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RGB DMX Floods and Wall Washers

RGB DMX Floods and Wall Washers

RGB DMX Flood Comparison


Having used various LED and full RGB Colored flood lights since 2009 I decided it's finally time to include them in our database of DIY.  I've been hesitant only because there were so many options, both DIY and commercially available that it was overwhelming.  I remember the highly opinionated fallouts from the various forums as decorators went into battle representing their preferred flood.  Various vendors piped up about their "superior" product or design, and the whole thing got confusing.  I've tried lots of different options, the old MR16, the Mighty Minis (Mine are still working great!), the Rainbows, The Holiday Coro, and most recently the Chinese made fully assembled.  Now that everything is trending towards full color and DMX control I wanted to finally put this together to show what I'm using, what I've built, and what I would recommend for others.  For the purposes of this build output and cost were my driving factors so I'm sticking with the simplest, cheapest options which for me was the 3" Dumb modules and the small DMX Decoders.  The important thing to remember is THERE IS NO ONE BEST OPTION.  Try a few out and then do what's right for you!


MATERIALS LIST
  • Instructions downloaded from www.lightuplawrence.net for free of course!  Christmas Lighting is an obsession that is meant to be shared!
  • 15 3" long, 12v, 5050 smd RGB LED Modules.  I ordered mine from HolidayCoro for $1.19 each
  • 1 waterproof, 12v, DMX 512 decoder module.  I ordered mine from HolidayCoro for $7.99 each
  • Acrylic or coro cut panel for mounting the 3" modules.  You can cut your own or purchase the kit that includes them for $3.99.
  • For the blinder / wall washer I had a custom acrylic panel cut.  They were affordable and made it easy and fun to build.
  • 1 waterproof power supply.  I ordered mine from HolidayCoro for $14.  Regardless of style you need power.
  • 1 short cat5 cable or 3 pin XLR cable, I'm using the XLR I ordered from Aliexpress for $4 each.
  • 1 100 count package of small zip ties, $1.99 each
  • 1 package heat shrink tubing, available at Radio Shack
  • 1 can liquid tape, $6 at Lowes
  • 1 roll 1/4" heat shrink tubing.
  • 1 6' black extension cord, I got mine from Monoprice for $2.30 each
  • 1 10' 4 core extension, mine came from aliexpress for $3.00 each
STANDARD DISCLAIMER

I'm not an electrician, an expert in electrical things, nor do I have any training or degrees to qualify me as such.  ;)  I'm just a guy who figured out what works for his display.  Take this information as such.  If it works for you, GREAT!  I've accomplished what I set out to do.  If you see a problem with what I'm doing or have a question, please e-mail me.  I'm always excited and willing to learn something new.  I can't assume any responsibility for the outcome of your project if you chose to follow these instructions, or the fallout thereof.    If you think I'm an idiot, kindly smile to yourself, click your "back" button three times, and have a nice day!

TOOLS NEEDED
  • Wire Nippers
  • Butane Torch
  • Soldering Iron with pointed tip
  • Flux core solder
  • Exacto or other utility knife
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Zip Tie Gun

STEP ONE

   
    


The kit from HolidayCoro arrives with most everything ready to go. In this case I am going to show both the HC options as well as the custom blinder that I built.  All of the parts are pretty much the same, the blinder just includes the power supply as part of the design and utilizes the 3 pin XLR Jacks instead of the cat5 David uses for his wiring schematic.


STEP TWO

       

The method for wiring is the same for each of the builds so that's where we are going to start.  To begin, you need to remove the two screws that hold the cover on the small DMX Decoder.  I'm using the V2 controllers from Holiday Coro but you can use any type of D/C DMX Controller, the wiring method is still the same.  After opening the cover, there is a small screw inside that holds the circuit board in place.  Remove the board and using a soldering iron remove the three wires marked +, -, and GND from the DMX feed and the black and red wires for the + and Gnd Power feed.  When finished you should have just the board with the red, green, blue, and white outgoing wires.  IF you are using the Holiday Coro wiring setup or got your decoders with the cat5 already installed, you can either skip removing the wires or solder on your cat5 in much the same way I'm showing the 3 pin XLR in the following steps.

