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Pixel Smart LED Controllers

Pixel Smart LED Controllers for Ad Signs, Stage Equipment and more

Light-up signs, decorations,and equipment聽are among the most obvious ways to attract audience attention to your product or service, be you a stage artist, DJ, club owner, or any other business. While simple neon signs are classics, most customers are looking for more sophisticated solutions such as聽panels, signs, and other products with Pixel Smart LEDs.

And as soon as you have an idea for the final product in your head, it’s time to think about how it will be implemented. Since this is not just a retro sign with bulbs, you cannot just plug the cord into the mains. You will want to use聽all the possibilities of Smart Pixel LEDs, such as switching of light effects, sound activation, synchronization with other light-up equipment, and, of course,聽different Pixel LED control options, depending on the situation and the type of the

Contents

Pixel Smart LED Controllers compared + prices

NODE MCU ESP-01 ESP-12E ESP-12E mini ESP-32 Teensy 3.2 Teensy 3.6
FPS 30 25 30 30 25 25 12
Number of lines 7 1/2 4 6 16 8 8
Max. amount of LEDs that can be controlled per line 1500 1000 1200 1200 1200 450 1360
Max. amount of LEDs that can be controlled 4760, more with decline FPS 680/date
1300


2720, more with decline FPS 680/date 4080, more with decline FPS 680/date 16000, more with decline FPS 1000/date 4500 10850
Interconnection radio,
DMX,
music activation, Artnet 2,4 GHz, stand-alone
Wi-Fi radio, DMX, music activation, Artnet 2,4 GHz, Wi-Fi, stand-alone music activation, Artnet 2,4 GHz, Wi-Fi, stand-alone radio, DMX, music activation, Artnet 2,4 GHz, Wi-Fi, stand-alone radio, DMX, music activation, stand-alone radio, DMX, music activation, stand-alone
Price $70 $30 $70 $70 $100 $80 $150

Transmitters compared + prices

20 buttons transmitter 2 buttons transmitter DMX transmitter USB transmitter
each button switches a number of effects;
Power by USB
number of effects plus or minus;
Power by USB SD card;
for a restricted number of effects
Convert DMX value channel to RF signal number of effect;
SD card for the set channel number
Convert show list from PC to RF signal number of effect;
SD card for the set channel number
$130 $70 $100 $70

In 4+ years, ETERESHOP has gone from a simple need for Pixel LED controllers for rudimentary control of effects on our products to advanced features such as sound activation, synchronization with the stage, music, and other costumes.

Although our main specialization are LED costumes, accessories, and photo zones, our Pixel LED controllers can be used for various products, namely ad stands, and signs, DJ booths, and stage equipment as well as luminous installations and decor of different complexity levels.

We do not stop there and continue to work on expanding the capabilities of the controllers and improving their work. Our clients and their requests are constantly pushing us to search for new solutions. That is why we are always open to any suggestions and ideas.

2017: first Smart Pixel products and the demand for controllers

We’ve started the active introduction of SMART Pixel LED costumes and accessories into our range of products, as they allow our clients to create the most vivid and memorable shows and are in demand all over the world. As a result, it became necessary to find Pixel LED controllers to be used for such products.

This year, for the first time, we began to carry out the first developments and experiments in this direction and wrote the first firmware.

NODE MCU

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Math effects only

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Light effects with text change over Wi-Fi

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Maximum 20 effects

ESP-01

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Art-Net client, no settings customization available

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 up to 4 universes (680 LEDs)

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 1-2 data pin

TEENSY 3.2

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Math effects are recorded via EEPROM.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Change of effects via SERIAL or via an uploaded file on an SD card.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Up to 10 light effects.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Effects are recorded from the card using Wireshark and the console packet parser.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Real-time Artnet control via LAN WIZ820 and additional routers.

2018: expanding functionalities of controllers

SMART products gained popularity and there was a growing need to expand the functionality of controllers.

In 2018 we聽increased the number of processed diodes by one controller聽(up to 1000 LEDs), recorded the effects on the SD card, and made direct reading from it, which made it possible to聽reproduce the effects without loss in quality. The choice of controllers for different needs has expanded as well.

NODE MCU

    • 4 lines of LEDs.
    • Up to 1000 LEDs per controller.
    • SD card reading available.
    • Testing radio synchronization, but it doesn’t always work correctly.
    • Each controller has its own firmware and is set up personally, which is time-consuming.

