RGB Node Availability

Unbelievable.

The interest this project grown far beyond anything we ever imagined.

When we started out we had a few ideas about what we wanted to achieve.  We are pleased we’ve got over our own ‘line’, and are now able to ramp things up & make the technology available to everyone else.

In the process, we’ve been asked a thousand questions concerning ‘when’ and ‘how much?’

So here goes.

During 2009, we spent a lot of time (and money) researching and developing various design ideas. Where we are today is a long way down the track from the original classic pixels first released in 2005.  Our goal in 2009 was to find an affordable, reliable RGB node, suitable for large scale deployments. Getting a working design is only part of the challenge.  We’ve looked at various production options as well.

The difference in build quality between factories is significant!  Component choice is also important: inferior parts will run for a few days  or weeks, then completely or partially fail.

Sometimes cheap parts come at  a very high overall price.

Our testing will continue on some new products this year as well, but the new nodes that we have now, are performing well.

We’ve now invested a significant amount time and money ensuring our nodes will be reliable.  R&D is like that – lots and lots of sunk costs, destructive field testing, and often very little apparent result.

The nature of the Internet (and hardware hackers in general) almost certainly guarantees that someone else will find and start to sell an apparently similar product. There’s not much we can do to stop that.  And frankly, we’re not interested in trying.

Competing solely on price only leads to disappointment and frustration for all parties, and it’s not a game we’re interested in playing.

Know also that components which appear identical on a computer screen may behave in a radically different way in real life.

What we will offer – on absolutely everything that leaves the shop –  is a 100% money-back, no-questions-asked, we’ll-be-devastated-if-your-system-doesn’t-run-perfectly guarantee of support and service.  Each system will ship with a hearty helping of peace of mind.

That’s the value we’re adding to the process, and we think it’s significant.

To stay informed, just enter your name and email address in the top right corner of this page.  You’ll be the first on your block to receive  project updates.

We have got a number of other products now ready for release in 2010.  We’ve thought long and hard about how to proceed.  Our goal is to offer something useful to both the ‘DIY’ crowd and those seeking a complete turnkey solution.

Led Wall Washers and Tubes

We have some very bright tubes and wall washers that we have almost finished testing.  More details will be released as they become available.

Thanks!

Again, to stay updated on the project, just enter your name and email address in the upper right corner of this page.

Questions?  Comments?  Want to reserve your bits right now?  Send a quick email to ‘john AT response-box.com.’  We’d love to hear from you.

Warmest regards,

JEC & mrpackethead

30 Replies to “RGB Node Availability”

  1. This is getting exciting. I am interested in these and would like to offer my 30+ years of coding experience, if needed or desired. I will be ordering some as soon as they are available. Thanks for all of the hard R&D work you’ve done on these, many wishes for continued success. — John

  2. I was looking for something like this for my christmas display. I am torn between your future product and d-light firefli. I am currently using aurora show as my software package with an RS 482 adapter and see that aurora show is going to be supporting DMX channels hopefully for next years show and will be interested to see if your product will work with that software.

    Keep up the good work!
    -Chris

  3. @Chris – the nice thing about DMX is that it’s a universal standard. There are hundreds of software packages and hardware manufacturers who use it. If one particular software / control system doesn’t do what you need, you can attach your equipment to a different controller nearly seamlessly.

    So long as Aurora’s implementation matches the published USITT documents, you’ll have no problems at all.

  4. Like Chris, I too am looking at this as a possibility for use with Aurora and its future DMX capabilities as an alternative to the Firefli.

  5. Fantastic work here.. I would like to offer to head up a community based software project centered around this hardware, something written in Java (multiplatform), open sourced to the community for display integration (we could include vst plugin architeture for MIDI, DMX(=>Reaper), desktop video capture integration (play any video source on desktop and convert it to XxY pixel map on-the-fly), etc. Looking forward to the website kickoff, let me know if this idea is consistent with your project. Thanks again for all the efforts John.

  6. So are these strings the same ones I have seen on the “boring old mega tree?” They look like the RGB Nodes manufactured by ******. In that case, why $215 for 100 nodes? Does that include the controller? Any plans to make them compatible with non-DMX networks, i.e. LOR or Aurora? I know LOR supports DMX but it would be nice to have a controller solution similar to the firefli where LOR jsut reads it as multiple 16 channel controllers. Perhaps with the RGB Settings in Aurora this could be even further simplified?

  7. @Magii

    They may look the same, but that’s where the similarities end.

