Pixel LED controller options

I have found myself with a Raspberry pi or 2 spare and have decided it’s finally time to get stuck into some Christmas light projects that I’ve always wanted to play with.

I’ve done a bunch of reading and recapping trying to source bits and pieces and work out the best way to run a Wireless light setup in my house. This year I’m just starting with the tree, and potentially a matrix board star if things go well.

I’m really wanting to run Vixen lights to setup my sequences and Falcon Pi Player on my Raspberry Pi to coordinate my lights, but I can’t decide on how to control the pixels.

I contemplated just running a Raspberry Pi Zero or an Arduino directly to the lights with a converter to boost my voltage to 5v for the lights. I’m concerned though that 500ish lights might be a bit too long for a single strand from the Zero since it doesn’t appear I can run from multiple GPIO pins at once with strands.
Question^^^: has anyone any input as to how a Zero Wireless would handle a 500 light string of 281x pixels directly connected?

I’ve also been looking at the Fadecandy controller, but still trying to work out if said board will run with another player and whether FPP will run with OPC or if the Fadecandy will run with any other protocol that FPP can handle.
Question^^^: has anyone any input as to whether I can run the Fadecandy board from a Raspberry pi using Falcon Pi Player as an OS Player?

I’m a little stuck on this at the moment and it seems most things I’ve read revolve around large scale controllers and I don’t want to try and tie things like that into my tree. Just want something simple, preferably wireless (I know, Fadecandy is USB, I’m happy to connect it separately to a Pi Zero if needed though just to make it wireless lol) that allows me to play a song and sequence some lights together but with software I’m able to use like FPP as I’m fresh off the blocks with basic coding and still need full instruction when it comes to coding projects.

Please help me.

[Edit] probs should include that I’m looking at running roughly 16 strands (likely 8 strands looped back to make a double) vertically aligned behind the branches with 30+ lights a strand (60+ if doubled back) for a 6 foot tree.
If anyone has done a project like this or has any input I would be greatly appreciative as I’m hoping for some instant gratification on the first project to push me to go further later on.

Hi Billy,

Thanks for the post, and sorry for the slow response!

This will definitely be a pretty epic setup when you’ve got it all running.

I’d recommend checking out Adafruit’s write-up on their 1,500 NeoPixel curtain:

As to whether it’s theoretically possible for all your questions. The answer is yes; it’s more a question of whether someone’s already done the work, or if you’re willing to do it if not.

500 NeoPixels should be easy for a dedicated Pi Zero (just make sure you don’t connect 5v to one of the Pi’s 3.3v GPIO pins). If you’re running a bunch of other tasks on it though, it might not keep a stable 800kHz out - which is where you’ll run into issues first.

I’ve had a bit of a search but I can’t find any one who’s actually done this specifically. It might be worth hitting up the FadeCandy google group and the FPP Forums.

Here’s a couple of interesting topics from the Pi and Arduino Forums:

You could also run something like an Alamode, and do the hard processing on the Pi, then the actual driving via an Arduino:

I hope this helps!

Support | Core Electronics

Thanks for the reply, you’ve certainly given me a bunch on great info to read up on as I’ve glanced through it all now and will read it better when I’m not half cut.

In all honesty, if a dedicated Zero will run the light show on a 500+ single strand then that’s probably where I will start (with a converter for the 3.3 - 5v gpio). The zero will only be running the lights, nothing more and will be a slave controller to a master Pi both with FPP installed.

I’ll order a Zero W soon and maybe a short pixel strand or something to play with I think. Its a shame you guys don’t have the strands I’m after for the tree though.

Much appreciated.

This sounds like it’s up for alley… LED display wall using SK6812s:

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