First off, I'd like to thank all of you for unknowingly contributing to my education at Arduino U. I couldn't imagine learning this stuff without you. Introductory sucking up out of the way......
I have this project I've been working on, and I need a little expert advice. I'm constructing decorations for my wedding on the beach in Mexico. Sounds lame, I know, I'm getting to the good part.
My decorations consist of roughly 32 large round Chinese paper lanterns each containing a light box that holds 4 neo pixels. The LEDs are housed in a custom 3D printed "pod" that hangs inside the lanterns. The lights are controlled from a control deck equipped with a Mega and a MSGEQ7 spectrum breakout that splits the music from the DJ's board into 7 frequencies and turns that into a 7 byte array that I'm using to control the RGB values on the LEDs. The control deck has the first 16 "pods" wired directly to it and is powered by a 5v, 8A plug in power supply. The remaining 16 pods are split into 4 satellite "branches" each controlled by their own Nano and powered by 8, 5v 8000mah 2A rechargeable power banks (and a few extra banks too, just in case). Oh.....and my fiance has a Lilypad with 8 more LEDs strung to it in her dress.
Here's the good news........all of THAT......is basically done. Code is written, tested, working, looking great. Pods are printed, LEDs installed, and I even have the first two satellite strings and the master string done (and I printed a box to house the Mega, EQ7, and a few switches to control some different light patterns). After figuring out the amp drop issue by adding the power banks, they all appear to work. It is the largest color organ I've ever seen and that makes me happy.
The only part I'm fuzzy on, and admittedly it is an important one, is how the Arduinos will all talk to each other. My first thought was to use simple RF and just have the Master deck spam the 7 bytes (maybe 8 if I add a control state) constantly, and if the receivers picked up a decent chunk of it, we're golden. These are flashy lights here, and there are a lot of them, so I doubt it would look strange if they missed packets. I'd say the area I'm working with is maybe 40 sq yards. I ordered a bunch of cheapo 433mhz transmitters/receivers, and also some moderately more expensive nrf905 transceivers.....I was going to play around with them to figure out which I could get away with using. I got comfortable using VirtualWire and Radiohead and have versions of my sketches prepped for either.
If that fails......I also have enough wire to just run a line to everything, but I'm worried about the voltage drop on the data line covering that kind of distance......
Which is why I'm here.......I was hoping to get some advice on what YOU guys would do given the situation. Plow forward with RF? And if so, what pitfalls should I be aware of? Or simplify and wire it, and figure out some way to amplify the data line?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!