A D'Lighted Blog
Smart Technology And Our Show
Looking to move into Smart LED technology? We share the elements and other notable fixtures in our show and how to assemble them.
During the 2012 season, we wanted something that would WOW our viewers. At that point, it was decided to add smart LED technology or AKA, smart pixels. We placed an order for them during the Summer of 2013 and they finally arrived in late October. Our order was very specific, WS 2811 chip bullet node, 12 volts, epoxy sealed on black wire with 5.5 inch spacing, 100 pixels per strand, and a 10ft leader cord. At first, we planned to run 16 strands doubled over to make 32 strands per tree. Instead, we went with 14 stands doubled over to make 28. The brightness of them was a concern due to the intensity they have and overtaxing the power supplies. Several trips were made to multiple Walmart stores in the region trying to obtain Paracord (Rope). When we had enough for six pixel trees, the work commenced. We attached all 28 ropes to the top ring and pulled it up. Then, we tied off the ends to the bottom ring. We split the 100 count light sets in half and zip tied them to each hook. After pulling it up, we wrapped each set around the Paracord for stability. Now the trees are complete. Next, would be the power.
Our power consumption is relatively high speaking in terms of DC power. Two 12 volt power supplies were added powering each bank of the Sandevices E682 pixel controller. Those power supplies are cheap ones purchased from Amazon and/or other places. When each unit was wired, we realized that venting hot air out of the enclosure would be an issue. Two three inch holes were drilled in each cover and three inch plastic soffit vents were siliconed in place. After several rain, ice, wind storms, each unit is still functioning.
After changing to xLights/Nutcracker software, E1.31/Streaming ACN would run everything in the show. With extensive research, we purchased an E1.31 to DMX bridge. This bridge would take care of all regular DMX networks including flood lights, ball tree and Light-O-Rama controllers. But, Light-O-Rama controllers would need an adapter cable since the pinnout from the LOR network to DMX network are quite different. Between the LAN switch in the DMX bridge enclosure and the Gigabit switch inside near the show computer, we are running the entire show from one cable using standard TCP/IP networking. All devices on the LAN network are set to unicast to take full advantage of a 12 universe environment.
Next, we wanted something that would take viewers back in time. So, this past Summer, we found a set of reindeer and Santa sleigh from Craigslist for sale. I can say, driving through High Point and Winston-Salem in the middle of Summer with Christmas decorations on the truck will have people looking strange at you. Our friends in Winston-Salem, The Christmas Lights Family, gave the idea of a stand for the deer and sleigh. One day when the weather was not so good for outside decorating, we put a rack together to get all of them on the roof. After giving Rudolph his red nose, off we go!
Finally, Santa's Castle. We obtained the castle from our good friend Robin at Ridge Harbor Christmas in Punta Gorda, Florida. Santa's Castle had traditional incandescent mini lights on it. We placed an order for new cool-white LED's this past Spring. We sprung into action once they arrived stripping the castle of the old lights, repainting the wire frames, and placing the new LED's on it. The castle consumes much less power and stands out among six pixel trees. Santa is one proud fellow of the remodel job on his castle.
One last thing to note, in the Spring of 2014, we plan to convert from standard Light-O-Rama controllers to Lynx Express or Minleon Express controllers. This will strengthen our DMX protocol network for the 2014 season and allow many happy lighting days ahead.