6 X LED Strips Wirelessly linked

Thread Starter

Ash1987

Joined Aug 11, 2022
4
Hi Guys

First post here

I have a basic project I could do with some help on please

The Job - 6 X holo ceramic garden cylinders (plant pots) with the top half having a wider diameter than the bottom half and holes in the bottom surface of the extended section. The owner would like me to install 1 LED strip light at the top of each cylinder, allowing for the light to escape downward. He would like them to be NOT mains powered and ideally linked (all switched on together) either by phone app or an alternative.

My Question - What would be the best system to achieve this? There is no WiFi available and each cylinder can't be physically connected!....Is this even possible?

Thank you for any help you guys can give!

Regards,

Ash
 

BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
5,458
If it can be controlled by a phone app then how is there no WiFi available? Phones can act as a WiFi access point.

That said, bluetooth is the other possible option for phone control.

If you don’t use a phone, an IR or RF remote is the answer. That is likely to be the simplest option.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
12,686
Certainly it is all possible at some price. Bluetooth or a WIFI remote handheld with a paired receiver, and a battery pack are one choice. Low voltage power fed through what looks like hanger strings is another option. A variety of wireless remote control packages are available but not cheap.
 

Thread Starter

Ash1987

Joined Aug 11, 2022
4
I wonder if the TS goes to parties, introduces himself to strangers, then walks away when they attempt to converse.
Ooh Bob you are a spicy one aren't you. I wonder if the TS may have been preoccupied with a death in the family rendering that more important than being stuck to an electronics forum 24/7? Also, the TS doesn't care for parties much :) - Thank you for your reply though, very much appreciated.
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,260
Welcome to AAC.

So you have to problems to solve: power and control.

On the power side, there are some unknowns that would affect the options available. First, we'd need to now how much power the LED strips will require. This is going to determine how to proceed. In the absence of more information, vaguely you have two choices.

1. If it's possible, solar charged lithium batteries would be great. Depending on the location, the aesthetic demands of the client, the power demands of the LEDs, and the runtime requirements, this is possible and offers the easiest path considering maintenance of the batteries.

2. Occasionally charged lithium batteries. This would be the same as above save the solar panels if they aren't acceptable. And, with the batteries scaled up if power requirements are the problem with solar.

Since there is no WiFi, the easy option of using Blynk is out, unfortunately. They look al corporate and stuff but they started out dealing with "makers" and they still have free options.

But, Bluetooth control may not be very difficult. Your control requirements are vague so I can't be sure whether you need color control, dimming, just on and off, etc. Also, "linked together" implies a single button on/off arrangement. That might be the sticking point.

But, again in the absence of sufficient specifications, I will point out the ubiquitous and varied options for dirt cheap Bluetooth LED controllers that use BT and a phone app. Here is a random example, but there are many options and who knows, maybe one of them can control groups.

So, to really answer your question we'll need to know:

What is the budget? (This is make or break for the project. If you are told to create an estimated budget do what I tell my students to do: come up with what you consider a "reasonable" number. Then, double it. Then, add 20%. When the client says, "that's too much" go back and work hard to revise it down. This is done by subtracting the 20%. When presented again, 20% off looks pretty good to most. Then, when working with your 200% budget try not to exceed it. Your "reasonable" estimate was way off, the doubled one will likely be close to the real thing. Try to come in just a little under. This makes you a hero. If you had used the first number, and come in over, even if it was less that the doubled number, you would be very unpopular. This is the way of the psychology of money and making the decision makers happy.

What is the power requirement? (You probably don't know but if you have a candidate LED strip, or and least an idea of the number of LEDs involved, we can ballpark it.)

What is the expected duty cycle per day for the lights? (How many hours on and off, how many daylight hours off in the case of possible solar charging.)

Is this indoors or outdoors?
Do you need adjustable RGB color or just a fixed color? (could be white).
Is it going to be possible to expect the client to charge the batteries on a regular basis?
How often can we expect the client to be willing to charge the batteries?

There are other things, like working out how to do the charging (possibly wireless charging to avoid hanging wires); The provision for replacement of failed strips (they do fail); the possibility of expansion once the client sees how cool it is (this needs to be considered from the outset in order to make the solution sufficiently scalable), and things I have forgotten to mention or haven't thought of.

To do this properly and successfully, you will need to build one or more prototypes and test assumptions made during the design. This is really not optional, it's a matter of pay me now or pay me more later.