Smart LED Controllers Evolution: NODE MCU (2018)

Soldering聽NODE MCU聽controllers on wires in 2018

TEENSY 3.2

  • DMX -> RF converter, i.e. transmission of values from DMX data channels via radio. The radio transmitter on Smart pixel decorations/ costumes/ ad signs reads this value and turns on the appropriate light effect. (Supply voltage: 3.3 – 5 V; current consumption during data transmission: 100 mA; frequency range: 433.4 – 473 MHz; transmitter power: up to +20 dBm; receiver sensitivity: up to -117 dBm)
  • 8 lines of LEDs with up to 450 diodes per line.
  • Up to 3600 diodes per controller.
  • SD card reading.
  • LAN Artnet real-time control over up to 1000 LEDs.
  • Testing radio synchronization, but doesn’t always work correctly.

TEENSY 3.6

  • DMX -> RF converter, i.e. transmission of values from DMX data channels to Smart Pixel LED equipment via radio to turn on the necessary light effect. (Supply voltage: 3.3 – 5 V; current consumption during data transmission: 100 mA; frequency range: 433.4 – 473 MHz; transmitter power: up to +20 dBm; receiver sensitivity: up to -117 dBm)
  • 8 lines of LEDs with up to 1365 diodes per line.
  • Up to 10920 diodes per controller.
  • SD card reading.
  • LAN Artnet real-time control over up to 1000 LEDs.
  • Testing radio synchronization, but doesn’t always work correctly.
Smart LED Controllers Evolution: Teensy 3.6 controller (2018) first test
Teensy 3.6 (2018) first test

ESP-01

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 One diode output + button / two diode outputs.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Maximum 680 diodes per controller.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Client/ server system for controllers synchronization via Wi-Fi.

2019: improving reliability and quality

Controllers remained one of the weakest parts of all products. They broke down quite often, as they were soldered by hinged mounting. After expanding the capabilities of the controllers, our team has faced the task of improving the quality of their work and their reliability.

In 2019, the first versions of printed circuit boards were developed and after that, there were much fewer problems with controllers. Since then, all printed circuit boards are manufactured on industrial equipment and have聽high accuracy and reliability.

It took us too long to personalize the firmware of each controller, so we decided to start a big new project to solve this problem. This project was supposed to include the ability to聽configure the controller without programming skills. Our clients could from that moment modify the data after receiving the controllers. As part of this project, we wrote a large number of our own libraries, which allowed us to聽increase the performance of controllers by 8 times.

In 2019, we’ve brought聽the synchronization between controllers聽to a good level. This allowed our customers to plan much more complex shows involving multiple LED and Smart Pixel products in sync.

Ad Display with Pixel Smart LEDs

NODE MCU

  • Transfer of controllers to soldering on printed circuit boards.
  • Started using slots for memory cards, which made it possible to reduce the number of defects and the likelihood of breakage.
  • We increased the performance of controllers 8+ times thanks to software and the development of our own diode control library.
  • We also increased the number of diode lines to 7.
  • All controllers have universal firmware and are configured individually using a config. file, which does not require significant time expenditures, as well as long training of employees.
  • Copy protection on all controllers.
  • We added the ability to change modes, such as real-time, show-list, auto-switching, and simple standalone.
  • Added the ability to synchronize with various stage equipment, as well as between several controllers.
  • We started working on the sound activation option.

TEENSY 3.2

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 We transferred controllers to PCB soldering.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 We began to use slots for memory cards, which allowed us to reduce the number of defects.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 All controllers have universal firmware and are set up individually using a config. file, which does not require significant time expenditures, as well as long training of employees.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Copy protection on all controllers.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Added the ability to change modes, such as show list, auto-switch, and standalone.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Added the synchronization option with various stage equipment, as well as between several controllers.

ESP-01

  • One diode output + button / two diode outputs.
  • Maximum 1000 diodes per controller.

Arduino UNO

  • 20-button transmitter RF433, for remote switching of effects on suits.

TEENSY 3.6

  • 8 lines of LEDs are used.
  • Up to 10920 diodes per controller.
  • SD card reading.
  • Radio sync is working correctly.
  • We have transferred controllers to PCB soldering.
  • We began to use slots for memory cards, which allowed us to reduce the number of defects.
  • All controllers have universal firmware and are set up individually using a config file, which does not require significant time expenditures, as well as long training of employees.
  • Copy protection on all controllers.
  • We added the ability to change modes, such as show list, auto-switch, and standalone.
  • We’ve added the ability to sync with various stage equipment, as well as between several controllers.
  • All controllers switched to power supply from the main power supply of suits, without using additional PowerBanks.

2020: sound activation and remote radio control

In 2020 we began to receive more requests from customers to expand the functionality of control systems.

As a result, this very year it becomes possible to use聽sound activation聽when working with our Smart LED products.

Software is being created to聽manage the controllers from a distance via a radio channel. All this allowed our clients to create more and more complex light shows with our LED props and light-up costumes.

