Recommendations For an LED/Projector Setup

Hey there! I have been using TD for a bit now and had hopes of starting to expand to some LED lighting, lasers, or projection (just any type of visual hardware I can start experimenting with from TD). I have a base level projector that I’ve used and was considering possibly getting the Lightform kit eventually.

The question I wanted to drop here is, do you have any good recommendations on a starter setup/good options for LED/controllers, lasers, or a solid projection mapping projector? I know lasers and projection mapping can be the pricier of the 3, which is why I’m thinking I should shoot for a simple LED setup to start.

It depends what your budget is, but personally I find the best value to be the Advatek pixlite 16.

You can control a lot of led strips with the pixlite 16, as well as outputting 4x dmx universes (for moving lights, dimmers, RGB lights etc…).
This board could be a good option to initially explore 1x or 2x runs of led strips and a small moving lights or RGB light for example, allowing you to scale up to many more led strips and controlling relatively larger lighting set ups down the track.
This board comes with a certain complexity though and might appear a bit overwhelming at first.

Another device that I use for smaller set ups is the dmx king LeDMX4 pro.
It lets you control 4x independent led strips, and can output or receive 1x dmx universe.
Simpler to use, testing & prototyping, and definitely ok for small installations. Go for the 12v or 24v models I’d recommend. The option of receiving dmx is also interesting as it opens up some creative options.

Both products suggested so far will require an adequate DC power supply, some basic low voltage electrical wiring and some sort of encasing.

If you are after something a little bit more off the shelf, brands like enttec make some interesting pixel controllers, some with built in power supply. Entec products are good and solid, however the price tag goes up quickly and I find these products a little less versatile in my opinion.

I hope this helps!

Awesome! Thanks for the recommendations! I had a friend recommend Advatek as well, so I will check into them.

To add more options, I like the quinled dig quad controller, which is backed by a very active and supportive discord community. As a beginner, these guys supported me on everything, not just the controller itself. Calculating power needs, finding the right type of LED strip, cabling etc. The controller itself can go wired or wireless.

Another thing I can recommend is the madrix nebula. A bit pricey, but supports a metric ton of strip protocols (much like the Advatec mentioned earlier). Handles 8 universes via 2 physical ports and was the ideal choice for my first LED ceiling project, which I built in a highly modular way so things can be rearranged easily.

HTH!

From a total noob (me) that is not sure what he’ll need in the future, what’s the difference with the above and the below one?

PixLite4 seems to support more pixels per output and that’s basically what I think would make a difference for me. SD card write/read is appealing but it’s meant to be controlled in TD anyway.

Edit: also, do I need some extra hardware or can I plug ethernet from my laptop running TD directly?

Hope you can throw some light, thanks!

Hi Carlos @Verbose!
If you feel like that PixLite 4 is the right product for your projects then you should go for it!

I had a quick look, and the other only significant difference I could find is that the LeDMX4 PRO has a DMX in function, which could be handy in some situations; like for example, if you are working on a small project, someone else lighting design, you could plug your device and read the DMX that the programmer is sending out, manipulate that in TD, and output whatever you need (MIDI, OSC, DMX, Serial etc etc…). This particular LED board allows you to receive only 1x DMX universe though (=512 channels), and on top of that receiving DMX might not be a priority for you.

In terms of extra hardware, you can plug ethernet directly from the laptop.
I prefer to use a wifi router “in between” (that is, the laptop is connected to the router over wifi, the LED pixel board is connected to the router via ethernet). I find this solution helpful when testing, or installing the artwork, you can move the laptop around with you and be near the section that needs troubleshooting or tweaks. The router is optional, is a good to have and an affordable device to buy second hand, or someone might have a router to give away.
I go wifi only when testing, prototyping, troubleshooting… for show time I run an ethernet cable.

While we are here, I feel like saying that in terms of additional hardware, for your testing you will need an adequate DC power supply for your project (it depends on the project but often I prefer several smaller DC power supplies than a large centralised one controlling everything), some basic low voltage electrical wiring knowledge and some sort of encasing.
Before installing the final work i recommend to comply with any electrical standard required in your country, and consider hiring an electrician to spec the adequate amount of DC power supplies, cable size, fuses, power distribution etc…

I hope this helps!

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That was very very helpful, thank you Fausto!

The router middle man is a great idea.

I haven’t considered at all the electric requirements.
My goal is to make a spaced LED matrix, 8x 2 meter strips hanging down.
I was thinking running maximum, let’s say 4x “BTF-LIGHTING 5050 RGBW (6000K-7000K) 5m 60LEDs / m DC12V, 90W”

So ideally running 4x 12V 7,5A PSUs?
Definitely will contact an electrician.

I can see the cost rising the further I research :sweat_smile:
Makes me think an affordable beamer would be cheaper, but pixel mapping looks way more impressive IMO.

Ah! Is there a tube-like thing to put the strips inside that it’s also translucent? Or any recommended translucent material to cover them.

Apologies for the stolen time!

Hey Carlos,
glad to hear my advice was helpful.

Unfortunately I’m not qualified or in the position to suggest what type of power supply is suitable for your project.

All I can say is that for some initial testing, you just need a DC power supply to power up your LED board and to power up a couple of LED runs, to get you started.
The DC power supply needs to be the same voltage as your LED (if the LED are 12v, the power supply needs to be 12v).
Usually LED pixels tape manufactures specify the power requirement for each linear meter; that can be used as a starting point to calculate your needs (i.e. the specs might say 12v 1a for each meter of LED pixels. This is an example, don’t take this number as a real figure).
Advatek boards usually accept a range of DC input (5v to 24v if I remember correctly), check the manual for that specific model or give them a call.

If by beamer you mean a beam moving light, yes for sure that is fun and looks cool, but completely different lighting solution, application & aesthetic.

About the translucent tubes.
A lot of pre made solutions exist on the market. I’d suggest to do a quick research looking for LED tracks. They come in different shapes (straight, circular…) and have different diffusers mounted on top to achieve different looks.
If you are handy you can consider to put together something for testing, made out of plastic bags or other diffusing materials that you might find around the house. This could be helpful to experiment and understand a bit better the effect you are looking for, before spending money, if any. LED pixel tapes don’t generate too much heat and is generally safe to mock up some sort of temporary diffusion.

and yes, (good) lighting costs considerable money, and numbers go up quickly! Welcome to the business :slight_smile:

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Hey hey, just wanted to thank you back for all the help as you’ve been doing in other posts as well :wink:

I’ve successfully mapped strips using LeDMX4, for now it should be enough for little/medium projects since it can run up to 45 meters of 60led/m strips which is a good amount.

Regarding the LED tracks, I’ve found aluminum extrusions which is a bit overkill. Luckily I also found in a nearby store, cable tracks used to hide cables on profiles of walls, so it’s thiner, cheaper, and comes in longer sizes than the aluminum extrusions. No diffusor of course, but as you said, since strips don’t output a lot of heat I can DIY a solution using affordable materials.

Now I’m looking for an enclosure to put the PSU and LeDMX4 together, but I have doubts of making it expandable for more PSUs or just use external PSUs when needed for larger projects.

Anyway, thank you again Fausto!

@Verbose
Thanks for sharing your progresses on your project, so good to hear it’s all proceeding well!

In terms of enclosures, I tend to prefer to have separate enclosures, one for the led driver, and one enclosure for each power supply.

In my experience this offers a much more modular set up, making way easier for example to swap a power supply if there’s a problem, or scaling up/down, or swapping it for a larger / smaller one tailored for each project, or simply to grab and use the power supply for other projects, testing, R&D and so on.
Just a personal preference, there’s no right or wrong here.

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