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Thread: 2016 - Mega Tree With Public Remote Control

  1. #1
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    Jan 2016
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    Default 2016 - Mega Tree With Public Remote Control

    Hello from CNY!

    Brand new to the hobby this year. I've enjoyed exploring all the forums here so I want to share my experience and project progress as I go in case it could prove to be helpful to anyone else. I have found all the information here really helpful (and overwhelming at times) But, I have discovered I love this stuff for some reason?

    I'm planning a Mega Tree for 2016 as my first project and then expanding in the future.

    I have almost everything planned and have ordered most of the stuff and took advantage of the various pre-sales that were around. I have received enough items to be able to play around and get familiar with everything. I think it's
    crazy that I've been thinking about Christmas lights for 2016 since January and my family thinks I'm crazy also.

    So, my plan is to build a 12 1/2ft tall 180 degree 16 pixel string mega tree that can be remotely controlled by the public using their smartphones (or other devices). I have recently completed the remote control system and it is working as well as I had hoped. Viewers will be able to pull up a website (geared for smartphones), enter in a "secret code" and click a song and it will play on the Mega Tree immediately. I don't have a high traffic neighborhood so I'm hoping that most of the visitors will be able to pull up and pick the song to play and get the cool immediate feedback. If there are others that have already picked a song then other visitors can still pick the songs and it get placed in a queue and will be played in turn. While no viewers have queued songs, the mega tree will just play the song list in random order.

    Pixel tree specifics:

    Electronics:
    Controller: E682 from Sandevices LLC

    Power Supply: 5v / 60 amps / 350 Watts from HolidayCoro

    Pixels: 18 WS2811 5v IP68 led pixel module 50 Count 18AWG from DIY LED Express (2016 Pre-Sale). Tree is 16 strips, bought 2 extra for testing/replacements.

    FM Transmitter:Signstek 0.5 W 05B Dual Mode Long Range Stereo Broadcast Home FM Transmitter with Antenna from Amazon.com

    Build:
    Enclosure: CableGuard CG-1500 from HolidayCoro

    Pixel Strips and MISR Clips: The ORIGINAL 12mm Pixel/RGB Mounting Strips and MISR Clips from boscoyostudio.com

    Pig Tails: 16 18 gauge 5 ft (2.5 + 2.5) pigtails with wrap kit from Holiday Coro

    Base/Pole: Portable Hole II (http://www.magicchristmasnews.org/portable hole ii.pdf) with 1" EMT to 3/4" EMT conduit pole

    Topper:16/32 Topper (for 3/4" EMT), Guy Wire Ring and Guy Wires from boscoyostudio.com

    Base: 1/2" EMT bent into 180 degree 1/2 circle

    Software:
    xLights/Nutcracker (customized) - Thank you Matt and Sean for making xLights/Nutcracker freely available! Truly amazing!

    Custom software for remote control system

    Sequences:
    holidaysequences.com

    Homemade (Eventually)

    Metrics:
    Tree Viewing Distance: Approximately 70 feet

    Vertical Pixel Spacing: 3"

    Height: 12 1/2 feet (The top of the tree will actually be about 15 feet from the ground. I will raise the base a few feet off the ground to keep the tree off the snow on the ground)

    Pixel strip spacing at base (6-8"...will decide what looks best when the time comes)



    The only things I have done so far is install the controller and power supply into the enclosure and hookup a test string. I have purchased a few sequences from holidaysequences.com so I was able to get up and running and play around
    and get familiar with the controller and xLights (as well as converting LOR sequences to xLights). This setup was enough to allow me to develop and test remote control feature.

    Enclosure, contoller and power supply along with the test string
    controller.jpg

    While waiting for pre-sale pixels to arrive something this spring I have spent the time developing the remote control for my lights.

    Remote control system:
    1. Added a simple queue system to xLights. During active schedule, xLights will poll a queue directory for xml files that contain name of song to play. When it finds a song it will stop what it's doing and play the requested song. If there is already a queued song playing it will wait for it to finish before playing the next when. When all queued songs are done xLights will resume the random playlist.

