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csmith

What's up with these RGB based LEDs???

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RGB: Red Green Blue. Think of a single bulb with these three colors built in... mix the colors and produce just about any color in the visible lighting spectrum. RGB based LEDs are coming on strong.

The dream of many light fanatics is to have a string of lights where any bulb can be told to be any color at anytime. Imagine the possibilities!

Philips Color Kinetics pioneered this idea several years ago with their iColor Flex nodes, but gosh were they ever expensive. Now we're seeing other manufacturers getting interested and the prices are dropping.

What's the biggest challenge besides the cost? Think control. Every bulb needs three channels to control the intensity of red, green and blue. That 100 light string suddenly needs 300 control channels. That megatree with 3200 lights needs 9600 control channels. My head is already starting to hurt imagining a 9600 channel sequencing grid. Ouuuuucccchhhhh!

Are RGBs in your future? If not yet, they will be. Let's talk about them here so we all can be on that bloody cutting edge of technology and dazzle our audiences!

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A number of us just finished our second year with a lot of RGB elements. Myself, I use seven D-light Firefli strings (Four on arches, one on a megatree star and two in a "superstar" over the entry way), and a slew of Mighty Mini RGB floods. (eight under each of my snowmen choir, and eight more flood filling the house) A lot of other folk have been doing some very interesting things with LOR's Cosmic Color Ribbons.

With the current software tools they are a royal pain to sequence for but that is definitely improving. Hopefully this year LOR's software suite will get to the point where sequencing these things becomes reasonable.

I will say this much, there are both pro's and con's to RGB lighting elements. There's the obvious pro's, you have one string of lights that can generate whatever color you want. Some of the con's are exactly the same though. ;) Just because you CAN generate Mauve, Pink, Teal, etc, doesn't mean it looks very "Christmasy" Doing a color fade from Blue to Red brings out a nice strong PINK on the way.

There are a few lighting enthusiasts that went 100% RGB for Christmas 2010. While I can really appreciate the effort, the bleeding edge adoption, I have to stop and look at what they created and ask myself if it really looks like Christmas Lights or not. In many cases that answer is a resounding "NO", that it looks more like the backdrop for a Popstar concert instead. By the time you turn your entire house into a giant flat screen TV and are showing full motion video, I think the essence of Christmas Lights have been lost. (Just IMHO)

That being said, I am adding a lot more RGB units for next year. I've been buying a lot of stuff direct from China through Alibaba and so far I'm very impressed with it. The key stumbling block still comes back to software. Unless we see some significant improvements from Light-o-Rama this year in their software (the only one I am confident enough in their stability), then we will still be severely restrained from really making this new technology shine.

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I added RGB to my display this year using the controllers and nodes from John at http://response-box.com/rgb. Strings are 42 nodes each, so 126 channels per string. I used 20 strings so it added 2,520 new channels to my ~500 channel display. I am LOR based and fortunately they added RGB support this year to somewhat ease the pain of that many new channels. My biggest recommendation would be think long and hard about how the new channels should be added to your sequencing software before you add them all. Reorganizing that many can be painful.

Overall I'm very pleased with the product and the flexibility RGB adds (although matching warm white lights with RGB warm white can be tedious). I don't feel I used them to their potential this year, but I've learned a lot for next year. I will probably add more RGB next year but will wait a bit to see what products are coming down the pike before I decide just how i will do it.

One word of caution for LOR users, these (and many) RGB products are controlled by DMX and integrating these lights with LOR's iDMX has a few challenges. See my thread on the LOR forum for some more info about that as well as some diagrams of how I integrated it all together. http://lightorama.mywowbb.com/forum75/25325.html

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2010 was my first LOR display, and the entire thing was done with RGB lights... Although I didn't get into using any individual nodes. Instead I braided strings of Red, Green, and Blue together and zip tied the bulbs (praying for a 0% failure rate all the while, lol). I'm very impressed with the outcome, as it has already been suggested that getting involved with individual nodes can be expensive and also create a very heavy load on your sequencing time. I intend on buying more lights this year and doing the exact same thing as last year braiding the strings together. It appears that LOR itself is going to be adding a new line of RGB products to their store this year to compliment the Cosmic Color Ribbon. I'm looking forward to seeing what they have coming down the pipe. I already have a Cosmic Color Ribbon, and love the thing... but at $250 for every 16 feet ($320 for Canadian customers after shipping and Customs), it can take over your entire budget with just a few ribbons.

