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Thread: M5/C6 Smart LEDs?

  1. #1
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    Default M5/C6 Smart LEDs?

    Ok I will start by saying I'm very new in all this, so I have no idea if I'll be asking the right question or not. I've spent a good bit of time searching the forum but have not found the answers. My family and I recently just moved out of the city and to a beautiful acre and a half home in the mountains. This has caused me to start looking at a new future for my display, and as I start to create my new look I want to think what do I want it to be in 10 years.

    So I've been thinking about trying to bring the color changing ability of pixels to a traditional look I like to have. This video shows lights that seem to be M5 in size, but have the color control of pixels. I found posts here where people put C9 covers on pixels, but never anything as small as a M5. I've also seen LED lights come out in the big box stores with color controls similar to what's in this tree, but normally the counts are not very high.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BM-qwIWGBZI

    I'm thinking that I want to try and decorate a 15ft spruce outside, but have the ability to change the colors similar to this tree as a part of my show, and if I can manage to figure a way to do it without breaking the bank, then maybe I'll plan to do the other 10+ 15-30ft trees in my yard over the next 5-10 years.

    Thanks for all the educating I'm about to get on this very interesting topic.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: M5/C6 Smart LEDs?

    The ones you showed in the video are the cheap sort of controls that they do for LED christmas trees; they have a fixed set of colors and a fixed arrangement of the bulbs.

    If you want to do your own, what you are likely talking about are addressable RGB LEDs; the term you want to search for is "RGB Pixel".

    Here's an ebay link.

    You can also buy them direct from China via aliexpress. They will be the same stuff; the Chinese stuff generally takes around a month to get here and there may be issues if it's not the right stuff or the order gets mess up, but it's cheaper.

    To drive them you can pick up a commercial control or code something up yourself. You will also need a fairly beefy power supply as they take a lot of current, about 60mA per light if you want to run them full bright.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: M5/C6 Smart LEDs?

    Thanks for your reply Eric. I had assumed that because they were able to change the colors of the lights it made them more than just regular LEDs, but like I said I'm very new to this.

    I do know about bullet pixels like you sent the links for. I'm still curious how they made those LEDs work. So maybe I change my questions. How is it possible to make LEDs like these to change color?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: M5/C6 Smart LEDs?

    I stared at a similar tree at Sears last year. I couldn't figure it but I wasn't pulling at the strings either. This one looks a little more sophisticated than the one I looked at. There seems to be some individual control as well as group control. I am sure if you sent a few strands to some of the gurus on the boards, they would decipher the lights themselves and the protocol involved.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: M5/C6 Smart LEDs?

    Quote Originally Posted by milehighsanta View Post
    I do know about bullet pixels like you sent the links for. I'm still curious how they made those LEDs work. So maybe I change my questions. How is it possible to make LEDs like these to change color?
    It's really pretty simple. Each LED looks like this. It has separate red, green, and blue LEDs, and a small controller chip. The controller uses PWM (turning an LED on and off very quickly) to support different brightness levels for each color, so that basically gives you a color value from 0-255 for each color and a lot of individual colors. White is (255, 255, 255), yellow is (255, 255, 0) for full yellow, or (120, 120, 0) for a dim yellow. Etc.

    The way the data gets sent out it ingenious. Let's say I have 3 leds and I want to set them to Red, Green, and blue. I start with the following sequence of values:

    255
    0
    0
    0
    255
    0
    0
    0
    255

    I send that to the data in connection on the first LED in line. The controller grabs the first three values (255, 0, 0) and stores them away, and then it passes the remaining values out the data out line:

    0
    255
    0
    0
    0
    255

    That line is connected to the data in line for the second led. It does the same thing, grabbing the first three values (0, 255, 0) and storing them away, and passing along the rest:

    0
    0
    255

    The third LED grabs these and stores them (0, 0, 255).

    So, now each LED knows what color it should be with those RGB values; the first one has all red, the second all green, and the third all blue.

    Now we send a special value to the first LED which means "show your new color", and pass that it. That command ripples through all the LEDs and they switch to the new color.

    The LEDs stick at those colors until new color data shows up.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: M5/C6 Smart LEDs?

    I too wish there there were WS2811 pixels that were significantly smaller than the current 8mm uses we use. Oh well...

  7. #7
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    Default Re: M5/C6 Smart LEDs?

    I purchased some of these a couple years ago.... they're 8mm LEDs with the WS2811 chip sealed inside the chip. Add your wire and a .1uf cap to each bulb and you can build your own strings or build the LEDs into other projects without the bulk of the existing gear. It's not really tricky, but it's a little time-consuming.... and in the end, you have near total control of what you want to do. YMMV....

    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/100p...847283594.html

    ws2811leds.jpg

    http://digwdf.com/store/
    The DIGWDF Store will be closing at the end of this year.
    While it's still open, please check us out for blinky-flashy gizmos that nobody else on the planet makes!

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