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Thread: Nodemcu or espixelstick to run permanent lights?

  1. #1
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    Default Nodemcu or espixelstick to run permanent lights?

    Hello everyone. This will be my first year venturing into The world computer controlled lighting. This site is amazing. Itís incredible that there are so many people with the same obsession that support one another. I think I have the Christmas lights handled for now. Iíve already purchased a falcon f16v4, 5v and 12v ws2811 pixels, multi port wireless router and psuís. Iíve also downloaded xlights and been learning how to use it. I also plan on buying some diff smart receivers to run some of the different sections of the house. The part Iím having trouble with is deciding how to set up and run the permanent lights.

    I am going to install 12v ws2811 nodes under my soffit using j-channel to mount them. There will be a line of them under my garage and house rooflines, and under the windows on front of the house. The problems that Iím trying to plan for are:

    1. Because they are in different sections, they cannot be a continuous line. I also donít want to have wires visible running all over the front of the house.
    2. I also wanted to use an app to control the permanent lights so the wife and kids can have fun with them without having to learn xlights to do it.
    3. I want to be able to integrate these lights into the Christmas show. I will add additional lights for Christmas to get the whole house.
    4. I want to start making a smart home so having them controllable by Amazon Alexa would be cool.

    I thought I had it mostly figured out, but I keep finding new things to solve the problems and cant decide the best way to do it.

    I recently watched the video by Dr. ZZ about how he set up and controlled his lights and that looks like a good solution. Cheap to. But are the nodemcuís able to be controlled by xlights and the falcon controller?

    I also learned about the espixelsticks at about the same time. I believe they are controllable by xlights. But is there and app that can control them. I have read both yes and no on the internet about installing WLED on them and controlling them that way. But if I did that would I then have to reflash them at Christmas time to be able to use them in the Christmas show.

    There is also some controllers on btf-lighting that I think can do everything but work with xlights. I figure I could just put a smart diff receiver with it in the enclosure and switch them over at Christmas. Any opinions on the best way to do this would be great. Iím sure there are aspects I donít know about or havenít thought of yet. Thanks ahead of time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Nodemcu or espixelstick to run permanent lights?

    I have several ESPixelsticks (v.3?) I will be using in our Christmas light show for the first time this year. I put 150 pixel bulbs on one of them and whipped out a quick and simple show for use as accent lighting around our front porch. Having to fire up XLights to run such a simple display was becoming a pain, so I grabbed another Wemos d1 mini and wrote some code to:

    1. Utilize the Adafruit NeoPixel library to run the pixels
    2. Be available to Alexa (natively, without skills) using the fauxmo library
    3. Have a web page interface
    4. Enabled OTA updates, and
    5. Have it connect to our home WiFi network (not the show network).

    I got it coded and tested on the bench and plugged the Wemos into the ESPixelstick already installed. It connected to the network and everything works okay except for the OTA update part.

    I am hesitant to make the code available here since most all of it came from other people’s code I found on the internet. Honestly, I really don’t really remember where I found all the pieces, but they’re out there.
    Randy

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Nodemcu or espixelstick to run permanent lights?

    You may be over-thinking things a bit.

    NODEMCU is a hardware platform and a software environment. It lets you use simplified code to do simple things. Many people reflash them with Arduino images like WLED. NODEMCU hardware uses an ESP8266-12F (lots of I/O) at its core. NODEMCU DOES need a level shifter to be added (Null Pixel without the pixel driver board works great) on the outputs to drive a string of pixels.

    ESPixelsStick is an ESP8266-01 (limited I/O). It is running the Arduino environment and a program written to drive pixels using the Serial port. FYI: This same image can run on the NODEMCU without an issue. The PixelStick base card has a built in voltage regulator and level shifter to drive the pixel string.

    ESPixelStick software has the software built in to take:
    • E1.31 data streams. E1.31 data streams are commonly used by Light show players to send lighting data to lighting controllers.
    • MQTT Home Automation data streams. This allows common home automation applications to control your pixel strings.


    NODEMCU software features are not well known to me so it may support this functionality but you will need to verify that functionality.

    So the answer is: yes, you can put up a PixelStick and control it from a home automation system and then use it (unmodified) to be part of the Christmas show.


    2020 Full sized show reworked for the new location. Only adding (famous last words) 13 RBLs that I finally got converted to using pixels
    2019 - Just moved into a new home (yet another change of plans). Will be dim but not dark. Too much to do at the new place to leave time for a show. Dim show (3000 pixels) had regular visits most nights.
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyX...ttrsZNARkUce0Q

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Nodemcu or espixelstick to run permanent lights?

    Having installed and tested the WLED firmware on the esp8266-01 , Nodemcu , Wemos D1 and the Esp32
    I have found the firmware is excellent and will be using it for year round lighting . In my testing and experience using WLED for e1.31 and holiday lighting it is not as good as the native EspixelStick firmware provided by Shelby-forkineye .Though it does work with e1.31 , the EspixelStick firmware seems it is just more ideally suited for this hobby .

    WLED excels at year round lighting control with all its builtin effects and GUI . It may be superior for home automation also but I haven't used those features of this firmware .

    Lastly in my experience, using WLED and the Esp32 is definitely the way to go for day to day .


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Nodemcu or espixelstick to run permanent lights?

    ALL of the pixelstick variants (ESPixelStick and Pixel Pops plus others) were specifically designed for the hookup and control of pixels for this hobby.
    They are also well supported on this and other forums.

    If you go the NodeMCU route, you may not find as many folks with experience to help out when and if needed.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Nodemcu or espixelstick to run permanent lights?

    One of the PixelStick variants and FPP is how I’d do it. It gives you a variety of test modes, robust scheduling, the flexibility to run sequences if you like, and you can control all the lights from one point.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Nodemcu or espixelstick to run permanent lights?

    I was a little intimidated to try out Arduino because I don’t know anything about programming. But after taking a look at it today I ordered one from amazon to practice with and try to learn. One of my sons is really excited to try it out. Which is good because he is smarter than me and can fix my mistakes. I think I will go with WLED to start and see if I can work the Arduino in by Halloween to make a better display that can react to the kids. Thanks for your responses.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Nodemcu or espixelstick to run permanent lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Srmorgan View Post
    I was a little intimidated to try out Arduino because I don’t know anything about programming. But after taking a look at it today I ordered one from amazon to practice with and try to learn. One of my sons is really excited to try it out. Which is good because he is smarter than me and can fix my mistakes. I think I will go with WLED to start and see if I can work the Arduino in by Halloween to make a better display that can react to the kids. Thanks for your responses.
    I just noticed that you are in Idaho . My family and I just love Boise and have made it an annual trip along with Wenatchee . We made Boise in 2019 but had to skirt Wenatchee as we were not prepared for the Pass weather .
    Look forward to see how you make out with your project.

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