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Thread: Programmable RGB LED PCB strips?

  1. #1
    Flashaholic EricB's Avatar
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    Default Programmable RGB LED PCB strips?

    I have been on a quest to try to find a programmable RGB LED string; like CK's iColor Flex; but cheaper, for next Christmas. A coiple other companies said they are developing them; but have not released any onfo on the progress so far.
    I was trying to find info on the strings lining the ceiling of the flagship FAO Schwartz in NYC, and began wondering if these were parhaps made from the PCB bars I have seen on sites like myled.com and fiberopticproducts.com. I see they hook together with 3 inch jumpers. So groups of 3 led's with a few inches inbetween looks like what is in FAO. Then; you attach the programmer circuit board to the back of each strip it seems.
    The fiberopticproducts has one that is RGB; but it just seems to be the same programmed 7 color fade. On myled; they have several rgb listed, but it doesn't give much info on how programmable they are.

    So any info on programmable RGB PCB bars?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Programmable RGB LED PCB strips?

    Hi Eric,
    Not sure if this is what you wanted, I suspect you want something smaller?? anyway check this out:

    I've got two bit ~300mm boards with 10 LEDs (4R3G3B) installed in a bit of PVC with flourescent fittings on either end. The idea being I can just rip the ballast/inverter of a nice flouro fitting and install this. The assembly is too labour intensive to do commercially, but I was considering supplying the PCBs.
    They take 0V, 12V plus three low power 5V RGB PWM signals. A seperate controller under the boards rectifies 12VAC and does the PWM/pattern control. The boards provide onboard transistors/dropping resistors to drive the LEDs from the PWM signal....very simple and hopefully cheap.
    Currently the design has been halted, and needs a little work to make it suitable for others to play with.....but I could definately get something for christmas happening.
    Some questions to make it more suitable to what you're after:
    - How long should the strips be? ~300mm too long?
    - how many/what sort of LEDs? Wide beam/Narrow?
    - individual controller per board (ie simple patterns/sweeps) or a seperate controller to sequence a string or strings of boards?
    - how much complexity would you tolerate in wiring the strings? I have an idea to have simple (re cheap) RGB boards using plain old TTL logic on a common comms line that I need an excuse to work on. Meaning that you could get away with three lines to hook up (2xpwr+data). These boards pictured are only suitable for a couple of seperate channels....they need 5 lines.
    - how robust/complexity of linkage. Do you want to self wire from term blocks, use special (extra cost) wires/connectors? Standard 'pc mod' fittings like Molex connectors? Do the strips need to be mechanically connected together, clips, screws etc?

    ahhh...that's enough questions for now, sorry I got carried away...I've got tons.
    Have a think about exactly what you want, and if I reckon I can sell a few more I'll try to whip up a prototype or two if you're interested, easily before Christmas anyway.

    phil

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    Default Re: Programmable RGB LED PCB strips?

    oops....a correction. These boards have 20 LEDs each. There are 40 LEDs in the shot.

  4. #4
    Flashaholic EricB's Avatar
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    Default Re: Programmable RGB LED PCB strips?

    Once again; I am looking for rgb; not r+g+b. An example of what I am looking for is: (bar and jumper)


    here is their rgb model: (Each LED is rgb; not 1 of each color per bar)

    controller:


    They are reasonably priced, but only does the 7 color cycle. It shouldn't be too hard to have this individually addressable.
    Since this is to simulate a "string" for decoration (most likely around the window); those long bars with 10 or 20 LED's wouldn't really be that good. (and esp. not separate r,g,b)

    I was wondering about wide or narrow beam. Since the strong might twist, leaving some bars displayed almost edgewise, the widest beam would probably be the best.

    How many I would get would depend on the price, and what I can afford at the time. It may end up being something I would start of small; and add new strips gradually. (I might use it year round: rwb for 4th of July, green for St Patty's; etc)

    As for controller; whicever one can make them individually addressable, for the cheapest price.

    A'm new at this; so don't know that much about wiring.From the examples I've show; it looks like the jumpers, just snap on. (I think it said that somewhere).

    Also, in the LED forum, someone posted a picture of a Peak "Disco Light" that uses 7 rgb's, but I couldn't find anymore info on it. Do you know more about that?

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    Default Re: Programmable RGB LED PCB strips?

    ahh...okdokie, No problem, your RGB requirement is duly noted, though I've come to prefer individual R+G+B LEDs plus diffuser.
    I actually have a vast number of RGB superflux LEDs....I'd be happy to find a use for them..they're unfortunately narrow beams. I wonder if the my-led unit above are narrow or wide beam? I agree on the call about wide beam being better to avoid misalignments caused by twisting. There's plenty of wide beam RGB superfluxes around now though.

