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Thread: Which controller? Falcon F16v2 seems like overkill...

  1. #11
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    Default Re: Which controller? Falcon F16v2 seems like overkill...

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfie View Post
    I am not going to talk you out of anything. You have to make a decision based on your own needs and future plans. We can help in the decision process, but ultimately, its gotta be your call.

    1. Yes you can start off with a small controller. Lots do. I did. I started off with a couple little 12 port J1Sys P12 controllers last year. It took a WHOLE controller just for my mega tree. Yep. All 12 ports!. But yes, it can be done on a small controller. Advantage: Lower initial cost, usually physically smaller, cheaper so deploying multiple units more practical fewer single points of failure. Disadvantage: Usually smaller number of ports, fewer pixels controlled, limited capabilities, need to purchase additional controllers as display grows.

    2. Yes, you can start off with the cadillac F16. Lots do. I wish I had. This year I own 3 of them. I am only using 1 in the show. My mega tree this year is 20% larger than the one last year, but it will run on only 3 ports of the F16. Not 12 ports. 3. My entire display runs off a single 16p falcon and its nowhere near its max capacity! So, yea, big is, well, big. Advantages: Large number of ports, large numbers of pixels supported, easily expanded to 32 ports, way more features. Disadvantages: Higher initial cost, seems daunting to a noob (but really isn't), physically larger, higher costs typicaly means single controller so single point of failure.

    Starting off small means you will quickly outgrow it. That means you end up buying another controller so your long term cost could be higher, especially if you do not utilize the older controller. Starting off small means a quicker entry at lower cost. But as described above, there are drawbacks too.

    Starting off big means you won't quickly outgrow it before you have to purchase additional controllers. It, unfortunately, also means a higher initial investment. That investment, though, will last through more addons. It also means quicker and cheaper show expansion later since you have a controller capable of handling the additional load already in place and you already have experience using it in the years to come.

    ---

    As a note of correction, you are slightly incorrect on the power. Most controllers with larger numbers of ports are split in half. This is so you can run two power supplies as you are thinking. It also allows you to run 12v on one side and 5v on the other. But you can run BOTH sides from the same PSU. I have a F16 out in the yard. One 12v PSU powers both sides. I have an F16 on the bench for prop building and testing. Again, one PSU. Just because a controller is split in half, it doesn't mean you are required to power it from two different PSUs.

    ---

    You are also wrong on power injection too. Yes you CAN supply a string of lights using one or more power supplies. You just can't supply it from more than one at the same time. You can start out feeding from your controller. Then inject again after a while from the same PSU that fed the controller by bringing out heavy 14 or 12ga feeder wires. An lets say you put a 2nd PSU in another box further out. To supply the pixels further out, you simply connect all the grounds together (as you should always). But you break the V+ line from the first set of pixels so it doesn't carry to the new set. Bring over the data and ground from the previous string to the new string. And from your new PSU, bring in a ground and fresh V+ line to supply the pixels farther out. The thing you do NOT want to do is connect any two V+ lines from different PSUs together. You break the V+ line (cap it off in other words) and start a new V+ line fresh from a new PSU.

    You cleared up a lot of questions I had. Thanks!

  2. #12
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    Default Re: Which controller? Falcon F16v2 seems like overkill...

    Big thanks to all of you!

  3. #13
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    Default Re: Which controller? Falcon F16v2 seems like overkill...

    I like the E682's specifically for that sweet point of power. 16 channels of 50 lights maxes out a 300W power supply.

    More than that and I have to think too much about power.

    The E682 is very cheap if you like soldering boards - which I do (unfortunately, so does my wife...). It works out to around $7 per strand. You're not going to be able to power inject with an individual fuse per strand for much less than that.

    And if you need the show to scale... you just have a lot of E682's. I have 24 E682's up this year to control 350 strands of lights.


    Sure I can control that from MUCH fewer Falcon boards, but then I have to worry about how to get power to ~300 of those strands, individually fused etc. With a E682 I don't have to worry about it - I just run short strands and have controllers all over the place. I don't even solder wires or pigtails onto my strands - I just ask Ray to send me pixels with 10ft lead wires, I screw on a Green connector and plug it into a E682 directly. And if it's further than 10ft away, I just put in another controller.

    And the places where I HAVE to power inject (like Arches), I just run the tail-end of the light back to the E682 again and use it purely for power.


