The Color Mixing Christmas Light Project

Discretely Controllable DMX Driven RGB Pixels

  • Insider’s Club!

    To be notified when new content is added to this site, just enter your name and email address below:
  • Looking for nifty DMX gear?

    Protocol converters, data bridges and more from our main website.
  • Subscribe

Touring E16-II Chassis

Posted by JEC on November 17th, 2011

This one can be considered RoadieProof.

XLR-4 outputs for each string.  Neutrik PowerCon for AC in & through (great for daisy chaining, as each chassis only draws about 400 watts at peak power).  Neutrik EtherCon for data input.  Durable polycarbonate enclosure.  International power supply for worldwide operation.

Will also ship with an optional ‘truss kit’ for easy and safe flying.

Coming soon to a tour near you.

 

Posted in 2011 Project, Drive Gear, Photo / Video Clips | Comments Off

E16-II Photos

Posted by JEC on November 11th, 2011

Here’s photos of the new StellaBlack E16-II controller.  It’s designed to drive up to 16 strings of 85 nodes (1,360 RGB dots) from either Art-Net II or E1.31 ethernet input.  The demo megatree we filmed a few weeks ago was based on three of these controllers fully loaded.

The internal power supply (~300 watts) is UL listed, properly vented and power factor corrected.  It autoswitches between 90-265v AC, 50-60 Hz, so worldwide operation is no problem.

The system has no problem at all refreshing all 16 strings at 44 frames per second.

Note the waterproof cable entry glands, durable chassis and shielded power supply breathing holes.

The internal web interface provides easy configuration of each string, plus generates test patterns for system debugging.

We’re proud to call this a ‘plug & play’ system.  It’s proven very stable, durable and trouble-free.  The node pigtails (shown here terminated with waterproof circular connectors) can also be fitted with Neutrik HD-series 4-pin ends.  These are waterproof, very durable, gold plated and designed for installations which frequently change, such as for touring environments.

Click any photo to enlarge.

If you’re interested, contact us for a precisely-tailored complete system quote.

Posted in 2011 Project, Drive Gear, Pixels | 3 Comments »

Halloween 2011

Posted by JEC on October 31st, 2011

Thanks to Mountain View Staging for the power & data cable, LED uplights and other infrastructure bits.

Six StellaGreen strings driven by last year’s E16-I controllers.  Assorted pneumatic odds and ends.

We have such a fun neighborhood.  The Haunted Creature Crate worried many kids, and more then a few of their parents. :)

The box is actually a genuine shipping crate which came to New York City from Europe, packed full of crystal chandelier.  It somehow ended up empty in Utah much later, and I grabbed it from a seller on craigslist.

 

Posted in 2011 Project, Drive Gear, Photo / Video Clips | 3 Comments »

How to Build an RGB MegaTree

Posted by JEC on October 14th, 2011

 


23' RGB Megatree, in blue and white.

Happy Friday!

Fall is finally here.  Love this season.

A lighting designer here in town was considering a giant Christmas tree as part of a December production.  So very late last night, we hauled some gear over to his rehearsal space and set up a demo system.

The twenty three foot tall tree (it could be more, but we ran out of flying space) is based 48 StellaGreen RGB strings and 3 of our new E16-II node controllers.

Complete control over the tree requires 24 universes of DMX data.  That’s more than twelve thousand control channels. However, since we left ‘practical’ behind several years ago, this is not a problem at all. Frame rate is 44 Hz.

More details about the green strings and controller will be posted very shortly.  For now, though, here’s some stills and video from the evening:

Note: I wish I’d remembered to take a photo with a person standing next to tree, just to give some sense of scale.  This tree is enormous.  And beautiful.  For rev2, the base will be bigger and the strings held with more tension.  In theory, the result will look a bit less like the famous Sorting Hat.

 

To stay informed, enter your name and email address in the top right corner of this page.

Thanks!

Posted in 2011 Project, Drive Gear, Photo / Video Clips, Pixels | 7 Comments »

E16-2 Test Rig

Posted by JEC on September 4th, 2011

This handy board (16 StellaGreen strings, each 85 nodes long) will be used to test each and every E16-2 controller shipped out this season.  Shown are 4,080 control channels, and about 48.0 amps DC at full power.  44 Hz refresh rate is fully supported.

E16-2 is available with E1.31 (streaming ACN) or Art-Net 2 firmware.

 

Posted in 2011 Project, Drive Gear, Photo / Video Clips | Comments Off

StellaSparks (Sneak Peak)

Posted by JEC on August 22nd, 2011

Here’s something fun we’ve been working on lately:

Yclept ‘StellaSparks’, each contains 3 super-bright white LEDs inside a waterproof chassis.  Super bright!  Here’s a clip of them running.  The tree is decorated with 6 of our ‘StellaGreen’ RGB node strings (85 nodes per string) and a set of StellaSparks (30 strobes on 1′ centers, plus an 8′ leader).

Strobe pricing is $135 for a 38′ string.  These can be directly controlled by our E16, E16-2 or E4 controllers.  Preorder now, or wait for off-the-shelf shipments the shelf in 4 weeks.

Posted in 2011 Project, Drive Gear, Photo / Video Clips | 1 Comment »

Madrix Fixture Files

Posted by JEC on June 13th, 2011

Fabian Gordon (here’s his site) was kind enough to build Madrix fixture files for our RGB strings in various configurations.  Without further ado, here they are:

  • 1 x 42
  • 2 x 21
  • 3 x 13

They’re combined in this .zip file:  rgbnodes

Thanks, Fabian!

