Is wireless control of Led RGB down an entire street block possible?

Added by Rogelio over 5 years ago

i am looking for a way to wirelessly control 3 to 6 channels of rgb outputs at each house on the block. A bit of searching has lead me here.
Each house has a candle at the street, lit with 120VAC leds, and we want to be able to “synchronize” them together. Street is about 1400 feet long. Will the Jeenode or LEDNode handle this application. Unless I can find a more powerful transmitter and antenna, the distance will probably require the signal to be repeated as it travels down the block. These boards will receive and transmit, correct? The LEDs could be replaced with 12VDC but then a power supply will be required in each candle.

Replies (8)

Is wireless control of led RGB down entire block [possible? - Added by martynj over 5 years ago


Even with clear line of sight up high on the candle stands, this will be the limit of the range for the RFM12B modules.  Since the data rate is presumably quite low, a little extra distance can be squeezed out by reducing the transmitted data rate.

Do the remote nodes need to reply (some local status perhaps)?  If not, then the gain from a good antenna on the central transmitter is worthwhile.

The design depends on how flexible the existing LED’s are - is there a simple on/off control for each colour string available?  Or there is a requirement to change the intensity of each colour?

RE: Is wireless control of led RGB down entire block [possible? - Added by lightbulb over 5 years ago


I think there are a few more variables needed to infer a solution.

Jeenodes can have good range when in line of sight, with no metal/water/rf interference obstacles,
I have heard of 700ft+ outside.
- are your candles ‘outside’?
(I have a jeenode outside 200ft away from residence reporting to collector inside with no problems).

  • can each individual candle ‘see’ a few other candles? - i.e is your street straight or many ‘s’ bends?
    (if so, you could at least replicate your control signals)

  • Jeenodes normally take power from small power source like battery / solar / wall wart at 3.3/5.0v - do you wish to splice into the 120VAC to take this 5VDC power, or use battery?

  • if the jeenodes need to be outside, then possibly they need an IP66+ enclosure but whatever is used it should be chosen to be as TRANSPARENT as possible to RF if you use rfm12b.

  • depending upon the ‘control’ signal you use, other options are possible. For instance if ‘time’ is a trigger, you could use a local radio time source, (in EU zone, DCF77 is very accessible with diy components - see all these ).

also remember that if your ‘candles’ are always waiting on a remote trigger (i.e no set schedule) then this will pose a problem to any battery power source, as you willneed a high duty cycle. The timekeeping on a atmega328 is ‘sloppy’ then you need a scheduled signal (without RTC help) - and particularly exposed to temperature changes such is the case outside.


RE: Is wireless control of led RGB down entire block [possible? - Added by Rogelio over 5 years ago

Thanks for the replies. I’ll try to answer as best I can.
The candles are a 10’wire frame covered by nylon material. they are outside at the street and each has 120 volt power. They currently have regular Christmas light strings in them. They would like to do some sequencing together. dimming included. Could be a predefined sequence in each candle and triggered wirelessly or DMX (or other protocol) run from a central controller.
Each candle is 60 to 80 feet from each other. The road is about 1400 feet long with a slight S in it but each candle could see 20 other ones at least. This is why I asked about repeating the signal. Will one node do both send and receive or is two required?
Considering 12 V LED strips or nodes. Would have to add a power supply to each candle, preferably 12 VDC.
They want to be able to control all candles so they can do chases and such.

RE: Is wireless control of led RGB down entire block [possible? - Added by martynj over 5 years ago


> Will one node do both send and receive?

Each node is a transceiver (i.e. can switch between transmit or receive under program control). You can send a packet from the central controller that is aimed at one or a set of receivers using the ID field. You can also set the receiver to listen to all traffic (ID value is a don’t care).

A possible design then is to break the targets into a number of small sets sharing the same ID, then the furthest away in the set also listens for other ID’s higher than it’s own and simply resends that packet out unchanged. This will push higher ID packets further away from the controller.

Some thought is needed about noise in the environment that will from time to time corrupt some output packets. With a relay scheme, it is quite complicated to handle this with ACK/NACK.  A work around is to include an incrementing command sequence number and send the command packet more than once.  The receiver nodes act on a command with a higher sequence number than the last command obeyed and just ignore repeats. I suggest including a meta-control packet in the design (e.g. command = FF, sequence = FF) that is a general reset of all receivers.
If a received packet has a correct CRC, you can be confident that all the bits in the packet are correct.