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I hopped on the RGB train this year, thanks to the GE Strings that were produced this year. There were a TON of of DIY projects to hack these things to be 100% controllable. These were very popular lights this year, and sold out almost everywhere, so I predict that RGB is here to stay, and in the mainstream realm too, not just DIY!

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2011 truely looks to be the year that many move over to RGB. There were a few people in 2010 that took it on with great effect but the software side of things lagged behind the hardware innovations. This year it looks like the software capabilities will catch up with the hardware capabilities as there are a few software vendors working very hard to give great support for RGB and high channel counts for 2011.

The great thing about using RGB is that you can use more of your lights more often as you now have the colour itself to control to the music. RGB is truely the next evolutionary step in this hobby

Here is a poor quality video of what i was able to achieve with RGB this year, I expect to be able to do a lot more for 2011 with these lights as the software will truely make controlling RGB elements much easier. I used LightShow Pro in 2010 and was very pleased with it performance and i believe i wouldnt have been able to do what i did without it. Now im looking forward to LSP V2

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Chuck

RGB is very much in a lot of peoples future.

My megatree was posted back in Dec

http://forums.planetchristmas.com/showthread.php/45863-My-megatree-effort-RGB-6720-channels

We had over 7200 channels of pure RGB technology plus around 400 channels of single colour strings.

Sequencing this level of channels becomes a whole new ball game and will be different to what is thought of often as a traditional light display.

I'm sure that with the introduction of animation that the static display guys said the same thing, that all this blinky flashy stuff was not a Christmas display.

I know that i do my display for the people in the area and all that come to see it. Everyone seemed blown away this year with the megatree even though i failed to make even a dent in it's true colour abilities.

The most loved colour in my 2009 display was a pink/purple and real deep green.

What i did this year was spend a lot more time sequencing based on changes in vocals, important song points and other keys rather than the pure beat. This did leave the sequencing not looking crisp and tight but you know what...... even people that had seen the previous year loved the display and sequencing.

If i had actually spent even a fraction of the time people spend on sequencing it may have looked tighter but I had ran out of time for 2010. As of the first of december not one song was actually sequenced but i still had 13 tracks completed ten days later.

I'm certainly aiming to got fully RGB as soon as the wallet can afford it.

Cheers

Aussiephil

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With the current software tools they are a royal pain to sequence for but that is definitely improving. Hopefully this year LOR's software suite will get to the point where sequencing these things becomes reasonable.

You are absolutely correct - I realized this back in the spring of 2010. It looks like there were be some real improvements in several sequencing applications in 2011 to make these complex displays with high channel counts much more able to be sequenced.

I will say this much, there are both pro's and con's to RGB lighting elements. There's the obvious pro's, you have one string of lights that can generate whatever color you want. Some of the con's are exactly the same though. ;) Just because you CAN generate Mauve, Pink, Teal, etc, doesn't mean it looks very "Christmasy" Doing a color fade from Blue to Red brings out a nice strong PINK on the way.

There are a few lighting enthusiasts that went 100% RGB for Christmas 2010. While I can really appreciate the effort, the bleeding edge adoption, I have to stop and look at what they created and ask myself if it really looks like Christmas Lights or not. In many cases that answer is a resounding "NO", that it looks more like the backdrop for a Popstar concert instead. By the time you turn your entire house into a giant flat screen TV and are showing full motion video, I think the essence of Christmas Lights have been lost. (Just IMHO)

I'll completely agree that my display, which was 80% RGB this year (http://www.vimeo.com/18220911) was not nearly as "Christmasy" as it was in 2009 (http://www.vimeo.com/8212552) when it was completely inandescent. There are several good reasons for this -

* The sequencing software was just not completely up to the task of allowing easy sequencing

* Due to the incredible level of complexity - a completely new ethernet interface for outputting the data, completely new controller boards, completely new pixels types, software that was being bug fixed all the way into Dec - all that didn't allow for much time for sequencing a display that was changing right up into December.

