Mega Tree Construction, Part 3

Discussion in 'Pixel Nights or Christmas Lights' started by AA7BQ, Mar 25, 2021.

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  1. AA7BQ

    AA7BQ QRZ Founder Administrator QRZ Page

    Okay, we've got a frame, now we need some Pixels. Here we have a roll of Pixel mounting tape and a pile of pixels. The 14mm holes in the mounting tape are spaced 1" apart, and I'm skipping every other one for a 2" layout. IMG_8684.jpeg

    It only took me about 10 minutes to push 100 pixels into the first strip. I thought, "gosh, this is easy" but soon, my hands were raw. I had 32 of these to make. Each one is 16.5 feet long with 100 pixels.


    To combat RSI and hand fatigue, I made my own set of Pixel Pliers from some scrap and an old pair of needle-nose pliers.


    Finally, after hours of pixel pushing, we were able to try a test lift on the elevator plate.


    Now, throughout all of this, you have probably been wondering about the plans, i.e. the drawings for all of this. Well, as luck would have it, I still have the original plans, presented below: (drawing made with Fusion 360). I mostly stuck to the dimensions shown, and the final item is almost exactly as-drawn. I'm good with almost as should be evident by now :)


    I can already hear the next question: "How do you hook all of this up"? Well, it begins with a controller. The electrical requirements aren't huge, but a CPU is needed. I chose the Falcon F16v3 controller from and it was less than $300. I mounted it on a piece of scrap aluminum plate salvaged from an old X-ray machine. Wiring is pretty simple. Each of the green connectors below goes to one string of lights. There are 32 strings and 32 connectors. Each string uses only 3 wires and so only 3 pins of each connector are used, plus, minus, and data. The board is nicely fused and small LEDs indicate if a fuse is blown, and which one.


    Notice in the photo above that there are four heavier connections near the edge of the two boards (2 on each board). These are power inputs for the Pixels. Each of these 4 connectors is rated for 30A, and so I purchased four 30A power supplies from Amazon. These are really cheap too, about $23 each. Think of what a 30A Astron power supply costs...

    For an enclosure, I went with my old favorite, the Pelican case. These aren't particularly cheap but I had this one kicking around the garage for a few years. It used to hold an antenna tuner but now it finally had a new purpose. After a lot of drilling and counterboring, I started putting it together.


    And all complete, this is the tree controller mounted in its case.


    But, there's another case to build, this time for the power supplies. I wanted to keep them separate from the logic however a lot of guys put everything in the same box. It's hot here in Arizona and I wanted to isolate them and I'm glad that I did.

    The power supplies are mounted in a knock-off Pelican from Harbor Freight. Less than half the cost of a real Pelican case, it's a pretty good deal. This was an earlier version of the power supply. The box was later modified with a different power output connector and forced air ventilation.


    Final Assembly comes in the next Part. Please check out Part 4


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