The last set will receive the command packet after several packet delays. With short packets, this delay is in the tens of milliseconds - may just be visually perceptible as a lag at the end of the chain, maybe even an attractive effect as colour changes ripple along the chain. Remember that all packets are send on a single RF channel - this will limit the update speed since time is needed to ripple a control packet to the far end before another command packet is initiated. 

RE: Is wireless control of Led RGB down an entire street block possible? - Added by lightbulb over 5 years ago


A few more observations based upon your answers.

So - BIG candles @ 10ft!

Your somewhere in Texas USA - obviously with candles that big - LOL ;)

I guess you have anywhere from 20 (one sided street) to 40+, both sides assuming 70’ avg spacing.

30+ nodes could be a problem, as a std rfm12b netgroup assumes nodes 1 through 30, so you could be looking at 2+ groups - effectively meaning you could not individually address them all without switching groups….
In this case, perhaps sharing ID’s has advantages, as maybe you could use each adjacent candle to assume same ID, meaning you could address them in pairs etc, meaning you only need 1 netgroup anyway.

You say each candle has a std string of xmas lights, are they LED already? Are they RGB? are they wired for pattern lighting already or are they serially wired? This is of no concern if you are going to replace them anyhow.

I think either way, you should be using a 120VAC to 12VDC outdoor SMPS (75W+) - a std jeenode can take 13VDC max as input, you should then be able to drive a 72W LED RGB strip. This way you can use the jeenodes to respond quickly to your control signals as you can have them sitting listening all the time (and not worry about battery drain).

@Martynj has spoken about relaying.

You could also consider nominating a few nodes as control devices (say one each end of street and one in middle) to fire the control sequences.

You would have enough ram/flash in a std jeenode to implement some nice patterns, and combine them with the 3+ controller devices, you should even be able to upload new patterns on the fly. I think your only limiting factor is that each ‘controller’ needs to see its left/right peer ‘controller’, unless its the end controller in the series.

Of course, you only need one ‘controller’ if your can recv signals fast enough and reliably enough from either end of your street (1400’) - doubtful…

As I assume your in TX, I am guessing you have to use 915Mhz radios? however Mr Judd is your goto for all things radio.

With multiple controllers you may perhaps not have too many problems with packet lag and forwarding as you have effectively split your chain into self contained segments, you could even use packet sub-addressing to keep the same netgroup if >30 nodes.

To reduce/remove the delay and ack/nack problems, I am visualizing ‘n’ sets of pattern registers where ‘n’ is number of controllers-1. Each set of patterns is resident in the interleaved candles with a start/delay+offset from its controller built in.

You should be able to create an efficient ‘state machine’ to process this matrix/register on each node, and be able to reprogram for the next set of registers from the controller (if you want to keep changing the patterns). This means you only have to listen at the end of each matrix sequence for a new matrix or repeat the matrix if nothing ready. It will reduce the likely hood of a ‘chatty’ single band neighborhood and mean that your matrix can be executed without much interruption.

You will of course need at least one additional jeenode ‘inside’ that is able to communicate with a you AND a controller in order to provide another set of registers to the street.


RE: Is wireless control of Led RGB down an entire street block possible? - Added by Rogelio over 5 years ago

I do appreciate all the help. But I can tell this is a bit too complicated for my current abilities. I am just starting with learning to program an Arduino. I normally use DMX for control. I think this will require programming that is beyond me.
Yes I am in Texas :) I have posted a similiar request on some other forums but not much help in the actual hardware and setup I would need.
This would be easy if I could run cat5 butI cant. Too many driveways, sidewalks and streets to cross. Awireless E1.31 network could work.
Thanks again

RE: Is wireless control of Led RGB down an entire street block possible? - Added by lightbulb over 5 years ago


As your learning, I’ll dig my external christmas tree light script out that I use in my holiday home. It uses two nodes, one front house / one back, and is driven (controlled) by a node in that house that is linked to a light sensor. I can download a few sequences to it remotely from my house 300 miles away. It uses a beaglebone as its main interface to the ‘net’, but that is equivalent to an rpi in all senses.


RE: Is wireless control of Led RGB down an entire street block possible? - Added by Rogelio about 5 years ago

I am still looking at this project. Do the jeenodes require me to do all the programming or are there libraries or “sketches” that can be built upon to make them work as I would need? If I have to program a receive/transmit routine myself, then I dont think I am ready for this.
I do believe several candles could be grouped together as 1 address. That would keep ID count lower.
Dimming would be a plus but On/off control would be fine. do not need a fast update rate.
I dont think transmitters would need to answer back. Just receive data, act upon its data, and pass next channels data on down the line.