I would have liked to have more time to steep myself in the Pixelblaze world before heading out, so in lieu of that I’d like to know if you have any suggestions based on your previous years’ experiences taking PB-based systems out there.
I will have multiple projects running off USB battery packs (bike flagpole, bike body, a couple of wearables) plus one at my tent running off tent power.
Wifi setup: AP mode with password.
Brightness: set per-pattern for max allowable power as I wrote in my other post.
Am I missing anything?
Protection: I probably only have time to wrap the PBs in some kapton
LED connectors: 4-pin screw/waterproof
Power: USB C decoy boards running off 60 W power banks for 3 A at 5 V as mentioned here.
Diffusion: Probably going bare on the flagpole, no idea about the rest.
I know this is a bit of a silly post, but I’d hate to overlook something.
As an alternative to wrapping stuff in tape, you might consider heat-shrink tubing. Available in many sizes and colors including white (for a bit of diffusion) and clear/transparent. Obviously this only works if you can access one end to slip on the tube. Fine for wearables and small flag poles, probably won’t work for bike frames.
I got my batch from ElectriDuct. I have their transparent 3:1 shrink ratio polyolefin at 1" size, which is the diameter before heat shrinking. As a size data point: flatting this tube to a strip results in a ~1.5" width strip, which just fits a bare PB3. Go larger if you have pin headers/sensor board/etc. Or you can go smaller if you’re working with a PB Pico.
On screw terminals: I actually had some small ones that fit the Pico, they were left over from my microcontroller/custom PCB project—the one I instantly dumped about a week ago when I learned about Pixelblaze. So many hours invested, and yet I’m still able to pull off far more impressive lights in the two weeks I have before the burn with PB.
Disconnecting the PB from the LEDs is possible on some projects, but not others. Definitely not ideal. My strategy is, that since I am using 4-pin weatherproof screw connectors on all projects, I’ll make a special 4-pin connector that goes straight to a USB-A, so I can unscrew the PB from the project and screw it into just power. This will work for both my Pico and standard setups.
Portable soldering iron—butane or electric? I would have never considered one. I’m taking my regular one, took it previous years, and I have a generator, so that’s not an issue. I just plug it straight into a generator extension.
Interesting on the lead-free. I use leaded at home because I find it easier. I read your blog post on lead-free, and I might try the specific Kester you mention.
So excited to see many of us headed out to the burn!
Same here, i have a TS100 soldering iron and I made a 3D printed attachment for my DeWalt tool battery packs (~18-20V) and I just run the straight output to the soldering iron. Works fantastically well, and really convenient.
My partner’s bike has LED strips on it and for diffusion, we slipped them into those aluminum channels designed for LED channels that take a frosted plastic cover, then taped them over so they dont come loose on the bumpy parts of the playa. It looks really good, but obviously only works for straight lines.
The bike lights also run off the DeWalt tool battery as well. I’m using them for almost everything this year, since I have three fast chargers and can rapidly recharge them with a short run on the generator and given that they’re sturdy, weather proof and all that.
A friend found a Chinese source for the Adafruit silicon tube ultra bendy, ultra diffused strip. It really does look like neon tube on your bike. Ingot in on his order and it looks absolutely fantastic. We’re probably going to be seeing it everywhere soon.
I have mine in white pex tube. It diffuses pretty well. If interested try to avoid the 50’ rolls. Pex will try and hold its circular shape. I’ve had some success straightening it out by sliding a length of 1/2” copper pipe in it then heating it with a torch. It helps but it’s not perfect.
Home Depot or Lowes sellers 10’ sticks of it. Much better to work with.
I’m actually refurbing a sign (with our camp name) that was made in 2014 and needs some love to work again in 2022. It’ll be inside our Club House (dance floor + chill areas). Here’s the whole story of the project over the years if you’re interested.