    OK.. molex connectors...no problem, that makes life a lot easier. The little clip there looks custom made...which I can't help with. I'll keep a look out for commonly used hardware that might help. Some sort of clip used by electricians or plumbers I suppose.

    I had more of a think on the controller/addressing issue...you have a choice of a smart addressable board or a dumb one.
    In the smart case you could have either a seperate controller (with...um controls) OR you designate one board as a 'master' and the other slaves to this, and attach a simple set controls to the 'master' board.
    A small PIC (eg 12F675) on each board could handle direct control of its' RGB LED array and also either receive or control a string. The board could also operate independantly of others, or in isolated positions. With a bit of PC software, you could program a board with your own sequences. This would add about +$5 on the board.
    Alternatively a controller+string using dumb boards and simple control logic would cost about +$2.50 extra per board. However they couldn't operate independantly. You'll need a controller connected to each string...or hubbed to one central controller. For your app it's not too bad, a window is not much wiring, but a entire backyard would get complicated. An alternative may be one 'smart' board to a string, the others can be dumb....How's that sound?
    Lastly for long runs it'll probably need two data lines (eg RS485) not one as I mentioned before to avoid interference and false signals. That makes 4 lines between boards.
    I'd recommend the smart board approach...but only for small strings...about 8-10 units.

    phil

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    Flashaholic EricB's Avatar
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    Default Re: Programmable RGB LED PCB strips?

    The beam angle isn't that important. These things have tracking clips, so I guess they could be fixed to all face forward, and even if it was a bit sideways; it probably would still be visible.

    As for a controller; what I am looking for wis basically a cheaper version of the CK iColor Flex. That uses a single controller, and I think some of those things even hook up to the computer by USB. But they are expensive. A 50 light string of iColorFlex is $450, and either the controller and/or software is $1000! (I forgot if it was separate or not). These things are called "DMX"s, right? (just wondering what that stood for). I wonder how well the master and slave boards you mentioned would work compared to the central controller. (I'm sure this would be cheaper, right?) It seems in the examples Iposted each bar had it's own controller anyway, but I guess those are preprogrammed, and not addressible.
    You speak of "lines"; if you mean the number of wires in the string (or "cord"); the icolorFlex has three.

    Here's some more of their connectors:
    (4 Pin Jumper):

    (2 Pin Power Wire):


    So how much would the total cost be? Like for say 10 [3 LED] units?

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    Flashaholic EricB's Avatar
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    Default Re: Programmable RGB LED PCB strips?

    Just to point out; I finally spoke to someone from the company (Focus Lighting) who designed the FAO Schwartz display. Those ARE iColor Flex's! In fact, a person I ran into there while asking about it months ago, who happened to work for CK suggested they were probably theirs; but I didn't believe her; as they didn't look like anything I could find on their website. They look different; because of the grouping of three; which was apparently a custom design.
    So those are out, once again, at $450 per string, $1000 for the software, AND about $200 for the controller. It is basically designed more for large commercial displays like that anyway.

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    Default Re: Programmable RGB LED PCB strips?

    Holy moly.....that is expensive.....Thanks for getting those prices, I'm pretty sure I can do much better than that.
    Bearing in mind these are just estimates..
    A small low power controller should be under $AU100. Much less if supplied in short form kit version (ie you do the construction and hardware for the controls, the extra cost in a finished unit for a controller is all the fiddly bits).

    The LED board would depend on LED selection, I haven't sourced any wide beam RGB LEDs...but if they were about $4ea I could probably do a RGB board at under $AU50...probably much under, particularly if I do the 'dumb' boards I mentioned above.

    Note the extra cost in those DMX units....for simple displays you really don't need it, unless you want to make a light show extrafiganza synced to music on your window. Am I right in guessing you might want some simple selections for basic patterns like solid colour still/changing, random, sliding displays etc, plus being able to change the speed of these simple patterns? No major problem there.

    phil

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    Default Re: Programmable RGB LED PCB strips?

    Incidentally, on this thread
    http://www.candlepowerforums.com/ubb...ev=#Post971493
    VidPro posted a link to some interesting LEDs that might be useful
    http://www.leadfull.com/english%20version/zx-4e.html

    phil

  10. #10
    Flashaholic EricB's Avatar
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    Default Re: Programmable RGB LED PCB strips?

    OK, so
    1) this "low power controller": which option is that? The "separate controller" or "smart" board that acts as a master for the others; or the central controller as a hub for the "dumb" boards?

    2) does the kit version require soldering? (I just never could get the hang of that. Don't have the fine motor skills, OR the patience!)

    3)Once again; I don't have to have wide beam. So how much is the narrow beam?

