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Mike H

Setting up power supplies and controllers

Since this will be my first Christmas moving into the RGB world, I'm trying to figure out how to best setup my cases with power supplies.  I currently have 4 CG-1500 cases and one LOR new style case (which isn't as big as the CG-1500 cases).

I've got mostly 360W power supplies and will be using either PixCon16 controllers or E1.31 Bridge units which both take two DC inputs into them.  I will also be using pixel extenders with the bridge units.

I do live in Nebraska so it does get pretty cold in the December so I'm not sure if I really need to worry about heat inside of the cases.

So my question is, I know with the mounting plates, I could mount a maximum of 2 power supplies (one on lid and one in body) along with one controller within a case or possibly 3 power supplies (1 on lid and 2 in case) within the CG-1500 cases.

Does anyone have any pros/cons of setting them up like this?  Or should I really limit the number of power supplies I put into a single case (with or without a controller in it)?

Just trying to work out my configurations along with where I'm going to need to position the controllers to determine if I'm going to need additional cases.

If it helps, my current layout design is to have 19 separate universes.  4 actual controllers.  Each controller will use at least 2 universes on each power input.  I've already been expecting to also use power injection within each universe so I will be setting up the cases to provide me this capability also.

I appreciate any advice I can get on this.

Edited by Mike H
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Hi Mike,

I assume from what you said above that you are using 5 volt pixels.  Is this true and how many pixels are you going to be using?  The biggest mistake I see made is not having enough power available.   Having said that, it is risky to go above ~ 700 watts in a plastic enclosure without a way of cooling them.  So 2 of the 360 watt supplies would be fine.  It also works fine to put a single controller and power supply in a single box.

The issue I ran into was using 12 volt pixels and the power supply needed being too big to fit with the controller in a single box.

I'm in Idaho and it gets cold here too but you never know when you might have a night that doesn't get so cold and you don't want to risk damage to the enclosure or power supplies.

-Dennis

 

 

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Sorry, that was one thing I forgot in my initial listing.  These are all 12V power supplies and RGBs.

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Ok Mike...I also use 12 volt pixels and ran into a MAJOR issue when I turned on last year (my first year with pixels).  The problem was the power consumption of 12 VDC pixels.  I believed the website that said .3 watts/pixel.  I have 1800 pixels on my mega tree so that would be 1800 X .3 = 540 watts.  I used two 12 VDC, 350 watt power supplies which should have worked fine.  They did not.  After measuring the current draw, I contacted the well-known supplier and found out, by his own admission, his webpage is wrong!!  The actual power draw is .6 watts X 1800 = 1080 watts.  OUCH!  So my tree looked bad when all white until I could get larger power supplies.

So note to all, don't always believe the specs you are being told, even from a well known supplier!  BTW, his website still is incorrect.

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On 9/4/2016 at 11:55 AM, Mike H said:

I will also be using pixel extenders with the bridge units.

 

Hey Mike, I'm nex to smart lights this year too and have a similar setup. I'm glad to read your thread.

I'm interested in what you are using for pixel extenders? I tried to find something simple online but most of what I found was DIY circuit boards and soldering and I just don't have time for that. Are you using some retail product? Care to share?

On 9/6/2016 at 8:08 PM, Takoda said:

Ok Mike...I also use 12 volt pixels and ran into a MAJOR issue when I turned on last year (my first year with pixels).  The problem was the power consumption of 12 VDC pixels.  I believed the website that said .3 watts/pixel.  I have 1800 pixels on my mega tree so that would be 1800 X .3 = 540 watts.  I used two 12 VDC, 350 watt power supplies which should have worked fine.  They did not.  After measuring the current draw, I contacted the well-known supplier and found out, by his own admission, his webpage is wrong!!  The actual power draw is .6 watts X 1800 = 1080 watts.  OUCH!  So my tree looked bad when all white until I could get larger power supplies.

So note to all, don't always believe the specs you are being told, even from a well known supplier!  BTW, his website still is incorrect.

 

My lights were listed at .8 watts per node. Which with the 80% load on the power supply rule made it real simple. 1 node = 1 watt.
I'm concerned I'm the other way with an improper listing though, and they are .6 watts, so I'm not getting as many lights out of 1 power supply. Can I test this by testing the watt consumption of the power supply itself?

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The easiest way would be to hook up say 100 of the lights to the power supply with your multimeter between them to measure the current.  Or use a clamp meter on one of the power wires to measure the consumption when the lights are all at white.  I used 100 lights just to make sure the draw is enough to get a decent measurement.

