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Thread: Experience Wanted

  1. #1
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    Default Experience Wanted

    For many years now, we have used pixels, pixel controllers, and players. Our players have changed from full blown computers (desktop and laptop) to credit card computers (Raspberry Pi, Beagle Bones, etc.), the main part of the display has several (player/remote). The controllers have been subjected to power being turned on and off, but the players have always been on full time (always on) circuits. We do have one set of props that the controller is a RPi with a Falcon Pi Hat. This unit is subjected to the nightly power on/off cycle. We set the sequence times for this unit at 00:01 till 23:59 and load an onboard RASclock so that when power comes on, it automatically starts its sequence. When the power goes off, well - it shuts off.

    I say all of this as we are now going to add 3 larger matrices that will be in an area that does not have full time power. They will be subjected to power on (usually 30 minutes before opening) and power off (usually 15 minutes after closing) along with the occasional "bounce" during opening or close. (People who can't handle the large breaker sometimes slip and it comes right back on.) In the early days there was the possibility of corrupting data cards, but to be honest we never experienced it with the PiHat on the RPi.

    I've purchased 3 Kulp K8-B controllers (one for each stand-a-lone matrix) and am building enclosures and the matrix panels themselves. I am very concerned as to the K8-B and how it handles power on/power off cycles. ANY information would be helpful. In particular, I am looking for input if anyone else is using their K8-B in a power on/power off scenario and if there are any problems associated with this setup.

    Thanks in advance.

    Al
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  2. #2
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    Feb 2009
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    Plymouth, MN
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    Default Re: Experience Wanted

    Al, what does Dan say about it?

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  3. #3
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    Feb 2017
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    Default Re: Experience Wanted

    I am not sure if this answers your question or not, but I started powering of all my remotes in 2021. I used fpp 5.2 master/remote. I am using Smart plugs and home assistant to control the power to the remotes. I have a pi setup as my master and it remains powered on 24x7, and various other pis/ beaglebones setup as remotes. I also have a mqtt broker configured in fpp so fpp can interact with home assistant. I ended up adding a script in my playlist leadout "ShutdownRemotes.sh" You need to supply the IP's of the remotes in the script and include the shutdown.sh script to each of the remotes. So all my remotes shutdown after my leadout song finishes. Then my playlist has a 60 second pause, and the my playlist leadout I run a command that has a mqtt to power off my smart plugs. So with this setup my remotes shutdown then home assistant powers them off, all controlled by fpp. If my show runs late nothing shuts down. The next day I have a playlist that runs 10 minutes before my main playlist runs that sends the mqtt commands to turn on my smart switches, which turns on my controllers once they get powered on. I also included the mqtt commands the scheduled playlist leadin just as a precaution in case one of the smart switches failed to turn on with the 1st command. The only issue I ran into was I had 1 smart switch that would for some reason lose internet connectivity and needed to be reset a couple of times.I had 0 issues with any remotes getting corrupt or having any other issues. Because of my setup I was able to schedule my playlist to start/end at different times on different days with no issues.


    Thanks,
    Shawn

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Experience Wanted

    Thanks sctwohig.
    Your statement, "I have a pi setup as my master and it remains powered on 24x7" lies right in line with what we usually do. Though we may take controllers down, the player stays powered.
    In the case of our new props, this will be impossible. Power for the whole side of the park is manually shut down each evening and then turned back on the next day just before we open the gates.

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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Experience Wanted

    Dave,
    Just heard from Dan on one of the other sites. He is shutting down everything in his show, except his master. There in lies the difference between what I have to do (environment wise). My player ("master" if you will) does not have full time power for the units. Oh well. I'm trying to get the first of the units finished within the week. Once it is ready, I'll hook it up to a timed power switch and let it cycle the power on and off (with appropriate lengths of time between each cycle) to see what happens.

    I was just hoping someone else already had experience with this "situation".
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Experience Wanted

    I used by K32 in power off/power on mode all Christmas 2021. We've got yard inflatables which draw several amps of 120vac current, unrelated to the controllers. I don't recall experiencing any issues related to that. As a precaution, though, I did pull off about 40% of my display to run off of my backyard breaker instead of my frontyard, and I further subdivided my frontyard to run on two different timers, which turned on about 5 minutes apart.

    A lot of it had to do with the daylight: the yard inflatables are still pretty when there's daylight. The lights need it to be more dusky before they stick out.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Experience Wanted

    Thanks. I'll keep that in mind.
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Experience Wanted

    I am not familiar with your hardware and I am only half alert right now so I apologize if this is completely off base....

    If I understand it, the root of the problem is that you lose "line power" to a portion of your display every day. Would it help to have something like this:
    Co-locate a large power bank (or car battery (with whatever is needed to get the output correct) with an AC charger) in the area of interest and plug in into the area line power so that the power bank recharges whenever the line power is on. Then use the power bank to supply power only to the scheduler or controller and not to the prop. The scheduler/controller is ALWAYS running off the power bank and the power bank is being recharged whenever it can be.
    --je

  9. #9
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    Jan 2021
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    Default Re: Experience Wanted

    I should probably add that I used my K32 in 5V mode--not 12. It sounds like the concern is that ground bounce from a power cycle slowly erodes at the K8, and that would involve the regulator. K8's don't cost that much, so I don't think the risk level is high. I do a staggered power cycle on my display, mostly to not risk tripping the GFCI. Any such bounces would probably trip the GFCI first. But also, I just like to turn on my stuff that looks good in the daytime first, and turn off my noisy stuff late at night first.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Experience Wanted

    Just so we understand the scope of this...

    Horner Park is a 55 acre park with a mile long drive entering on the northeast corner and proceeding around the lake, down behind the dam, up again across the dam, and then to the gate on the southeast corner. We have a parking lot adjacent to "Mole Valley", where the animated light show is. The primary location of all "blinky" is in Mole Valley. These props, simply 4' tall, 5 foot wide matrices are located in a larger field just inside the north gate.

    The attached screenshot of the Google Map of the park shows the 3 "AC Power" areas. These areas are each controlled by a power box that is shut down each night. No other power is available. In fact, the only power that remains on 24/7 is for the animated show area, designated by the gold area next to Horner Park Hall.

    Display Area 1.jpg
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