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Thread: Beginner Idea for Christmas lights

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    Atlanta, Georgia
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    Default Beginner Idea for Christmas lights

    Hey all, so I've been lurking here for about 7-8 months. I have a very basic understanding of the hardware and software. This was the general idea about what I had in mind I would like to work towards. Forgive me if I get some of this wrong.

    Time frame is 2-3 years if need be. I'm going to school for my Nurse Pratitioner, but dont mind piecing this together. I would like to have a basic set up this year with a couple of channels and FM broadcaster so that I can get my feet wet and learn from some mistakes along the way. Not too much of an expectation for this year.

    Budget: $200 enough? Just kidding. All seriousness no more than $10k probably. Ideally $5k, but expecting $5-7k. I might be way off on this. I would like for the larger displays in purple to be higher quality visual components that would display pretty good pictures, text, video, etc. Not sure what would be better than pixel matrix at this point but sure yall might know. There is a patriotic military Christmas lights video on youtube I think perfectly represents my end goal as far as video display quality and I believe is pixel matrix.


    In the pictures provided:

    Green is trim with pixels and red being splash lighting with rgb LED strips maybe?

    Yellow and orange being pixels window trims.

    Blue being individual components like pixel snowflakes and the arches most likely being RGB strips?

    The orange mega christmas tree being pixels with I guess a minimum 18 channel configuration? This will probably be one of the later components I'd like to construct.

    The white spots could be potential areas for power supplies or controllers. I had some questions about this area but I'll save for another time.

    I plan on either using a Raspberry Pi or a dedicated computer with Vixen and use falcon controllers. The upper right window is my office and made an access point down into the garage below so I can run the operation in either place. My circuit panel in the garage has an extra sub panel I can completely dedicate to this if I so choose. My estimate is there will be ~86 channels minimum including the mega tree and not the large displays? Does that sound right? It might be low number. I think I'd like to have a dozen channels or so this year and obviously more next year.

    Music: I plan to do various assortments later on, but right now maybe something upbeat and new. Atlanta is very music oriented city so I would eventually like to do a tribute to Atlanta native musicians. I know thered be a lot of programming not just christmas music but Atlanta music as well, thus the longer time frame.

    Thoughts, concerns, advice, jokes welcome. I'm very open to suggestions and concerns. I want to do this right and slow. I live just north of Atlanta, GA so anyone nearby I'd love to connect with to pick your brain and maybe learn from this season.

    I look forward to talking with all of you and the progress that is to come. Thanks in advance.

    Patrick

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    Last edited by ShiverMeTimberz; 07-25-2019 at 06:42 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
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    Default Re: Beginner Idea for Christmas lights

    I would estimate the need for at least 2 f16v3 or 2 f48 with 24 smart differential recievers. In all honesty about 8k for this I would reckon.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    Sauk City, WI USA
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    Default Re: Beginner Idea for Christmas lights

    A few things. When you say channel, I think you mean strings or outputs but mostly with pixels, we talk about pixel counts. So conjure up some pixel counts. for example, your arches appear to be standard size that would work nice with 10 pixel/30 led strips per meter at about 25 pixels per. You drew in five and so 125 pixels with 375 leds. you will need some power injection but all can be daisy chained together easil and run off one data output.
    The led matrix might have to be panels given your desired results. at 20' by 6' you are talking about a billboard and would need more than one bbb with octoscroller to support it or maybe even "professional" panel gear. If you can live with 2" ws2811 matrix, I think that puts it just over 4000 pixels and that is easily within range of a 16 output controller.
    Once you break it down like that, you will have a much better understanding of the total picture. You are on the right direction. I like your house and your layout ideas. Looks good.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2019
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    Default Re: Beginner Idea for Christmas lights

    Wow! You have a big budget. If you at
    are comfortable with DIY stuff you will definitely be able to complete your plans for 5k. Probably a lot less.
    Words of advice.

    A. Get a single F48 and two or three long range boards. This is a flexible setup with plenty of room to grow.

    B. Stick to your basic plan for the house. Do things once and do them right.

    C. As for inspiration, go to xLights videos and watch the around the world projects.

    Word of warning, it will be very hard to stop buying things once you get into this hobby. You have been warned.

    Best of luck,
    Alexander


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  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2019
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    Default Re: Beginner Idea for Christmas lights

    *The number of long range controllers is a good start for your first year.


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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
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    Honokaa, HI
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    Default Re: Beginner Idea for Christmas lights

    I'm jealous. I'm starting this year, but only have 375 pixels.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
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    Plano, TX
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    Default Re: Beginner Idea for Christmas lights

    You can definitely cut some of the cost if you can go the route of ESP8266 but that will require you doing most of the controller build yourself. It is definitely not an impossible task but could be tedious. Besides, ESP8266 will run on WiFi thus cutting cost on network cables. If you want, I can send you a picture of my ESP8266 controller that I built inside a plastic box that I got from dollar store just to give you some ideas.

    Where you cannot cut cost is in your pixels. Make sure you are buying from reputable vendor because there are tons on pixels out there. Also, you display will cost you some bucks too. You are better off using P5 module and not P10; make sure you are using beaglebone and octoscroller to control your large display. I have not been so lucky controlling my 4x4 P5 matrix with Pi hat, but I have had no issues with beaglebone and the new octoscroller.
    Last edited by atairu; 07-27-2019 at 04:48 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Beginner Idea for Christmas lights

    I suggest doing it in phases. Maybe do the windows and outlines this year. Then do the arches and yard props next year. Then maybe the third year, add the matrix display panels.

    The idea is to keep building, adding things as not only funds become available, but TIME. You won't believe how much time this hobby takes. The hardware part is pretty easy, and you can make a lot of progress quickly. It's the SEQUENCING that eats a hole in your available time.

    If you plan your display in phases, you can reuse the sequences as you add props, adding new sequencing only for the new props. After 3 years, maybe you'll have 15 sequences from which to choose, and suddenly, you can put on quite a show.

    But whatever you do, develop a budget and STICK TO IT. It's soooooooo easy to get in over your head in this hobby. Take your time.

    Good luck. May the Schwartz be with you.

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    The DIGWDF Store is closed for all sales. Thanks to everyone who supported us through the years!
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  9. #9
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    Jun 2016
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    Blue Springs, Mo
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    Default Re: Beginner Idea for Christmas lights

    My advice to beginners is always expect to pay 5x or even 10x what you think you will on things like extension cords, zip ties, etc etc. Its the little things that will nickel and dime you to death.
    2016 - 32 LOR Channels - Roughly 5,000 Lights - 2 Sequenced Songs
    2017 - 64 LOR Channels - 9,373 Lights - 4 Sequenced Songs
    2018 - 64 LOR Channels - New House - Total Redesign - 9,011 Lights - 5 Sequenced Songs (Interactive)
    2019 - 80 LOR Channels - Expecting 15,000+ Lights - 6-8 Sequences Songs (Interactive)

    Ridgewood Lights - Facebook Page
    Ridgewood Lights - YouTube Video


  10. #10
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    Dec 2018
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    Atlanta, Georgia
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    Default Re: Beginner Idea for Christmas lights

    Quote Originally Posted by HerschelWTacos View Post
    I would estimate the need for at least 2 f16v3 or 2 f48 with 24 smart differential recievers. In all honesty about 8k for this I would reckon.
    Thanks, I'll certainly look into the different receivers. It looks like the f48 is on preorder.

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk

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