    BUT, you got to be willing to manage that many controllers (thank goodness for XLight's new "FPP Connect" feature), and you pretty much need to enjoy building boards for fun, otherwise this is not cost effective in any way.
    Last edited by deonb; 11-23-2016 at 07:46 PM.
    2016: 21500 pixels, 24 E682's. 6 A/C with 2 LOR
    2015: 7500 pixels, 11 E682's. 35 A/C with 3 LOR
    ...
    2011: 64 A/C channels with 5 LOR

  4. #14
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    Default Re: Which controller? Falcon F16v2 seems like overkill...

    Quote Originally Posted by deonb View Post
    And if you need the show to scale... you just have a lot of E682's. I have 24 E682's up this year to control 350 strands of lights.
    Wow, I think you set the record for the largest number of 16 Output Pixel Controllers!!

  5. Likes mrGrumpy liked this post
  6. #15
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    Default Re: Which controller? Falcon F16v2 seems like overkill...

    Quote Originally Posted by deonb View Post
    I like the E682's specifically for that sweet point of power. 16 channels of 50 lights maxes out a 300W power supply.

    More than that and I have to think too much about power.
    Not wanting to inject power moved me to multiple E6804s.

  7. #16
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    Default Re: Which controller? Falcon F16v2 seems like overkill...

    David Pitts provides wonderful support of his products. Even if overkill, the pricing is in the same ballpark as others. My two cents. I have E682s and an F16V2 in my setup this year.

  8. #17
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    Default Re: Which controller? Falcon F16v2 seems like overkill...

    Quote Originally Posted by K-State Fan View Post
    Not wanting to inject power moved me to multiple E6804s.
    I have 6 E6804's spread out all over the yard, on top of the E682's. It's close to 90 feet from the street to the front door of my house. I'm getting a headache just thinking about trying to run the lights off of one F16.
    I have one on the roof for the peak lights, one near the front door to run the window frames and such, 2 that run my pixel trees and one that runs the pixels that outline my drive way. I think the longest run from a controller to the first pixel is maybe 10 feet


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Family display since 1982
    Plywood cut outs and motorized
    Over 35,000 lights
    New for 2011
    48 channels of LOR (10% complete)
    Roller Coaster (planning stages)
    Patriotic Mega tree (40% complete)
    Multi-animation skating Snoopy (Planning complete)

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  10. #18
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    Default Re: Which controller? Falcon F16v2 seems like overkill...

    Just because you have a controller that can control lots of lights does not mean you have to. I have 3 F16v2 in my show this year. One reason is because of the functionality and things like being able to dim the lights at the controller level. I put a Pi with each controller and will be using the multisync capability of FPP to run the show. This year I will have way fewer data cables running across the yard and no cables coming from inside my house. One of those controllers will be on the other side of my driveway with nothing but a power cord going to it and sitting with another mega tree in my side yard.
    Jim Nealand
    Kennesaw, Ga

  11. #19
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    Default Re: Which controller? Falcon F16v2 seems like overkill...

    Let me share my train of thoughts as I bought my controller last year. I know a newer Falcon is out now, but I thought this still might help some.

    As I was looking I felt the F16v2 was a bit pricey for me as well. However, I wanted to buy for the long term and not have to spend more down the road if I had planned better today. This lead me to the Falcon because of the expansion boards. I spent WAY more up front then I wanted to originally. I looked at this as an investment. I bought the F16v2 with the expansion board and 4 receiver boards. The way I looked at this was that by buying all of those parts now, I was essentially buying 5 controllers. If you are running different controllers in your display most likely they have an Ethernet cable already for network traffic, so I didn't see a difference of it being actual network traffic, or just data from the main board. To me I spent a little over $300 for all of that, but if you look at it as 5 controllers that is under $70 a board, finished, complete and with David's support. I thought this was great considering all of the features it gave me. This also gave me control for 10,000 pixels (and the v3 now does more!). I think it will be a while before I personally will use more than that.

    Last year I only ran the main board and 2 receiver boards. This year I plan to use one more receiver board and will add the 4th next year. This is not even going into power injection which will let me run even more throughout my yard. One of the things I love most about this hobby is there are so many different ways to do things. My way worked great for me. Maybe it will for others too, maybe they will find something that works better for them. I've read a lot on these forums and taken bits and pieces to adapt and I hope I can share that with others.

  12. #20
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    Default Re: Which controller? Falcon F16v2 seems like overkill...

    i predict next year you will be buying at least 2 more f16's if not 4 or 5

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