    We’ve done lots of testing and learned a lot from actual real world experience. From the photos those ******* nodes look like some we tested in 2009 from a factory in China – there are multiple manufacturers of them. The manufacturing technique used leaves them prone to waterproofing issues, and a single shower of rain renders them mostly useless.

    There are many claims of ‘waterproofing’, they might say IP67 or similar, the reality is different.

    The outside of those is an injection molded plastic case. The plastic doesn’t bond to the internal components and water simply tracks in-between the plastic and the components. You’d be bitterly disappointed if you’re using these outside, and disappointed customers isn’t something we like!

    Our nodes use a different technique so that the water does not track in. We are currently conducting an ‘underwater test’ where we have some nodes in a bucket of water running for several days. No problems yet!

    Additionally our nodes are 8 bit control per color as opposed the the 5 bit control of the ****** ones. It’s a different chipset inside. Yes, our price is a little more expensive than the ***** product, and there’s a reason for that. Simply we won’t ship products we wouldn’t be happy to have on our own projects.

    There is no reason why our nodes couldn’t be used with non DMX/Artnet controllers, however at this stage, it is not on our development program.

  8. Yahoo! I have been looking for individually addressed RGB pixels like this for a while. In fact I just started acquiring the stuff to make my own using a PIC18F1330. I am/was torn as to what protocol to use to drive them, and in fact was planning on using MIDI as the protocol to address them (since I was thinking in terms of “composing” the light show.) But after reading all the details on this site and the comments from others, it seems DMX is the way to go. I’d like to buy some of the Pixels to play with, but couldn’t locate them in your online store. Did I miss something? Keep up the great work.

  9. @RIG – your MIDI project sounds fun. We’ll have a link up for buying pixels, controllers & such posted shortly.

  10. I am also keeping a close watch on this project… esp noting the per pixel price is incredibly low if buying 1000 pixels…

    in fact you could count my order in if i knew of a way to control 1000 pixels….. it sounds like your controllers wont control all 1000?

    im looking to be able to run this on an iDMX board with my Light-o-Rama christmas light system…. or better yet be able to write my own patterns to a controller and then call them up on demand.. im not sure if the Light-O-Rama network can handle running 1000 separate pixels or not..

    im definately in the market for the 1000 pixel system.. but I’d like to know more technical details on how they will be called up and set in motion….

    like others on here im also an extremely tech savvy guy.. with experience in micro-controllers, and many different types of software and hardware.. so providing quality feedback on the product will not be an issue…

    currently im messing around with several other RGB type systems… and in fact the idea of getting as many different onbes side by side to test and use in my christmas display is a goal of mine…

  11. @Christopher – In theory, up to 2048 nodes can be daisy-chained in a single string. What we’ve experienced, however, is that if a node goes bad (this happened to a couple of the prototype strings), it may fail to transmit data to each downstream node. Depending on where this happens, it could range from annoying to catastrophic.

    As a result, we’ve designed in a bunch of redundancy in the new controller. Currently, it’s sized to drive strings of 100 nodes, up to 4 strings per controller. It handles the data parsing and power application for these four strings. Multiple controllers, of course, may be used in a single system. The controller accepts any voltage between about 9 and 30V DC. So chunky computer power supplies, +24v DC landscape supplies, etc, can all be used with ease.

    I’d be surprised if LOR could drive 1000 discrete nodes. That’s equivalent to 3000 channels of DMX. I’d be thrilled to be proven wrong.

    However, there are several software packages, both free and otherwise, which can accept DMX input to ‘trigger’ various pixel-based effects. So ‘calling them up on demand,’ as you mention, should be easy and practical.

    More details to come.

  12. What are you guys thinking of including when you say “The controller will also include a handful of ‘pre built’ effects generators, triggered by a small subset of DMX channels.”

    Fades from one color to another? Chase up and down and color fade? Taking requests? 😉

    -jds

  13. Obviously, not everyone has the desire (or inclination!) to drive a 2,000 node megatree discretely. For that reason, we’re trying to pack a couple different effects engines in the controller’s source code.

    Thus, a string could be driven discretely, using 3 8-bit channels for each node.

    Or, 6-12 DMX channels could control: whole-string color selection, color chases, ‘plasma’ type effects, strobing, twinkling, solid builds from one end of the string to another, washes, etc. Other channels could select the effect speed, color palate used (warm, cool, saturated, pastel), effect ‘dwell time,’ etc.

    Potentially* there could be a couple different effects engines running in parallel with each other, which could result in some nifty combination effects. For example, if you look at the video I shot of the house this year, you’ll see ‘plasma’ effects running simultaneously with whole-house color changing and a white twinkling ‘starburst’ effect.

