Fairy Lights Control (Need LED Driver?)

98 Ricochet

Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2020
Location
Fort Worth TX
Hello all, I'm new to Control Booth but I'm seeking advice on fairy lights. I've looked through some other threads for an answer to my question but I'm still a little fuzzy on it. I want to use fairy lights as fireflys for a show but I'm trying to figure out if I can just put several strands directly onto some dimmers and make a slow fade chase with a ghost load or if I need something like an LED driver.

Thank you!
 

BillConnerFASTC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2010
Location
Clayton NY 13624
I googled fairy lights and they seem to not require drivers. But all bets off if you can even plug them in -many battery and USB powered, with or without their own controller. Buy a set and test.
 
Last edited:

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
Hello all, I'm new to Control Booth but I'm seeking advice on fairy lights. I've looked through some other threads for an answer to my question but I'm still a little fuzzy on it. I want to use fairy lights as fireflys for a show but I'm trying to figure out if I can just put several strands directly onto some dimmers and make a slow fade chase with a ghost load or if I need something like an LED driver.

Thank you!
@Ricochet IF you're using 'old fangled' incandescent (non LED) fairy lights; one dimmer per strand (or strands) desired on 1st step of chase with (dimmer dependent) 25 to 100 Watts of dummy load in parallel; dummy loads can be any purely resistive load: An incandescent lamp, a heating pad, a single element hotplate, an electric kettle with water in it so it's not burning dry, overheating and causing a fire hazard:

You've got the concept; any purely resistive load that does not exceed the dimmer's capacity, branch circuit breakers, wiring, etcetera.
TAKE EXTREME CARE to neither create a fire hazard nor burn anyone or anything with the heat dissipated by your dummy load.
Passersby, if they even know of dummy loads, routinely expect your dummy loads to emit light, and lots of it.

A single burner "hotplate" casually placed out of sight backstage will soon be hidden by annotated copies of scripts, various props and costumes, et al by folks NEVER considering the hotplate may be powered by a dimmer chasing between 10 and 45% with nary a discernible glow BUT a whole lot of heat being dissipated and NOT anticipating being hidden under a casually tossed costume, bottom of the 3rd SR leg or, or, OR.
Repeat as required for each string / dimmer per step of chase.

PRESENT DAY LED's? Wait for a more up to date, modern age, poster to notice your post.
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 
Last edited:

Jay Ashworth

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2014
Location
St Pete FL USA
Pretty sure he means the new color-LED fairy lights, and, like almost all consumer RGB led fixtures, it's the next thing to impossible to get to those from DMX.

There are DMX controllers that will talk to things like WS2811 LED controllers, but you're probably going to have to pick the right one, cut off connectors, and match the string voltage -- and possibly adjust it; I have some monocolor fairy lights here from Philips, and they're 3.75VDC at 340ma, even a 5V driver would need some series dropping.

Consumer lights in that class make no provisions for compatibility at all, from my research.
 

BillConnerFASTC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2010
Location
Clayton NY 13624
Firefly's imply one color, not RGB. I think you can get an effect by using 3 or 4 or more circuits and "dimming" is achieved by how many circuits are on. 4 strings on will be a lot brighter than one. Using something like on theatre dimmers with ghost loads probably won't get actual dimming but more circuits and faster switching will produce an effect on the cheap.

If you want some dimming it probably means a DMX multi channel controlled LED driver. I don't know if the $20 ones will do it for you or not.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RonHebbard

almorton

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2014
Location
Caterham, Surrey, UK
If we're talking about the strings of lights which typically have a small, matchbox sized controller downstream of a wall-wart style power supply, then these work by having strings of series connected LEDs connected in inverse parallel and rapidly switching the polarity and PWM of the power applied to the string. So the simple answer is that an LED dimmer will work (with the correct input voltage), but only for half of the string. In order to drive the whole string you need a bridge driver and a controller which, like the supplied controller, knows how o drive it. The wall-wart supplies that these typically come with are switched mode supplies, and those definitely don't like being put on a dimmer, not even a dimmer parked at full.

Incandescent strings are definitely much easier to work with in terms of theatrical control.
 

BillConnerFASTC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2010
Location
Clayton NY 13624
Well, Bill, I thought that too, until I looked on Amazon, and the very first set I saw had an RGB IR controller with it. :)

Clearly there are lots of different types...
But RGB does not make me think of fireflies - the primary image. And neither does dimming. Fireflies are sort of digital - on or off - and dimming is so analog. I could more quickly imagine all goldish hue LEDs on as many relay circuits as possible - some with 1 or 2 and soe with 10-20 - and that could be a nice "firefly" effect.
 
  • Love
Reactions: RonHebbard

RonHebbard

Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2004
Location
Waterdown, ON, CA
But RGB does not make me think of fireflies - the primary image. And neither does dimming. Fireflies are sort of digital - on or off - and dimming is so analog. I could more quickly imagine all gold-ish hue LEDs on as many relay circuits as possible - some with 1 or 2 and some with 10-20 - and that could be a nice "firefly" effect.
Posting total agreement: When have you ever seen a primary blue, primary green, purple, sky blue, or or baby blanket pink fireflie???
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

dvsDave

Benevolent Dictator
Administrator
Senior Team
CB Mods
Fight Leukemia
Joined
Jan 31, 2003
Location
DC Metro Area
Um, that's

https:// www.amazon .com/dp/B07STZQ744

@dvsDave? No matter how I punctuate that link, it turns it into an unclickable Amazon logo; it appears to be converting it to a open-media-close tag.
Try putting [plain][/plain] tags around the link.
 
  • Like
Reactions: RonHebbard

Users who are viewing this thread