LED House lights

A while back I added a 44 RGB lights (one per foot) across the front of my house. I do patterns for holidays, etc.

Parts:
9 - standard 595 shift registers, an arduino and 44 RGB Lights.

Multiplexing two ways via transistors swapping power.

The build:
The actual LEDS are are encased in hot glue and acrylic tube for protection and put in metal conduit with acrylic diffusion panels and a pvc pipe (1/2) hood.

I don’t expect them to last forever … but it was a good first project. They are functional, fun and have made it through six months of rough Florida weather :).

Link to video:

Thanks for all the help in getting this project up and running.

Can you elaborate a bit on how it is wired? 44 RGB LED’s = a lot of wires.

Jeff K - Yes there are lots of wires. In my other post on 32 rgbs in eight foot section describes the wiring a bit which the same, just a matter of distance between each light.

Since I knew I'd be multiplexing exactly two ways, I wired it as such, reducing the wiring by almost 50%. I then used some layout to help reduce wiring needs. Was a challenge for sure.

Here is an updated description specifically for these lights.

The LED is placed inside an inch and a half or so of acrylic tube and then filled with hot glue with about a foot and a half worth of 4C wire coming out ... making a home made "module".

The encased RGB Leds are then wired together for 2 way multiplexing (two LEDS have the R,G and Bs (ANODES) tied together .. but not the grounds).

So for each set of 2 lights there are five wires, the three for R,G and B and the two grounds (one from each LED).

So for each set of 4 lights I then tie the corresponding matching ground for multiplexing to each other. This makes a perfect eight wires to run four RGB LEDs. I use flat 8 conductor wire running down the in the inside of the metal conduit to the Shift Registers Groups.

There are two 16 foot sections and one 12 foot section (since that is what fit perfect in my 44 foot space). Each 16 light section has four 8-conductor wires each and the 12 footer has three.

So this is 11 flat 8C wires but I do not have a thick set of wires .. I used layout to help reduce wires as well.

---------------- [SR/SR] ---------------- [SR} ------------ The above work of ASCII art shows the layout where [SR] is a set of three shift registers tied together.

First there is the 16 foot section with wire running left to right. Then there are two sets of SRs and then the next 16 foot run going the other way. Then I have a single (flat 8c) run going to another set of three SR's on the other of the 16 foot run which runs the final 12.

I should have all the SR groups together and run a longer 3 (8c) wires to the last SR for this. ---------------- [SR/SR/SR] ---------------- ------------

I have the SR stuff in weatherproof gang boxes with a CAT5 (8c) running from the center, down into the house and into the arduino. So I can run updates, etc from in the house.

  • I should have the arduino installed in a gang right by the SR's and then connect as needed to make updates or use a USB extended cable. I can easily run a longer wire to send up music if I want them to dance. But this was just a prototype, I'll redo it soon enough - just waiting for it to finally break on me.

Side notes: This was a huge effort. The cost was low at .4 per SR and .2 per light. But the other materials cost more (i.e. conduit, boxes, boards, hot glue, tubing, wire, etc.) and it took my whole family working on it to get the DIY project done.

That is why I am looking to buy some of these daisy chainable RGB lights. When I look back at what it took in effort and just shear wires and soldering .. a plug and go solution for the outside lighting part seems like the way to go (ok call me sissy).

I am thinking that spending $2 to $4 bucks each for the waterproof type with build in chips may be the way to go. I have some on order and will post my findings. For my 44 light setup .. at 2 bucks each .. that is $88 (plus shipin') in lights. I spent more than that on other materials attempting to make the same stuff and then make it waterproof.

If this works out, I may be saving the SR soldering for cubes and fun inside projects and leaving the outside jobs to plug and pray weatherproof units.

Hope that helps.

Thanks for the great explanation! It was very similar to what I was guessing in my head. But moving it from my head to paper may have not been so easy.

Great!