Author Topic: What is a Lynx Smart String?  (Read 104474 times)

Offline RJ

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What is a Lynx Smart String?
« on: November 01, 2010, »
Some background on the Smart Sting, What it is and why I created it.

I have thought about using some RGB nodes for a while but something about the complexity and cost held me back. I also had other members say the same thing. I asked and a few said they were looking for a completely DIY solution that was simpler and cheaper to do. One person said I wish I could just use my Lynx DMX Dongle to run enough of them to be useful. I said you could and then the conversation went on and he said that after all his reading he was under the impression you needed Ethernet to run enough channels to be useful.

This is where Smart Strings comes from, I took that and went to the bench to create my simple approach to the problem.

Smart Strings uses a standard Lynx Dongle with updated firmware flashed in to send out 4096 channels of data. This data is sent to a simple ultra cheap 16 channel Hub (splitter + Injector) and I have different size hubs laid out, but for my tree this year I wanted 16. This $30 hub splits the data and lets you inject the power for the strings. Now the problem is the strings up till now have been 5 volts and I saw this as a problem. First it takes too much current to power very many nodes over cat5. Also the voltage drop requires short cables and injectors connected about ever 50 nodes. So instead of overcoming these short comings I instead designed my own version of RGB strings and had them manufactured to run on much higher voltage. This allows me to power up to 128 nodes (approximately a 40 ft string) of lights per string over the cat5 with the data. So Smart Strings can have anywhere from 1 to 128 lights on them.

The next part of the simple is that I built the Controller for the string into the string itself so you use them like regular strings. You pull them out but instead of plugging them into AC power you use standard Cat5 cables to plug them into the Hub.  That is all there is to them as the cat5 carries both your power and data.

The best part? The Smart String Controllers cost about $8 to build. The new string cost the same as the 5 Volt ones and most people have at least one Dongle already.  The whole project is cheap, and simple to assembly (the Smart String can be assembled in 15min and the Hub in 30). It uses all through hole parts.

Like most node type controllers it can be run as 3 channels per node (light) or 3 channels per string so you can use them either way and can run the channels either direction of the string.

The system has been designed to be upgradeable next year to over 16,000 channels allowing you to run larger shows on this same equipment with a new simple and cheap dongle.

Here is a demo video of the system.

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RJ  
« Last Edit: May 30, 2011, by rrowan »
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Offline i1uhrace

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Re: What is a Lynx Smart String?
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2010, »
Awesome! How soon till a Coop?
Carnation Christmas

Offline batdive

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Re: What is a Lynx Smart String?
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2010, »
Oh god I think I just spent next years budget... Shhhh dont tell the wife, or should I just tell her to watch the blinky as the bank account goes down.


Awesome RJ as usual    <res.



Are these addressable per pixal or sets of pixal or per strand (might of said it in the video, but my jaw was open in the ahhh condition and unable to think for most of the video).



-JS
« Last Edit: November 01, 2010, by batdive »

Offline D56VillageNut

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Re: What is a Lynx Smart String?
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2010, »
I'll second the "there goes the budget" comment.  

I've been procastinating on doing some of the RGB pixels because of the limitations you mentioned.  These are awesome and they sweep my issues right off the table.

Looking forward to seeing these come out.

Alan T

Offline tbone321

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Re: What is a Lynx Smart String?
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2010, »
Man... I'm going to go broke with this stuff LOL!!!
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Offline RJ

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Re: What is a Lynx Smart String?
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2010, »
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RJ -

It's great to see you working on RGB projects and bringing everyone to Christmas Lights Version 3.0!

Are you starting to feel the next limit is being moved from hardware to software (sequencing)?

A few questions:

* Is the voltage just dropped at the SS controller or are the pixels actually a higher voltage?
* Did the wiring get dropped in gauge to support that many Pixel Nodes or is the voltage bump enough?
* Did you work with the mfg to fix the gap issue in the backs of the Pixel Nodes? 
* Are these 6803 or WS2801 pixels?
* What is the break point for power injection (I see 128 in the video)?
* Support for Pixel Modules and Pixel Strips?
* How do you set the start DMX address for each pixel?
* I'm guessing there is a custom plug-in for vixen to support this since it's not E1.31?  Will non-vixen clients be able to support these?

