Total newb_no coding experience at all

As mentioned in the title. I have no knowledge or experience in any coding at all. I’ve purchased these Pixelblaze V3’s and Output Expander’s hoping to be able to use them in my project. Which is basically a cylinder with a top that i’m using WS2813 pixel strips (28 rows stacked/wrapped around with 2501 total) and SK6812 rings for the top (803) 3,304 total. I came across this controller by recommendation and size and ability of # of pixels to control. I had unknowingly knew that coding was of necessity. As i had/have used the China based controllers and their software to where it was easy-peasy with no coding needed and able to import vid files of different formats.

With all of this said and i’ve also been in contact with electromage as well, is there anyone that can straightforwardly help me to where it’s possibly a quick learning so i can possibly use this product and at/of their free time??? Willing to learn and use these products if possible. Send message if you need contact info. Thank you in Advance

Wow!!! no comment(s) of assists or help of any sort…That’s all i needed to know. i’ll send these items back since of no help…

Hey A.A. -

Sorry nobody replied. I can tell you why I didn’t, just speaking for me personally. For context, I’m someone who has helped a lot of people here. I sometimes write code for free, and on three occasions I’ve done hour long screen share sessions to help people get their first project going.

First, there’s only a handful of us in any given week who are active, checking the forum, and are able to answer most people’s questions. There’s a lot more people who pop in to ask questions but are not checking back every few days to see how they can help others. They get their project done and move on. That’s totally fine, but it means if all 3-8 of us helpers are busy with our own thing, or on vacation, it’s highly unlikely we’re gonna get back to you within the 22 hours it’s been since you first posted.

Second, a warning phrase for me was, “I had unknowingly knew that coding was of necessity.” Coding isn’t necessary to drive incredible patterns out of the box, but if you have a specific vision, it will be. 3,304 LEDs is a big project. I was really worried you might have high expectations but be unwilling to own the core issue, which is around not doing enough research before buying. I make these mistakes too. I once bought 600 LEDs. When they arrived I found out I hadn’t read closely enough: they were loose on a reel, instead of soldered on a strip like I expected! ha, that’s ok - but that’s on me.

Third, I’ve donated some effort to people with no coding experience here in the past, but something that’s really important to me is that they show they’re going to invest the time to try to learn on their own as well, for example naming the steps they’ve taken so far and posting some code to show they’re invested. It can be frustrating to get going with any language, let alone one as forgiving as Pixelblaze. It’s going to take a lot of time and dedication even for your first basic project. If it looks like my 5 hours of teaching will spark 50 hours of self-learning, perhaps even hatch a teacher who will pay it forward to the community - I’m in! If it sounds like I’m being invited to do the free labor for someone’s one-off project, I’m not. I know you said you’re willing to learn - that’s great! If you posted some code, pictures, diagrams… If you linked to the other threads on this forum you had been reading up on… Or especially if you came back and posted that you were able to make a little progress by yourself, those are all really encouraging signs to me.

But mostly, I only have 4-6 hours this weekend to play with my LEDs. I’d like to put much of that into my own projects. It’s been a day since you posted. I truly want you to manifest your vision for your project, and maybe the easy-peasy controllers get you there fastest. I think it took me 3 months of practice digging through other people’s code before I was truly ready to make more than minor tweaks, and I came in the front door with a few years of doing software for work.

So what’s your vision? What have you tried? Where are you getting hung up?

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Jeff, i truly appreciate your reply. I to understand what it takes for anyone that takes their time into any type of development to write codes, smali, UI development, etc and then take more time to help others that don’t “quite know” or understand. And i know this of XDA. What you spoke of is what majority of people did there…expect help and nothing in return…i’m not a
‘DEV’ there and know of “coding” but what knowledge i learned and found out on the “device” used for bricking, restore, soft-brick, etc, i’d share and help to the best i can.

As the title of the Post says and i mentioned, i have no knowledge of coding at all. So with that said. i have NO CLUE to setup my project. If you ask why i purchased this items, it was referenced to use for my project since of the amount of pixels used. I was/am looking for a “compact” size unit that can do the “job on the fly”. As stated, i’m willing to learn and that’s 100% but walking blind in to a pit of wolves without knowing what i’m getting into is a different story (lol). I’m not a geometry/physics person or of knowledge, so i’m sad to say. The controllers i’m using are the H802SE (IR controller) that can run 6144 pixels, H806SB (wireless/wi-fi) that can run 2048 pixels and the K-1000C (stand alone w/SD card) that can run 2048 pixel. The software i use is the LED Build for the H806SB/H802SE and LedEdit for the K-1000C controller.

