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Are pixels really worth the expense?


chuck
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I checked the price of a cheap string of 100 incandescent minilights at Walmart.  $3.  That's about 3 cents a light.

I checked the price of a cheap string of 100 LEDs at Walmart.  $9.  That's about 9 cents a light.

I can toss the strings on my existing bushes and trees.  Pretty darn easy and I have a great static display.

I can animate all the lights to music with a 16 channel controller and my existing computer.  Say it's 3200 minilights and a bunch of extension cords.

Total animated costs using incandescents is about 14 cents per light.

Total animated costs using LEDs is about 20 cents per light.

Trust me.  You can put on a pretty good animated show with the above.

Now let's talk pixels.  Any light, any color at any time.  Like WOW!

A cheap string of 100 bullet pixels from Ray Wu is around $31 or about 31 cents per light.

Now add in the pixel controller(s) and the special pixel extensions cords... and don't forget the low voltage power supplies.

Total animated costs using pixels is about 50 cents per light.

I know I've over-simplified almost everything but sometimes I do ask myself if pixels are really worth the price to put the smiles on the faces around my light display.

 

 

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I'd say the biggest con with pixels is just the added complexity. xLights has gone a long way to reduce the complexity in that you don't have to deal with universes, channels, controller configuration and all that. But it is still alot of work to plan everything out including power.

The biggest pro, they look absolutely amazing. Having control at the individual bulb level allows for some amazing effects.

Austin, TX
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I see the pro and con to both AC and the DC situation. The issue with pixels is, there is (almost) no originality. Same effects, same props, different street address. They do provide value, granted and the technology when implemented right is great. Problem is, IMHO, an all pixel display looks "sterile" to me. I yearn for the old days. The biggest advantage I get out of them is my 4 color scheme from AC days, is somewhat simpler as I can change colors, but that can be done with dumb nodes and a DC controller. 

How many pioneers created original vignettes that others could not wait to plagiarize. 

In the same light, LOR has followed suit to xLights to simplify the E1.31 configs. Competition is good for innovation..

Woodinville, Washington, USA
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It is from the color changing standpoint. If you are wanting color changing on the house, shrubs, ect... it takes several strands of lights, controllers and extension cords to come achieve that look. With pixels one strand 16 million colors. So if you factor that into the equation, they may cost the same in the long run. The downfall is less headaches with AC controllers and standard lights. They are also easier to program even with the software we have available.

SPaschall 

Hazel Ky., ,
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Ahhh the 16 million fallacy.... I want to see all those being used..... in reality 8-10ish but I agree Scooter. Its the color schemes...

Woodinville, Washington, USA
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I agree with you Zman. For "ME", pixels just don't really seem like Christmas. I mean I don't mind them when they're a part of the whole show, but when they are the show or dominate the show....it just loses what I've grown up thinking what Christmas lights are supposed to be and what I've look forward to all year long. I mean I can only watch so many swirling spinning pixel light displays before they all start looking the same. Maybe I'll get use to them in time, like I've started warming up to LED lights, but I'm not there yet.

Church Point, Louisiana
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Personally I like it all, static, animated or musical. I have a large pixel and traditional display that challenges both my creative and technical abilities all year round. Perfect hobby to scale to your own desire while providing enjoyment and viewing pleasure to your community. 

Cold Lake Alberta Canada
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I went to pixels because I hated the experience of using standard lights and my DIY controllers. Then stayed with pixels because of the animation possibilities.

Pixels sort of make it simpler because items can daisy chain but then there's a whole new issue of soo much power needed, and that leads to more cables, so back to square one.

 

The biggest annoyance I have to pixels is the yucky pastel colors. I prefer the warm glow of incandescent or tungsten strings. (Tungsten and incandescent is on the indoor tree!)

Standard LED warm white lights are not too bad for the price and energy. Thin copper wire 'seed lights' are my favourite because the wires virtually disappear at night.

 

On 9/29/2022 at 10:25 AM, SPaschall said:

With pixels one strand 16 million colors.

I hear that people set them to a maximum of 30% intensity or less because of the brightness/power requirements.

Common pixels are 8bit, so cut back each Red/Green/Blue value from 0-255 to 0-76. That's cut it back to 430,000 possible colors.

I need to turn the brightness down on my pixel display and this color loss adds to my hate for the yucky colors these lights produce.

Mainly on AusChristmasLighting forum.

Down down under in New Zealand.

 

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Pixel power requirements... I did some testing on regulated WS2811 pixels last year.  At 100% white a pixel draws about 0.6 watts.  That doesn't sound like much be remember you have thousands of them.

Now consider a string of 100 incandescent minilights.  The entire string draws about 33 watts of power meaning each light draws 0.3 watts.

In real life pixels are seldom at 100% white but it does make you think about power use a bit differently.

Then I checked the regulated WS2811 pixels when they were at 0% (or off) .  A string of 100 draws 8 watts.  Again, not much but remember you have lots of pixel strings.

Don't forget that string of 100 incandescent minis is drawing 0 watts when off.

Lots of words to say you pay a lot more for pixels and you also need more power.

But... pixels allow you to really dazzle the audience.

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For me I am ok with out Pixels. I have traditional display with a little twist. I use LOR controllers still but, I have it set up for all light on most of time. Only when someone walks by and pushes button or ( I have also used small motion sensor) on back of my mail box. That Triggers my LOR to run Charlie Brown Christmas story and blow molds and lights go with the Christmas Story. This is mainly because I want the focus to be on Christ, also my yard is small, I live in city across from park on one-way street. I have a lot of people walk by my house everyday. We do have a very good competition in our area for Halloween and big Christmas one. I have been converting my old C7 strings that I have not used in many years to C7 LED SMD and I think they look great it gives that old feel. But three door down they have Pixel everything and people enjoy it too. I have won for most traditional Christmas display few times and the guy down road has won most modern Christmas display a few times. One rules is you cant win each year. That way folks with a bit less still have chance at winning. I get a lot of complements from folks when I am in yard. Also we live very close to Cancer Center of America and they will bring bus load of cancer patents down our road to check out the Christmas displays. It make me feel so good to see smile of people face and them tell me that my display reminds them of past Christmas. I have been very proud of my block since everyone decorates for Christmas for past 6years, it really a joy!