     
     




STEP THREE

       


To make my ingoing and outgoing DMX Pigtails I'm using a single male to female XLR Cable about 2 feet long.  You want to strip back the jacketing from both of the short whips as well as the remaining middle section of cable.  Tin the ends of each of the wires and prepare the shielding by twisting the copper together.  Solder the two pigtails together and join them to the remaining section of cable as shown.

       


When you're finished you should have something that looks like this.  I use regular electricians tape to wrap each of the wires, a short piece of heat shrink would work as well.  After sealing and separating each of the soldered joints, tape and heat shrink the entire assembly.  You now have a single XLR Cable with a pair of 3 pin jacks, one male and one female.

       



STEP FOUR

        
     


Next you will want to open one of the XLR Jacks to verify the wire color and pin number.  In this case the red wire is connected to pin3 which is our DMX + signal.  The white wire is the DMX - signal and the copper shielding will connect to our ground tab.  Solder the appropriate wire from the end of our newly assembled XLR cable to the small solder pads on the DMX decoder.  Next you will need to solder the red positive and black ground wires from the waterproof power supply to the correct pads on the DMX decoder circuit board.  These are clearly labeled and match the same colors as what we removed in the previous step.  When you are finished, it should look like the picture above.


STEP FIVE


     


With all of the wires now soldered in place it's time to re-assemble the DMX Decoder.  I use a zip tie on each of the cables to keep it from pulling out of the box and act as a strain relief for the wire.  You also want to put the screw back into the circuit board to hold it inside the box.  Place the factory 4 wire connector back into the slot at the side of the box.  Squeeze a small amount of hot-glue around the edge of the box and around the base of the wires.  They are a fairly tight fit as is but this will help us to further waterproof the box and the connections.  Push the lid of the box down into the glue and screw back in the two screw at the corners of the box. 

       


STEP SIX


     


Our last step in the wiring is to connect the 3" RGB LED Modules to the white box decoder.  Solder the yellow 12V+ wire from the modules to the white wire on the decoder.  The other wires match color to color.  Red to red, green to green, and blue to blue.  I use small heat shrink for each of the connections and then cover them with a short section of the larger 1/4" heat shrink around all 4 conductors to make sure it's completely weatherproof.


STEP SEVEN

     
     
     

    
 This is the first point where the directions for the two builds will start to differ.  For the regular floods, you will have a small coro board with markings for the 10 RGB Modules on it.  As you can see I went with the Eddie Van Halen approach and mine go up to 11.  ;)  The modules are peel and stick, the wires tuck through the notches on the coro.  The panel is just a bit different for the blinder lights and the wires secure in place with zip ties.  In both cases you will want to waterproof the wire connections in the last RGB Module with a dab of glue over the solder pads.  For some added security and adhesion I added a small dab of plastic bonding super glue in the center of each of the round mounting tabs on the modules for the blinder panel.

     
     



STEP EIGHT


       
    


To mount the power supply and DMX Decoder to the textured side of the panel I applied a small amount of super glue to each unit then screwed them into the pre-cut holes on the panels.  There are additional holes to secure all of the wires in the next step but for now just get everything screwed in and assembled.


STEP NINE

     
     


Starting at the end of the panel with the DMX Decoder, use the small zip ties through the holes in the panel to secure the wires.  I found that putting one extra "loop"  in the wire really helped keep them tight.  Where the wires feed into and out of the DMX Decoder you can double up and secure them all with the same zip tie.  There are extra holes specifically spaced to secure the XLR cable and the power cables form the power supply.

       



STEP TEN


     


When you finish with the first side, work your way down the next one.  You'll notice two sets of holes, closer ones for the wires from the modules and wider ones for the 120V A/C Power cord and the XLR cables.  I routed both of the cables to the center and secured them with a large black Zip tie to act as a strain relief before adding the housing.


STEP ELEVEN


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STEP TWELVE


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STEP THIRTEEN


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STEP FOURTEEN


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