Non-Addressable LEDs

Getting started with non-addressable LEDs

In this guide I will show you what you need for an Audectra project with non-addressable LEDs, how to connect everything together and how to set everything up in Audectra. In my terminology non-addressable LEDs are either strips or panels with RGB LEDs, where you can’t control each LED individually. Thus, the whole strip or panel acts as one pixel. In contrast to addressable LEDs, these are typically controlled by PWM (Pulse Width Modulation).

Requirements

Lets discuss first what you’ll need for this kind of project. Beside the RGB strip or panel, referred to as target, you will need the following components.

Bridge Controller

This component is responsible for applying the render it receives from Audectra to your target. Currently, Audectra is capable of pushing the render encapsulated in the TPM2 or TPM2.Net protocol down to your bridge controller either over a serial interface or UDP. Since there is no TPM2 controller available, which is capable of applying a single pixel RGB information to non-addressable LEDs, at least as far as I know, you need to build such a bridge.

The simplest way to achieve this is by getting an Arduino or Teensy controller with at least three analogue outputs (PWMs) for this purpose. I’ve prepared a base firmware for you, giving you a working starting point for your bridge. You can get it from our Github repository. If you want to have multiple channels on the bridge for multiple targets, keep in mind to check if there are enough analogue outputs available on your controller! If you need help with this step, you are more than welcome to ask for help in the forums.

RGB Amplifier

Because the bridge controller in general ain’t capable of switching or driving your target directly, you need an RGB amplifier for this purpose. Its job is to lift the PWM output voltage of your bridge to either 12 V or 24 V (depending on what voltage your target needs, 12 V is the most common). Additionally, it has to be robust enough to drive your target even at full brightness. Also, it is recommended to put an amplifier at least every ten meters of strip, otherwise you would experience a drop in brightness over the length of your strip.

You can buy such RGB amplifiers all over the internet, if you don’t insist on building one on your own. Check if the amplifier is inverting your input or not. This means, if you apply a black color on your bridge (turn off all PWMs) but your target shines in a bright white color, your amplifier is probably inverting. You can easily correct this in our base firmware by setting the “InvertOutput” flag in the software to 1.

Power Supply

Don’t underestimate your power hungry strips or panels! Follow this guide to select the right power supply for your project!

Building the setup

The following illustration shows you roughly how to connect everything up.

 

 

The host is the PC, where you are running Audectra. The bridge receives the output render, which in this case is a simple single-pixel single-channel configuration, and applies the received color to its analogue output (PWM) ports (R, G & B). These PWM signals are then amplified through the RGB amplifier, which needs an additional power supply to drive your target. Finally, the output signals of your amplifier are applied on your target.

First steps in Audectra

Lets hook up your new target by adding a new client in Audectra and creating a sample project. If you need some help with the user interface, take a look at this guide!

Adding a new client

Switch to the clients tab by clicking on the second button on the right side of Aduectra. This will open the client wizard, which will guide you through the process. First, you need to specify the connection settings. Note, that these settings depend on your system and configuration.

Clicking next will take you to the channel configuration for this new client. In this guide we cover the single-channel case, but you can easily add more channels if you are controlling more than one target from this bridge. Click on the “+” button on the top of the channel list to add a new channel. Because this target is a non-addressable strip, we need to set the pixel dimensions to 1×1 for this channel.

Clicking next will show you a summary of your configuration. If it looks alright, click finish to add the new client to Audectra. Feel free to give your client a reasonable name by selecting it and pressing “F2” on your keyboard, enter the name you want to give it and hit enter.

Creating a sample project

With your new target connected to Audectra, lets create a new project for it. Switch to the projects tab by clicking the third button on the right side of Audectra. This will open the project wizard, which will guide you in creating a new project.

Select the “RGB Strip” project type on the left side and click next. Because there is no further configuration required for this type of project, the wizard will immediately show you the summary of your configuration settings. Click “Finish” to add this new project to Audectra. Again, feel free to give it a reasonable name by selecting the project and pressing “F2” on your keyboard, enter the name you want to give it and hit enter.

 

Patching up the project

In this step, we will configure Audectra to push the projects output render to our new target. This process is called patching the render, because Audectra allows you to create patches of the projects render output and split it up to multiple targets. Select your new project and right click on it, click on “Patch” to open the patching wizard.

Select the channel we have configured earlier on our new target in the list on the left side and click on next. Because patching mode and position doesn’t matter for this non-addressable project, simply skip these steps by clicking on next.

Clicking on finish will add the render patch to your project.

 

Adding a project state

So far we have connected our new target, added a new project and configured the project to push the output render to our new target. With the newly added project selected, switch to the “States Tab” and click on the “+” button to add a new state to the project. You can rename the new state just like described for the project tab above.

This project is going to be a single state project, thus we don’t need to add any further states or transitions.

Adding some effect layers

Now we can start adding some effect layers! With the new state selected, switch to the layers tab and add a new “Simple Color” effect layer by clicking on the “+” button below the layer list and selecting “Simple Color”. Rename it to “Bass Light” by selecting it and pressing “F2”, enter “Bass Light” and press enter. With the new layer selected, click the “LS” button to open the layer settings for this layer.

Your target should now light up in the color you see in the layer preview. If it doesn’t, check your configuration and setup again. If you need further assistance, get in touch with us in the support forum.

Play around with the sliders on the right side to change the color of the layer. You can switch between RGB and HSV color spaces as well if you like. Switch to the HSV color space by clicking on the HSV radio button. Move the second slider, corresponding to the color saturation, to the max (right). Choose a color you like with the first slider, corresponding to the colors hue.

Let’s add a value binding to this effect. Click on the bind button on the right side of the third slider to open the expression editor. Add the following expression: “Log10(Energy.SubBass)” to bind the value logarithmic to the sub bass band energy.

Click “OK” to save the binding. Right click on the bind button beside the third slider to activate the binding, which will turn the button green. There you go, you’ve just created your first bass lighting with Audectra! Feel free to temper around with the project by adding new effect layers or states with transitions! But first, lets save the project in the next setup.

Saving the project

Go back to the projects tab, select your project, right click on it and select “Save”. This will open a dialog, asking you to specify the path and name for your project file. Click on “Save” and you’re done! Have fun!