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Why not to use cheap LED strip

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by porkchop, Nov 8, 2018.

  1. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    There was a recent thread about if more expensive LED strip was worth it compared to the cheap stuff. We mostly talked about the "dumb" tape where you put power to the V+ pin and ground the pin for the color you want and the whole strip turns that color. Opinions were mostly mixed on price vs. value and I don't have much new to say about that. However, when it comes to the "smart" strip where every pixel can be individually controlled I've had a whole lot of fun the last 2 days troubleshooting rock bottom cheap tape.

    For background, this job came out of nowhere in the middle of LDI season so I outsourced the LED panels to a local company that I have never worked with before but claims to specialize in this kind of thing. When I got their quote I thought to myself "Wow, I could hardly build it myself for that", but I didn't have time to worry too much about why they were so cheap. Then they got delivered to my shop...

    First time powering up the 4 panels only 2 of them even turned on at all. The company says that they had them running on their test bench for most of the last 2 days so they don't know what could have happened. I have no reason to distrust them when they say that, but that doesn't help me get the panels working. It's the same controller for all 4 so I figured it must be a signal issue. Shortly into troubleshooting the data problem one of the working panels develops a glitch where the panel freaks out for a moment. So after 2 weeks of them building and testing their LED panels I'm left with the video below:



    I have since spent my last two days when I could be doing productive work staring at these panels, tapping individual LEDs, reworking LED joints, wiggling wires, and generally just trying to use my mind bullets to make them consistently error out so that I can find all of the problems. I have probably cut out 20-30 individual pixels and soldered replacement ones in (after we took the time to run over to the place that assembled them for a spool of spare LED tape). This is a somewhat time sensitive project, so I don't have time to run the panels back to the shop that made them just to have them come back broken again. Currently they mostly work with an occasional brief glitch that I just cannot track down.

    On the last project I did I used RGBW pixel controlled tape that is about $11/ft. and I transported that all over the place with very little concern for packaging and then shipped 9 small LED panels all the what to London, England with 100% reliability. I'm not sure I needed that level of quality for this project, but my last 2 days would have been a lot more fun if I had found something at least a little higher quality and just found some time to make them myself with better tape.

    For anyone interested this is the current state (with the 1 always working panel set aside lest it get any ideas from the other 3):

     
    Harrison Hohnholt and RonHebbard like this.
  2. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @porkchop I think you're incorrect. (when you said: "I have no reason to distrust them")
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
  3. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    No, they are attached to and recommended by a very reputable local electronics store. I'm sure they would do all of these repairs themselves if I had the time to let them. I think this was a bad batch of tape that barely made it through the reflow oven and that the LEDs suffered mechanical failure during their relatively short and uneventful transportation to my shop.
     
    RonHebbard likes this.

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