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overeazy

Rgb Dumb Pixels

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OK I am trying to figure out this RGB thing.  I have a lot of stick trees that I would like to convert over to the dumb RGB nodes next year.  I have been trying to do a lot of reading on them but every time I do my head spins trying to figure out exactly what I need and where to get it from.  Since I had 600 mini lights of each color on the tree I would like to try 600 nodes on one tree first and see how it looked. Could someone please tell me exactly what I need to purchase to put 600 nodes on that tree and where is the best place to buy the stuff as far as price and reliability.  I live in snow and cold so that would have to be a consideration.  I also want to be able to tie it in and program it with LOR.  I hope someone that has been working with them can easly tell me what I need.  

thanks

Duane

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Well I have been slowly converting over myself. First thing. Not cheap!!!!!!!! You can find them on eBay or holiday Coro. Most buy them from China but I've heard some horror stories on that one. You should get some responses that will point you in the right direction. I personally use holiday Coro and eBay to get the stuff I need for my display. Sent from my ADR6350 using Tapatalk 2

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first off i'm still learning. but i don't think you will need 600 nodes that would be a 1800 channel tree. my understanding is theese are so bright that it will cut down on you light/ node count.

 

here is a great place to start reading and figure things out.

http://auschristmaslighting.com/wiki/Main_Page

 

also they fave a forum

 

http://auschristmaslighting.com/forums/index.php

 

this has helped me to understand it more.

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Many people say you only need half the amount of nodes of leds   anyway   DIY LED express  has dumb 50 ct strips on sale now   $14.50 per string    I use the 24 channel  dc controller from LOR and a 12 volt power supply from diy led express pretty simple to setup and program with lor

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Duane,

I think for your project you may want to look at these. http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/DC12V-input-RGB-12mm-through-hole-LED-node-100pcs-a-string-in-all-black-color-wires/701799_677300261.html from Ray Wu. You can save money on shipping if you get in on a group buy or you order a large amount of products. You will also need power so one of these would work. http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/350W-Dual-Output-Switching-Power-Supply-88-264VAC-input-12V-350W-output-CE-and-ROHS-approved/701799_289599951.html  To control them you could go with the LOR 24 channel controller it will control 8 separate elements and connect to your LOR network. http://store.lightorama.com/cmdedcca3.html

 

That should get you started.

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Thanks for helping.  I take it the ones from Ray are water proof?  Also I see a lot of then are either DC 5v or 12v.  What is the difference or your choice?  I have had people you if contacted ray directly you could save a little on shipping or will he combine shipping charges?

 

thanks

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He will combine orders. You need to get a list of everything you want and send him an email. He should get back to you with in a day or two. The 5 vdc strips/strings are usually smart single controlled pixels. The 12 vdc are either dumb like the link I posted or smart with 3 leds to a pixel.  I don't know if that is a hard fast rule but it is what I have observed.

The waterproof rating is IP68 is the highest then IP67, IP65, down to IP33 no waterproofing.

Make sure you ask the IP rating for each item you buy. The web page can say IP68 in the title then down in the description it may say IP67, so always ask.

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Hi Duane,

 

You are precisely at the point I was a couple years ago... I had twelve twig/stick trees wrapped with red, green, and white on white wire lights.  I was sick and tired of the horribly ugly green I was getting out of those lights and the fact that the three strings of lights were doing a good amount of damage to the trees from the wear and tear of installing uninstalling them each year.  I had heard of the RGB things and decided to take a look... One string of lights that could make any color would surely be much better for these trees that just aren't built the way they used to be.  I didn't do it last year (2012) because of the cost, but I saved up my pennies and went at it this year (2013).  I elected to go with the smart pixel RGB nodes instead of the dumb nodes after testing a single tree out earlier in the year.  I found that you could do some pretty cool effects if you used the pixels compared to just turning the whole tree on or off.  Now, I don't at all believe that going the dumb node route would be a bad choice either, but I did the analysis and they're not much cheaper, depending on how many trees you have and how you set it all up.  For MY setup, it worked out to be almost a wash going with pixels once the controllers and power supplies were taken into account.

