In this week’s episode, we kick off our series on a Guide to Pixels, LED Tape, and Custom LED’s. We dive in by exploring the difference in LED’s and Pixels as well as what is needed to drive these.
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Main Segment (3:46)
Normally, in any type of show or production, you will most likely see LED’s or any type of configuration being used. Whether it’s watching a show live on TV or finding some inspiration from websites such as https://www.churchstagedesignideas.com.
For most, there is nothing more fun and challenging than bringing to life your own idea and building something that is custom. It has never been easier than it is today to create custom LED designs, and be able to control them with incredible detail!
Starting with the Basics
When you’re building a custom LED design, you generally are making something where people look directly at the LED’s, and you are able to change colors, add movement, etc.
With most LED’s it is generally facing the audience so the viewer is watching the effects. The reason why this is the case because LED’s require a lot of cooling. So, to be able to build something custom you may have to go with a lower powered LED.
Types of LEDs
In most custom built LEDs RGB Tape is used. RGB Tape is (CV tape, “Dumb” tape) is good to work with and very common to use. Since this is a Tape you will not be able to control each individual LED. For example, one strip will only be able to have one color.
Pixel Tape is the opposite of RGB Tape and you do have control over each individual LED. With Pixel Tape you need to be able to have a constant power source and a data saver. Pixels are available in a few different forms such as Tape, Node, Dot, etc.
A great reference on getting started with LEDs and Pizel Tape is our article: How do I get started with LED tape and pixels?
What do I need to “drive” these, or make them work?
Once you have your LED Tape or Pixels, how do you make it work?
You will need a Decoder or Driver when working with RGB Tape. Along with a decoder or driver you will need Power Supplies (sometimes both are together), your console or media server.
When working with Pixels you will need a Pixel Driver or Pixel Controller. Whether you work with the Driver or Controller it will convert the network DMX to the type of signal for the microchip. As long as the Driver and Pixel are “speaking” the same language, you will be fine.
The big difference between RGB Tape and Pixels is how they get the power and data. I do recommend going with 12 Volt as much as possible.
Do I need to run these off direct, “regular” DMX, or networked DMX (preferred)?
When purchasing a Driver, Controller, or Decoder you’re going to be buying one that runs off of either regular DMX or networked DMX. With Pixels, it is highly recommended to go with Networked DMX.
What about cost?
Working with Pixels you are going to have much more control and effects options than you will the RGB Tape. Most would say that Pixels are more expensive and it’s more cost effective to go with RGB Tape.
I would have to disagree because now more than ever Pixels are becoming much more affordable. Where the cost kicks in are in the Drivers and Controllers. My recommendation for the long run is if you can to go with the Pixels.
In the episode scheduled for January 1, 2019, we’ll cover design considerations and the pros and cons of using a media server vs. a lighting console.
If you would like to learn more LEDs and custom LED Design I have a complete video series available on Learn Stage Lighting Labs covering this topic. I cover in more detail about setup and equipment needed for these type of projects. Along with the Video Tutorial, you would also have access to customized support and access to the forum.
If you haven’t already I would sincerely appreciate if you would take a moment to rate the Podcast and be sure to share what you’ve learned from the show!
Next week is our Free Q & A Tuesday where I take questions from Listeners just like you. If you have a lighting question you would like to share be sure to contact us and submit your questions there.
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