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Thread: LARGE display that is spread out over LARGE area. Looking for tips/suggestions!

  1. #1
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    Default LARGE display that is spread out over LARGE area. Looking for tips/suggestions!

    Hello!

    I am working on a large display for a campground that does a drive-through light show every year. I just got hired to be the IT manager / Christmas light guy there. They used Light-O-Rama in previous years, so those could be much longer runs of Cat5 throughout the park. I'm adding a bunch of Falcon controllers and pixel displays this year so I am planning to switch them from Light-O-Rama to xLights. I've used xLights and pixel props a little on my own, but never in such a large and distributed area. I really just want to make sure I'm approaching this the best way. I have two main concerns. 1 is the Ethernet wiring for the controllers and 2 is the max length of wiring between pixels (from the controller to the last pixel in one run). I would GREATLY appreciate any tips or suggestions anyone has. I kind of need to finalize these plans and order all the equipment this week to make sure we can get everything on time.

    1.
    Since Ethernet has a max length of 328 ft, I'm trying to keep all my runs to about 300'. Do you guys think there would be an issue having 3 switches (900') between FPP and some Falcon controllers? I tried to keep it to 2 switches or less, but one area is pretty far away so I was planning for 3 switches in between. I'm planning on putting gigabit switches in waterproof enclosures to basically extend the reach.

    2.
    What about the max length of a pixel run from the controller to the last pixel? I have a ~450' section of the campground with 13 cabins where there is about 30' between each cabin. I only have about 120 pixels on each cabin. I was going to put two ESPixel Sticks on the center 2 cabins so one will have 6 cabins, the other will have 7. As long as I have power injection at each cabin, could I use one of those F-amps between each one and be able to cover them all?


    I've been working on a Google Map to keep track of my planning. The link below will show you what I'm working with.
    Red = Ethernet and Falcon controllers
    Yellow = Light-O-Rama planning to run in DMX mode from Falcon controllers
    Green Line = The driving route for the cars
    https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer...376532535&z=18

    The new section of the campground is not on Google Maps yet, so here's a link to see those cabins I was talking about...
    https://zoom.earth/#view=42.835081,-87.908439,18z

  2. #2
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    Default Re: LARGE display that is spread out over LARGE area. Looking for tips/suggestions!

    This seems to be the perfect environment to go wireless. (WiFi)
    These techniques are well known and there are conversion modules to make most any controller a wireless one.
    This includes both pixels and AC light driven controllers.
    Plus there are several native pixel controllers for wireless communications.
    And, you can do a hybrid model of course where you use wires when it makes sense and wireless for the further out elements.

    I went wireless several years ago and won't look back. I have far fewer issues getting rid of all those cables.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: LARGE display that is spread out over LARGE area. Looking for tips/suggestions!

    This link may help. This guy knows what he's talking about.
    https://youtu.be/jDUfRpXp0Jw

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

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    Default Re: LARGE display that is spread out over LARGE area. Looking for tips/suggestions!

    Quote Originally Posted by ackmania View Post
    Hello!

    2.
    What about the max length of a pixel run from the controller to the last pixel? I have a ~450' section of the campground with 13 cabins where there is about 30' between each cabin. I only have about 120 pixels on each cabin. I was going to put two ESPixel Sticks on the center 2 cabins so one will have 6 cabins, the other will have 7. As long as I have power injection at each cabin, could I use one of those F-amps between each one and be able to cover them all?
    This is a non issue. The last pixel could be miles away. The only thing that matters is the distance between a data source (controller or a pixel) and the NEXT data receiver (a pixel), For example, if you used the max distance between pixels of 3m and used a 1000 pixel string then the distance between controller and last pixel is 3m x 1000 = 3km. However the distance between the controller and the first pixel (the only pixel that matters to the controller) is 3m. Each pixel regenerates the data. It is the inter pixel gap that you have to watch out for.

    DMX serial lines DO have a max distance between the controller and the last device on the DMX serial line. Pixels and Renard Serial devices do NOT have such a limitation.

    FYI: In my example there WOULD be an additional cumulative delay in transmission of data along the wire that would cause a slight ripple in the pixels response.

    As for ESP placement, Put one at each cabin. Max pixels in a string is 680. Fewer pixels is ok. Long wires are bad. You might think about using multiple APs located around the area to transport data to remote ESPs.
    Last edited by MartinMueller2003; 09-27-2020 at 04:57 PM.


    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

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    Default Re: LARGE display that is spread out over LARGE area. Looking for tips/suggestions!

    I totally agree. Put a pixel stick type device in each cabin or large prop that is remote. There are several to choose from.
    Quote Originally Posted by MartinMueller2003 View Post
    ent, Put one at each cabin. Max pixels in a string is 680. Fewer pixels is ok. Long wires are bad. You might think about using multiple APs located around the area to transport data to remote ESPs.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: LARGE display that is spread out over LARGE area. Looking for tips/suggestions!

    Quote Originally Posted by ackmania View Post
    Hello!