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9 hours ago, TheKneelandCrew said:

Hey Mike, I'm nex to smart lights this year too and have a similar setup. I'm glad to read your thread.

I'm interested in what you are using for pixel extenders? I tried to find something simple online but most of what I found was DIY circuit boards and soldering and I just don't have time for that. Are you using some retail product? Care to share?

My lights were listed at .8 watts per node. Which with the 80% load on the power supply rule made it real simple. 1 node = 1 watt.
I'm concerned I'm the other way with an improper listing though, and they are .6 watts, so I'm not getting as many lights out of 1 power supply. Can I test this by testing the watt consumption of the power supply itself?

I'm using the pixel extenders and bridges from DIYLEDEXPRESS.COM.  Unfortunately they are a DIY but they are pretty easy to do, but I have had a lot of experience with electronics and I've built every one of my LOR controllers (except for the very first 4).  It's probably too late in the year now but they might be able to actually sell built ones when they have some available.

I agree with ccrowder on the power testing.  That would be the only way I would know to be sure what you are drawing.  I've been taking it for granted that the specs on the pixels I've ordered are correct.  I used the spreadsheet that Clyde has available at Leechburg Lights to calculate what power supplies I needed for my different zones.  On paper at least everything looks great.  I'm still at the point of just starting to build my cases with the power supplies so I'm still hoping myself that I can get it all together.  The way I'm looking at everything, I'm hoping that I will be able to use 3 of the bridge units with 6 pixel extenders on each one, and only a single LOR PixCon16 board (or a SandDevice which ever works the best for me).  Then I'll still be running some of my standard LOR controllers for the standard lights that are not being converted.   

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19 hours ago, Mike H said:

I'm using the pixel extenders and bridges from DIYLEDEXPRESS.COM.  Unfortunately they are a DIY but they are pretty easy to do, but I have had a lot of experience with electronics and I've built every one of my LOR controllers (except for the very first 4).  It's probably too late in the year now but they might be able to actually sell built ones when they have some available.

I agree with ccrowder on the power testing.  That would be the only way I would know to be sure what you are drawing.  I've been taking it for granted that the specs on the pixels I've ordered are correct.  I used the spreadsheet that Clyde has available at Leechburg Lights to calculate what power supplies I needed for my different zones.  On paper at least everything looks great.  I'm still at the point of just starting to build my cases with the power supplies so I'm still hoping myself that I can get it all together.  The way I'm looking at everything, I'm hoping that I will be able to use 3 of the bridge units with 6 pixel extenders on each one, and only a single LOR PixCon16 board (or a SandDevice which ever works the best for me).  Then I'll still be running some of my standard LOR controllers for the standard lights that are not being converted.   

 

So the pixel extenders are $13.39 and connect to a 6 port bridge $77.25, plus shipping. That's at least $90 just to extend the connection. For that price, it looks like I'll be putting in some null pixels :-/. Bummer.
I can see the benefit of using them if you have that many connects far off.

On 10/19/2016 at 0:31 PM, ccrowder said:

The easiest way would be to hook up say 100 of the lights to the power supply with your multimeter between them to measure the current.  Or use a clamp meter on one of the power wires to measure the consumption when the lights are all at white.  I used 100 lights just to make sure the draw is enough to get a decent measurement.

 

So multimeter before the power supply. Got it. 100 lights makes the math easy too. :-)

Thanks

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1 minute ago, TheKneelandCrew said:

 

So multimeter before the power supply. Got it. 100 lights makes the math easy too. :-)

Thanks

Well depends on what you want to measure.  If you wanted to measure amp draw of the lights themselves you want the multimeter between the PSU and pixels (either + or - strand).  Just keep in mind the max A for your multimeter and amount of time you can do it.  But should be fine for LED pixels.  So wiring would go PSU (+)strand ->red-wire multimeter; black-wire multimeter->pixels (+) strand.  If you put the mutimeter as part of the wall->PSU circuit you would get a draw amps of the power supply combined with the lights (since PSU will not be 100% efficient)

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On 10/19/2016 at 0:59 PM, KneelandLights said:

Hey Mike, I'm nex to smart lights this year too and have a similar setup. I'm glad to read your thread.

I'm interested in what you are using for pixel extenders? I tried to find something simple online but most of what I found was DIY circuit boards and soldering and I just don't have time for that. Are you using some retail product? Care to share?

My lights were listed at .8 watts per node. Which with the 80% load on the power supply rule made it real simple. 1 node = 1 watt.
I'm concerned I'm the other way with an improper listing though, and they are .6 watts, so I'm not getting as many lights out of 1 power supply. Can I test this by testing the watt consumption of the power supply itself?

