How Do I Build a Testing Controller for my LED Christmas Lights?

By Kari / September 30, 2019

Whether this is your first year setting up a display or you have a few years under your belt you may realize that you need a tool to test your lights at full capacity.

It’s important to test before you put your props up on your house to make sure they work properly!

In this video, I’ll walk you through the basics of setting up your very own testing controller.

Figuring the Math

Before setting up the controller you have to work with some math to make sure your pixels can be tested properly. Not to worry, in the video and below we discuss the amps, wattage, and volts.

The first step to this setup is working on the math between the amps and power supply. Since I had purchased my lights with DIYLEDExpress.com I was able to pull the specs of the pixels from their site. The lights used in this video are .72 watts per pixel.

Depending on where you had purchased your lights, you should be able to get a spec sheet of the pixels that you had purchased.

Even though you may not be running your pixels at full capacity in your show, you still want to test and run your lights at full to make sure they are functioning as they should.

Next, in order to keep things simple, you may want to consider running 100 pixels per output. The reason why I choose 100 is that I know that’s how many I can do without injecting more power. So with some math, I know that .72 times 100 = 72 watts per output.

For voltage, I had decided that from now on I will only be working with 12 and 24 volts. In this video, these are 12-volt pixels, and at 12 volts that’s 6 amps. Watts divided by Volts equals Amps.

Building Your Tester

It won’t take very many supplies for you to put together your own testing controller. Before purchasing equipment be sure to check that you don’t have some of these items or something similar on hand.

Some of the items mentioned in the video:

One of the basics is finding a housing unit for your controllers. My personal preference is the ammo crate as used in the video but this can be any sort of storage unit you might have laying around. Be sure to consider something that you can cut holes into for the power cords.

Pixel Controllers

Of course, to test your pixels you need a pixel controller. If you’ve seen some of my previous posts or videos I’ve worked with a few different types and brands.

With the math figured out previously just make sure to select a pixel controller that can handle the amps for your lights and set up. As mentioned in the video above I decided to go with the Pixlite 4 Eco Controller because it’s a great unit and I can work with a standard 360-watt power supply. So, with 288 watts I can run those lights on full all day long without thinking twice about it.

Another reason why I decided to go with this controller is that it has 4 outputs and each output can handle 100 pixels. When testing pixels you don’t want to go with more than 2 strands per output. If one pixel goes out the data will stop at that pixel and you won’t know if the pixels after that are functioning or not!

So, while you want to make your tests efficient and effective hooking up to many pixels on one output can really cause a lot more work and battling the lights. If you hooked up more than (2) strands, you’d have to re-test the strands downstream from the bad pixel. I don’t like retesting!

The Box Setup

Testing Controller Setup

The setup I use is very simple. You have the box or storage unit, a power supply unit, and my pixel controller. As mentioned earlier if you want to run your cords through the box or you can just leave the connectors in the box, it’s up to your personal preference.

Testing Your Pixels

Once you have your setup done now you need to test your pixels. Depending on the software you are using you can just log on and set your lights to a testing sequence or even create your own testing mode.

About the author

Kari


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