Level Shifter... When to use it

Ive been playing with Wled and wemos d1 and 150 pixels 5v

Wired directly to my wemos D1…

Works fine…

So why and when should I use a level Shifter?

Kev

Always.
Otherwise you are asking for trouble down the road.

What problems happen when you dont use one? I’ve got some, just interested in the whys?

Random flicker, etc.

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My belief is use it when you have a problem. I run many of my outdoor Christmas lights with no level shifter and have for years.
My opinion does depend on application though. If the application is critical aka it is not just a hobby project in the house. I would recommend it as it won’t hurt. But I have never looked back on my lights and many don’t have a level shifter.

True, but the frustration when the strip is no longer working as it used to outweighs the negligible cost of a single level shifter.

I’ve had no issues using a smaller dropdown resistor, say, 180ohms 1/2w at board logic voltage. I did try a level shifter at the board, and a proper resistor (at the strip side, yes), but alas, it was giving me serious contiguity problems, as I’m splitting a single signal into 2 zones, and it simply wasn’t having it (there’s a very long cable run for the second zone), almost 15 feet.

I’m assuming larger gauge wiring between 2 the 2 zones, and another local 5v source (or even a cap across 5/ground) at the remote location, but for now, the 180ohm resistor has lasted well over 1 brownout a day (construction on site) for the last 3 months… So, what… particularly is the issue, if you don’t mind me asking.

What are the conditions that cause strips to die?

As far as data signal goes the wire gauge is unimportant (except if you have a really-really thin wire). It is the shielding of data wire that is important to prevent any ambient EMI noise being induced into the data wire.
You can do it using a twisted pair or completely shielding a data wire in the form of coaxial cable.

As for splitting a signal into 2 outputs it has to be done at the output of ESP and not output of level shifter. You should use two outputs from level shifter to drive 2 zones (each driving its own zone).