Hi, it sounds as if you may have similar lights to me "0.8 watts per node", I'm assuming, your power requirements are probably 1200watts or greater. I'm trying to find out how I can achieve that power requirement. Eg can I wire 3 powe supplies in a parallel configuration or do I I have to find a large and expensive power supply? What did you use?

Edited by Robongar

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5 hours ago, Robongar said:

Hi, it sounds as if you may have similar lights to me "0.8 watts per node", I'm assuming, your power requirements are probably 1200watts or greater. I'm trying to find out how I can achieve that power requirement. Eg can I wire 3 powe supplies in a parallel configuration or do I I have to find a large and expensive power supply? What did you use?

I don't know if this will help, but my display went off without any problem for my first year.  My full setup ended up with basically 8 zones on my house (each with under 150 pixels each (3 leds/pixel)), 4 driveway arches (each with 150 pixel nodes), 6 mini trees (each with 100 pixel nodes), and 3 small arches (with 25 pixels (3 leds/pixel)).  I ran with the following power supplies (the total wattage give below includes the 20% safety buffer):
1 - 400w power supply that ran the 4 driveway arches since each arch was was pulling a max of 99w.  (These ran off of a Bridge/Pixel Extender setup)

2 - 360w power supplies ran the 6 mini trees and the small arches.  (These ran directly from an E682 controller)

4 - 360w power supplies that ran 2 zones for each power supply on the house.  (These ran off of a Bridge/Pixel Extender setup).

For me this worked out pretty good since for the house it allowed me to run 2 of the 360w PS on one side of the house and 2 on the other side, keeping them as close as possible to where I placed the Pixel extenders for each side of the house near their zone start points.

This is what my final results looked like this year.  I'm hoping I can improve a lot more next year with some different effects since I spent more time just with the conversion and getting things setup this year.

 

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On 1/22/2017 at 8:05 AM, Robongar said:

Hi, it sounds as if you may have similar lights to me "0.8 watts per node", I'm assuming, your power requirements are probably 1200watts or greater. I'm trying to find out how I can achieve that power requirement. Eg can I wire 3 powe supplies in a parallel configuration or do I I have to find a large and expensive power supply? What did you use?

 

It's easiest to use multiple power supplies to deliver your total wattage. Then they can be in close proximity to your display elements. Think about it, if you use one 1200watt power supply, you'll have to run injections from that single point to inject power every 100-150 nodes. That would be a mess.

I ended up with 6 350watt power supplies in 4 different cable guard boxes. REMEMBER to tie in the negative connection between the power supplies. The negative carries the timing signal for the lights.

On 1/22/2017 at 1:53 PM, Mike H said:

I don't know if this will help, but my display went off without any problem for my first year.  My full setup ended up with basically 8 zones on my house (each with under 150 pixels each (3 leds/pixel)), 4 driveway arches (each with 150 pixel nodes), 6 mini trees (each with 100 pixel nodes), and 3 small arches (with 25 pixels (3 leds/pixel)).  I ran with the following power supplies (the total wattage give below includes the 20% safety buffer):
1 - 400w power supply that ran the 4 driveway arches since each arch was was pulling a max of 99w.  (These ran off of a Bridge/Pixel Extender setup)

2 - 360w power supplies ran the 6 mini trees and the small arches.  (These ran directly from an E682 controller)

4 - 360w power supplies that ran 2 zones for each power supply on the house.  (These ran off of a Bridge/Pixel Extender setup).

For me this worked out pretty good since for the house it allowed me to run 2 of the 360w PS on one side of the house and 2 on the other side, keeping them as close as possible to where I placed the Pixel extenders for each side of the house near their zone start points.

This is what my final results looked like this year.  I'm hoping I can improve a lot more next year with some different effects since I spent more time just with the conversion and getting things setup this year.

Nice first-year setup! That's funny, I spent more time on the setup this year too... next year the sequences will get almost my full attention.
It looked like you favored blue/white on those sequences... just a preference? 

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7 hours ago, KneelandLights said:

Nice first-year setup! That's funny, I spent more time on the setup this year too... next year the sequences will get almost my full attention.

It looked like you favored blue/white on those sequences... just a preference? 

It was actually because the original AC lights I had were all blue and white.  So just to get my sequences converted over to Xlights quickly, I just basically replicated the original prop lights to the new RGB lights throwing in a few special effects where I could.  I don't know if I will change the colors much in the future, but like you, hopefully I can at least focus more on the sequences for next year and use the RGB capabilities more.

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