Category: Archives

These are from my old Blogger/BlogSpot holiday lights site. Much of the information is probably outdated, but I’m re-posting in case I haven’t gotten around to writing something new about it yet.

3D Printer Upgrade- Update: It’s gone.

UPDATE (January 2021):Unfortunately something went wrong and the printer almost caught fire. I’m not sure if it was a firmware or thermistor failure, or bad connection to the thermistor- but the hot end erupted into a cloud of smoke one afternoon. Fortunately I was in the room and the smoke alarm I had mounted to the top went off, so I quickly shut the printer down. From what I could tell- the firmware DID NOT detect an issue as the display still indicated normal operation. It was in the process of stepping through an auto-level routine for a new print …

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D1 Mini Controller Boxes

Update (January 2021):I’m no-longer using these as they ultimately failed. I don’t believe there is anything inherently “wrong” with controllers like this, and many people do use them successfully for shows of varying sizes. For me, as noted in later blog posts, WIFI seems to have been the Achilles Heal of these. Unless you have almost-ideal conditions- WIFI just can’t handle the traffic needed to run a lot of these. I would love to see wired options along these lines, or maybe 5Ghz WIFI would fix some of the problems. I do still use variations of these to run AC …

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Firmware and Controller Update

Note: This is an ARCHIVE document and some of the information has changed as my projects evolved. Some specifics: I now use 3D printed boxes, sealed with silicone, for the controllers. I don’t fasten the PSUs inside the ammo boxes anymore. I use cable glands for all cables now. Epoxy and/or silicone just isn’t secure enough. I will be posting updated versions soon! I wanted to post a quick update. Unfortunately, I’ve been too busy with work and life to make a lot of progress so far. I am slowly ordering in more pixels, wire, and holders, which I will …

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Changes/New Controllers

After some experimentation with my combined PSU/Control box plan, and after taking a serious look at the cost of PSUs and pixels, I decided to make a few changes… First- it just isn’t practical to have a separate PSU for every string of pixels. It would just be too expensive since high-wattage PSUs are significantly cheaper/watt. It would cost 2-3x as much just for the PSUs for my original plan. Second- it will be a lot easier, safer, and more-reliable to place the PSUs where they can be easily accessed, as opposed to trying to place them securely on the …

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Controller Box (V.1) Build Images

Actually I’ve gone through a few different beta builds, but this is my current plan. I’m also sharing some other tips that have helped me… First, here is a current schematic of what I am doing for 12v pixels: Each string will have one PSU (Power Supply) and D1 controller board in a weathertight box, which I am making out of CHEAP plastic ammo boxes. These are great because they are made to be airtight, with the top lid sealing using a clamp and rubber gasket. Of course- once I punch holes in it for mounting the PSU and cables- …

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Programming the D1 Mini (Clone) on Mac

Background: The D1 Mini is a very popular hobby circuit with WiFi and an ESP8266 controller. They are used in robotics and environmental monitoring projects, as well as for holiday light displays! They are (almost) a drop-in replacement for ESPixelStick (and variants like the PIxelPop) developed by dedicated holiday light hobbyists. The nice thing is they combine WiFi and ESP on one board- no additional soldering required. (You do still need to solder a few connections to the board.) I want to thank and give credit to a few sources, and everyone who is associated with them: https://doityourselfchristmas.comhttps://diychristmas.comhttps://forkineye.com Without these, …

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Arduino Controller

I’m posting this just for reference, since I ultimately decided not to use Arduino controllers due to cost, size, and memory limitations. They are nice to start with though as they are fully-assembled and easy to find/buy, and if you can work with one of them- you can work with the other DIY controller boards I’m using. As I said earlier- I started this adventure by digging an Arduino Uno out of my junk drawer and loading the FastLED library on it. Then I just tweaked a sketch called the “100 Line Demo”. I’m linking both here: http://fastled.iohttps://gist.github.com/kriegsman/062e10f7f07ba8518af6 Arduinos are …

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Pixels!

I mentioned before that I got a lot of information and inspiration from doityourselfchristmas.com and diychristmas.com. You will also find links there to countless other forums and discussions. You will find a LOT of debate about things like pixel counts and power, 5v vs. 12v, and the capabilities of various control systems. What follows is my own opinion. You will find many others, and your experience may vary. Of course as I gain more real-world experience I will update or add to this. One thing to make clear up front- everyone buys “cheap” pixels from mostly-Chinese suppliers these days. These …

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Beginnings…

Back when I was a small child, my family, along with most others in my neighborhood, put out lights for Chrismas. Back then- it was big C9 or C7 bulbs, painstakingly fastened to the eaves of the house with nails. Later on- the dreaded “if one goes out- they all go out!” mini-lights appeared. They were cheap-ish, used less electricity, and were reasonably easy to deal with. It became really easy to adorn every window and shrub and tree in the yard with them. You usually had to get several extra sets, and spend a lot of time pulling and …

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