Posted in 2011 Project, Drive Gear | Comments Off

2011 Fire Sale

Posted by JEC on April 26th, 2011

E16 RGB Node Controller

Current Stock (updated as quantities change): More than 30 20

Hi!

We’re cleaning out the factory & need to move a stack of last year’s E16 controllers.

When the E16 was introduced in mid-2010, it was hard to know how popular it would be.  Since then, hundreds of them have been deployed in some very challenging situations, from the hot Australian sun to the bone chilling mountain winter of the USA.

However, it’s now April and there’s a limited number of E16 controllers that need to be cleared from stock.

This is your opportunity to get them at a fraction of what they sold for last year.

The E16 system drives our up to 16 strings of our RGB LED pixels.  Refresh rate is 44 frames per second across the entire system.

All configuration is handled by an internal web server, so you simply need to use a web browser for easy system setup.

There’s no need to install special software.

Light control is via ethernet using industry standard Art-net or E1.31 protocols.

Simply plug in some strings, add power and you’re blinking!

We’ve bundled up a package which includes:

* The Top ‘control’ circuit board, which accepts ethernet data.

* The Bottom ‘drive’ circuit board, which contains high-current connectors for the power supply, 16 fuses for the output strings, and .156″ 4-conductor Molex headers for each output.

* 1 male high-current power connector plus a pair of crimp pins. You provide suitably heavy wire (10 gauge at least) for connecting to your 5V power supply. This matches the female connector on the ‘bottom’ board.

* 16 1′ pigtails which connect to the Molex headers and have 4 pin circular waterproof connectors for direct connection to node strings or node extension cables.

* A wiring guide showing you what needs to be connected to where.

However, this package does not include a waterproof housings or the 5V 50A power supply that are normally supplied.  We can of course design a fully turn key package if that’s what you need.

We thought that some of our more technically inclined customers will appreciate this kit set approach and will be easily able to handle the required wiring and setup.

We’ll confirm proper operation of each individual system in our workshop before it ships. And you’ll get a 30 day, no-questions-asked money back guarantee if you’re not completely delighted.

 

 


Posted in 2011 Project, Drive Gear, Pixels | Comments Off

RGB Nodes and Controllers for Ricky Martin Tour

Posted by JEC on April 4th, 2011

Engineering Solutions was pleased to provide ~8,000 RGB nodes and 12 E16 controllers (plus an appropriate stack of spare parts) to Ricky Martin’s 2011 tour.  We worked closely with Illinois-based Upstaging, who provided the larger lighting rig, and ShowFX in Los Angeles, who fabricated the scenic pieces on which the nodes were installed.

John travelled to LA to assist with patching and configuring the nodes and controllers.  On tour, the nodes would be controlled by a Hippo Critter pixel mapping engine, so a demo Hippo was set up in the shop for testing.  The lighting network was designed so that the Hippo sent data over a dedicated fiberoptic cable to the stage, where it was converted back to copper to feed the 12 E16s.  Somewhere between 36 and 44 universes of DMX are used to drive all the nodes.  The remainder of the lighting rig was controlled with other equipment, and on an isolated network.

The E16’s web-based configuration tool made it very easy to assign each node string to its proper address, based on the paperwork generated by the Bryan, the Hippo programmer.

As an interesting side-note, an Art-Net testing suite called ‘DMX Workshop’ has been published by Artistic License.  Free to use, it contains utilities for sending and receiving Art-Net data on any channel of any universe.  At one point during system testing, the entire pixel map was acting rough and choppy.  The frame rate was slow (way, way less than our regular 44 Hz throughput) and it didn’t look good at all.

So to test whether the problem was related to the Hippo, the E16s, or something in the middle, we disconnected the Hippo, plugged in a Windows laptop, and ran a ‘bandwidth test’ utility against the E16s.

We were able to totally load up the network by enabling universes 1 – 44.  Then we sent an ‘r g b’ walking pattern to the entire system.  That is, each node of each string was in red, then green, then blue.  The test started at a 1 Hz refresh rate.

At this speed, we couldn’t see any delay between nodes or strings.  All of the set pieces were changing color in exact synchrony.  This proved that the issue laid neither with the E16s nor the network switch.

Just for fun, we sped up the chase to 44 Hz and set it to ‘strobe’ (black white black repeating).

The many thousand RGB LEDs chased in unison with our throbbing eyeballs.

This high-speed test was promptly discontinued.

After a quick phone call to Hippo tech support, the jitter problem was traced to an errant setting in the software.

Most of the photos below were taken at the scenery shop.  However, the one of the top left was snapped during production rehearsals in Puerto Rico at the end of March.  Click any photo to enlarge.

 

 

Starting at 0:35, this video clip shows the nodes displaying content.  There’s other interesting looks at 5:00 and later.

 

Stay tuned for an upcoming post describing the ‘Tour Hardened’ E16 Controller and node string system we’ll be offering in a month or so.  We’ve added features specifically designed to make the system strong and road-worthy.  Bless their hearts, roadies can be rough on gear.  You’ll see that we’ve eliminated every potential ‘pinch point’ in the new hardware release.

If you haven’t already done so, enter your name and email address in the top right corner of this page.  You’ll be first on your block to hear about new products, firmware updates and more.

Posted in 2010 Project, 2011 Project, Drive Gear, Photo / Video Clips, Pixels | Comments Off

RGB LED Control – Superbowl XLV

Posted by JEC on February 7th, 2011

We were honored this year to work with costume designers of the halftime show.  Since most of the project relates to DMX recording & capture (and only almost included our 8-bit RGB nodes), a description has been posted elsewhere on our site.

Take a look… It was a lot of fun to work on these designs.

Posted in 2011 Project | 7 Comments »