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Thread: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

  1. #51
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    Default Re: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    My rooflines can be a bit deceptive. Those are done in pixabulbs at 12" spacing. For example, my entire garage gutter line (2 sides of the garage) plus the roof ridges is only 111 pixels. The whole upper roof is 95 pixels. I think the longest one is the one along the right side of my driveway at 130 pixels.
    My megatree is 24 string, 100 pixels per string @ 3" spacing. One string per controller port. One controller dedicated to the tree doing nothing else.
    No injection.
    Not counting the megatree, the highest count I've got on any of my props is 180. That's a 46" star with bullet nodes. All of my coro props have in and out pigtails, and the in and out power is tied together. I suppose you could call that power injection. I don't really think of it that way, it's done more for "power pass-thru" so the voltage at the prop's output is the same as the input.

    I've been toying around with the idea of increasing the density on my house outlines. But if I do, I'll split the sections into more controller ports before I mess with power injection.

  2. #52
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    Jan 2021
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    Default Re: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    Interesting, so you literally tie both V- and V+ from the controller into both the in and out pigtails allowing power to flow through both sides of your strings? I agree it's the same amount of power just passing through both sides at the same time instead of linear from pixel 1 - the end. Not really PI in the normal sense but obviously effective.

    I'm trying to conserve controller outputs to take advantage of the total pixel capacity per channel. I'm planning to have 4 mini trees each with 140 pixels, daisy chained with PI instead of using 4 separate outputs on my controller.

    I'm going with 12v this year for everything to start but already thinking about going 5v next year for my pixel tree. I'm looking at 8' with 24 strings of 50 pixels, the calculator says I would only need 1 PSU where a 12v would need 2. I have two outlets in my front yard but both run off the same 15A circuit and I'm afraid that I'll max that out pretty quick with 12v PSU's.

  3. #53
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    Dec 2012
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    Default Re: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    15A * 115V = 1,725W / 300W (common PSU rating) = 5.75 PSU = ~5 PSUs on your single circuit.


    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. #54
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    Jan 2016
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    Default Re: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    The pixel voltage you choose is a personal decision. I run about 14,000 pixels and 96 channels of incandescent lights. I honestly don't notice a difference on my power bill. My show runs from 6:00-9:30 on weeknights and 6:00-10:00 on weekends for about 25 days. The incandescent lights are on at 80% for 45 minutes prior to the show. I run pixels at 25%-30% because anything brighter is hard to look at. It doesn't record well when it's bright either. With the reduced brightness and the way effects are rendered, it's hard to say how much running the show would cost. Maybe Vixen and XLights could add a power calculation, "Your show will cost $x.xx per night"!

    One of my goals is to keep everything simple. I only use power injection on mega trees and one large snowflake. I might consider 5v on a mega tree because the strings are close to the power supply but I still wouldn't like connecting twice as much wire, adding twice as many power distribution boards, storing it all and so on. For me, the simplest solution has been putting 7 FPP remotes in the yard so I can group the props together. One for each mega tree, one for the left, right and center of the house, one for the roof, one for arches, etc. I have lots of extra ports and capacity. All remotes are wireless and the master runs on a VSphere server in the house. The radio is inside next to the server and the antenna is permanently mounted in the attic. Every year I start the virtual machine that runs the master, turn on the radio and everything works. I admit that 7 remotes aren't cheap but it pays off by reducing setup/take down time and storage space. Another time saver for me is buying pre-made cables. I think I have 3 or 4 sizes. Instead of looking for the one cable that's custom made for a single prop, I just connect one or more pre-made cables and move on.

    I couldn't imagine buying buck converters for every 13 pixels, let alone waterproofing those, making cables, laying them out and picking them up every year and replacing the ones that go bad. They also have to be stored, possibly labeled and it just sounds like a lot of work. Buck converters are probably 70-80% efficient so power loss occurs at each one. I'm not saying my way is better but it suits my goals. A couple of years ago I tried POE, running 36v power supplies and buck converters at each prop. It wasn't my thing either, mostly because it resulted in more cable and hardware. Time is money to me and the weather isn't always nice. The quicker I can setup and take down the better.

