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Thread: My LED Arch prototype worked! Now on to the real thing... :-)

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default My LED Arch prototype worked! Now on to the real thing... :-)

    After a lot of help, I finally got my first project, an LED arch, working!

    If not obvious, it's basically a pixel strip on some PVC running off a Raspberry Pi + a PiCap controller, using xlights with a very simple sequence. Okay, the sequence is terrible, but I don't care. I was thrilled when it finally all came together & lit up!

    I created this as a proof-of-concept, with the idea being to just get something working, and then figure out what I really wanted to do for the yard.

    So for, the yard, I was thinking of having 3-4 LED arches in the yard, with lights dancing between them.

    A few questions I could use advice/help on:

    1) There's a mismatch between the length of my PVC arch & the LED strip on it.

    What do people typically do here? Do you build your arch to be the size of one of the standard strips? If so, that seems like it would be pretty big.

    Do I just chain a few strips together? That seems reasonable, but then there's a big gap between the last LED on the first strip & the first LED on the second, due to the pig tails.

    Do I trim the cables to whatever length I want the LED to be? If so, that seems like a good opportunity to screw up the waterproofing, as well as a lot of wasted bits of short LED strips.

    2) There's a lot of tutorial videos on xlights, but any recommendations on ones that focus on getting started with LED arches?

    Thanks!
    -Bill

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  3. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: My LED Arch prototype worked! Now on to the real thing... :-)

    Congratulations. You are now a veteran of that wonderful feeling we all experienced with our first prop - working correctly.

    To answer some of your questions, from my perspective...

    The length of the arch should be what you need. Strips can be cut at the join marks. (Look closely at your strips. You will see them about every three pixels, or so.)

    Once you have cut the strips, you can join sections together to make a new strip - if you desire. Note the direction of the data flow is usually clearly marked on the strip itself.

    If you are mounting the strip on the outside, there are quite a few techniques you can use to close off the end and restore the waterproofing. Look for the ends being sold separately. Check with your original vendor, but don't discount others. Most are the same size.
    "Never Give Up. Never Surrender!"
    Capt Tagert - Galaxy Quest.
    Al Gerdes - Christmas Lighting Nut!

  4. #3
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    Default Re: My LED Arch prototype worked! Now on to the real thing... :-)

    Al--I have found strips tough to solder when I cut them at cut point... Just a point to consider. I have taken different route--ordered 2m strips for 2m-worth of the SharkBite stuff from HD... 2m just happens to be the size we liked, so that's the length I went with. If you want to go this route, just think in terms of 0.5m lengths. The strips can be done in 0.5m lengths. My two cents...

  5. #4
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    Default Re: My LED Arch prototype worked! Now on to the real thing... :-)

    One method to putting them back together is to create a through-hole for each of the three copper strips where the pads are. The through-holes go through both of the overlapping strips. Usually the solder itself will flow through both and act as the binder. Occasionally I use a small piece of wire (solid core, about 24 guage) to act as pins between the two.


    With the downturn in using strips in favor of bullets (in most things but PEX or HDPE arches), even I am getting rusty at making this happen.
    "Never Give Up. Never Surrender!"
    Capt Tagert - Galaxy Quest.
    Al Gerdes - Christmas Lighting Nut!

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
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    Default Re: My LED Arch prototype worked! Now on to the real thing... :-)

    1) I looked at the overall length of my bought strip (usually comes in a very long roll), and determined if I wanted to cut the long strip in in 1/2, or 1/3 (or even smaller 1/4). That determined the length of my arch, which I cut my tube to match. I don't think it's a good idea to try to splice strands together within a single arch (it can be done, if you really need to, though)

    2) I did struggle (maybe not struggle, but did take awhile to figure out the best method) with arches in xlights. I ended up mainly using variations of SINGLE STRAND effects for my arches....and occasionally some other effects.

    Last edited by Bwinter; 08-10-2017 at 04:28 PM.

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