Permanent house lights

Hello.

Thank you @Aircoookie. And everyone who helps makes this project awesome.

I have recently taken the plunge and started installing ws2815 12V leds on my roof. I am using the quin digi quad board with the multi channel fork and it is working great. I have a relay wired into the AC power going into the 12V PSU.

Short video

I know, the video doesn’t show any of the fancy patterns, but my neighbors don’t know what is coming for them, so I am trying to impress them slowly.

I have only hung the garage lights so far. 12V power supply. The left of the garage has 87 leds and that attaches to the left of the roofline triangle. The right is the second channel which leads into the right of the triangle. I am going to go across the porch next and then over to a bay window with the third output. The 4th will be along the second story roof line. I’m working up the courage to get up there on the ladder. With a 12V PSU, I am hoping to avoid power injection, but the 405 lights on the roof may need that.

I have tried working with esp8266/esp32s and fastled for years and none of the projects were ever “finished” enough to keep. I know I can do the software to make my own patterns and make my own UI, but I never had the motivation to finish.

Wled is great. It really takes a bunch of the initial setup away. Then, it adds a ton of great customization. The fact I can pick a pallette along with an effect and they mostly work is really quite a lot better than I care to output myself.

So now, whenever I see someone doing an RGB project, my first instinct is to tell them to use WLED.

:bowing_man: :clap:

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If your permanent lights are interconnected with at least 18 gage (or equivalent), then you should be ok with 405 LEDs - unless you want your house to look like the big space ship in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (aka VERY BRIGHT!).

I limited WLED max brightness & current values until all LEDs were always the proper colors with consistent brightness with 450 LEDs and it was still very bright.

If you find that solution is too restrictive, then hitting the strip around 2/3 from the main power input with power injection should do the job.

If you were running 5V strips, you would have quite a few power injection points.

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I have done a test on the bench with the right amount of wire and 430 LEDs, which I think is the right amount and if I limit the current in the settings by just a little, I can keep them all on.

These WS2815b’s are weird. The current limiting really works. I was measuring the voltage at the tail end of my test rig and if I turned them all the way up, the voltage at the end would dip below 5V and the last few LEDs would change color. It would only do that on max vrightness with blue or green. Max red or white would still stay about about 6V.

I updated to the main aircookie branch, which has digi quad configs in it and that seems to be working fine.

I could probably just leave the current limit at max and never use max brightness. But I wouldn’t see it if it was freaking out (I don’t see my house much, how unfair is that?), I wouldn’t know. So I will just set the current limit down a bit and stay out of trouble.

Just waiting on a longer ladder and a not so windy day.

Lurking in the drzzs lighting discord, I’ve learned that most run at 30% brightness.

The only downside I’ve found when using a brightness below 50% is some of the palettes and patterns use various levels of dimming. This causes some of the effect pixels not to light at all because your already running at a reduced brightness.

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Ok. I borrowed a long ladder and braved the cold to get the lights across the top of the house. I do have one problem though.

The top lights are 420 leds ws2815b. These are the 12V with the backup data channel. There are 976 leds total on a digiquad, which has a esp32.

When I do full brightness, they seem fine. When I do fast changing patterns, like this sinelon, the animation is smooth. When I do dimm brightness, it flickers. It flickers at the end of the strand. Maybe 80 leds. It is right after my solder connection to the last strand.

The location would suggest I messed up the solder joint somehow. I am really bummed. I thought I did a good job on them, I tested them on the bench, and I was so relieved to have them up there. I am not sure how I am going to be able to work on it. I can’t solder on that ladder. Is there any chance I can fix this with configuration or software or power supply?

Here are some videos. This is a rainbow pattern was at full brightness (it has one weird glitch, but it is good):

This is a different rainbow pattern at very low brightness. You can see it constantly goofing up at that one spot:

This is a bright xmas pattern. It looks to me like it is updating more on the left that right side of that darker spot:

Is it possible this is a software bug? :pray: I can’t think of any way to fix a wiring issue there without being very destructive and risk damaging everything.

Hi! That’s a real bummer! Having to service practically unreachable equipment is a real pain, mate.

I don’t necessarily believe it is a problem with your solder joints, it might be a problem with the ground as well. Did you solder the “Backup Out” pin to the “Backup In” pin? But if the problem happens exactly at a joint, it is usually a hardware problem with the joint or the last/first LED.
Since it only happens at lower brightnesses, I suspect that the data signal is working in principle, but degraded, so it is only working when the supply voltage is lower (it drops a bit when running LEDs at full brightness, that is likely why the issue only happens at low brightness). If the voltage output of your PSU is adjustable (it is with many of the silver ones with a small potentiometer), you might be able to “fix” the problem by reducing the voltage by 0.5-1V.

Your setup looks amazing otherwise though :+1:

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Yes. Where I joined the strands I soldered all 4 wires straight across. Then covered with git glue and wrapped with heat shrink.

My big worry is that it is the pads coming off and not the solder joint.

I guess I will just get up there with some tools and try to clean it off. I could cut the two surrounding leds off and solder in two more. That would at least be clean. The hot glue does not like to come off of the solder clearly.

I learned in the first stand (closer to the ground) to solder inside, with the good iron. I have one of those butane irons and it was just much harder.

Thanks for the confirmation.

Ok. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I went back up and tried to clean off the hot glue and it did eventually come off (boy, it sticks well to the heat shrink).

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the 12V pad came off one end. So that joint is toast.

I went back to the bench and make a little patch of two leds. And then I made a spare (why make one when you can make two for twice the price?).

These ended up being a little bit short. So I lengthened one end with tiny wires, but that was still not too bad. I had the patch tinned and I just had to tin one pad on each end up on the roof. Then I soldered in the patch. Probably only 2 mins with the butane iron (which overheats and blasts hot air out the side, freaking me out). Then I mamaged to hit it with some hot glue and move the heat shrink into place. I didn’t bother shrinking it, but I hope it will be ok. The plastic fit just fine.

And… It works!! :tada:

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