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Thread: ws2811 + Arduino + Music = ?

  1. #1
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    Default ws2811 + Arduino + Music = ?

    Help! I feel like the more I look, the more confused I get myself.

    I want to do a permanent pixel outline. I have the ws2811 pixels and the power supply and have tested them all out with an Arduino. So for that I'm feeling pretty awesome.

    I'd like to have the option to use these as part of a Christmas light show with the music synced to the lights but I don't see anyone using an Arduino to do this. It's all Renard this, DMX that, E1.31 over here.

    Has anyone done a light show using an Arduino (of whatever model, Uno, Mega, whatever) to control ws2811 pixels? Or am I going down the wrong path?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: ws2811 + Arduino + Music = ?

    Yes and no. "Yes" in that an Arduino could be programmed to receive DMX over TCP/IP (that's the "e1.31" protocol you hear about) and output it to the pixels. Shelby Merrick and Bill Porter wrote some code that performs exactly that function on the ESP8266 line of controllers and it's built on the Arduino core, IIRC. "No" in that the Arduino, standing alone, will not run a show. But that's the case with most controllers. "No" again in that the synchronization of music and the lights occurs in sequencing software like xLights or Vixen or HLS, etc., and those all output a file that the Arduino cannot directly run. "No" also in that if you tried to program the effects you see into Arduino directly, you'd quickly run out of space in the limited memory of the device. So while you can do basic things like turn lights on and off and maybe do a ramp or simple chase, the really cool stuff you see is just too big to load into a sketch on the Arduino.
    Last edited by Kensington; 06-18-2020 at 07:39 PM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: ws2811 + Arduino + Music = ?

    Check out this thread if you want to go with Arduino.

    http://doityourselfchristmas.com/for...o+pixels+vixen

    But if you have an extra wifi router, I would suggest looking into using the ESPixelstick controllers (which use E1.31).
    Kevin

  4. #4
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    Default Re: ws2811 + Arduino + Music = ?

    Don't get "confused" over Renard, DMX or E1.31 or for that matter serial communication (like your Uno/Mega use natively). All the protocols allow a controller to "do something".

    To do synced light shows you will need:
    a player - usually this handles the music and the codes that make things happen.
    - Vixen includes a player, xLights includes a player or most of our favorite is software called FPP that runs on a Raspberry Pi.
    a transmitter or speakers
    a controller - there are lots of controllers for different types of lights. Arduino style controllers (Uno, Mega, etc) can do AC, DC and pixel output.
    lights - like your ws2811 pixels

    Megas and Unos are relatively low powered and low memory devices. But depending on the speed of your synced show (how many frames per second), how much data needs to be sent to support your pixels and the speed of your connection between the player and your mega, you can do amazing things with them. That being said, I don't think anyone has figured out how to make a Uno or Mega do all the things you might think it should be able to do easily and directly.

    A good permanent arrangement might be a FPP that talks to an Uno over its USB serial port. You can write your sketch to detect when it is getting data from serial and "do that" or if not doing that, you can run some canned pixel animations. Or maybe you should run FPP and put a hat on the RPi that can control your pixels which eliminates the Uno/Mega. or...

    Now think big picture...You are doing a permanent install. Why not use a controller that is something you can really use? If you really like tinkering, play with the Uno. From a tinkering standpoint, it is a lot of fun. But if you want something you can really use, in that case, look for a ESP8266 or ESP32 type device. Add the needed power conversions and a little bit of protection using one of the add-on boards like an ESPixelStick or Pops (Ukewarrior) board or the Renard Plus pixel board or you can even find "clones" of these devices on the internet. And there are few more boards on the internet that will do the same thing. This solution introduces another variable that is WiFi. With the wifi option, you can run something like WLED on the ESP8266 and you will get about a 100 different static/animated display options and the ability to receive e1.31 to sync your lights. The static/animated display options are available on a phone app so there you have easy control for the whole family. If you look at the WLED software, you will see how versatile it is so that you could eventually control the lights from your home automation platform as well.

    Hope this helps point you in fun, enjoyable direction. There are several ways to do lights and your Uno/Mega is one. ESP devices with some good software is another.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: ws2811 + Arduino + Music = ?

    Lots of good advice here, thanks everyone! You've given me some directions to move in...here we go!

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