… so what are my options? (please don’t say learn how to solder, please don’t say learn how to solder, please don’t say learn how to solder )
I really really want to try out the pixelblaze but I’ve consciously stayed away from learning how to solder after observing all the cursing and throwing things at the wall my father did back in the day…
So are there any clip-on connectors that could be reliably used to achieve the same?
I would also just be open minded about soldering and not let someone else’s experiences cloud your own.
Tooling and what you’re looking to do can greatly affect the experience, and if you’re excited about making something, maybe the tricky stuff ends up being so worth it to get the result you want, even if it is “something that seems hard”.
One option – in addition to @wizard 's extremely generous offer to solder screw terminals on for you – You can build entire projects with JUST four solder points – the four screw terminals – that are very large, beginner friendly, solder points. I’m mediocre at soldering, but it’s a good beginner project. If it still feels too overwhelming, it’s a good thing to beg a favor from a friend on, because it can be done in <5 minutes by anyone with beginner to intermediate soldering skills.
If you just want to play around and get started with LITERALLY zero soldering, the other option is a set of cheap alligator clips that you use instead of the screw terminal – something like this for $6 – https://www.amazon.com/WGGE-WG-026-Pieces-Colors-Alligator/dp/B06XX25HFX – it won’t work for a finished project (because they’ll fall off when you jostle it), but you can test things and play around without ever touching solder, by using them to attach to the same spots the screw terminal would.
How soon is soon? Happy to wait a little while longer as this is for a project where I’m waiting for some other things to finish up first before I can put in the LED strip.
Failing something being around the corner in the next 1 or 2 months, happy to take you up on your very generous offer @wizard !!
I’d love to but on the one hand I’m time poor to learn a new skill (as are we all I imagine) and on the other hand I reckon the trauma just sits too deep I can assemble a PC, I can plaster, I can do all kinds of DIY stuff around the house and get quite creative with engineering solutions as well as am into home automation… but for some reason soldering is something I shy away from. I reckon it would open up a whole new world for me if I could and that in itself sounds very appealing, but even that isn’t incentive enough to go out and buy my first soldering gun
Just the thought of wrecking a board I just put money towards, even though we’re not talking big $$$$$$ here, is enough to sends shivers up my spine despite the apparent beginner friendly feasibility
That’d be perfect for me! The board would just get installed in a corner of my garage without the risk of anyone bumping into it so even though it’s not intended for a production-like environment, I reckon I can keep it safe.
In digging around for solderless options, I also noticed terminal blocks that can just be inserted into the holes of the PCB solderpoints. They have screw-holes to connect any wires so would that also be a viable option?
Sir or Madam, take heart! I too was like you until the age of 38, 2 years ago with insane level of shaky hands convinced I’d never figure it out. If I can learn to solder, most folks can. It’s way easier and more forgiving than you think it is. Now I have a ridiculous giant LED PixelBlaze cube entertaining people at non-Burning Man burns and fundraisers!
Do what I did, watch a few Youtube Videos and just don’t hold the iron on to the chip in the same place for 20+ seconds at a time and you’ll be fine. Get yourself a table clamp that has adjustable alligator clips so you can hold everything in place while you learn. Or if you have 2 small pieces of stranded wire (16 guage and smaller), practice soldering them together. You just might surprise yourself!
I will give you fair warning though, I see that you’re pretty skittish about soldering and you can get away with other methods for a while, but the further you dive in to LED projects, you’re gonna have to learn basic soldering sooner or later (or have someone on call that can handle it). There are certain things you cannot have mechanical connections on and certain things you don’t want mechanical connections on (A lot of LED connectors suck).
I’m interested in a link to what you’re thinking of – I haven’t seen this product before. It wouldn’t shock me if it exists, and I kind of want to try and test a couple of them if so. Just a warning – many similar categories of products don’t make a super reliable connection, although can work if not jostled.
The screw terminals are probably the easiest thing I’ve ever soldered. They stay in place by themselves, so once both sides are hot enough, a little bit of solder melts right in and surface tension does the rest.
I got away with that being my only soldering on LED projects for quite a while. I got LED strips with male/female connectors on the ends, and snipped off whatever was at the end of the chain to put it into the screw terminals.
I am going to chime in here as a total noob to all of this.
I have been looking at pixelblaze ever since @zranger1 posted his driver on the hubitat community. I let the solder factor scare me away for all this time.
Recently i ordered some practice solder kits on amazon and went at it. Lol started with this surface mount practice board that was pretty difficult for my unpractice hand. I went to town on it. It was ugly but i felt like i was learning. I completed a couple of more easier kits with mostly thru hole stuff and found it wasnt so hard after some practice.
So yesterday i said my prayer. Busted out the pixelblaze i had sitting there. I solder the provided screw terminals in a few minutes. It was the only soldering required for this small test project. Wired it up to my practice strip and power supply. Everything was up and running in a few minutes. Way way easier than i made it in my head.
So the point of this post is to maybe give some other noobs like me the encouragement to give it a go.
Many thanks to @zranger1 for answering lots of clueless questions for me in the other place.
@wizard this device is excellent. But i think you already know that. Many thanks for providing such a cool product.
I am now ready to start my exterior house project. I think ill create a post and ask advice on exactly what to purchase and the plan to make it all work.
Thanks for all the encouragement, it has me convinced that at one point I will try my hand at soldering.
Having said that, with my current workload in both professional and private life, I have to admit that I’ve jumped over to the dark side and have bought a Digquad
That way I can get into the whole RBBIC stuff and make sure I get my LED strips sorted as that has been a challenge in itself.
I’ve gone with a WS2814, 2 COB 720 LED/m RGBIC and 1 COB 748 RGBWIC strip so that’ll give me plenty of toys to play with.
Once it’s all up and running and the Hubitat integration comes to the forefront again, I will certainly get a Pixelblaze, if nothing else than to be able to make my own comparison to WLED. I still love the Pixelblaze featureset more and nothing will be better than experiencing that firsthand.
In the meantime I’ll explore WLED and pair it with LedFX to see what that does for music animation.
And who knows, by the time I come back to Pixelblaze, there may already be a pre-packaged, solderless option of the Pixelblaze available!