I add a video I made on my Cell phone a few years ago the sounds is not to good. Since my yard is small I have outdoor speakers so that folks walking by can hear either Christmas music or Christmas story. Also this video is only small part of my yard. I have more stuff:)

Scott Rob

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I use both Pixels & Leds in my display. I also add Blow Molds, Deer etc. To be honest out of all the colours I can make with pixels I might do what 50 colours and that is a few shades of red, green , & blue. Then I do purple, white, pink, orange, grey, silver, dark grey, yellow, a lighter yellow to try to make gold,  a couple shades of brown. Now pixels arches are easy to do in Superstar. Look good, but then again a few nice AC controller arches are nice & bright when wrapped it incandescent mini lights, or Led lights. My Pixel Matrix and arches will be used, but I will be using my 6ft pixel tree mainly as a wow factor (in other words it isn't used regularly) but just as a wow look moment. Then the regular AC channel Star Bursts add a bit of more wow factor.  I was trying to make a AC fan but the pvc piping just didn't bind good. In times passed I used an trampoline to make a fan but I remembered I threw them out.  So do to time I went back to the wooden fans I made in 2019 that looked ok but I only want 1 fan & I want it to do Red, Green, & Blue & so I used most of the 5 volt pixels I have left & added them to my wooden fan. For the most part it is easy to transfer my AC channels to pixels just time consuming because of copying & pasting 1 row at a time. I started a musical show in 2007 & now here it is 2022. This year I am going to test out a lighted firework I am working on & no it isn't made of Pixel lights. Instead I am using those long Led icicle lights that flow. So instead of flowing down I have them pointing outwards, then I added another 8 to make it look like it is spreading out. White right now. I may add another 8 to give it a bigger spread. I will be doing some testing to make sure the sequence timing looks good. (Like a Star Burst but a different design). 

Edited by Alberta Bound
Near Drayton Valley, AB Canada
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I do a mix of Pixels and LEDs, as it helps provide... what I call "texture".  I'll use the LEDs to fill large spaces (roof) while using pixels to do the outlines.  One thing I like about pixels are all of the resources that help make them clean and in-line.  It becomes a lot harder to do that with LEDs.  I get comments all the time about how straight all my lights (pixels) are.  

San Jose, CA
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On 10/9/2022 at 12:08 AM, Alberta Bound said:

(clip) This year I am going to test out a lighted firework I am working on & no it isn't made of Pixel lights. Instead I am using those long Led icicle lights that flow. So instead of flowing down I have them pointing outwards, then I added another 8 to make it look like it is spreading out. White right now. I may add another 8 to give it a bigger spread. I will be doing some testing to make sure the sequence timing looks good. (Like a Star Burst but a different design). 

I would love to see this! I like the idea of low tech, high creativity.

Illinois
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On 9/28/2022 at 2:18 AM, chuck said:

A cheap string of 100 bullet pixels from Ray Wu is around $31 or about 31 cents per light.

Now add in the pixel controller(s) and the special pixel extensions cords... and don't forget the low voltage power supplies.

Total animated costs using pixels is about 50 cents per light.

I'll turn the tables... at least try....

I hate how large and heavy 'bullet' pixels are.

In 2021 I saw a miniature kind of pixel released. In 2022 I saw an improved version that would be better suited outside.

 

So I made an entire tree with these and a corflute star in 2022.

(Prices in USD)

I paid 8 cents per light in 2022. But now my manufacture has these for at 2.8 cents per pixel. Downside is these are 5v and need a lot of extra cabling for power injection.

Cost of controllers is still a large factor.

The manufacture makes for retail sold light strings so I hope the manufacturing cost reduction is only because of volume, not quality!

 

 

 

Mainly on AusChristmasLighting forum.

Down down under in New Zealand.

 

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Like WOW!!!  We're talking game changer. 

Ray Wu calls these pebble pixels.  12vdc versions can be found at https://www.aliexpress.us/item/3256803981336718.html.  Some quick math (based on  2022 pricing) shows these pebble pixels at about 15 cents each compared to normal bullet pixels at about 28 cents each (in USD).  Factor in less infrastructure requirements and much better viewing angles makes this product destined for success! 

 

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7 hours ago, chuck said:

Like WOW!!!  We're talking game changer. 

Ray Wu calls these pebble pixels.  12vdc versions can be found at https://www.aliexpress.us/item/3256803981336718.html.  Some quick math (based on  2022 pricing) shows these pebble pixels at about 15 cents each compared to normal bullet pixels at about 28 cents each (in USD).  Factor in less infrastructure requirements and much better viewing angles makes this product destined for success! 

 

I've always called these 'seed', the dumb LED version was named 'seed lights' on store shelves.

These I got were also labelled 'seed pixel light' on the package, but there was a big red sticker saying my country's boarder bio-security had opened it up. So I guess the name change was needed!

 

Place I bought these through is a very large manufacture for other companies brands. Their main market is making LED strings in retail packaging for stores (like Walmart).

I emailed and asked why such a huge price drop. They said the pixels are being made on 50 machines constantly. I am yet to hear what the updated priced pixels quality is.

Mainly on AusChristmasLighting forum.

Down down under in New Zealand.

 

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