    Can you imagine trying to program that look frame-by-frame? 🙂

    Our goal is to include at least some of this functionality in the controller itself.

    Naturally, other feature requests will certainly be considered.

    * We’ll have to see how many clock cycles the processor has free. But at this point, things are looking good.

  14. Oh man am I getting excited to see what you guys end up with!

    I’ve been working on several different projects for the past few years (Halloween decorating, Christmas decorating, AND I sponsor a youth dance… )and I’ve been looking for something versatile enough to use for all of them. Right now I’ve got stuff that works for one or the other, or I can MAKE work if I kludge something together, but I don’t have anything that I like for its versatility.

    What you guys have come up with boggles the mind and blows me away.

    Plus, with what I’m seeing, your project will hopefully be usable to make possible a couple of my more geekish lighting dreams come true. – My own large LED video display and the possibility of making a giant 3D Led cube a person could walk through. (Think beaded hanging curtains with LED nodes and spaced well apart from each other… and a matching spacing along the lines as well.

    LOL! I can practically hear the neighbors now… “Oh thank goodness! He’s taking down those ridiculously bright and gaudy Christmas lights! Wait… oh no… What’s he doing now? WHAT THE HELL! HE’S TURNED THAT FREAKING CHRISTMAS SHOW INTO HIS OWN JUMBOTRON!!! ARGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!”

    Ah the simple pleasures in life. LOL! 🙂

  15. OH! I do have one more question.

    Will you be able to make available single node lines? The reason I ask, is because when doing holiday decorating and decorating for the dance I have specific areas that need individual attention. Things that need more spotlighting that anything else. In the case of Halloween… tombstones, figures, etc. For the dance, I’ve been working on making hanging chandeliers that can be rigged for multiple colors and be hooked up to the lighting control system.

  16. @Todd – yes, single node lines will be available.

    We hope to make your wildest dreams – and the nightmares your neighbors have barely begun to contemplate – come true.

  17. are there any plans to have an interface that will allow for the synchronous control from the computer – if we made a pixel screen with like 20mm pitch – it would be so perfect to be able to arrange the pixels on your computer (not sure what tool you would use to do this…) and then have a controller that would use the pixels as a computer screen for low resolution cartoons or video. I think that a screen would consist of about 800 nodes. Is this a pipe dream?

  18. Though we won’t be developing that sort of software, it definitely exists. What you’re looking for is called ‘Pixel Mapping Software,’ and it does exactly that – map on-screen video / graphics content to nodes arranged in an arbitrary layout.

    We’re big fans of Madrix (www.madrix.de, a German shop) which is available for a free trial. It’s fully functional but doesn’t output lighting data of any kind. However, the on-screen preview functions are very useful. If you like it, let me know and I can get you a good price. We’re now dealers for this software. And yes, video clips of any sort, including live footage, can be mapped to the pixel outputs.

    To get from Madrix to the nodes, you’ll either need a stack of USB-DMX interfaces (Enttec’s USB Pro is a good option), or one of our soon-to-be-released Art-Net (DMX over Ethernet) converters.

    Also check out Landy Bible’s .matrix project, which does essentially the same thing – for free – and outputs Art-Net data.

  19. please excuse my lack of knowledge of how the nodes are driven, but lets say that i have a usb pro and use madrix – would the nodes plug into the out of the usb pro? if i was running a video or something in the software, the software would map the video to the pixels, then the software would send the signal to the nodes through the usb pro? i am anxious to purchase your artnet converter and nodes – but until then, i was just wondering how to incorporate these nodes into my existing display – do the nodes have a dmx plug? how will they be plugged into your converter?

    i apologize if my questions are not intelligent, i just am trying to wrap my mind around the technology and the products you are going to be offering us!!! is madrix the tool that you will suggest we use when you release your converter and nodes for sale?

    thanks!

  20. @OO – Our most basic controller is called – for lack of a better name right now – the ‘T3’. It accepts standard DMX-512 input and can drive 4 strings of 42 RGB nodes. This will almost entirely fill a DMX universe. It’s a small weatherproof box, measuring about 4″ square, with pigtails somewhat reminiscent of an octopus or giant squid.

    There are 4 tails for node string connections, 2 tails for DMX in & through and 1 tail for power supply input.

    The node & power supply tails feature waterproof circular connectors for long life and durability. The DMX tails will be available with XLR3, XLR5 or bare wire ends.

    We’ll get some pictures of the controllers posted as soon as possible.

  21. Hi,
    Finally a solution to the problem I have. When will these be available. Very keen to get started. I am in Australia and a programmer with over 20 years experience if I can be of any assistance.
    Thanks
    greg

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