New compact LED products required聽miniaturization of controllers. We developed boards to accomplish these tasks and have been successfully used them ever since.

Work is underway on a聽new controller聽and kept on working on an increase in the performance of all controllers existing at that time.

NODE MCU

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Developed 3 versions of printed circuit boards to optimize the soldering processes and the reliability of the controller.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 A complete refactoring of the firmware was carried out, which made it possible to further speed up the controller.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Launched the option of sound activation of controllers.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Launched wireless Artnet real-time control, 1500 diodes 30 FPS with a reliable connection, plus the possibility of writing libraries.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 We started development and carried out the first tests of managing the controller from the WEB page.

Sound Activation Tests with NODE MCU (2020):

TEENSY 3.2

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 DMX -> RF433 transmitter – extension to 16 radio channels (unique control over up to 16 LED suits).

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 DMX -> RF433 transmitter on 4 different radio channels to control groups of LED suits.

TEENSY 3.6

  • Direct DMX reading and light effect switching.

ESP-01

  • Remained unchanged.

ESP-12E

Controller with radio sync

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 4 lines of diodes.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Up to 1200 diodes per line.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Wireless Artnet real-time control, 1500 diodes 30 FSP with a reliable connection.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Writing libraries.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Radio sync available.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 SD card support for effects and customization.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 We started development and made the first tests of managing the controller from the WEB page.

Controller without radio sync, the smallest size possible

  • 聽 聽 聽 聽 聽The size of the board – 20*40 mm.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 6 lines of diodes.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Up to 1200 diodes per line.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Wireless Artnet real-time control.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 1500 diodes 30 FSP with a reliable connection.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Writing libraries.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 SD card support for effects and customization.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 We started development and made the first tests of controller management from the WEB page.

ESP-12E controller ESP-12E controller (2020)

ESP 32

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 We have developed 2 versions of printed circuit boards to optimize soldering processes and improve the reliability of the controller.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 We developed libraries and worked on the completion of existing ones.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 18 diode lines at full load.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Up to 1200 diodes per line at 25 FPS.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Sound activation of controllers is available.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 SD card support for effects and customization.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 We launched wireless Artnet real-time control, 1500 diodes 30 FPS with a reliable connection, writing libraries.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 We started development and made the first tests of managing the controller from the WEB page. There are problems that prevent it from being used as a full-fledged controller. Working on solving these problems.

Arduino UNO

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 USB -> RF433 transmitter to work with our ShowMaker Java software (Windows, Mac).

The firmware has been migrated to the new Arduino programming platform -> VSCode + PlatformIO + GitHUB.

2021: plans for the nearest future

This year we plan to launch聽a full-fledged control using the controller’s browser page, simultaneous with the work of diodes.

Another goal is to bring to the required functionality聽the direct conversion of image files from an SD card to an LED suit. As a result, it will also be possible to聽set all conditions like speed, brightness, sound activation, etc.

It is also planned to take 2.4 GHz wireless ArtNet to the next level, as well as聽add a LAN for reliable data transmission.

NODE MCU, TEENSY 3.2

  • Are used to work with DMX.

TEENSY 3.6

To date, this controller has lost its relevance due to the release of ESP 32.

ESP-01

  • Works on the previous functionality.

ESP-12E

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 A pilot version of the controller’s web page has been launched.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 We improved the library for working with SD cards, which allowed us to increase the FPS.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Animation API – direct conversion of image files from an SD card to an LED suit, and you can set all the conditions: speed, brightness, start with sound, etc.

ESP 32

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Launched v1 version of the WEB-page for controlling the controller from it: changing the effect number, brightness, effect speed, and other settings.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 The library for working with SD cards has been redesigned, which allowed increasing the FPS.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Animation API – direct conversion of image files from an SD card to an LED suit. You can customize various options for it: speed, brightness, sound activation, etc.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 A printed circuit board has been developed.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 All controllers have universal firmware and are configured individually using a config. file, which does not require significant time expenditures, as well as long training of employees. All controllers have copy protection.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 The ability to change modes, such as show list, auto-switching, standalone, test mode, and real-time ArtNet, which is under improvement.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 Synchronization with various stage equipment available, as well as synchronization between several controllers.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 18 lines of diodes.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 1000+ diodes on each and this limiting affects FPS only.

聽聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 The number of analog inputs has been increased, which allows using the controller’s capabilities to the fullest.

Test launch of the new 3D Cube with 16k LEDs without printed PCBESP 32 (2021). Test launch of the new 3D Cube with 16k LEDs without printed PCB

Arduino UNO

  • Is used as a managing controller.
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