standard.

    What would be your approach to the "Standard RGB Light string"
    Last edited by Brian Bruderer; 08-26-2010 at 09:35 AM. Reason: Added more background information

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Creating a standard RGB light string

    What about something like this?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Creating a standard RGB light string

    There are already a few efforts like this, in various stages of completion. None is particularly "standard" because control mechanisms are evolving so rapidly.

    Right now the best cost effectiveness seems to be Chinese WS2801-based light strands. A ruggedized version that (I believe) has paid the appropriate patent license fees was linked above (mrpackethead + JEC's pixel effort). Nodes are not replaceable. (Replaceable nodes tends to result in corrosion issues or a SIGNIFICANT cost increase for waterproof connectors per node.)

    A less ruggedized variant of JEC/MPH's strands can be found at aliexpress for on the order of 50-60 cents/node - However, strands of this design are known to have failed informal environmental testing. (Read, MPH's megatree failed multiple times last season and used a strand design similar to the aliexpress strands, resulting in MPH/JEC doing a lot of ruggedization work.) Also, these strands can potentially get blackholed in customs due to patent issues.

    I did some work in an Atmel AVR-based single-node controller at http://doityourselfchristmas.com/for...ad.php?t=10157 - This project has been on hold for months for multiple reasons. I may resume it at some point, probably not until next season. (I haven't done anything Christmas-related in nearly two months now, and at this point I know I won't be purchasing a house in time for a 2010 show - too many things came up this summer.)

    A few people (Aussiephil, Fathead45) have been working on a "middle ground" approach that instead of controlling each light individually, controls short segments of lights (6-7) individually. This saves a lot on controller costs.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Creating a standard RGB light string

    As has already been pointed out there is already options out there at price points way cheaper than $3 a node that meet all criteria but replacement.... for LED stuff this is not really an issue and the nodes need to be fully sealed so not easy to acheive.

    Many people have already brought in both 6803 and 2801 pixel strings to the US but your own milage can vary as Entropy has pointed out, for non commercial private use one would think that some level of common sense would prevail.

    You could of course buy the 2801 IC and have little pcbs made and make your own strings, a couple of people on my forum are already doing that.

    As for controllers, Response Box has already been linked by Tim, I have an alternative http://forums.auschristmaslighting.c...pic,231.0.html that can drive multiple strings even of different types.

    Tim correct me if i'm wrong but you also have a solution i think..

    So Brian,
    The standard has already been set in many ways.
    Use one of the already available driver IC's like the WS2801/3005/SD600/SD800, they have their own SPI protocols and combine it with one of the already available controllers or design another one.

    Cheers
    Aussiephil
    2012:
    Software: LightFactory Personal
    Hardware: J1Sys Pixel controllers . [url]Http://www.j1sys.com[/url]
    Lights: 6000+ Pixels and 20k+ LEDs
    Channels: around 20,000 channels

    You know where to find me....

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Creating a standard RGB light string

    Quote Originally Posted by TimW View Post
    What about something like this?
    Wow, this is what I was looking for. I like it. Thanks for the reference. I am considering buying some.

    -Brian Bruderer

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Creating a standard RGB light string

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Bruderer View Post
    Wow, this is what I was looking for. I like it. Thanks for the reference. I am considering buying some.

    -Brian Bruderer
    will be very happy to help you. :-)
    [B][FONT=Arial]stell[COLOR="#FF0000"]a[/COLOR][COLOR="#008000"]s[/COLOR][COLOR="#0000CD"]c[/COLOR]apes[/FONT][/B] - LED lighting solutions for the Prosumer, Commercial and Entertainment Industries.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Creating a standard RGB light string

    I would really love to be able to purchase some Cosmic Color Ribbons, but they are just price prohibitive. I gave up my career to care fulltime fo rmy disabled sister, so everything I do is on a major budget!

    To further complicate things, when people talk with all this electronics jargon, my brain just shuts down! LOL

    But I'm pretty good at figuring things out.

    I'm just wondering...the LED strip part of the CCR seems to be the expensive part. I've seen RGB LED strips on ebay for very cheap (mostly coming from Asia.) Is there something special about the LOR strip that prevents swapping out one of these cheaper strips from Asia or do they all work the same? It appears to this layman that most of the control is in the CCR controller...but I could be wrong.

    I appreciate the advice!
    Eric

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    Default Re: Creating a standard RGB light string

    Quote Originally Posted by july1962 View Post
    I would really love to be able to purchase some Cosmic Color Ribbons, but they are just price prohibitive. I gave up my career to care fulltime fo rmy disabled sister, so everything I do is on a major budget!

    To further complicate things, when people talk with all this electronics jargon, my brain just shuts down! LOL

    But I'm pretty good at figuring things out.

    I'm just wondering...the LED strip part of the CCR seems to be the expensive part. I've seen RGB LED strips on ebay for very cheap (mostly coming from Asia.) Is there something special about the LOR strip that prevents swapping out one of these cheaper strips from Asia or do they all work the same? It appears to this layman that most of the control is in the CCR controller...but I could be wrong.

    I appreciate the advice!
    Eric

    There are TWO different types of RGB strip.

    Type One:
    Intelligent, Smart, IC, Pixel, Smart etc.
    These strips have a tiny chip every few LED's that controls each section of LED's. They're usually wired with 3 LED's per Pixel (individually controllable segment).
    These strips need a Pixel type controller capable of outputting the data in the proper format for either the WS2801, LPD6803, TM180X, etc.

    Type Two:
    Dumb, Stupid, 3 Channel, etc.
    These strips don't have any IC's and all the LED's are controlled by one source.
    These strips need a DC controller capable of 3 channels that can handle the current of the entire strip.

    The CCR is the first type, and it needs to be replaced by something that is of the first type, and that speaks the same language. There are assumptions that it is a LPD6803 chip, but it isn't confirmed yet.

    Josh
    Check out what the [URL="http://www.extremelightingproducts.com/shop"]Extreme Lighting Products Shop[/URL] is selling!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Creating a standard RGB light string

    Ah ok. So has no one done this yet? Swapped out a different strip and used the LOR controller?

    Another guy wrote me offline and said:

    "You can buy the pixel strips from Ray Wu on Alibaba. What you want are pixel strips that use the 6803 controller chip. Unfortunately LOR is a proprietary protocol. They have talked about adding E1.31 capability to there software, in which case you could use other pixel controllers."

    I assume that would be this....without the controller: http://www.aliexpress.com/fm-store/7...12V-input.html

    At least it would save about $70 per strip.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Creating a standard RGB light string

    I always wondered why we went straight from single color LEDs to individually addressable pixels. I would LOVE to have RGB strings..just 70 ct strings that I can then control on my own.
    WLC Ventures is now [URL="http://radiant-holidays.com"]Radiant Holidays![/URL]

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