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  • My favorite Christmas story
    The original one :) But Dickens' A Christmas Carol and The Gift of the Magi are favorites, too.
  • Location
    Oregon, USA
  • Biography
    Software developer by day, ... um... yeah, the same thing pretty much all the time.
  • Interests
    Electronics, software, writing, movies, reading
  • Occupation
    Software Developer
  • About my display
    A mega-tree and a few other lights around my yard, computer controlled and orchestrated to music.
  1. The updated Lumos DC controller boards now support an expanded command set with a more streamlined protocol, the ability to define and trigger stored sequences, optional sensor inputs, power supply control, and more. Experimenting now with adding support for DMX512 in addition to its native command set, but expecting that to be part of this update when it's completed. (All of these features will be ported back to the older Lumos AC controllers as well.) There are 5 days left to pre-order PC boards, programmed microcontrollers, and a limited number of fully-assembled boards. Full details on the Kickstarter website for the project: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/alchemy/lumos-goes-dc-computer-controlled-led-holiday-ligh
  2. If anyone else wants to add their orders for the DC controllers in this batch (either fully-assembled or DIY PCB+chip sets), there are 9 days left before it's closed. In the mean time, I'm working on updates to the firmware to support DMX commands (as well as its own native set), and also support for pre-programming sequences into its memory which can be started or stopped on command or by sensor inputs attached to the controller directly (for stand-alone use without a computer attached).
  3. Based on feedback from some of the people who visited the Kickstarter campaign site, I have decided to add support for the DMX512 protocol into this ROM image, in addition to its own native protocol. In case that's interesting to anyone who is using DMX for their setup. The board hardware is RS-485 with RJ45 jacks, so at worst you may need to make a small adapter cable to plug it in, but with the ROM changes you can configure the Lumos board to respond to a block of DMX channels starting at an arbitrary channel number you choose (one per output channel plus a control channel).
  4. I just launched a Kickstarter campaign to make it possible to complete the testing and manufacture of my new design for DC SSR controllers. I'm including finished PCBs and programmed controller chips in the rewards for some of the backing levels, which is effectively a "preorder" deal if you want to construct one of these boards yourself (I'm also including an offer to build a limited number to ship fully-assembled as well). Or, of course, if you just want to help there to be more options available in the world of computerized light displays, you're welcome to drop by and back the project a little and get the t-shirt for it These are 24-channel DC relay boards, arranged as 3 blocks of 8 circuits (so you can have 3 different voltages if you need to, or spread the load between multiple power sources). Each block of 8 can be supplied by 5V or 8-24V DC, with a limit of 8 A per block (up to 5 A on each individual circuit). If you have an existing circuit which outputs 24 TTL-level signals (active low), you can build these boards as simple DC SSRs and send those logic signals out to the board from some other controller. Or, you can install a microcontroller directly on the board and use it as a stand-alone unit, which uses RS-485 (half- or full-duplex) or RS-232 serial to receive commands from the PC. The protocol should be fairly easy to implement as a Vixen plug-in (still on my future to-do list unless someone more familiar with Vixen wants to beat me to it), but my own Lumos sequencing software (currently still under development, but as of now it will import Vixen sequences and "play" them on the hardware) already comes with drivers for them. (This Kickstarter project includes a major firmware update which significantly improves the efficiency of the protocol, too.) If used with an ATX-compatible supply the stand-alone controller board will tell the power supply to wake up or sleep as needed, to save power. At any rate, I'd appreciate feedback on the project, and if you'd like to order a few boards or just pitch in to help make the whole effort successful, that would be great too! Here's the link to the project: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/alchemy/lumos-goes-dc-computer-controlled-led-holiday-ligh
  5. Cool effects. Going to actual pixels is next on my major upgrade list, but I think I'll have a lot of fun this year with the RGB LED strings and RGB floods I'm making. I'm still not sure about attaching the cords to the ribbon vs. the lights themselves, but I guess I'll have to experiment and see what it looks like with actual strings and it'll probably make sense when I see it in action. Thanks!
  6. Interesting. So the nodes are still supported by the ribbon cable, just not more than 3 nodes at a time. From your experience doing it that way, do you think that was better than, say, zip tying the nodes themselves to the cords and letting the ribbon cable hang free? Did you point the nodes out from the tree trunk all around, or did you point the back nodes "in" so they are visible from the front as well?
