29 May 2014

Soldering Extension Wire onto Strip Light

We have customers that are sometimes concerned about working with strip lighting we sell and how they can extend it and/or attach connectors to it.  The video below shows how simple and quick it can be to solder on extension wiring onto strip lighting:

You can find our extension wire here:

4 Conductor, 18 AWG
3 Conductor, 18 AWG

20 May 2014

Is a RGB Pixel Package A Good Choice for My RGB Project?

A very common question we get is - does HolidayCoro have a package or kit of RGB pixel items that can be used for RGB projects.  This blog post hopes to be able to provide you with sound advice about when a "package" or kit is a good choice and when it isn't a good choice for you and your project.  This article is a follow-up to our "Cheap Isn't Free When It Comes To RGB" blog post which talks about the pros and cons of DIY vs vendor developed solutions from a time and cost perspective.  First, let's start off with defining the project you plan to build - while there are many different types of projects that involve RGB and/or pixels - in this article we will use the two most popular uses of pixels today and the ones for which we receive the most questions about:

  • Outline a House (soffit, fascia, roof line, windows, etc) with pixels (covered in this blog post)
  • Building a pixel MegaTree

Outlining A House with Pixels

Each time we work with a customer on a house outline there are many common items/questions for all installations - length (linear feet) of area to cover, density of control (pixels per meter or inch), budget, controllers and the overall look the customer wants to achieve.  Let's start with these and look at the different options:
  • Length of area to cover - There is never a single length for any house type because each house has different lengths and each customer wishes to outline different areas (windows or no windows, roof line or no roof line).  As such, any "package" deal would need to have the specific amount of lighting for that specific installation.  Additionally, other factors such as long run lengths that might need 12v lights instead of 5v lights can also factor into the decision based on the design of the house.
  • Density of control - Some displays are viewed from hundreds of feet away, others are viewed from tens of feet - as such, the value of specific pixel density (30 LED/m vs., say 48 LED/m or 60 LED/m) changes from display to display.  Additionally, with different density comes different sequencing and bandwidth requirements, which, depending on the display, can be an important factor.
  • Budget - Each person's budget is different and that factors into how they design their display.  Some customers will want nice moulded waterproof connections on lights, others are satisfied by basic, non-waterproof connections.
  • Controllers - The number and type of controllers will vary depending on the physical layout of the house.  Sometimes it can be be cheaper and easier to install more controllers than less due to the amount of additional wiring that would be required to support just one controller.
As you can see, even with just this small subset of factors that go into the proper design of a house outline - there will never be the same "package" for each house because there are just too many variables involved.

For house outlines, you'll either need to use a guide like our, how-to blog post on the subject to design your own or use a design service offered by some vendors that look at your specific needs and then can recommend the exact right combination of hardware for your house.  Currently no other vendor other than HolidayCoro offers custom house outline services.  As HolidayCoro attempts to strike a balance as we are a low-margin hardware vendor we offer design services as an additional for fee service which can be found here:  http://www.holidaycoro.com/product-p/design1.htm

For a representation of the hardware in a common house outline, see:  http://www.holidaycoro.com/RGB-House-Outline-Packages-s/1967.htm 

Pixel MegaTree

A pixel MegaTree is a very common project for many displays.  A pixel MegaTree is pretty much just a large matrix of pixels, wrapped around a cone and is used to display effects.  There are a number of inputs into a MegaTree and they are:
  • Height and Width of the MegaTree - Typically a "package" MegaTree will be set for a specific height because the diameter of the tree along with the spacing of the pixels in the package determine the final overall height.  If the size of the tree and the mounting method used to build that tree work well for you, a package may be a good choice.  If you have specific spacing requirements, such as the high density needed to display readable, scrolling text, the pixels included with a package may not be the best choice.  Additionally, if you have specific needs such as a smaller tree due to a small yard or close proximity to your audience, or, if your display is huge and you need something more in "scale" with your other display items, a packaged design likely isn't a good choice.
  • Pixel Type - The type of pixel used on a MegaTree greatly affects the overall look and functionality of the MegaTree.  Choices can include nodes, strip or even bulbs.  Each physical type of pixel has a pro and con.
  • Controller / Power - Since MegaTrees are typically full (360 degree) or half (180 degree) cones, it makes sense to have the power and controller centrally located in the trunk and thus most packages include a controller, power supply(s) and mounting box.
So, while a MegaTree does allow for some level of "standardization" to allow for it to be put into a package, make sure that package meets your pixel type and density requirements - if your specific needs, such as height, spacing or node type differ, you'll likely be better off with a custom solution instead of a package.

HolidayCoro offers common pixel tree formats of 50 pixels x 12 or 50 pixels by 16 in strips and nodes:  http://www.holidaycoro.com/RGB-Pixel-Mega-Tree-Packages-s/1964.htm

If your needs are more specific, HolidayCoro can also design a MegaTree based on your specific project requirements through our consulting service: http://www.holidaycoro.com/product-p/design2.htm