How to Use Falcon SmartReceiver Boards

The Falcon SmartReceiver is the new standard in “differential” receiver boards for Christmas light pixel controller boards like the Falcon F48, Falcon expansion boards and the F40-PB, F32-B and F8-B controllers from Kulp Lights.

These receivers allow you to “daisy-chain” multiple boards together so that you can use all of the pixels available on each port, even if your different props and strings of lights are far apart from each other.

But how do you use these boards? Unlike their predecessor, these are not simply “plug and play”.

Truth be told, I spent a few hours banging my head against the wall when I first got these, as I couldn’t figure out how to make them work. Turns out, it’s actually quite simple!

In this article, I’ll show you how to both set up the board in xLights, and also how to set the switches on the receiver board itself so that your lights work much more quickly than mine!

xLights Setup for Falcon SmartReceiver Boards

The most recent versions of xLights thankfully offer full support for the SmartReceiver boards, making it quite simple to set up if you are doing your controller configuration from the “Layout” tab in xLights (which I do recommend):

Under the “Controller Connections” heading (which you may need to maximize with the “+” sign on the heading), you’ll then see “Smart Remote” as one of the options.

Simply choose the receiver that you wish to assign, either “A, B, or C”. The letter that is capitalized out of the 3 is the one you are choosing.

Like any other controller, you then simply set the port you would plug the lights into, and the Protocol (type), and you’re off to the races….or the light show!

Dip Switch Setup on Falcon SmartReceiver Boards

Once xLights is set up, it’s time to set up your receiver board. This is where the most confusion comes from, as the receiver board itself doesn’t come with any manual.

If you’re smarter than me, then you looked at the bottom of the circuit board when you bought it and saw this:

Looking carefully, you can see the options for the “mode switch”.

Normal Mode: This functions like a “standard” receiver – as if only 1 receiver board is being used, and all ports use their full count of pixels. Use this if you know you’ll never add more receivers to the line.

Smart – A, B, or C: This enables the “Smart Receiver” mode and sets the receiver as A, B, or C. It’s very important that the letter matches up to xLights – or else you won’t get the connection you want!

Troubleshooting the Falcon SmartReceiver Board

Once you’ve got everything set up, you should be able to send it a sequence of data from xLights or a Falcon Player and see output to your lights.

What if it doesn’t work? Below, I am compiling a number of answers to any problems I run into or hear about:

My Lights Don’t Turn On with the SmartReceiver Board. What Do I Do?

The first thing you need to do is check the wiring of your pixels themself. Are the correct wires hooked up in the correct places?

If the answer is yes, you can test the lights using the “test” button which is in the middle of the SmartReceiver board. This bypasses the signal from your computer and simply tests that the pixels are wired correctly with power.

If they don’t work from the test mode, then your problem is either with the power to your pixels, your SmartReceiver, or both!

If they DO work from the test mode, then your configuration in xLights or your controller isn’t correct. I’ve occasionally seen that the data gets corrupted on it’s way to your controller from xLights, and re-uploading the information from the “Setup” tab fixes it.

About the author

David Henry

David first began using pixels in stage lighting, and then decided to try it out on his house. The result? An urge to create useful and helpful information to help non-technical folks create great Christmas lighting with pixels on their homes!


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