    1.
    Since Ethernet has a max length of 328 ft, I'm trying to keep all my runs to about 300'. Do you guys think there would be an issue having 3 switches (900') between FPP and some Falcon controllers? I tried to keep it to 2 switches or less, but one area is pretty far away so I was planning for 3 switches in between. I'm planning on putting gigabit switches in waterproof enclosures to basically extend the reach.

    https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer...376532535&z=18

    The new section of the campground is not on Google Maps yet, so here's a link to see those cabins I was talking about...
    https://zoom.earth/#view=42.835081,-87.908439,18z

    The forwarding latency on a gigabit switch is around .125 milliseconds, you'd need a few dozen switches to be in the neighborhood of having a noticeable delay due to switching latency. There are other options for long runs, like vdsl extenders over a single twisted pair, but they'll add latency depending on what mode you put them on. DMX is also good for around 1000' on decent cable, so if your channel count is low enough you could go that route though I'm not sure what DIY pixel controllers actually accept raw DMX, but there's the Elation Pixel Driver that does. I personally am not a fan of wireless stuff, just always makes me nervous knowing some interference could come along and give me a hard day when running a cable is probably an option.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: LARGE display that is spread out over LARGE area. Looking for tips/suggestions!

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinMueller2003 View Post
    This is a non issue. The last pixel could be miles away. The only thing that matters is the distance between a data source (controller or a pixel) and the NEXT data receiver (a pixel), For example, if you used the max distance between pixels of 3m and used a 1000 pixel string then the distance between controller and last pixel is 3m x 1000 = 3km. However the distance between the controller and the first pixel (the only pixel that matters to the controller) is 3m. Each pixel regenerates the data. It is the inter pixel gap that you have to watch out for.

    DMX serial lines DO have a max distance between the controller and the last device on the DMX serial line. Pixels and Renard Serial devices do NOT have such a limitation.

    FYI: In my example there WOULD be an additional cumulative delay in transmission of data along the wire that would cause a slight ripple in the pixels response.

    As for ESP placement, Put one at each cabin. Max pixels in a string is 680. Fewer pixels is ok. Long wires are bad. You might think about using multiple APs located around the area to transport data to remote ESPs.

    Thank you guys for the info! I feel much better about this project now!! I've got about 12 or 13 of those ESPix Nodes from JBoards (accumulated over the past year) which can run 1,360 pixels each. Most of those are spoken for around the campground already. I have like 25 ESPixel sticks that I soldered myself a couple years ago for my wedding so I guess I could throw those out there (I just don't trust my work as much as buying them pre-made). But 30 feet between cabins would require multiple null pixels or F-amps and that's not ideal. I'll reconfigure that area and throw a couple access points around the cabins in order to serve out all the WiFis to the pixel sticks.

    I want to finalize everything this week because I need to order a ton of pixels from Ray Wu and I gotta order 23 ready-to-go Falcon F16v3 controllers. I'm super excited to be doing this as part of my job now. I've been tinkering with synchronized lighting for a while but I got so many house projects and a first child on the way next week so I don't get much personal time to do this. So it's great to do this during work time now. I really do appreciate everyone taking the time to respond to my questions! I love the community on this site.

    I have one final question...for now I got a 10w WS2811 flood from HolidayCoro and I dunno, it just doesn't seem bright enough for some things I want to do. Anyone have any feelings about Ray Wu's 20w or 30w floods? I want to point some up into the trees along part of the driving path. Like 4 or 5 in a row on each side of the road.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: LARGE display that is spread out over LARGE area. Looking for tips/suggestions!

    Quote Originally Posted by piense View Post
    The forwarding latency on a gigabit switch is around .125 milliseconds, you'd need a few dozen switches to be in the neighborhood of having a noticeable delay due to switching latency. There are other options for long runs, like vdsl extenders over a single twisted pair, but they'll add latency depending on what mode you put them on. DMX is also good for around 1000' on decent cable, so if your channel count is low enough you could go that route though I'm not sure what DIY pixel controllers actually accept raw DMX, but there's the Elation Pixel Driver that does. I personally am not a fan of wireless stuff, just always makes me nervous knowing some interference could come along and give me a hard day when running a cable is probably an option.
    Thank you for that info on switch latency. I didn't get that far into the weeds. I am able to reach pretty much the whole campground with 3 switches max so I think I should be ok then. They're gonna trench some conduit or pvc under some roads for me so I can run the Cat5e below roads, so that helps give me more direct routes to where I need to go.

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    Default Re: LARGE display that is spread out over LARGE area. Looking for tips/suggestions!

    Quote Originally Posted by ackmania View Post
    I have one final question...for now I got a 10w WS2811 flood from HolidayCoro and I dunno, it just doesn't seem bright enough for some things I want to do. Anyone have any feelings about Ray Wu's 20w or 30w floods? I want to point some up into the trees along part of the driving path. Like 4 or 5 in a row on each side of the road.
    Check out Robg’s flood modules at his tindie store. He has a 50watt flood that will blow away anything that Holiday Coro or Ray has.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: LARGE display that is spread out over LARGE area. Looking for tips/suggestions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kensington View Post
    Check out Robg’s flood modules at his tindie store. He has a 50watt flood that will blow away anything that Holiday Coro or Ray has.
    Do you know what the best enclosure for that would be? I thought about going down that road before but I didn't know what enclosure to get :/

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