* All this is completely new. If building a "traditional" display, it's easy to go to youtube and watch a few hundred videos and gather ideas on what looks good and what doesn't and you can even download very nice complete sequences (such as Holdmans and many others) - with RGB, there just wasn't any real examples (mega trees excluded) of what to do and what not to do. So myself and a number of others experimented with everything from diffusion, to types of pixels, wiring methods, sequencing methods, etc. A few years into RGB pixels and there will be a natural progression of quality as people build on other peoples mistakes and improvements. So, the few examples of RGB displays should surely be looked at as a "first run" attempt with complete RGB displays.

To some degree, this is just change and with any change comes resistance - the same occured when people moved from incandescent to LED lights, from static to animated - and there will alway be people who liked it "the old way"...I'm sure there are still a few rotary dial phone out there....they just don't make them like the used to. :)

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Here is Fabian's _very_ nice display that has RGB mixed in perfectly in the verticals and the 120 channel mini trees:

I really like the "arches" that seem to be part of the minitrees themselves.

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So while others have taken a step or a leap into RGB, I have been dabbling with it, but mostly monitoring it on a lot of forums. I think the wave coming is RGB for sure. There are limit less possibilities. I agree with David, change brings resistance. Part of the resistance right now is availability, cost, and programming. The cost is coming down and has outpaced the software end. We can only hope that this year brings some relief in that way.

The advantage of RGB, is your light counts, if that is what you are into, or most proud of, goes down, but what you can do with those lights goes up, again so does your channel count.

I have always told my visitors who think what we do is cool. I tell them for the most part a display is easy, very easy to do. The hardest part is the time investment. People will spend money pretty easily, but when it comes to sitting in the seat to get things done, that is what separates the maniacs from the meek. This is true again for those looking to get into RGB.

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I have always told my visitors who think what we do is cool. I tell them for the most part a display is easy, very easy to do. The hardest part is the time investment. People will spend money pretty easily, but when it comes to sitting in the seat to get things done, that is what separates the maniacs from the meek. This is true again for those looking to get into RGB.

I couldn't agree more.

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RGB Lighting seems to be really cool. I know very little to nothing about RGB Lights. I have a couple of basic questions.

1. Where do you buy RGB Strands?

2. How much does a strand of 100 lights cost?

3. Can you control both the individual lights and/or the strands themselves? IE 100 Channels or just 1 Channel.

4. For those that are using RGB Lighting, are you using LOR to control the lights? Seems like LOR Channels would disappear fast. If not, what systems do you use?

5. Do you need a channel for Red, one for Green and one for Blue per strand and/or bulb?

If sure I will come up with a ton more questions, but thought I would start somewhere in order to wrap my head around this.

Thanks in advance.

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Answers mixed in below:

1. Where do you buy RGB Strands?

I bought mine from John at http://response-box.com/rgb

2. How much does a strand of 100 lights cost?

He has pricing on his site, but plan to spends upwards of $1-$2 per bulb. Note that these strings are 42 bulbs per. There is a limit to how many bulbs you can have in serial before you have to re-inject power

3. Can you control both the individual lights and/or the strands themselves? IE 100 Channels or just 1 Channel.

These particular lights allow you to control the individual bulbs. I have seen some products that allow you to do the entire string or a subset of them as a group. John's is the only product I came across that was in a string form and had been productized and appeared to be fairly well tested. All of my strings from this year (20 of them) survived the 2 months of being outdoors with no failures). These strings are 42 bulbs each so that is 126 channels per string. Each controller can handle 4 strings.

