For a light show using WiFi- you need a dedicated WiFi AP (Access Point) and you SHOULD use FalconPlayer (FPP), which runs on a Raspberry Pi (and other platforms). You want whatever computer you are running your show from directly connected via Ethernet to the WiFi AP/Router. Don’t use WiFi for your show computer!
I had a surplus MicroTik WiFi router and have a small pile of Raspberry Pis, so I just needed to find the best way to mount them in a weather-tight enclosure so I could put them as close as possible to my display elements (for the best WiFi reception).
Here is how I set mine up:
(Sorry- I didn’t do a step-by-step with pictures on this. I already had this built and just wanted to share what I used/did.)
First- I didn’t want to butcher the 24v “wall wort” PSU for the router, so I just used a cheap plug to connect it to 120v. I also could have also used my “USB/Power Adapter Hack”:
I had some extra 2-prong plugs in a junk drawer, so it was just easier this way.
I also had to power the Raspberry Pi B3+ that runs FPP, and a couple of cooling fans. Instead of using yet-another wall wort- I used a small 5v “test” power supply I had on-hand. You can see it in the bottom of the picture above. This also gives the Pi maximum power- so no “Low Power” warnings.
The Raspberry Pi itself was already in a cheap case, which was more than adequate for this.
To mount everything in the box, I used some 3M “Extreme” mounting tape, also sold as Automotive Trim tape, that I had on-hand. It’s a double-sided rubber foam tape with a ridiculously strong adhesive that is designed to hold auto-trim, so it’s made for rough service and high temperatures. Many also use velcro with a similar adhesive, which makes it a lot easier to remove components if you have to. I have found the trim tape can be removed fairly easily too by using a twisting motion to remove components stuck with it. It has a high pulling strength, but not as much sheer strength.
I wired up the plug and the PSU, connected everything, and worked out the layout so everything fit in the box. I’m using a Menards “Tool Shop” ammo box, which is a bit larger than the Harbor Freight ones.
I only needed a power cable, so it runs through a cable gland. I’m also using small weather-proof vents so there is a bit of air circulation. I added a couple of 5v fans as well to keep air moving inside the box. These are mounted with the same double-stick tape.
The fans circulate the air since the Raspberry Pi, PSU, and Router don’t have their own fans. I placed the vents at different levels so convection will hopefully move air through the box. Once they are outside in the middle of the winter I’m not too worried about cooling. Right now this is working fine inside my house. The Raspberry Pi’s CPU temperature stays within a normal operating range.
As with all of my other ammo box builds- everything is held at least 1/2″ above the bottom of the box, and there are drain holes drilled into the bottom so if any water does find its way in- it will safely drain out. I used silicone sealant in the vent and cable gland openings as-well for additional protection.
The MicroTik Router is set up as a wireless access point for the show network. It is wired directly to the Raspberry Pi using a short Ethernet cable. The Raspberry Pi is a model 3B+, with its own WiFi network. It is connected to my “home” WiFi. This keeps my show WiFi separate but allows me to upload new sequences and manage Falcon Player from my home network. Because my light controllers all run on WiFi Node-MCU D1 Minis, which only operate in the 2.4GHz range, I’m using 5GHz on the Pi to avoid interference.
Falcon Player can be downloaded here:
For a great setup tutorial, watch this:
Jeff at Canispater Christmas is one of the best resources for getting started with pixels! I highly recommend subscribing to his channel.
Note that you can use any cheap WiFi AP/Router for this, I just already had the MicroTik router in a “junk” drawer. You obviously want something that will fit comfortably in the ammo can. You don’t necessarily even need a case for the Raspberry Pi- you can double-stick tape the board directly if you want to.
As an alternative to using an industrial 5v PSU, you could use a USB adapter. Since you will end up with two wall-wort-style adapters you could just install a plug/jack (female) on the end of your power cord inside the box, and then use a cube tape to plug both in. This will take up a lot of room and may be more difficult to keep suspended above the bottom of the box. You can also connect them up with spade terminals, and just double-stick tape them to the side of the box. (See my Power Adapter Hack linked above.) Be sure to use at least a 2A 5v adapter for the Raspberry Pi.
If you use an older Raspberry Pi without WiFi- you can buy a cheap WiFi USB dongle if you want to have it access another WiFi network. You can also hard-wire it to your computer or home network, but that will likely involve a lot of cable and waterproof Ethernet connectors.
If the WiFi AP/Router you are using supports multiple WiFi networks- you may also be able to configure a 2nd WiFi network just for accessing Falcon Player. This may not be a good idea unless the router can completely isolate traffic between the two networks, as you may have issues with interference and utilization that will affect your show.
Again- I’ve mentioned this before- do not run your show on your home WiFi network! Don’t run it on the same wired network either. You should run on a dedicated network, to avoid any possibility of interference or utilization issues.
I’ve only run this rig in testing so far, so it may not work well once I set the whole show up. It will be located on the roof with direct line-of-site to the D1 Mini controllers running ESPixelStick firmware. I’ll post more as I gain more experience. 😊