Thanks,
David



Yes that is and has been the limit. Current software is not ready for the task but is getting there quickly. There is a few things in the works that I am aware of that looks promising but has been kept under wraps by those working on them.  LSP has much promise. Prancer looks killer day by day and I have heard some great things from members on it.


No the pixels are higher voltage. Dropping it at the SS would not help.

The voltage drop was enought the wire is the same gauge but three instead of four so it helps them be a little lighter which I wanted for my Mega tree as the weight makes strings sag. So lighter sags less and pulls less on the string.

Three wires allowed them to seal it better.

They are neither 2801 or 6803 it is a chip set not used up to now for them they were purpose built for me.
They will be avaliable to all DLA members via coop to start and them later the factory will make them avaliable to anyone direct.  I have a reservation scheduled at the factory to allow fast turn around for our coop but delivery will not be this year.

There is no additional power injection the limit of a smart String is 1 - 128 nodes (lights) or 3 - 384 channels. Because it does not use a DMX universe as a break there is no penalty using less than 170 nodes of lights on a string.

They program via software utility like many of my other items.

There is a Vixen plugin for PixelNet avaliable right now and LSP is working on one for me as we speak. The protocol is simple and as so it will not be an issue. The Protocol will be published for anyone to use in the Wiki as I get documentation done.

RJ

« Last Edit: July 10, 2011, by rrowan »
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Offline RJ

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Re: What is a Lynx Smart String?
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2010, »
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Awesome! How soon till a Coop?

In a month or less.

RJ
« Last Edit: October 10, 2012, by rrowan »
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Offline tbone321

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Re: What is a Lynx Smart String?
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2010, »
Here is a quick question, will the upcomming Conductor be able to work with this?
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Offline RJ

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Re: What is a Lynx Smart String?
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2010, »
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Three wires allowed them to seal it better.

It sure seems like you have done some leg work here.  I know that with the 2801/6803 pixels, which seem to look a bit like yours, have had issues with sealing and it looked like there was a gap in the base of the wire.  Are the boards encapsulated or sealed in some way before the clear jacket is installed?  Have they faired well in "in water" testing?

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There is no additional power injection the limit of a smart String is 1 - 128 nodes (lights) or 3 - 384 channels. Because it does not use a DMX universe as a break there is no penalty using less than 170 nodes of lights on a string.

So I could program one string of say 50 pixels and pickup another string of 100 on another port but logically they would be addressed as 1-150 in a single universe?  Is the order of where they are plugged in on the splitter make a difference?

Do you have an estimate for the per pixel pricing?  Under $1 per pixel?

Any plans to release other formats - Pixel Modules or Pixel Strip?

Thanks!
david


They will be well under a $1 a pixel.

Yes it does not care if you do a 50 string then a 100 string it would be 150 addresses in a row if you set it that way. The order of the plug in or which hub it connects to does not matter. Like DMX all data goes to all devices and the devices uses what it wants. Like DMX all data is sent everytime so those benfits also play into it.

Much more info will be avaliable in a week or so.

RJ

« Last Edit: April 14, 2013, by rrowan »
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Offline RJ

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Re: What is a Lynx Smart String?
« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2010, »
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Awesome! How soon till a Coop?

In a month or less.

RJ

Do you know how long the window for the co-op will be open?  Is the co-op just for the splitter & controller with the pixels to come later?

The coop will be for all the Smart String Componets including the Pixel Strings. They will be options and you will choose how many of what you want.

RJ
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Offline RJ

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Re: What is a Lynx Smart String?
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2010, »
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Here is a quick question, will the upcomming Conductor be able to work with this?