“So what’s your vision? What have you tried? Where are you getting hung up?”
To answer your questions individually is:
So what’s your vision?
A: to hopefully get help to get started on my project so i may be able to start different and
more robust projects
What have you tried?
A: Nothing. 2 reasons. 1-Void warranty if used 2-Don’t know what the H i’m doing
Where are you getting hung up?
A: Uh, From answer #2 and what i’ve posted. need self-help…lol…

Jeff, i thank you for your response and rather me taking up forum time and the time from conversing back and forth. If you’d like to assist to help me get a jump start, let me know and i’ll send you my contact info. Again, it’s up to you…I was succumbed to how easy the prior controllers are to use that i assumed these would be the same…

Hi @al50pony ,
Glad to see your on the forums.

I encourage you to power one up, and see if it’s anything like what you want before soldering. If not, you can return them. That offer still stands. I don’t know if anyone else that would take a return after so much time, please take advantage of it.

Please do that so we can have a conversation and be on the same page when helping you.

Also, if you haven’t done so yet, I encourage you to read the full product description so you are familiar with it’s advertised capabilities and intended use.

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Yes @wizard i did read the product description and i took it to believe it to be an easy product to use per the person that had recommended me to the Pixelblaze 3 product. I’m not making or posting this as a “blame game” because i’m not! if anything i’m asking for help. If you’re putting this on the ‘end user’ to know what they’re purchasing, then that end user is basing it from the website (highlighted fields) and quoted.

“If you aren’t a coding wizard, don’t worry, many people with limited programming experience have found Pixelblaze’s editor approachable and fun to use. The real-time editor, instant feedback, a variable watcher, and expression-centric pattern generation means you won’t be pulling your hair out trying to find that missing semicolon or curly brace. Even run-time errors that would usually just crash your program are harmless and show up right in the editor.”

i did power one up but to be honest, it’s of no use if i can’t and do not know how to map to see it as a “visual” through the “mapper” tab without actually connecting it to some type of “matrix”. So what’s the use of using something that there’s no help/support from the “manufacturer”??? Which has been misrepresented and whatnot.

for reason unknown, you then posted the link of the PB3 and cost… .Well, i’ve purchased 2 PB3’s and 2 expanders expecting and assuming they would do for product only of total cost of $108.
i can get these 6144 pixel controllers for a price cheaper than what’s posted on Alibaba and half the cost of PB3 and extender.

which an easy self learning product along with software.

But that’s not what i’m here about or in question. I’m just asking for help and if it’s going to be a dilemma to get any assistance or such help, then i’ll just part my ways with them and try another product that may have support. Maybe such as the iqLED-RF-x8S IC controllers

i’m just asking for help and if you @wizard or @jeff think i’m at wrong and making this into a BS issue just for asking for help on such product(s), then i’m at loss for purchasing a product of such.

Sincerely,
A

I don’t own a Pixelblaze yet, cause I am still in doubt whether I can get it to work or not.

But can’t you just hook up your LED’s and change most things through settings?
Like numbers of LED’s, type, brightness etc?
Then download patterns of the internet?

I found this video, to get a sense of the setup and the overall feel of the controller:

If you look aside from the actual programming of the LED’s, it looks pretty straightforward.

I don’t know exactly what you need to use for your project, and I am not the right person to ask about it. But in terms of the UI and options available it doesn’t look that bad.

When I start to learn new stuff, or get new hardware etc, I like to get my hand hold with a YouTube tutorial, and sadly there aren’t really any of these for the Pixelblaze yet.
But hopefully there will be some in the future, for us without much coding/tech knowledge.

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I think if you give people a chance you’ll find them very helpful.
Here’s an example of a thread where I needed help mapping a type of cylinder and you can see how so many different users responded to assist.
https://forum.electromage.com/t/mapping-complex-objects/

I started with the online mapping tool. If you haven’t seen it, have a read on this thread:
https://forum.electromage.com/t/2d-pixel-coordinate-mapping-tool-for-images/
(this would be only for the top of the cylinder you mentioned. The sides of the cylinder would be a different process but I’ll explain that later).

Essentially,

  1. you take a picture of your 2D matrix
  2. upload the pic to the online tool
  3. on the picture, click where each LED is in the order they are numbered

for the sides of the matrix you can see the same link I used:

you paste all those codes into the mapping tab and tweak it for your specifics, then eventually you should see an image like this:

it takes a while to figure out, but it offers a lot more flexibility than the controllers you’ve posted screenshots of. I don’t see that any of those offer any mapping abilities.

Part of my professional career is teaching users how to use new software, so I’d be happy to help you, and we could even jump on a screen share if you’re interested.
I admit I may be guilty of being one of those consumers Jeff mentioned so I’d love to contribute back however possible.

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Hey @al50pony -

OK, so from reading your follow up, I’m getting the sense of a few areas I want to be sure you understand.