 

I have so much information to convey... let's see... my trees are 5 foot tall and came with 450 lights on them originally.  Just like you, I tried to figure out how many lights would look "right".  I asked the same question around here and ended up going with the most common reply "test it on your own and see what you like!".  I ordered six 50 count pixel strings, a controller and a power supply.  I ordered the lights custom with an 8" spacing between RGB elements because, if you add up the total branch length on a tree, you would definitely need 400-500 lights with the standard 4" spacing.  Let's put it this way... with 200 lights on the tree... I decided to stop there... they are THAT bright.  I was able to make 200 lights (four x 50 count strings) work because of the 8" spacing (again, I have a 5 foot tree, how big is your tree?).  If I had a 6' tree, I would probably have gone with 300.  Actually, I do own 6 foot and 8 foot twig/stick trees, but they still have the old three string lights on them... for this project, I was lucky enough to stumble on a good stash of new trees after Christmas a couple years ago.  Maybe some day I will strip those old trees of their lights and revisit the "number of lights per tree" subject again...

 

I'm going to stop there and provide a video.  I could fill five pages with what I've learned this year... so feel free to ask questions.  You will see in the video that by using the pixels, I am able to fill the tree up and down with color which is a semi-cool effect... something you could not do with the dumb nodes.

 

https://vimeo.com/76292715

 

Take care,

 

-Louie

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Sorry, one more thing.  I used these from Ray Wu but requested a custom spacing.  They are nice because of the white string.

 

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Promoion-DC5V-50nodes-WS2811-pixel-light-12mm-diameter-IP68-rated-256gray-scale-all-WHITE-wire-epoxy/701799_1557006174.html

 

As you can see, they are $16 per string of 50.  The dumb nodes are $12 per 50 which is not that much of a cost difference.  I can do six trees conservatively per pixel controller based on the outputs but I could only do four with something like the 24 channel LOR DC controller.

 

-Louie

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I was asked for more information through personal message and I figured it would be useful to post some of my reply here as well...  Here it goes...

 

Rather than thinking about the tree first, I would think about the controller first.  For instance, if you go with the LOR 24 channel DC RGB controller, you could control 8 strings of dumb RGB nodes (3 channels per string).  That controller is $110 and I would factor in another $50 for power supply, case, wire, etc.  9 trees with 3 x 100 count strings per tree is 27 strings which is 81 channels of RGB which would require 4 of those 24 channel LOR cards and they wouldn't be fully utilized.  On the other hand, 3 of those 24 channel cards would be 72 channels of RGB which works out to 24 strings of RGB control.  So, you can see how your request to do 9 trees becomes a problem.  8 trees with 3 x 100 count strings per tree is 24 strings, which would fully fill 3 of the LOR controllers, but the 9th tree would require you to spend another $160 just to do one more tree.  So the cost per tree goes up.  If you stick with 8 trees, you can use 3 controllers with casing, etc., which would cost around $480.  That is $60 per tree in controller and casing cost.  The pixel controller I purchased can do six trees per controller (which is why I had settled on 12 before going down to 10) so I needed two of the controllers.  The pixel controllers cost more than the dumb RGB controllers do (mine was $225 and again, another $50 for power supply, case, wire, etc.) but the cost per tree for the pixel controller is less ($225 + $50 / 6 trees = $45 per tree in controller and casing costs).

 

Once you think about the controller a bit, the next step is the tree obviously.  The dumb RGB nodes, in general, cost 2/3 what the RGB pixels cost.  For my tree with 200 lights, each tree would have cost $48 with the dumb nodes and $64 with the smart pixels.  Not a huge difference in my opinion.  With 300 lights per tree it would be $72 versus $96.  Again, not that much of a difference.  Now, when you multiply that by 9 trees, that adds up to $150 to $200-ish dollars, so you have to decide how a big of a deal $150-200 is to you.  I haven't even discussed shipping, because it depends on your location and how much you order.  I think in general the shipping adds around 15-20% typically.

 

So, we discussed controller cost and individual tree costs.  The next thing is how you hook up the controllers to the trees.  As with everything, there is an inexpensive way to do things and a more robust way to do things.  I went the more robust route which involved using fully waterproof cabling that was pre-fabricated to certain lengths.  The 10 foot lengths of this cable run right around $1.80 (3 wire) to $1.90 each (4 wire).  The 3 wire is for smart pixels and the 4 wire is for dumb nodes.  25 foot lengths would be double the 10 foot length cost, 5 foot lengths are surprisingly not half and that has to do with the fact that a good portion of the cable cost is the two plug ends of the cable.  I arranged all of my 10 trees fairly close to each other and was able to use a single 10 foot length for each tree.

 

I think you can see how the cost savings of the actual lights themselves goes out the window once you factor in controller cost.

