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Thread: Max distances from controller to pixels

  1. #1
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    Default Max distances from controller to pixels

    I'm getting back into Light animation. I've been using holidayCoro controllers.

    Right now, I'm planning on outlining my house so the light stay up all year round. My goal is simply to avoid having to go up on the roof. With that said, not having the controller box on the roof would be ideal for me. I'm concern about the distance from the controller to the actual pixel strings/strips. I saw one video that looks like the max is about 30 feet with x-connect type cord (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ko5wu5S0J1o). That's not a lot of distance When the first ten feet or so is going to be eaten up by height (controller on the ground/wall).

    So anyone have information about how far we can have the controller from the actual pixels? I'm also hoping to do with without power injections which may not be entirely feasible.

    The purpose is largely a combination of safety, convenience, and the fact I'm getting older with some arthritis issues. It's a chore to get up on the roof and a not entirely safe or feasible to do once the snow flies.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Max distances from controller to pixels

    There is a video on YouTube by Jeff Lacey (Canispater Christmas) where he tests using cat5 cable to both power and run data. I prefer not to power with it but I use 2 or 3 core alarm wire(18 gauge) for the v+ an v-. Then a twisted pair for the data. Cat5 is supposed to be able to go 100 feet for the signal. Look up the video on YouTube. I’ve had no problems in the 30’ range. Haven’t had a need for longer. I use a differential receiver for the long runs.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Max distances from controller to pixels

    My experience is that 30' is a good number. However, by installing a buffer/line driver, you can get at least 50' (my current maximum). I had issues beyond 30' that twisted pairs of Cat 5 or any other solution failed to remedy.
    Ed
    Happily retired

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Max distances from controller to pixels

    Thanks for the replies. I saw the video with the Cat5 but I'm a bit dubious of swapping around my cords around since I"m using largely holiday coro stuff.

    The more I get into the details the more I think being able to get it so I don't have to get on the roof is not going to be realistic unless I dumb down what I want to put on the house.

    the longest run I have on my house is about 32 feet on the front of the house, but's it's also the furthest away from the outlet. So for that 1 run I'll already eat up 16ft of extension to the lights plus whatever the distance is to the controller. That basically rules out having this controller on the back of the garage. It would have to be on the front garage roof. So unless I'm hanging a bunch of extension cables off the front of my garage there's no good way to hide the setup. my ideal would be to have it so I can just disconnect the controller from the ground, keep all the wires up neat towards the back of the garage so I don't have the black lines running all over the place.

    So it looks like my best bet to have the lights up, but have to get on the garage roof to plug the controller into lights & power. I want to do RGB but that controller to light distance makes it challenging if I want a neat setup. Last time I did my house outline it was all dumb lights so I just had collected extension cords going over the garage and out to the various strings. Ugly, but neater than having a box on front roof of the garage.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Max distances from controller to pixels

    To get the extra distance, you add an "f-amp" (or null-pixel) to the middle of the cord going to the pixels, it will regenerate the data signal and you are good for another 30 ft or so, check your setup to determine the exact length you can go from the controller to 1st pixel.

    F-amps have the added benefit that you don't need to account for them like you do a null-pixel. And if you purchase them from http://pixelcontroller.com they have connectors on them, making them easy to add to the cables
    Matt

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Max distances from controller to pixels

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruppro View Post
    To get the extra distance, you add an "f-amp" (or null-pixel) to the middle of the cord going to the pixels, it will regenerate the data signal and you are good for another 30 ft or so, check your setup to determine the exact length you can go from the controller to 1st pixel.

    F-amps have the added benefit that you don't need to account for them like you do a null-pixel. And if you purchase them from http://pixelcontroller.com they have connectors on them, making them easy to add to the cables
    As mentioned: For DATA the key here is distance from the controller to the FIRST pixel. You don't have to worry about controller to last pixel.

    POWER is different. You need to deal with power from the PSU through to the last pixel. With distances like that you are going to want to run thicker wire in parallel with your lights so you can inject power along the run of lights.

    As for not having to go on the roof, pixels die. You will have to go up there to fix them. Make sure you include maintenance in your design.


    2022 - Not sure yet. At least two new songs.
    2021 New Tune-to sign. New 40x27 matrix at the house. Retiring the Strip based matrix. Updating some of the old window frames to the new house. Adding two new songs.
    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/user/MartinMueller2003

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Max distances from controller to pixels

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinMueller2003 View Post
    As mentioned: For DATA the key here is distance from the controller to the FIRST pixel. You don't have to worry about controller to last pixel.

    POWER is different. You need to deal with power from the PSU through to the last pixel. With distances like that you are going to want to run thicker wire in parallel with your lights so you can inject power along the run of lights.

    As for not having to go on the roof, pixels die. You will have to go up there to fix them. Make sure you include maintenance in your design.
    Yeah maintenance is already a consideration. My original plan was to use channels & strip but I threw that away once I considered what a royal PIA that would be if a pixel got killed. Love the look of the strip but not something I think I want to deal with if it requires me to get on a ladder/roof mid-winter. So right now I'm thinking strings for anything 2nd story to roofline. We get way to much ice and snow to deal with that. Strings likely would be a better long-term choice.

    Just for reference, this is what I'm dealing with. Right now I just have all dumb lights up. I have an outlet by the garbage cans in front, the next is behind the garage. So I don't exactly have a lot of options that wouldn't involve running wires every which way from what I can tell. The node pixel may provide just enough length to keep the controller box on the backside of the roof and maybe the ground. If I have to do power injections it'll likely be for the bottom or front runs


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Max distances from controller to pixels

    I used 2 pixels as null separated by 15' each for my longest run. I have them nulled in the Sans e682. My question is do I program them in Vixen setup as well?

    Never mind, I found a post where it says you ignore them in the software.
    Last edited by TomsLEDs; 09-26-2022 at 01:15 PM.
    Love LEDs!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Max distances from controller to pixels

    I mentioned in another thread that I'm getting data runs over 100 feet using coax. I'm doing it for real now: I've got two coax pigtails running out of my K32. One's currently in use for Halloween. So far I've had no data issues with that one. Although I don't recommend doing coax for everything: this is for when you have just one channel whose first pixel is far away from any other. Once you've successfully done it once, it's less work than an amp or a null pixel. But if you have just two channels close together (but far away from the controller), you are better off with Cat5 cable and a receiver. But I'm still experimenting with the coax outside. I kind of like the durable, heavy, stiff qualities of the cable.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Max distances from controller to pixels

    I experimented with my PixelPi project (Kickstarter) and I had 100' of CAT5 driving with no problem, and used a line buffer to drive it. So the real key is whats driving the datalines.

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