First, let’s talk speed. With the output expander, if you were able to spread those 3,304 pixels evenly across all 8 channels, your frame rate for most patterns will be limited to about 7-15 frames per second (FPS). 15 comes from the typical estimate of 48,000 pixels generated per second (from the docs - see Pixel Rendering Capabilities), divided by 3,304 pixels. Most of us try to shoot for 30-60FPS, so because your project involves so many pixels, the animation rate will be a little choppy for the fast effects. Medium fades can still be amazing.

Next, let’s think through wiring. Remember you can’t connect more than 800 RGB WS2813s to any given channel on the expansion board, so you’ll need to plan for that in your wiring plan. If you’ve never wired that many pixels before, and assuming these are 5V WS2813 strips, just make sure to do a lot of research on power injection. No matter what controllers you use, this is a tricky topic we all have to plan for. The typical safety estimates we use of 60mA per LED imply you need 198 amps of 5V current! Almost a kilowatt of power. That’s a lot of 5V supplies. The only way you can do this on less power is being extremely careful about which patterns you run, and honestly I wouldn’t recommend that. You have a very high chance of overwhelming your power supplies and damaging something.

Last, mapping. You’re going to have a custom layout - no controller will be able off-the-shelf to figure out the particular coordinates of LEDs in physical 3D space*. There are lots of examples in the forums of how you write JavaScript to generate the [x, y, z] coordinates, and @Sunandmooncouture’s is a very relevant example of a cylinder and circular end cap. If that thread he linked isn’t making any sense after a few read-throughs, you should not try mapping. You could still use Pixelblaze though for the 1D patterns just fine.

Something that’s a somewhat common misunderstanding is that the Mapper tab does not show you how the running pattern will look through your LEDs (yet!) There are tools Zranger1 has made to preview it on your computer through another ESP board, but I think that will be a little too complex at this stage. The Mapper tab is there to show you a 3D preview of the positions in space.

You asked if I think you’re making this into a BS issue. I do not think so. This is frustrating for you and for most newbs. When you said, “So what’s the use of using something that there’s no help/support from the “manufacturer”???” there is an aspect present of buying the ingredients for a complex meal, then being a little upset that the grocery store isn’t supporting you on how to cook everything. It’s all about asking, “What are reasonable support expectations for a $35 DIY PB3 vs a $30 H806SB?”. There are a lot of recipes published here, and definitely not enough YouTube tutorials yet. And, you know that really helpful info that they leave out of recipes and packaging, like how to chop an onion well? Plenty of that present here too! :wink:

When I was asking about your vision, I meant - what are you making? What are its planned dimensions? Is it going to be still or moving? Is it like a totem for festivals or an amazing coffee table? How will you power it?

As for what you’ve tried, Wizard is suggesting you power just the board up from the micro USB port (without pixels) and it seems like you’ve tried that. It sounds like you’re really dedicated to mapping in 3D. That’s important because you want to try that web interface and make sure it’s feeling like something you want to learn. Hopefully you’ve seen the Getting Started page and the Mapping in Pixelblaze page.

Good luck!

* Beautiful nerds - before you “Well, actually!” me on this, yes there’s Twinkly and 3 other almost-there CV toolchains and LEDLabs 2-D 1-by-1 approach and Symmetry Labs’ proprietary app for Tree of Tenéré using ARKit… okokok

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@Madsmaten - You know what, you’re right. I’m going to try to fix that. You’re at the perfect stage to interview as to what you’d want to see in something like this. I’ll DM you.

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It’s a wearable. Total # of Pixels are 3304, using 4 ports (803 (topper), 842, 816 & 843). 97 pixels of WS2813 (100/m) strips x 28 Stacked horizontal created as a “matrix panel” (with some pixels removed in areas that aren’t needed) wrapped inside the cylinder and a 280mm pixel (SK6812) ring of 14 inner rings totaling 803 pixels. running 4 ports/sections connected to the 4 ports of the current controller. (@jeff Which i DM’d you the info).

i believe making the topper work as 3D would be a challenge. What i’m using now i have setup 2 different ways. one with the matrix and 14 circular rings and the other is the rings laid out as “unrolled” to 14 rows stacked.

I did power the PB up and just at loss to using the mapper whether i selected the Cube (3D) or Matrix (2D). So the only way to see it actually work i’ll need to actually connect LED’s to the PB board. I quickly made a mini matrix panel earlier today out of the WS2815 60/m at the size of 10(h) x 16(w)

Hope to learn but hands-on/vids is unfortunately the best way for me to learn, not to copy other peoples work persay, BUT to learn by and base how the work is done. As i’m not a letter and numbers guy…at the moment :).

