PixLite pixel controllers can come in many form factors, offering different feature sets and capabilities. Two of the most popular are the standard range pixel control systems and the long range pixel control systems. This article provides an overview of the main differences between these two systems to help you choose the right controller for your installation.
Overview of a Pixel Controller System
A PixLite pixel controller takes incoming data from a source of lighting control, processes this data, and outputs pixel data through its outputs. A standard pixel controller will handle these three operations in a single physical device, as shown below. This is the simplest implementation of a pixel controller and will generally be able to be used in most situations.
Distance Between the Controller and the Pixels
The cable that is used to connect a set of pixels to a pixel output is limited in length. PixLite pixel controllers can achieve a length of 15m between the pixel output and the first pixel. There are several factors that may affect this length, however. These include the following:
- Pixel Protocol – different pixel protocols run at different speeds. Data speed can affect data degradation, and so this can cause a limitation on distance. See the List of Supported Pixel Protocols to compare these speeds.
- Clock speed – When using clocked pixel types, selecting a slower clock speed can result in the potential for longer distances.
- Cable type – twisted pair cables and shielded core cables can provide better noise immunity, thus providing the potential for longer distances.
- External noise - electrical noise in close proximity (e.g. AC cables in a wall cavity) will affect the signal integrity, particularly when using unshielded cables.
Due to the variability of these factors across each installation, it is very difficult to theoretically know exactly what distance will be appropriate in any given installation. The most accurate way to know is to physically connect test pixels using the same cable and pixels that are intended to be used in the final installation, or to use other external measurement equipment to evaluate signal integrity. As a rough guide, you can expect about 15m (49’) as a maximum distance before running into potential issues.
Note: This is a guide only and is subject to all of the previously mentioned variables. However, if there is doubt, then it may be safer to use the Long Range system.
Long Range Solution
Installations may require pixels to be located far away from the main control device. In this situation, the long range pixel control system is likely to be the best solution.
The Long Range system uses a far more robust electrical transmission method called "differential transmission". Long Range pixel controllers use this method to natively drive differential data between a transmitter and the receiver. The transmitter takes in incoming data from a source of lighting control and processes this data. It outputs differential data to the receiver units, which are then responsible for delivering pixel data through their pixel outputs.
The benefit of this system is that the connection between the transmitter and the receivers can be up to 300m in length – allowing pixels to be located at great distances from the main control device. This design is shown below.
The Long Range system is very robust and is capable of transmitting data signals over at least 300 meters (1000’) even in noisy environments. It uses standard Cat5/6 network cables to do this, making it a very simple, cost effective and convenient way to control pixels over long distances.
PixLite receivers also feature full galvanic isolation, meaning the receiver will not require a common ground to be established with the transmitter. This also protects the rest of the system in the event of a failure of the receiver.
For installations where the distance between the main control device and the pixels is relatively short, the Standard Range of pixel controllers will be a suitable choice. If the pixels are required to be greater than 15m (49') from the controller, then the Long Range pixel control system is the best solution.