  5. #55
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    Default Re: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    I know a lot of people look at a $200 controller and think that they want to make the most out of that thing. But really, is that wise? in your example, if you have something go wrong in tree 1, then trees 2-4 all go down too. If each tree is on it's own port, then only one tree goes out at a time. If each tree is on it's own single prop controller, even a whole controller can go bad and you still only lose one tree.
    Think of the actual price per port vs the cost of a prop. If a 16 port controller costs about $200. That's $12.50 per port. If you go the F48 + receiver route, then you're only at $9.66 per port. Is that a lot to spend per prop? That's less than the coro itself in most cases. Take the example of a $20 ESPixelStick. It's more money, but it's still well within the acceptable price range to include in a prop that's self sufficient. And that brings the added benefit of not needing any wires except a power connection at the prop.

  6. #56
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    Jan 2021
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    Default Re: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    It might be some naivety on my end in not fully understanding how to link multiple FPP's to synchronize everything as I've never done it before, so I'm trying to make the most out of my 8 port Kulp for this year. I can expand that with 3 4x smart receivers which are only $22 each which is pretty damn cost effective.

    Just thinking as I type, for what I have planned this year alone, I see 1 port for my roof line (245 pixels) and probably forced to PI there. 2 window outlines, 1 door outline, 4 mini trees, 4 arches and 5 pinwheels which would be 17 ports. I would need my kulp 8 plus 3 smart receivers to keep everything on separate channels. 4 boxes, 4 psu's but no PI.

    I feel like there are so many ways to approach this and every time I think I have a solid plan of attack something comes up to make me second guess my plan hah.

  7. #57
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    Jan 2012
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    Chambersburg, PA
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    Default Re: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    Quote Originally Posted by rsegreto View Post
    I feel like there are so many ways to approach this and every time I think I have a solid plan of attack something comes up to make me second guess my plan hah.
    Welcome to the wonderful world of Holiday Lighting!
    2012 - 1st year 64 Channels - 7500 LED lights - 5 sequences
    2013 - 128 Channels - 10,000 LED lights - 7 sequences (2 New)
    2014 - 201 Channels - upgrading 8 Arches to dumb RGB - 8+ sequences (1+ New)
    2015 - 240 Channels + 8 Universes - sequences TBD
    2016 - No Display
    2017 - Back in the Game - 240 Renard Channels + 12 Universes
    2018 - 256 Renard and 9 Falcon Outputs of Pixels - 16 sequences shown over 2 nights
    2019 - 256 Renard and 9 Falcon Outputs of Pixels - 16 sequences shown over 2 nights
    2020 - Emergency Conversion to Falcon F48 with limited wireless

  8. #58
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    Jan 2021
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    Default Re: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    This is probably not a common application, but I like 5V pixels when I am going off-grid. I use a dual-USB-port cell phone charger to power both the pixels and an Arduino. It is amazingly simple. Not the sort of thing you would do for a residential yard display, but really simple to do for trade shows, live performances, or travelling shows that are one-off. It can be done for 12V as well, using a portable car jump starter (which often has both 12V and 5V ports), but it's not as simple and tends to be bigger & heavier.

  9. #59
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    Dec 2020
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    Default Re: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    As long as we’re on the subject of 5v vs 12v, can I piggyback on two questions here to conserve threads?

    First, in terms of safety, is there any consensus on which voltage has more issues or more catastrophic failures? Seems random and unrelated to voltage, but curious if anyone knew something I didn’t.

    Second, when I usually read these debates, one of the cons of 12v is that you can only control pixels in groups of three. Is that right? Could someone dumb that down for me to explain exactly what it means and the reasoning/method behind it? Thanks in advance!

  10. #60
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    Jan 2021
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    Default Re: 5v vs. 12v Pixels

    So I'm still a noob but from what I read the safety issues was a quality control issue with pixels purchased last year. Assume given the additional voltage 12v might be more of a risk of that failure but I haven't read anything directly related to the voltage being the cause.

    I think what you're reading about the groups of 3 is that technically each pixel / node consists of 3 individual LED's inside, one of each Red, Green, Blue (RGB). That's why when grouping in some of the sequencing software you have to factor each individual led chip into your equation for universes. Some now factor that in for you like xLights and you just enter the number of nodes. This has nothing to do with the voltage though and both are built the same.

    -Russ

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