 

8 dumb RGB based trees require:

 

three LOR DC controllers with casing, etc. = $480

twenty-four cables = $50

twenty-four strings of 100 count dumb RGB nodes = $576

 

The per tree cost is $138

 

8 smart pixel RGB based trees require:

 

two pixel controllers with casing, etc. = $550

twenty-four cables = $50

forty-eight strings of 50 count pixel RGB = $768

 

The per tree cost is $171

 

However, if you fully utilized the pixel controllers by doing 12 smart pixel RGB trees, the cost would go down to $148 per tree (nearly the same as the dumb node tree)

 

two pixel controllers with casing, etc. = $550

thirty-six cables = $72

seventy-two strings of 50 count pixel RGB = $1152

 

I will end with this... the dumb node setup will be easier in my opinion to jump into... fewer channels to sequence, etc.  I used the dumb nodes on my oak trees, bushes, & small palm trees this year, so I do like them... but I felt I could do something more by putting pixels in the stick/twig trees and for only slightly higher cost per tree based on my utilization.  If you're used to using LOR, the dumb node approach will be an easier transition based off of what I went through this year to jump into the pixel stuff.  That being said, I think there is a much higher up-side to the pixels.  If you went dumb node and I went pixel, I'd always be able to do cooler effects with my trees compared to your trees.... now the question is, would anybody care?!  :P

 

-Louie

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Thanks Louie,

 

What controller are you using? I use the J1sys P12S, it will handle 12 strings no problem. The cost is around $225 if I remember correctly. That would help keep the cost per tree down if the requirement for more then 6 is there.

 

Cheers,

Lee

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Hi Lee,

 

I am also using the p12s (actually still have one of the older p12r's and one p12s on the two banks of twig/stick trees).  The way I am setup involves running two of the 50 count pixel strings per output, and with 200 pixels per tree, I am able to do six of my twig/stick trees per p12s controller (each output pushing 100 pixels).  The nice thing about the p12s/r controllers is that, for Duane's situation where I think he will want 300 pixels per tree based on the higher branch count, he could still get six twig/stick trees per controller by doing 150 pixels per output.  The power injection would get a little bit trickier, but still very doable.

 

The reason I put "two pixel controllers + casing, etc. = $550" above is that, the p12s controller is $225, the power supply is around $25, figure $15-25 for a case, and then there is some miscellaneous wire requirements for inside the case.  I figure $275 per controller assembly is fair, but that is probably +/- $25.

 

-Louie

Edited by nutz4lights

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One more note here on figuring out how many lights to use.  I briefly made mention of this somewhere above but will hit it more concretely here.  You have two considerations.  Brightness & wire length - bulb spacing.  For instance, I took one of my twig trees and went through and added up the total branch length of the twelve branch levels on the tree.  I came up with somewhere around 750 lineal inches of branch that I needed to cover with bulbs.  I decided that I wanted to keep the distance between bulbs to as little as I could, so I elected to zip tie each bulb to the branches instead of wrapping extensively.  You can see that if you are going to only use 200 lights, you need at least 7.5" spacing to simply have the wire extend out to the tip of the branch and come back in again.  If I had used 300 lights, I could have used around 5.0" spacing.  I saw that the brightness was more than enough with 200 lights, so I elected to go with am 8" spacing.  That 8" spacing is custom, but Ray WU was more than willing to do it.... some of the other vendors that sell RGB components only sell a fixed pixel or node spacing, so I had no choice but to go to China for the lights.  REMEMBER, my trees were 5 foot tall.  I have a bunch of six foot and 7-1/2 foot tall trees in the attic, but I never got around to adding up the total branch length of those trees.  If you know that your tree is going to be 6 foot or 7 foot or whatever, go out to your garage and go through the exercise of adding up the length of all the branches.

 

-Louie

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So that I understand: if I want to rebuild my mega tree using dumb pixels, I can buy the 24 channel board for $110 plus all the other items you mention. Then find a vendor for the pixels and start sequencing? I don't need superstar do I? I have sequenced dumb strips on my roof line using LOR but not superstar.

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Wilder

 

Yes, if you get the $110.00 board from LOR you can control 8 RGB channels with LOR software. Superstar is used to make programming easier. It is not required. If you where getting smart pixels and had hundreds if not thousands of pixels then you would want something like Superstar to help program.

 

Your version of LOR just needs to be able to do RGB channels.

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First, you mentioned using the LOR 24 channel board and then mentioned pixels later in your sentence.  The pixels imply "smart" which the LOR board isn't used for.  It is used for dumb RGB nodes where the whole string length turns one color.

