Author Topic: Pixels and just looking to vent a little :)  (Read 1152 times)

Offline mmciver

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Pixels and just looking to vent a little :)
« on: December 21, 2016, »
First of all, Merry Christmas to everyone!

I just needed to vent a little bit on a topic that nobody in my family understands, so I am reaching out to a like minded group for some sympathy:)

I have run animated lights for about 10 years now.  I started with D-Light Controllers and their Spectrum software, moved to another piece of software when Spectrum was discontinued and then moved to LSP.
I moved from D-light to Lynx products and fell in love, i converted my d-lights to DMX, added wireless, etc. and had good luck with almost everything, with the exception of the LSP Scheduler:)

Then 3 or 4 years ago I decided to branch off into RGB pixels and then my frustration level climbed to a new peak.  Initially I had a Etherdongle build not go well, in fact I still need to troubleshoot that one!  I built 2 others with no problems.
I built 2 passive hubs, 2 smarthubs, many SSC2's that I had to go back to and make SSC3's out of.  All of that seemed to work!
I then bought pixels and started testing and at first was having a 50% failure rate.  Once that dropped down to a reasonable level I built a 3D Merry Christmas Sign, A star, and 5 RGB arches. 

This year I put my display up and was going to mess with the RGB pixels again... It seems like everytime I start working with them I get frustrated and put them away for a while.  well this year I really wanted to get them functioning, so.....
I hook my Merry Sign up to an SSC in test mode and apply power.  I get flicker on green and white at the end of the string.....:(  More power injection probably.
I find that on my Christmas sign, all the pixels I ordered aren't the same order, some are rgb and some are bgr:(  more work.  I decided that my old PC power supplies, while they should provide enough power...  I want them out of the loop so I just ordered new PS's from Holiday Coro.

It seems like everytime I try to do anything with the RGB equipment I run into problems.  What am I doing wrong?  Everyone who has them swears by them and they look great in the Displays!  I really want to add my pieces, but I keep getting stymied!  And that is before I even try to add them to a sequence:)

That starts a whole other problem?  stick with LSP 2.8 or just move everything to Xlights!

The one thing that I will say, is that I love my Falcon Pi Player running on my Raspberry PI2!!!

Any words of encouragement, understanding, or help?

I hope this gives you a little chuckle, but i hope it ultimately helps me:)

Mike.
650000 lights!
160 Channels - 2010 numbers
RGB elements
Combo Mega Tree
Never enough lights!

Offline royce

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Re: Pixels and just looking to vent a little :)
« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2016, »
Sorry to hear about all your problems. I'm like you this year If it can go wrong it will. Hang in there it will turn around.

Offline jnealand

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Re: Pixels and just looking to vent a little :)
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2016, »
If you are still using pixels from 3 years ago, try buying some new pixels.  Quality is much better these days.  They are also 1/2 the price from when Smart strings first came out.  I only buy WS2811s now, they are about a nickel cheaper per node than the TM1804s.
Jim Nealand
Kennesaw, GA

Offline mmciver

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Re: Pixels and just looking to vent a little :)
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2016, »
 :)
650000 lights!
160 Channels - 2010 numbers
RGB elements
Combo Mega Tree
Never enough lights!

Offline caretaker

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Re: Pixels and just looking to vent a little :)
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2016, »
While I started out with pixels using SSC's and an active hub fed from an etherdongle, starting over I am moving to Falcon hardware (most likely a F16v3 ) as they are easier to use and have more features.
Jeff Squires
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Offline tbone321

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Re: Pixels and just looking to vent a little :)
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2016, »
How exactly are they easier to use?  The EDT is just plug and play with no config at all, it can't get any more simple than that.  The hub is the same, no configuration other than setting it to the universe you want it to be on.  I do prefer the Falcon firmware on the DLA SCC's and the Falcon uSC's are much smaller and allow for a larger length between the uSC and the first node but I doubt that I would sell the SSC for that when the Falcon firmware gives them the same programming features.  If I were to need to replace or buy new equipment then I would go with Falcon because it is good stuff and sadly, I believe that much of the DLA equipment has come to an end but I would not spend the money to simply change over because the DLA stuff just works and if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
If at first you don't succeed,
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Offline jnealand

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Re: Pixels and just looking to vent a little :)
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2016, »
Easier is different for many folks, but problems with DLA stuff is well known.  Look at all the folks who have trouble making a Zeus work.  Look at the ability of the Falcon pixelnet controller programmer to save the configurations and bring them back up.  Look at the ability of the F16v2 to lower brightness on a string via the controller.  Look at the functionality of virtual strings.  I'm sure there is more.  That does not diminish the functionality of the DLA smart string stuff,  I still use some of it, but as my display has grown I have purchased Falcon stuff and love it just as much as I loved the Lynx product line.  Still wish RJ was active in developing new stuff.  He was ahead of his time in many ways.
Jim Nealand
Kennesaw, GA