    2. Created a website front end for selecting of songs. When songs are selected, the website will send the information to device that is running xLights and put it in the queue directory that xLights polls.

    3. Added an updater to xLights that will send real time information to the website about what songs are in the queue and what song is currently playing.

    4. Added a "secret code" system that verifies a viewer's presence in front of my house
    - Each time a song is started xLights generates a random 3 digit number
    - xLights sends this 3 digit number to the website along with queue and now playing information
    - Website stores the code and sends it to an 8" wireless tablet displayed in a window.
    - A simple C++ program runs with a black background and bright yellow large font making the code clearly visible from the street. New codes are automatically received and updated on the display.
    - Before selecting a song, viewers enter the 3 digit code. If the code is correct the song will be allowed, otherwise they will be asked again

    A few pics of the tablet displaying codes:
    code1.jpg

    code2.jpg

    "Pixel Workstation" (even though I technically don't have any pixels yet ) :
    misc.jpg

    I will add a video as soon as I find the time of everything working together. It is pretty cool tapping a song on my phone and seeing it automatically play on the test string, I can't imagine what it will be like doing that when the entire tree is up.


    I have plenty more website work to complete and in the mean time I am collecting parts for the portable hole II that I will be building soon. Once I get the pixels it will take me some time to test them all, install the pigtails and add additional water proofing. Once all that is done I will be laying them out in my basement for a good sequence test!

    The one thing I currently don't have a plan for is how to get the base 2 feet of the ground? My base is going to be 1/2" EMT conduit with holes drilled in it to accept hooks that can be adjusted for strip tension. I want to figure out best plan for installing this base about two feet off the ground somehow. Any ideas??

    That's where I'm at right now. Thanks for looking
    Last edited by barlav; 03-10-2016 at 10:02 AM.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: 2016 - Mega Tree With Public Remote Control

    Welcome to DIY from up in the "Park" (about 45 miles from Lake Placid).
    Looks and sounds like you are well on the way so far. It is never ending as you get involved with things so good luck.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: 2016 - Mega Tree With Public Remote Control

    How are you going to waterproof that tablet?

  5. #4
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    Default Re: 2016 - Mega Tree With Public Remote Control

    The tablet will not be outside.

    Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk

  6. #5
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    Default Re: 2016 - Mega Tree With Public Remote Control

    Quote Originally Posted by EmmienLightFan View Post
    How are you going to waterproof that tablet?
    My guess is when he said it'll be in a window, he meant on the inside of the house.

    As for getting the base 2' off the ground see if you can get your hands on an empty wooden cable spool. Look up Xenia on here, I know he has his mega tree mounted on one.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: 2016 - Mega Tree With Public Remote Control

    Quote Originally Posted by didjareally View Post
    My guess is when he said it'll be in a window, he meant on the inside of the house.

    As for getting the base 2' off the ground see if you can get your hands on an empty wooden cable spool. Look up Xenia on here, I know he has his mega tree mounted on one.
    I missed that.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: 2016 - Mega Tree With Public Remote Control

    If you use two lengths of pixel strip for each run, you would have a little less than 16 feet which would give you 4 feet off the ground. Just use long tent or landscape stakes to hold each one. Also makes it easy to adjust tension.

    There were some comments that 3/4 inch emt did not hold up in the wind storms this year. Using the strips as additional guy writes would help with that. If you are not using them as guy wires, you might want to run a couple of additional guy wires on the emt. Maybe lower as that is where the bend happens.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: 2016 - Mega Tree With Public Remote Control

    Will you be sharing your xlights mods?

  10. #9
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    Default Re: 2016 - Mega Tree With Public Remote Control

    Interesting, I like the simplicity of using just the extra length of the strips. I may look into doing it that way.

    Yes I will share the mods.

    Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk

  11. #10
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    Default Re: 2016 - Mega Tree With Public Remote Control

    Here is the video I promised showing the remote control of the mega tree:

  12. Thanks lightsonmontague, ezellner thanked for this post
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