 

If you meant to type "nodes" and not "pixels", then yes, as Lee said, you can do what you're talking about.  But, you need to specify what your megatree looks like.  I will use mine as an example.  It is one of the 20' tall ones and has 48 sections currently (using RGB pixels).  I know another guy here in town doing a 15' tree with 32 sections (again, he is using RGB pixels).  So, with 48 sections or legs, you would need 48 strings of lights, in your case, 48 strings of dumb nodes.  Because each 24 channel LOR board can control 8 strings/legs/sections of RGB dumb nodes, I would need six (6) of the controllers to do my megatree.  Those 6 controllers would cost closer to $900 with the casing/power supplies/cabling, etc. that goes into making a controller case, however, because I used RGB pixels and a pixel controller, I only needed two of those pixel controllers to control my entire tree.  Those two pixel controllers only cost around $550 with casing/power supplies/cabling, etc.  The benefit of the pixels as opposed to the dumb strings is that I can do many more cool effects with my tree compared to just dumb node approach.  Now, I bought 48 strings of 50 pixels for my tree.  2400 pixels x $0.34 each works out to around $800.  $800 + $550 = $1350.  If I had gone the dumb node approach, 48 strings of 50 dumb nodes would cost around $600 (the dumb nodes are $0.24 each).  However, that $600 + $900 for the controllers would run $1500 and you can quickly see how the dumb node approach actually ends up costing more than the smart pixel approach... and is so much more limited with what it can do effect-wise.

 

-Louie

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Louie,

Do you have any videos or pictures of your mega tree? I am thinking of a 10' or 12' mega tree with pixels. Would love to see yours and also would like to know pixel spacing. Everyone has pre-sales going on, so I am looking at various pixels from different vendors. Saying all that, I too had thought about dumb nodes for a mega tree...so that is still not out of the question. Just be careful and not to overload the whole board. I found the 27 channel dmx boards to be a little sensitive to being overloaded. Their cheap enough, just buy another one ;-) (Not speaking of the LOR boards btw)

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Hi Robert,

 

I haven't recorded any "good" video yet.  This year was a nightmare for me.  After getting the ten twig/stick trees done by August/September, my second RGB/power supply/cabling order to China was placed 9/02 and didn't arrive until 11/30.  I had essentially 3-4 weeks to build 11 controllers into casing (the power supplies and cabling were part of the order from China), attach 2400 RGB pixels to PVC pipe for use on the megatree, string up another 50-80 strings of RGB lights total in the yard, etc... needless to say, I didn't even get around to the other parts of my display that I've been using for years (Merry Christmas sign, snowflakes, etc.) and the minitrees didn't even make it into my sequencing (they are in the yard).  I didn't even get any of the RGB stuff on the house... I was left to focus on the yard... and no music... just generic animation, which wasn't completed until 1AM the night before we were leaving to go spend time with family for Christmas...

 

All that said... here is a video  ;)

 

https://vimeo.com/82357322

 

And, yes, I experienced some data issues, which have now been fixed... it turns out, sending 20,000 channels worth of information out over a 100 foot CAT6 cable into daisy-chained 5-port switches is not a good idea... I moved to a dedicated 16-port switch and a 75 foot cable and the effects are MUCH smoother in the difficult section of the sequences, which are the rainbow effects.  I don't plan on using rainbow effects when I move to my real sequences, but they are the most difficult for the hardware to playback because every single pixel has some data being sent to it... kind of like benchmarking a PC...

 

-Louie

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Louie,

 

Your tree is awesome! I think the issue with your network is rebroadcast. If you where sending broadcast data and not unicast then each hub was sending the same data out again and again and flooding the network. I see you got it fixed I was just letting you know what the issue was.

 

Are you using LSP for your programming?

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Oh wow Louie, that is impressive. Man. More questions now. I hope this still fits in to the thread topic.

Ok, I see you have this 360 deg around. ONE YEAR I went with a 180 deg mini mega trees (about 10'). Loved it, but went with a spiral tree and a full 10' (maybe 12') mega the next year. Glad I did.

 

Now I love what your doing with your tree. Rainbow effects, are you using Nutcracker or Superstar. Again, another $ I have to figure if moving up to Superstar (didn't they have a sale one time on that?) I am at the advanced license now.

 

You have a 20'. What is the base diameter? I am a little limited with where I need to put my spiral and mega trees, even with base and height. Would that take away from what you were able to do? Looking at where your street is, it might be about the same distance from the street for mine. How about a 180 deg tree with PIXELS?  I have seen tons of people use smart "strips" with just a half tree. May do that, but sure like the effects you did.