    As for the displays I was thinking of; it would be a combination of colors, and solid colors. For instance; I would display all the basic "Christmas colors" through a sequence (I would mix the rgb to a simulated "soft white" for starters. This I believe would be around r=255, g=240; b=192, or at least that's what it is on the monitor). Then it would go red, orange (r=255, g-128), yellow, green, cyan, blue, magenta, and then cool white (rgb=255). Then I would cycle through; with half the leds's remaining on one color, while the others go through the cycle again; (the stationary color itself would be a cycle of those colors), and when this is finished; then perhaps some cycles of three colors. This so you could see all the different combinations of Christmas colors (single color; red & white; red & green; red & blue; blue & orange; yellow & purple, green& white; blue & white, etc). Then it could also be set to any of those combinations. I guess I would also have some chasing displayes; also imagined "snowfall" (dark blue with white gently "falling" through it; though this effect would be more appreciable with hundreds of LED's spread across a window; or in a tree or on the house or something. And of course, there could also be white "strobe" flashes too). When not doing a "show"; it would probably stay set at the four basic Christmas colors of red, gree, blue & orange (maybe also white too).
    Is this so "extravagant" that it would need one of those expensive DMX units? (I wouldn't need it synched to music. But I do envision "Snowfall" playing during the snowfall sequence; and I could just put on the CD manually)
    I guess if that is too expensive; then a simpler controllable display would do for now. I could wait until the DMX's come down in price (and perhaps I have a yard and more space and not just a window) to do that full show. (though the CK DMX's $200 is in an affordable range; it's the software, and the string itself that are the killers!)

    (Once again; I was curious as to what exactly "DMX" stood for).

    Thanks for the link (though could you fix it; because it is making the board so wide?) Looks like someone else is trying to come up with an rgb flashlight with individual color controls. That was something else I've been looking for.

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    Default Re: Programmable RGB LED PCB strips?

    By low power controller, I mean compared to the big prof lighting units....ie just does patterns, not interface with a big mixing desk. It could be any of the controller options you've mentioned.
    No problems on the kit, I can build them up for you for a little token extra. I just checked my RGB superfluxs....I thought I had more, but only had ten....oh well. It'd be no problem putting together a little proto to test the signalling using these and fit what ever LEDs you like for production quality stuff I'd ship to a customer.

    You're pattern requirements are not very extravagent at all....in fact they're very simply done using transistors...though with a micro you could have a random light show rather than a fixed sequence as well as coordinated patterns.

    DMX stands for Digital Multiplexing and is a theatrical standard that's been around for a while and is used to coordinate stage/show lighting etc with music, props...all manner of things really.

    phil
    ps: I'll give some answers on pricing when I've got a solution that actually works.....if I haven't contacted you in a month or so, pm me and remind me to get on the job...am a bit busy getting my new wash light product released atm....ironically my prototype used the superflux RGB units....I'll try to ressurect it and get a pic up soon so you can see the units in action (though the board size too large for what you want).

  12. #12
    Flashaholic EricB's Avatar
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    Default Re: Programmable RGB LED PCB strips?

    OK, thanks.
    Also; I just remembered; primary die preferences: red: 625 or higher, green 525, blue 430-470. (the other thing I don't like about the iColorFlex, besides the price is that it uses 617 as the red, which is really orange. That plus any blue above 470 or green below 525 throws the colors off and creates a pastel effect. (and 565 green isn't Christmassy enough).

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Programmable RGB LED PCB strips?

    good call on the subjective reactions to the die wavelengths....it's nice to get that sort of feedback to put into designs.

    I wouldn't have thought that CK would do something like pick orange instead of red. But then again some of the copy from the LED Alliance project CK as being more experts on marketing and patent law than experts in LEDs.....talk about irony! ....sorry too much politics there in that comment.

    I'll try to make sure I choose a.....Christmassy.... colour pallette! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

    phil

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    Default Re: Programmable RGB LED PCB strips?

    [ QUOTE ]
    EricB said:
    I have been on a quest to try to find a programmable RGB LED string; like CK's iColor Flex; but cheaper, for next Christmas. A coiple other companies said they are developing them; but have not released any onfo on the progress so far.
    I was trying to find info on the strings lining the ceiling of the flagship FAO Schwartz in NYC, and began wondering if these were parhaps made from the PCB bars I have seen on sites like myled.com and fiberopticproducts.com. I see they hook together with 3 inch jumpers. So groups of 3 led's with a few inches inbetween looks like what is in FAO. Then; you attach the programmer circuit board to the back of each strip it seems.
    The fiberopticproducts has one that is RGB; but it just seems to be the same programmed 7 color fade. On myled; they have several rgb listed, but it doesn't give much info on how programmable they are.

    So any info on programmable RGB PCB bars?

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Try www.prime-light.com

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