You asked "is this even possible?", well yes, it certainly is. The question you didn't ask is "is this practical"? That can't be determined in the absence of more information but my guess is it will rely on the budget you are permitted (and that, of course, includes the cost of your time).

One other factor you need to consider, do you want to own this? This will be a bespoke project and whatever it ends up like, it will be your baby to care for. Are you more likely to please the client by working this out or by saying it isn't practical? I can't answer that but it's probably the most important question for your reputation and peace of mind.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
12,686
Welcome to AAC.

So you have to problems to solve: power and control.

On the power side, there are some unknowns that would affect the options available. First, we'd need to now how much power the LED strips will require. This is going to determine how to proceed. In the absence of more information, vaguely you have two choices.

1. If it's possible, solar charged lithium batteries would be great. Depending on the location, the aesthetic demands of the client, the power demands of the LEDs, and the runtime requirements, this is possible and offers the easiest path considering maintenance of the batteries.

2. Occasionally charged lithium batteries. This would be the same as above save the solar panels if they aren't acceptable. And, with the batteries scaled up if power requirements are the problem with solar.

Since there is no WiFi, the easy option of using Blynk is out, unfortunately. They look al corporate and stuff but they started out dealing with "makers" and they still have free options.

But, Bluetooth control may not be very difficult. Your control requirements are vague so I can't be sure whether you need color control, dimming, just on and off, etc. Also, "linked together" implies a single button on/off arrangement. That might be the sticking point.

But, again in the absence of sufficient specifications, I will point out the ubiquitous and varied options for dirt cheap Bluetooth LED controllers that use BT and a phone app. Here is a random example, but there are many options and who knows, maybe one of them can control groups.

So, to really answer your question we'll need to know:

What is the budget? (This is make or break for the project. If you are told to create an estimated budget do what I tell my students to do: come up with what you consider a "reasonable" number. Then, double it. Then, add 20%. When the client says, "that's too much" go back and work hard to revise it down. This is done by subtracting the 20%. When presented again, 20% off looks pretty good to most. Then, when working with your 200% budget try not to exceed it. Your "reasonable" estimate was way off, the doubled one will likely be close to the real thing. Try to come in just a little under. This makes you a hero. If you had used the first number, and come in over, even if it was less that the doubled number, you would be very unpopular. This is the way of the psychology of money and making the decision makers happy.

What is the power requirement? (You probably don't know but if you have a candidate LED strip, or and least an idea of the number of LEDs involved, we can ballpark it.)

What is the expected duty cycle per day for the lights? (How many hours on and off, how many daylight hours off in the case of possible solar charging.)

Is this indoors or outdoors?
Do you need adjustable RGB color or just a fixed color? (could be white).
Is it going to be possible to expect the client to charge the batteries on a regular basis?
How often can we expect the client to be willing to charge the batteries?

There are other things, like working out how to do the charging (possibly wireless charging to avoid hanging wires); The provision for replacement of failed strips (they do fail); the possibility of expansion once the client sees how cool it is (this needs to be considered from the outset in order to make the solution sufficiently scalable), and things I have forgotten to mention or haven't thought of.

To do this properly and successfully, you will need to build one or more prototypes and test assumptions made during the design. This is really not optional, it's a matter of pay me now or pay me more later.

You asked "is this even possible?", well yes, it certainly is. The question you didn't ask is "is this practical"? That can't be determined in the absence of more information but my guess is it will rely on the budget you are permitted (and that, of course, includes the cost of your time).

One other factor you need to consider, do you want to own this? This will be a bespoke project and whatever it ends up like, it will be your baby to care for. Are you more likely to please the client by working this out or by saying it isn't practical? I can't answer that but it's probably the most important question for your reputation and peace of mind.
I covered that, but not in nearly such detail, back in post #3. Most operational goals can be met at some price, but if it is worth the cost is always an open concern. I have explained that to customers on several occasions. This has lead to adjustments of requirements in the majority of inquiries. A good grasp of reality is often quite useful.
 

Thread Starter

Ash1987

Joined Aug 11, 2022
4
Welcome to AAC.

So you have to problems to solve: power and control.

On the power side, there are some unknowns that would affect the options available. First, we'd need to now how much power the LED strips will require. This is going to determine how to proceed. In the absence of more information, vaguely you have two choices.

1. If it's possible, solar charged lithium batteries would be great. Depending on the location, the aesthetic demands of the client, the power demands of the LEDs, and the runtime requirements, this is possible and offers the easiest path considering maintenance of the batteries.