 

Spacing; Soooo what is your pixel spacing? I know with your twig trees you were stuck there where you had to order. How about other vendors?  Am looking at different places in seeing what they offer...and also have limited funds to commit to it right now as well.

 

Controllers; You mentioned you got away with just 2 controllers for that mega? If I WERE to go with a 10'...even if I were to go 360...could I go with one?  I know that has to do with spacing, pixel count, etc., but what do you think?

 

Ok, let's see if we can get stuff down before the rain and ice comes in :-(

Robert

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Hi Lee, thanks!  I was actually using Unicast all along though.  I am using LSP for programming.  I had an in town light nut come by again last night to brainstorm.  As I said, I was using Unicast all along, but definitely saw an improvement when I moved from the daisy-chained 5-port switches to the single 16-port switch.  I also saw a massive improvement when I moved from a Core 2 Duo laptop with 2GB RAM to my Core i7 desktop with 6GB RAM.  Last night we went and moved away from image shifting macros using JPEGs to color shifting macros (both rainbow type effects) and we saw an improvement there too, so there may be something wrong with the JPEGs I was using (haven't posted that question on the LSP forum yet).  The effects were much smoother with rainbow color shift macros than with the JPEG.  We also moved from a 100' CAT6 cable to a 75' CAT5 cable and saw what appeared to be an improvement with that change.

 

-Louie

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Louie,

 

Have you played with Xlights/Nutcracker effects?

 

I plan on switching to LSP this year, I wanted to last year but I was having a poor learning curve and with adding the 1800+ pixels and the fact that the LOR sequences where not importing very well into LSP I used Xlights and LOR with a lot of copy/paste going on.

 

I like the way LSP can make an effect on the whole display rather then a single element if you want.

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Robert,

 

I switched away from LOR software (superstar) and went to Lightshow Pro.  I dabbled with Nutcracker a bit, but decided I wanted what LSP had to offer and dropped the $350 on it...

 

My base diameter is 12 foot...

 

My pixel spacing is 4.25" and I wish I would have gone with 5"... you can't really see it, but the "bottom" of the megatree is really close to 3 feet off the ground.  That was a mistake on my part... not sure why I did it... probably in the rush of things.  I have two options.  Leave it as is (the bottom of the megatree is surrounded by 3 foot tall minitrees anyway) or, cut my 20' pole down to 18'... the only thing I don't like about option number two is that I feel the tree would not maintain the aspect ratio that I have grown to love... I've been using this tree for 5 years now... I don't want it shorter and wider.

 

I only use one vendor, Ray Wu.  I know some others sell RGB stuff, but for me, I wanted fully customizable and Ray was the only one willing to do it (that I am aware of).  I believe his pricing is also the lowest.

 

My tree is 360.  I had this grand plan of orienting the pixels at the rear of the tree toward the street and I probably will do that next year, but was too rushed to pull it off this year.  I think the 180 versus 360 discussion always end in "to each their own".  There is no right or wrong.  I decided I wanted 360.  Maybe at some point I will switch to 270 or something like that... but in my old displays, I did a good amount of spinning of the megatree and bouncing stuff out of it to the other elements... you can't do a full spin with a 180 or 270 tree... if I decide not to sequence like that in the future, I would probably switch to 270 (I still don't think I would ever do 180).  Now, what's <maybe> ironic is that, on my tall palm trees left and right in the display... I only placed lights on the front of the tree (since you can't see through a palm tree like you can a megatree).  I put a bungee cord up at the top of the palm and then dropped 6 or 8 strings vertically down, securing them along the palm trunk with additional bungee cords to keep a regular matrix array of pixels (that's how I get the vertical pumping in those palm trees).

 

Regarding controllers... there are a bunch of different controllers, so I can't answer your question completely.  What I tell you is that, on my tree, I had 48 strings of 50 pixels.  It was fairly effortless to get each controller, which had 12 outputs, to drive 24 strings of 50 pixels... so I bought two controllers to drive the 48 strings.  If you go with a 180 tree and 24 strings of 50 pixels, one controller would easily cover it... I said effortless.  These controllers can technically drive/control 150 pixels per output, so technically you could do 36 strings of 50 pixels per controller... but I believe I found that the power injection would be a little trickier with the 150 pixels (3 strings of 50) per output on my controller (a J1SYS p12s).

 

Keep the questions coming and I will keep the answers coming.

 

-Louie

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