Offline tbone321

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Re: Pixels and just looking to vent a little :)
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2016, »
I think that we have a difference in definitions.  Sure, the Falcon equipment is more advanced because as you have said, there hasn't been much in the way of development anymore and I agree, I wish that RJ was around more and he was way ahead of the curve on the development of the lighting equipment that we use.  The point is that all of the added features and abilities of some of the Falcon equipment in many ways makes it more difficult to use because you have to understand the configuration of each device to make them work.  The EDT is simply plug and play.  You plug it in and it works, no need to configure it at all.  Pretty much the same with the hub, just set the PixelNet universe you want it to work with and connect the PS and your done.  You can load the Falcon firmware onto any of the DLA SSC's and get all of the features of the Falcon uSC and its programmer so while there a matter of easier for either one, there is little point is replacing one for the other.  I agree that the Zeus has some issues and the F16v2 is superior in just about every way and has many more features but it is also MUCH more expensive.  If I need to add equipment or replace items I would buy Falcon but IMHO, simply replacing DLA with Falcon for the sake of replacement is just a waste of money that I can use on new props for my display.
If at first you don't succeed,
your not cut out for sky diving

Offline zwiller

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Re: Pixels and just looking to vent a little :)
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2016, »
First off.  Pixels are high risk, high reward.  No way around it.  Sometimes, there is no reward.  2013...  I spent and entire year preparing, hung lights and all, sequenced my heart out but never made it live...  No one to blame but myself.  That was rough, so I feel your pain.  You WILL endure.  Find out some common faults.  For me it was power injection/voltage drop combined with SSC on ground prop failures.  My advice.  Do not load up the lights on a controller.  Keep every prop separate on the controllers.  Keep open ports on controllers.  Keep distances to first node short.  Test and then test again way before the season. 

DLA has it's place.  My SSC's are still in use and have retained programming from 2012!  That's impressive.  I hope RJ considers building on his legacy and that to me is taking totally newbies to electronics like me and getting the comfortable enough to solder and build their own controllers.  RJ made DIY accessible to anyone.  Back in the day, the “DIY” community was really anti-noob if you ask me.  They practically spoke in code so that only EE could understand.  Some are still this way.  RJ took a radical departure to make it available to all.  I am grateful.  I learned SO MUCH here and I think many would still enjoy their first sweet smell of solder.  Darn right, he was way ahead of his time. 

I’d like to see him back into it or maybe someone else can.  I’d like to see the Aether III.  4x10w 12vRGB led with 2811/PN protocol with a 1 cable hookup.  I could go on… 
Sam, who is happy he flashed his etherdongle with newest firmware!

"Now, I had heard that word at least ten times a day from my old man. He worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium; a master."

Offline loveroflife96

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Re: Pixels and just looking to vent a little :)
« Reply #9 on: December 25, 2016, »
All the previous posts are very relevant.  But, I'd say for the first year, non technical guru, DLA is still the best.  The people here support each other like no other.  As you grow in your show, you find you need another challenge or maybe a feature that isn't present on the entry level controller.  I say entry level because RJ was the first one to bring RGB to the DIY for a decent price.  And it still works, over 4 years later.  Others have come along, duplicated, improved, etc.  But the fact remains that RJ was ahead of the pace for this, and it is still a good solid platform to learn from.

As for the OP, take your time.  Start early in the year.  When you run into problems, ask for help.  We've all been there.  As you gain confidence in fixing each problem, you learn to troubleshoot and it makes it easier in the future.  You also make some great friendships along the way that help with no one else understanding your frustrations.  I've had two people stop by extremely interested in doing their own shows.  One after I showed them the work involved wasn't interested at all.  The other was still interested so I gave them a passive hub and a few SSCs and a couple short pixel strings to play with.  They're hooked now.  When it comes together, it will be the best decision you've made to go to pixels.  But it also comes with it's headaches and learning curve.

Duane

Offline taybrynn

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Re: Pixels and just looking to vent a little :)
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2016, »
1) Switch to xlights
2) Use Falcon firmware and uSC SSC Programmer 1.0.12 ... instead of the DLA SS firmware and SS utility.
    - you can give each of your SSC you program a useful name (i.e. SSC v4 Arch1)
    - you must remove the SSC program jumper, and leave it off ... 
    - compatible with both SSC v1,v2,v3 .... all modded to v3 ... AND ssc v4.  Two flavors of the falcon ssc firmware, one for v3 mods and one for v4.
    - I'd use this falcon firmware and programmer on the zeus also (treat at 16 ssc v4(s))
     -Note: check the "program all SSC on hub" for the FIRST TIME programming of each SSC [ I do only 1 at a time on a hub ]
               after the initial programming, you can reprogram a SSC by providing the old starting ch# and the new starting ch# ... and uncheck the program all on hub checkbox.
               I haven't done it yet, but programming 'in the field' SSC(s) is possible with Falcon programmer
3) I'd stay with one type of RGB nodes ... for me it's been the TM1804 SS nodes ... they seem to use 1/2 the power of WS2811 ... so
    I'm not convinced the ws2811 nickel per node cost savings is real, esp. if I require more power supplies to run them.  Most seem to run
    then at 30% off falcon boards, so maybe thats the workaround?
4) Highly recommend using Falcon boards over zeus if you can ... best for megatrees, matrixes and display items within 25' using 3 core cables ... (40-50' with cat5 cables).
5) I still love the DLA active hub(s) and used with SSC(s) ... esp. the V4(s) ... works great with Falcon F16v2 and covers the larger
    distances really well.   
« Last Edit: December 27, 2016, by taybrynn »
Scott - Castle Rock, Colorado   [ 2 homes, 100% RGB in 2016; since 2008; over 32k channels of E1.31 ]
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Offline smeighan