  7. Good idea. I believe these are IP66. I'm guessing you'll want to attach each node to the cord, or they'll still hang on the wires. Do you zip tie the cord directly to the nodes? I'm thinking of how to make them tight enough to avoid slipping during the month they are up.
  8. Cool, thanks. I'm not sure they're talking about the same kind of lighting I am, though, I think that's my fault for using the word "ribbon". I meant ribbon cable, not CCR lights. I'm talking about these: http://www.diyledexpress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=10&products_id=65
  9. I must not have been searching the other threads hard enough. I figured it had to have come up before but didn't initially see anything on this. I suspect you're right, though, it seems like it would be asking for trouble to put all the weight on the wires with these. I'll look for some way to run a strong cord or wire and attach the lights to that instead. This is my first attempt to switch anything to LED lights, and the possibilities for using RGB strings with my display are pretty exciting. If this works out, I'll start saving up to take the plunge to true pixels next.
  10. I have recently purchased a bunch of RGB LED strings to re-do my mega-tree in LEDs this year. These have a 4-conductor ribbon cable running the length of the string, with LED modules attached every 4". I'm wondering now what issues I need to watch out for when stringing them up across the mega-tree, with the weight and wind and weather. I read previously the suggestion to fill the ends with hot glue to avoid water getting inside when the wires spread the back of the light open, but should I be concerned about the strings hanging by the ribbon cable like that, or maybe provide something additional for support? If you've tried doing this with pixel strings, they're structurally very similar to those. thanks!
  11. I'm a DIY guy too I was thinking just generally so being a bit intentionally vague there. However, in this case the controllers are boards I designed and made on my own (DIY guy, y'know) but like many of the popular designs here they have terminal blocks for the wiring to attach to. Currently, I have a set of these boards in a permanent enclosure, and 14 AWG wire from the terminal blocks to 120V AC power outlets permanently mounted in the enclosure. This time around, I'm making DC SSRs, again the board design I'm coming up with will end in terminal blocks, and the RGB strings I'll attach to the SSR are another DIY project. As they arrive from the factory, they end in bare wires. So it's a choice between screwing them into the terminal blocks and calling it good, or soldering connectors to the ends of the light strings, and making little wire harnesses with connectors to go in the controller enclosure too. I'm leaning toward the latter (putting connectors in there) the more I think about it, though. It'll make hook-up faster and provide a break-away point if the wires get pulled on.
  12. By Cat5 are you referring to the wire itself or the modular connectors typically used with CAT5? The question I'm going after is whether it's better in people's experience to use any sort of connector at all between the SSR board and light strings (Molex, or whatever), or if you'd just have the light strings end in bare wire and attach directly to the terminal strips of the SSR boards themselves. The main issue I can think of here, apart from convenience of making fast connections) is what happens if someone trips over a wire and pulls on the board.
  13. So far, I've been wiring my controllers up to 120V AC outlets in a permanent weatherproof enclosure. Going forward, I will be building some low-voltage DC SSRs and I notice that most of these SSR boards (including my own) use terminal blocks for the external connections. (Up to now I have the outlets wired into these terminal strips so the actual lights just plug into the outlets but I could remove the SSR board if necessary by unwiring them from the terminal strips.) With the low-voltage ones, though, I wonder... do people here generally wire low-voltage lights (in my case, LED strings) straight into the terminal blocks each year, or do you take the intermediate step of wiring some kind of connector to the terminal strip, then plugging into that. I've considered Anderson PowerPole connectors (another thread just for that here) for that purpose, any other suggestions that have worked for others? Thanks! -sw
  14. I'm reworking a lot of my display this year, including swapping out a bunch of incandescent light strings for RGB LED strings. This means moving from regular 120V AC plugs and receptacles, for some kind of custom 5V or 12V DC plug arrangement. Likewise for the DIYC LED floods I'm building. I was looking at my options and thought of all those little Anderson PowerPole connectors I've used in the past, and thought that would be a great approach to hooking up all the DC stuff. Any thoughts on those connectors being used for this? They look like they wouldn't care too much if they're rained on, and would more than handle any power I'd send at them.
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