4. For those that are using RGB Lighting, are you using LOR to control the lights? Seems like LOR Channels would disappear fast. If not, what systems do you use?

I use these strings interfaced to my LOR network using an iDMX-1000. I have 5 iDMX-1000's to support the 20 strings.

5. Do you need a channel for Red, one for Green and one for Blue per strand and/or bulb?

Yes, it is one channel per color per bulb. and yes your sequencing grid will grow tremendously when you add RGB. Tracks are your friend!

Do your research and I would say wait a bit to see what else is coming out from LOR and other vendors. With the coming upgrades to S2 and the CCB's from LOR, RGB will become much more manageable this year. The LOR forum post that I reference in my previous post has some information about how I integrated these bulbs with LOR as well as some of the hurdles.

Edited by heystew

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There is some awesome stuff you can do with it and bought a firefly a couple years ago when they first came out to do some testing.

Currently running a full RGB Display is very expensive which I think will keep many people from doing it even if they could invest the time and the talent to do it. I am sure prices will come down which will allow more people to use it, but at $1-$2 per bulb, I doubt you will see few 50,000 light displays that are fully RGB.

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RGB Lighting seems to be really cool. I know very little to nothing about RGB Lights. I have a couple of basic questions.

1. Where do you buy RGB Strands?

2. How much does a strand of 100 lights cost?

3. Can you control both the individual lights and/or the strands themselves? IE 100 Channels or just 1 Channel.

4. For those that are using RGB Lighting, are you using LOR to control the lights? Seems like LOR Channels would disappear fast. If not, what systems do you use?

5. Do you need a channel for Red, one for Green and one for Blue per strand and/or bulb?

If sure I will come up with a ton more questions, but thought I would start somewhere in order to wrap my head around this.

Thanks in advance.

1. Mine were bought direct from China, Onumen branded via "Ray Wu".

2. Pricing was close to 80c per bulb, pricing does vary from the 60c real cheap to about $1 per bulb from China.

3. The pricing in 2 is for individually controllable bulbs with 3 channels per bulb. You can with some hardware controllers group your bulbs together to save channels, the TigerTP3244 being one of them.

4. I personally used Vixen for 2010 with over 7k of RGB channels, channels disppearing fast is an understatement. Vixen drove 21 Universes of DMX via EthConGateway units to 20 Tiger TP3244 Pixel Controllers and other Tiger DMX controllers

5. yes, one channel per colour, 3ch per bulb.

A lot of people have already done large scale RGB deployments for 2010 with Reponsebox and Auschristmaslighting providing a large majority of the Pixel control hardware between them for use by people.

Responsebox also provided a lot of the pixels used with nearly all of the balance sourced from Ray Wu on aliexpress.

Once you get the ability to control each individual bulb there is no way you want to give that up and group bulbs to save channels.

Cheers

Aussiephil

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Does anybody provide RGB strings where all the bulbs change at the same time and only taking 3 channels per string? I am guessing this would make it cheaper and you would not need as much hardware and the sequencing would more more manageable. Even though it would be cool to control each bulb on a megatree, I don't think I would need each bulb to be controllable on a wrapped tree.

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There is some awesome stuff you can do with it and bought a firefly a couple years ago when they first came out to do some testing.

Currently running a full RGB Display is very expensive which I think will keep many people from doing it even if they could invest the time and the talent to do it. I am sure prices will come down which will allow more people to use it, but at $1-$2 per bulb, I doubt you will see few 50,000 light displays that are fully RGB.

Richard

Yes it is expensive, but not that bad if you are getting into it for the first time.

Even in the US quality LED pricing is 15c plus per bulb for some quality, for people who then group RGBW LED strings together to get the 4 colours that has then raised the cost to the equivalent of 60c per bulb. Yes a $1 is still a lot more but it is now becoming a serious option.

Once you have spent your $1 you can now do any colour, no need for that special set of purple or orange lights for halloween, suddenly the upfront cost doesn't look so bad.