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Re: Pixels and just looking to vent a little :)
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2016, »

This year i switched entirely to Falcon controllers. I still have 60 SSC's, 3 active hubs, 3 passive hubs.
DLA vs Falcon hardware? Price is about the same for megatree.
$200 for falcon f16 to drive 16 strings. DLA active hub around $100 then 16 SSC's $10 each.
The biggest reason i switched is i can configure all channels, rgb order from the web page. i do not need to get on roof and bring down an SSC. I did use daves replacement firmware the last few years so i could program channel from the ground, just be careful to unplug the other lights.

I also use the virtual string capability of having 1804 and 2811 lights all on same port.

RJ left a few years ago and doesnt appear to be developing anything new. I started with DLA in 2012, went hybrid DLA,falcon last two years, now solely falcon controllers.
Dave is actively developing and supporting.
DLA stuff works, if you use it and you are not growing (How do you do 80,000 channels with DLA hardware?)  stay with what works for you.
 Some users now are over 200,000 channels using xlights and falcon.

I have a conductor, I never could get it to work reliably. I have been using the FPP to run my shows since 2013. I can run my show from my phone.

tbone321 you must like at least the FPP as I see you have made 1216 posts over on falconchristmas.com since feb 2016 and 99 posts here on DLA since Feb 2016.

I think the point is after RJ left this site has become a shadow of its former self. Since Jan 2015 RJ has made 33 posts, 1 of those were in 2016. He used to do 33 posts in a single day back in 2012, 2013.

Understand, I liked DLA products. They work, they do work as advertised. It is like LSP, great sequencer a few years ago, no new releases for the last few years.

If anyone is interested in SSC's mostly ver 2 with dave pitts firmware and a pile of other DLA stuff, pm me. I will sell it for half of purchase price.



Sean
Littleton, CO
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Offline tbone321

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Re: Pixels and just looking to vent a little :)
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2016, »
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tbone321 you must like at least the FPP as I see you have made 1216 posts over on falconchristmas.com since feb 2016 and 99 posts here on DLA since Feb 2016.


LOL, where did I ever say that I didn't like Falcon.  I think that Dave and the Captain have some great products in both hardware and software and I also said that if and when I need to either replace items or expand my display, that is where I will be getting the new equipment both due to availability and development.  What I did say was I saw no need to replace functioning DLA equipment with Falcon for just the sake of replacement and doing so was a true waste of money that could be used for other things.  As for the posting math, lets keep in mind that I seldom originate threads either here or there and there is sadly much less activity here so the amount of posts answering questions is also much less.  If Falcon has any weak point, it is in the documentation and it's WIKI.  It looks like nobody has touched either in years.  Perhaps I'm just spoiled by the great job that was done here.
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Offline smeighan

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Re: Pixels and just looking to vent a little :)
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2016, »
i agree that the falcon boards could use a decent manual, dave is looking to get one made.
I also agree the dla boards work, they just are a little dated with no updates to them in 3 years.

Let me phrase it better, if someone has no hardware and they are starting should they go with DLA Pixelnet or with falcon,alphapix, pixlite?
I tell new people to go with the falcon hardware, it has way more capabilities. For people already using DLA hardware and it works, stay with what has been proven reliable over many years/.
Sean
Littleton, CO
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Offline duane.mosley

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Re: Pixels and just looking to vent a little :)
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2016, »
 I WOULD NOT BE WHERE I AM TODAY WITHOUT RJ'S ''simple is better" motto. every person commenting on this thread has helped me more than once since i joined in 2011, first show in 2012.  like T-bone said, it wasn't broke, so i didn't fix it.   i did however purchase an f16v2 this year and was very impressed with it's ability.  i used the falcon to control my 4 new elements that were all 235 nodes or more and it was great. i have 20 arches, 400 nodes, all running off one falcon output with 2 power injection points. i am running 4 ports, all on different universes. it was nice also having a pi3 with FPP run my show flawlessly since day one. never was able to get my conductor to work 100%. it would work, but was out of sync on a few songs.
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