Pixel Controller Selection

Under the main title for using my controllers, I discuss the layout of controllers for your yard. From this discussion the simplest wiring for a Christmas light show is a small number of pixel controllers spread around the yard. These controllers minimize the amount of control wiring required.

Most of the controllers are setup to directly drive the lights. This works well for a mega tree or where most of the lighting elements are close together. Generally, if the lighting components are not close together, many people use null pixels every 10-15 feet to allow the controller to placed further from the lights being controlled. These null pixels are not lit during the light show. I would recommend just using pixel extenders RS-422/485 buffers to drive lighting elements further away. These components are inexpensive and allow the lights to be 100’s of feet from the controller.

For controlling your lights I would only buy a controller that has Ethernet input. It can be either the multicast or uni-cast Ethernet packets. Ethernet cable runs can be very long and it is inexpensive to buy a hub/switch/router to provide additional outputs. In addition, with the Ethernet input a wireless bridge can be purchased for around $20 to make all of the controllers wireless.

With the advent of the PI zero, it makes more sense to buy a PI based controller. These can be wireless and placed around the yard. These can directly drive pixels and support Ethernet output to drive additional controllers.

Recommended controllers

  • PI with an adapter board
  • San Devices 16 output controller
  • My 16 Universe controllers with more flexible outputs.


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