Newbie question

I am just getting started with wanting to build controllable lights at my house. At the moment, I have not purchased anything yet. At this moment, my hope is to coordinate my lights with music and I am thinking of combining WLED with xLights. I would like to somehow send the audio that the lights are timed with to something like an IceCast or similar server. My thought is to create a QR code on a sign in my front yard to the audio server to hear my audio.

I am hoping to line the complete perimeter of my house with straight lines that will remain up year-round. I have many lines that will be horizontal and there are several gables. On either side of my house, there is a diagonal line that goes from the first-floor roof line up to a peak above the second floor going up and down. I haven’t measured it yet but I expect it to be a pretty long run, maybe 40-50 feet or so on each angle. I will likely just start with this but add additional Christmas-specific lights I put out in November each year; like adding a tree and possibly some type of matrix design on a fence. One advantage to having these up year-round is I can use it for other “celebrations”, such as a pink/red/white theame for Valentine’s Day, Green for St. Patrick’s Day. Red, white, and blue for 4th of July. Orange and purple themes for Halloween. I probably wouldn’t synchronize music for most of those except maybe some John Philip Sousa marches may sync well for 4th of July (Stars and Stripes Forever).

Obviously, I will need to measure all of these lines but from there, I would like to seek the advice of others as to what hardware to go with. When it comes to purchasing LED strips, I see different spacing options, from 30, 60, and 144 LEDs per meter. Obviously, the denser the pixel placement, the more power will be drawn. Also, the denser the pixel placement, the smoother the light transiotions ought to be (my assumption). I also realize that from a distance, you may not be able to discern each individual pixel and at some point, there is no point in being more dense.

As I mentioned, some of my lines may be in excess of 40-50 feet (~12-15 meters). This will likely require some power insertion along the line. My thought is to actually run some 14/2 silicone wire with a much higher voltage alongside the runs and use a buck converter and something like the QuinLED-Data-Booster in a small plastic box periodically to boost it along. Now, when it comes to animation, I may want the lights to run from left to right or right to left, but on a gabled end of the house, it may be nice to also do a top to bottom or bottom to top animation. Sould I then need to split the gable ends into two segments instead of one?

When it comes to mounting LED strips, I am assuming that I will want some type of aluminum channel with probably a frosted plastic shield over the LED strip. What is the best kind to use for this? Are there some that have a groove that would allow running additional wires hidden under the strip?

As you can tell, I am having a little difficulty just trying to figure out where to start. I have ideas, but no practical experience at these type of lights, yet. I do have quite a bit of experience at electronics in general, computer networking, and messing around with script editing. As I tend to do with most projects, I do hours upon hours of research before doing anything, but it is hard to use this knowledge without actually doing it.

Good luck and I hope you can get a good advice because this is not easy .

I just started few days back trying to do something similar to what you said at least close in length. Also go to YouTube and see what is involved in a project of the size you have in mind

So I purchased a total of 20 meters of WS2812B ( 30 LED / meter which run on 5v ) , some ESP32 s and 5v PSU ( which are strangely more expensive then 12 V version)

Now I am having a hard time wiring and powering them in a safe manner.

So my advice to you ( besides waiting for a LED guru advice) is not to buy a lot of strips specially WS2812B like I did although they really look very cool ( more then cool actually) . Instead just start by buying one strip or preferably one kit ( WS2811 is fine and looks okay without the hassle of power and wiring ). I got a 5 meters kit from Amazon that includes WS2811 with a controller and 12 V power supply and it was not that expensive.

Of course I really love WLED and I wish I could use it with WS2811 commercial controller but the effects and music function are enough.And I think my controller will be supported in near future by WlED.

I hope no one gets mad with me for saying the above but really it takes time and effort ( beside the cost and risk) to build DIY . Unless you like to do DIY for the the fun of it which is my curse.

Cheers and please forgive me if this is not a good advice

If you are interested in year-round outdoor installations, then strips are probably the wrong choice for you. Most people on here see the most success using “Pixel” style LED strings. These strings have wires between each LED, like standard Christmas lights, and are potted in epoxy to help them withstand the elements. I think these only come at one “pitch” so you shouldn’t need to worry about 30, 60, or 144led/m. It seems that many people experience failures in the strips when they are installed outdoors, even on the IP65 and IP67 stuff.

As for 12-15 meter runs, you are correct that it is likely to require power injection. Carefully consider what voltage strings you plan on using. Higher voltage LEDs use less current per diode, allow use of thinner gauge wires, and allow much longer runs without power injection. Using 12V or 24V LEDs, you might be able to only apply power once in the center of a 15-meter run, but you’d need to test to know for certain. Also, keep in mind that all addressable strips, regardless of their operating voltage, are using 5V logic for the data input.

Good on you for thinking about the QuinLED Data booster. To support 15-meter runs, you will almost undoubtedly need some form of level shifter, and this would be a reasonable solution. If you are handy, consider instead the max485 modules to convert your signal to rs485 and back. RS485 is a 2-wire protocol that is much more robust against induced noise and transmission losses. You would need 2 of these modules per output - 1 to convert after the controller, and 1 to convert back at the LED string. These modules can be had for ~$1/ea.

Keep in mind that each output pin of your controller should only control 1 string of LEDs. You can connect multiple strings together to make 1 long string without issue (up till a point, too many LEDs per pin will drop your framerate substantially). However, you cannot “fork” these into parallel strings without encountering lots of issues. If you need multiple strings in parallel, you will need to control each of the different strings with a different pin. WLED is configured to allow setups with multiple pins, and even setups with multiple controllers, to all be synchronized and behave as one continuous string.