I appreciate the posts and some of the “mentions” i have looked into but some at loss…guess i look at things A$$ Bakcwards and/or make/assume it’s harder than it actually is…lol. We’ll see.

Again, thank you in Advance to the Community!!

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Thank you for you response @Sunandmooncouture!! I’m truly interested in your offer and if possible may take you up on it!!! Don’t mind learning new things and won’t give up…if i wasn’t as interested in this controller and not wanting to take a stab at it to learn, i don’t think i’d be posting and replying as much. :smiley:

I believe the controllers offer mapping, unless i’ve got the terminology confused with how their program works because i can have certain sections/areas do different effects per how i setup the “sculpt/layout”. Downside is they do/don’t have 3D capabilities. The one that does have 3D feature is kinda ‘iffy’

Thanks again!! A

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Quick reply… Take it for what it’s worth.

  1. I was away this weekend. If your idea of community support is instant response, that’s unrealistic.

  2. if you aren’t comfortable with learning the basics of simple JavaScript-y programming, your PB will function but doing lots of custom stuff will be beyond you, it’ll be limited to what other people write and share.

  3. there are at least two good youtube tutorials. (I’ll link them later). In one, Ben walks you thru the KITT pattern. In the other @Jeff walks thru how to do use the time and wave functions, which are confusing to newbies.

  4. I’ve been mulling over writing a book, but primarily my blocker is the limited market. If I started writing a book on how to program with PB, how many copies would I sell at $20, for example?

  5. I started a long programming tutorial this year, geared at self starters to encourage them to dig in and work at tasks. It was great in some ways, because we ended up with a pile of new patterns. It wasn’t great for total newbies seeking hand holding on the basics, though we tried.

  6. That said, this fall, I plan on doing a more basic tutorial series about PB programming. But it’ll be over months. If you want to do a specific project, you’ll want to invest your time and energy in learning thru the many resources that exist now… And asking a few direct “I’m stuck” questions when you get stuck, you’ll get answers.

  7. Cheap nonprogrammable controllers exist, and might be better for some people. Your project will lack the flexibility and power of PB but that’s your call.

Good luck in your led project, either way.

I’m just a user, who dug into PB and decided it’s powerful and useful and worth my time.

I built some art last week for a weekend small festival. One project had PB in it, and I literally completed the build in an hour or two. Used existing patterns, no added programs, and it looked great.

The other project could have been PB, but I had other led controllers I wanted to use, but after days of incompatible versions, flashing firmware, dealing with different hardware limits, wiring issues and more… I finally reduced my scope to just two strands of LEDs, musically responsive, and got something I felt was acceptable to bring. It worked, they never were exactly aligned, but it looked decent enough. If I’d gone with PB, I’d have spent less time and thought… Not that other tools like WLED aren’t good, but… PB is way more polished in most ways. You get what you pay for.

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Whoa! A wearable! How are you gong to power this? Now I’m just super curious.

This might be a difficult map for someone other than you to generate unless they’ve got a detailed diagram of each strip’s location. To be honest, I’ve re-read your various written descriptions and am having a hard time envisioning it. You could search the forums here for other mapping help questions and see how people are making diagrams to explain.

I see you’re planning for over 800 LEDs per channel, but the output expander page explains it supports 800 max. Trying to do >3000 WS2813 in a single channel straight out of Pixelblaze will be even slower than the frame rates I calculated above.

Hopefully you’re now able to review the info i had sent you.

The “Total # of Pixels are 3304, using 4 ports (803 (topper), 842, 816 & 843). 97 pixels of WS2813 (100/m) strips x 28 Stacked horizontal created as a “matrix panel”” is wired up based on the current controller i’m using. the total amount of pixels the controller can run are 6144 at 1536 per port. As far as power goes i have a couple ways of powering the unit based on either a 12V power bank with step-down convertor or looking into building a battery pack using 26650 3.7 30A batteries. Just a note that these builds don’t need full power/brightness on the LED’s, so i have the brightness adjusted within the program at/between 10%, 15% or 20% and depending on which controller the brightness can be adjusted with the controller.

Forgot to add that with the expander only allowing 800 per channel, i’ll have to re-wire the data/port lines. which will be a curve ball as i’d have to split the pixel ring down since it has a total of 803 pixels pre-installed.

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Your numbers don’t add up. 97x28 isn’t 3304.

You’re correct if it was a true matrix panel that the numbers don’t add up. Total started out would be (2716 + 803) 3,519 but there’s some pixels removed within the matrix panel that aren’t needed as they’ll be in an “exposed” areas…

Ah, so the 803 isn’t included in that total of the matrix. (It was less than your total number)

Correct. Sorry for the confusion. the 803 is the 280mm circular ring with smaller diameters within it.