People who live by "look how many lights i have" will hate it as your light count actually goes down lots.... but your channel count goes up and channel counts will actually exceed light counts.

What's still missing is Sequencing Software that can handle 10,000 to 100,000 channels, the Hardware side is already available with more exciting products to happen this year.

Cheers

Aussiephil

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Does anybody provide RGB strings where all the bulbs change at the same time and only taking 3 channels per string? I am guessing this would make it cheaper and you would not need as much hardware and the sequencing would more more manageable. Even though it would be cool to control each bulb on a megatree, I don't think I would need each bulb to be controllable on a wrapped tree.

Take a look at this PDF at this link (unable to post PDFs larger than 97kb at PC) this shows you a few of the different types of lights available from Ray Wus store with links

http://forums.auschristmaslighting.com/index.php/topic,634.15.html

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Richard

Yes it is expensive, but not that bad if you are getting into it for the first time.

Even in the US quality LED pricing is 15c plus per bulb for some quality, for people who then group RGBW LED strings together to get the 4 colours that has then raised the cost to the equivalent of 60c per bulb. Yes a $1 is still a lot more but it is now becoming a serious option.

Once you have spent your $1 you can now do any colour, no need for that special set of purple or orange lights for halloween, suddenly the upfront cost doesn't look so bad.

People who live by "look how many lights i have" will hate it as your light count actually goes down lots.... but your channel count goes up and channel counts will actually exceed light counts.

What's still missing is Sequencing Software that can handle 10,000 to 100,000 channels, the Hardware side is already available with more exciting products to happen this year.

Cheers

Aussiephil

The other thing to take into account is that by using RGBW strings the cost per channel is a lot higher then for a RGB pixel based system and this as well helps make the cost justification a lot closer.

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Does anybody provide RGB strings where all the bulbs change at the same time and only taking 3 channels per string? I am guessing this would make it cheaper and you would not need as much hardware and the sequencing would more more manageable. Even though it would be cool to control each bulb on a megatree, I don't think I would need each bulb to be controllable on a wrapped tree.

Yes they do, but the pricing per bulb is only about 20% cheaper, I have a couple strings of 100 count RGB non-intelligent strings and for the small saving would not bother again.

Hardware like the Tiger TP3244 can group an entire intelligent string into 3 channels if that's what you want thus saving channels but allowing future flexibility to your display.

Cheers

Aussiephil

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RGB Lighting seems to be really cool. I know very little to nothing about RGB Lights. I have a couple of basic questions.

1. Where do you buy RGB Strands?

2. How much does a strand of 100 lights cost?

3. Can you control both the individual lights and/or the strands themselves? IE 100 Channels or just 1 Channel.

4. For those that are using RGB Lighting, are you using LOR to control the lights? Seems like LOR Channels would disappear fast. If not, what systems do you use?

5. Do you need a channel for Red, one for Green and one for Blue per strand and/or bulb?

If sure I will come up with a ton more questions, but thought I would start somewhere in order to wrap my head around this.

Thanks in advance.

Take a look at this link to download a PDF that gives a layout of DMX, Hyper DMX and E1.31 and also shows how you can still use your LOR gear within a DMX universe

(unable to post this PDF at PC due to the 97kb PDF limit)

http://forums.auschristmaslighting.com/index.php/topic,647.15.html

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A couple of other things to keep in mind when considering RGB. RGB gives you tremendous flexibility but they are a different animal than separate strings wound together.

- RGB LED's tend to be intensely bright... especially if you are coming from incandescents or have a mixed display. Integrating them into a very smooth show, like yours Richard, might add some harshness that would have to be worked around.

- as was mentioned in another post somewhere, fades of Red, Green, and Blue are great (none of the fading issues with LED strings), however fading between colors gives you potentially unexpected results. As was mentioned, going from Red to Green takes you through some odd pink colors

- Warm White - I spent a fair amount of time trying to find the exact right RGB match to my large amount of warm white LED strings that I have around the yard. It came out fairly good, but it's still not right.

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