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Controllable individual pieces of LED tape


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Hi BR,


So I'm pretty clueless about LED tape so bare with me.

I've got 30 small perspex wall cubes that I'd like to individually control with RGB tape via DMX but I don't know exactly what to buy or where to go. I'd like the box's colours to be controlled separately rather than them all being red or blue etc.

Is the tape usually daisy chained up and how is it addressed or controlled into pieces or sections?


Looking for something that is cheap, can be controlled via DMX and can be controlled in sections (the boxes are 50cm x 50cm x 50cm so a 20cm-50cm strip could be placed in each one for example).


Any help or advice would be great.




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You're talking Digital Led Strip (google for it, that's the magic phrase) - theres a goodly bit of info out there.


Each LED on the strip is individually adressible. Thats each of the three colours on each of the LED bodies. So a typical 5m strip with 32 LEDs per metre has 480 controllable LEDs on it.


The way they work is the strip consists of LEDs and driver chips. The driver chips are daisy chained, so that the data clocked out of one chip is fed into the next, so all the drive chips together form a giant shift register. So what the controller does is to "clock" data into the beginning of the strip until the chips are all filled with data, and then the data is transferred to the LEDs. Exactly how all this happens is different with each driver chip.


There are several different LED driver chips used for these strips, and its imperitive that either the code you write or the controller you buy matches the driver chips. One of the earlier, most popular, but less capable chips is the HL1606; it can do seven colours well, but cant create intermediate colurs other than as part of a fade. Much better is the WS2801, which allows 256 levels per LED for every LED on the strip, so every LED can appear a different staic colour.


To drive this stuff you need either a microprocessor of some sort and the chops necessary to program such a thing, or to buy a built controller and use that.


The last post on this thread shows my first forray into this stuff, which used a commercial controller.


The controllers that are available do patterns, but if you want something more specific then you'll need to roll your own controller.


Feel free to ask questions...

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The Magic phrase I think your looking for is Digital LED tape/ Strip, try googleing that, it should bring back plenty of results.


Unfortunately im no guru on the stuff and only know what I have read on here, so I would just wait for someone more knowledgeable to come allong :)


Edit: Beaten to it by said guru :D

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You can get cheap 30cm strips of RGB LEDs, off ebay for about £3-5 each.


Each strip is controlled as a complete strip, not individual LEDs


For DMX LED controllers to work each strip:If you need a decent quantity (ie; 50+) you can get the controllers for less than £5 each!


If you only need a few, you're looking at about £9 each.



If you want an LED matrix with individually controllable LEDs cells, that's something else....

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For a ready made, good to go straight off the shelf product:


Abraxus Lighting SceneX Tape


Each 5cm of tape contains 3 LEDs and a DMX addressable chip. Connect 12V, and DMX signal to one end and you can control it in 5cm segments. You can of course cut it every 5cm and solder new connectors to each segment.


The only downside is that it couldn't ever be described as cheap.

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Thanks for the links guys. This all seems very confusing so bare with the questions...


dbuckley: I had a look at the link in the other thread. Very impressive that you set up the tape for a prosc arch. But the control side of it all seems very complicated (to me). Was there nothing that was just a controller/device that was just a collection of your set-up rolled into one? Or is it not as simple as that?


Mutley: Looking at your second link, how is the DMX wired up and controlled (it doesn't seem like it would be daisy chained)? I'm guessing each cube would need a DMX module. But would this mean I'd also need 30 12v supplies? How is the DMX module addressed individually to other modules?



The basic set-up I'm looking for is to have each cube with a piece of LED tape in it, with each strip RGB controlled individually to the next, so that each cube is different. Ideally from a desk via DMX.

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50cm^3 aint that small, do you mean 50 x 50 x 5 or someat possibly?


At 50cm a side, single bit of tape isn`t quite going to cover it.


Most cost effective might be looking at gutting 30 off LED pars , that way get LED heart, DMX driver and PSU for under 30 quid a unit.


Take it cubes are diffused in some way?

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My setup was complicated because I wanted to be able to switch the LEDs on and off, and have instant on and get the right pattern start instantly when I switched on. The off-the-shelf DMX controller didn't support on/off of the LEDs at all. Had I been willing to have a slightly delayed start, I could have just used the controller, plugged in the strip to the controller (the controller has two sockets for two strips), had a man enough 5V supply to operate the LEDs and a plugtop power supply for the controller, it and that would be it, a solution with no soldering required that literally just plugs together.


So it all depends on what you need to acheive. If pretty colours and DMX control are high up the list with continuous running, and on/off and instant start isn't that important, then assembling the bits to make that happen is almost a no-brainer. That was my opening gambit, strip on the kitchen floor, no DMX control, just front panel, and the cat went mad chasing colours down the strip... Thats when the thought that I had to do something with this technology took root.


Oh yes, the controller has DMX in and out terminals, and actively buffers the DMX on the way through, which is good, but there is no override relay, which is less good; if the controller is unpowered, it doesn't pass DMX.


Why anyone would make a controller with DMX control where you cant black out the output is beyond me.

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Musht, that was what I was thinking of doing initially, although of course a bulky led par wouldn't be great in the cubes. But I think I'll do just that and buy some led par36's, take the housing off and somehow mount the led heart and PCB to the wall with some sort of flat housing as I already have some DMX floating around that can be wired into the system.


The cubes don't need every side (5 sides) to be fully lit. Just enough light to be diffused from the centre.

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