No the 16000 channels will be beyond what I had in mind. I have put the conductor on hold do to the explosion of channels that is happening. It is a moving target and not sure how practical it would be to do it if it is obsolete before it is released.

Same with the Ledtricks II. With a few Smart Strings an RGB ledtricks is childs play and cheap enough to do. So no need for an additional device to handle it.

RJ
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Offline crazybob

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Re: What is a Lynx Smart String?
« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2010, »
RJ,

I'm surprised nobody's brought this up yet...
Will wireless DMX be able to integrate into the hub?

Offline RJ

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Re: What is a Lynx Smart String?
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2010, »
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Awesome! How soon till a Coop?

In a month or less.

RJ

Do you know how long the window for the co-op will be open?  Is the co-op just for the splitter & controller with the pixels to come later?

The coop will be for all the Smart String Componets including the Pixel Strings. They will be options and you will choose how many of what you want.

RJ

Is the quick co-op a result of the new paypal rules going into place in 2011?

No,

It to take avantage of my factory reservation so DLA members can get them early next year. That way they can start on the show designs and seqencing.

RJ
« Last Edit: November 02, 2010, by RJ »
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Offline RJ

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Re: What is a Lynx Smart String?
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2010, »
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RJ,

I'm surprised nobody's brought this up yet...
Will wireless DMX be able to integrate into the hub?

The final hub has a DMX out port on it that you jumper to select which 512 channels it outputs. The wireless hooks here and sends out your wireless DMX.

So in other words you can have channel 3684 of PixelNet be your DMX Start and it would be DMX channel #1 on your expresses for example.

Or you can have Channel #1 of PixelNet be you DMX start and Channel #1 of PixelNet will be your Channel #1 on DMX.

Make sense?

The whole system is designed around the minimum and simplest of hardware to get the job done. The other requirement being that it is completely DIY so simple means less to build. This in turn means cheaper. The only cost that is fixed, so I had no control over, was the power supplys and pixel strings but they cost the same for every system. Because I am using higher voltage I need less power supplies also so my mega tree only needs on inexpensive $40 power supply. When you increase the voltage each amp has much more wattage so you then need less amps to do a given job.

RJ
« Last Edit: November 02, 2010, by RJ »
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Offline batdive

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Re: What is a Lynx Smart String?
« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2010, »
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RJ,

I'm surprised nobody's brought this up yet...
Will wireless DMX be able to integrate into the hub?

The final hub has a DMX out port on it that you jumper to select which 512 channels it outputs. The wireless hooks here and sends out your wireless DMX.

So in other words you can have channel 3684 of PixelNet be your DMX Start and it would be DMX channel #1 on your expresses for example.

Or you can have Channel #1 of PixelNet be you DMX start and Channel #1 of PixelNet will be your Channel #1 on DMX.

Make sense?

The whole system is designed around the minimum and simplest of hardware to get the job done. The other requirement being that it is completely DIY so simple means less to build. This in turn means cheaper. The only cost that is fixed, so I had no control over, was the power supplies and pixel strings but they cost the same for every system. Because I am using higher voltage I need less power supplies also so my mega tree only needs on inexpensive $40 power supply. When you increase the voltage each amp has much more wattage so you then need less amps to do a given job.

RJ

Ok if I read this right, then you can send DMX out from PixelNet (any given 512 chs), I think the original question was can Pixelnet be wireless or does it need a CAT5 connection to the modified dongle, instead of using a "modified" TX/RX ver2?

EDIT 11/02/10:  Just re read your post or do you mean that "PixalNet" can take over a single DMX Channel, but control over 3048 Pixals?  So it could recieve the info from a standard TX/RX or even a modified or newer EX/RX?

Hope a wireless option is available since my neighbor and I are looking for a multi house display in 2010 (already worked for halloween) that will be expanding for 2010 Christmas and obviously 2011 Xmas (Hopefully with these  ;D)


BTW Thanks for mentioning this can basically replace LED Triks II, now my budget really has gone.

« Last Edit: November 02, 2010, by batdive »