2. Occasionally charged lithium batteries. This would be the same as above save the solar panels if they aren't acceptable. And, with the batteries scaled up if power requirements are the problem with solar.

Since there is no WiFi, the easy option of using Blynk is out, unfortunately. They look al corporate and stuff but they started out dealing with "makers" and they still have free options.

But, Bluetooth control may not be very difficult. Your control requirements are vague so I can't be sure whether you need color control, dimming, just on and off, etc. Also, "linked together" implies a single button on/off arrangement. That might be the sticking point.

But, again in the absence of sufficient specifications, I will point out the ubiquitous and varied options for dirt cheap Bluetooth LED controllers that use BT and a phone app. Here is a random example, but there are many options and who knows, maybe one of them can control groups.

So, to really answer your question we'll need to know:

What is the budget? (This is make or break for the project. If you are told to create an estimated budget do what I tell my students to do: come up with what you consider a "reasonable" number. Then, double it. Then, add 20%. When the client says, "that's too much" go back and work hard to revise it down. This is done by subtracting the 20%. When presented again, 20% off looks pretty good to most. Then, when working with your 200% budget try not to exceed it. Your "reasonable" estimate was way off, the doubled one will likely be close to the real thing. Try to come in just a little under. This makes you a hero. If you had used the first number, and come in over, even if it was less that the doubled number, you would be very unpopular. This is the way of the psychology of money and making the decision makers happy.

What is the power requirement? (You probably don't know but if you have a candidate LED strip, or and least an idea of the number of LEDs involved, we can ballpark it.)

What is the expected duty cycle per day for the lights? (How many hours on and off, how many daylight hours off in the case of possible solar charging.)

Is this indoors or outdoors?
Do you need adjustable RGB color or just a fixed color? (could be white).
Is it going to be possible to expect the client to charge the batteries on a regular basis?
How often can we expect the client to be willing to charge the batteries?

There are other things, like working out how to do the charging (possibly wireless charging to avoid hanging wires); The provision for replacement of failed strips (they do fail); the possibility of expansion once the client sees how cool it is (this needs to be considered from the outset in order to make the solution sufficiently scalable), and things I have forgotten to mention or haven't thought of.

To do this properly and successfully, you will need to build one or more prototypes and test assumptions made during the design. This is really not optional, it's a matter of pay me now or pay me more later.

You asked "is this even possible?", well yes, it certainly is. The question you didn't ask is "is this practical"? That can't be determined in the absence of more information but my guess is it will rely on the budget you are permitted (and that, of course, includes the cost of your time).

One other factor you need to consider, do you want to own this? This will be a bespoke project and whatever it ends up like, it will be your baby to care for. Are you more likely to please the client by working this out or by saying it isn't practical? I can't answer that but it's probably the most important question for your reputation and peace of mind.
Hi Ya'akov !

WOW! Firstly, thank you for such a considered reply. I’ll do my best to answer in as much detail as possible below. Please forgive my ignorance, this is the first time I’ve dealt with LED’s!...


  • Budget = Approx. £30 per cylinder (my time is free as the ‘client’ is my uncle)
  • Run time = 4 hours in the Summer, 8 Hours in the Winter
  • I’ll have to double check whether he would be happy with the solar charging aesthetics.
  • Each cylinder will require a strip 65-75cm in length and approx. 30 ish LED’s per strip
  • We have Wifi in the house but not convinced the signal will stretch to the garden.
  • We would like RGB colours, dimmable and on/off functions. All of which ideally controlled by a phone. Also all 6 cylinders controlled at the same time, Is that possible?
  • This project is outside in the garden
  • My uncle would probably charge batteries once every 1-2 weeks but 1-2 days would be too much.
  • My uncle would be satisfied if I told him it isn’t really practical but ideally, I’d like to sort it out for him 


Hopefully I’ve provided some more useful info there. It seems we need to make the decision, solar or charging batteries. If we can get over that though, do you think our switching requirements are achievable?


Thanks again for your reply!


Ash
 

Thread Starter

Ash1987

Joined Aug 11, 2022
4
Certainly it is all possible at some price. Bluetooth or a WIFI remote handheld with a paired receiver, and a battery pack are one choice. Low voltage power fed through what looks like hanger strings is another option. A variety of wireless remote control packages are available but not cheap.
Hi MisterBill

Do you think a bluetooth option could work?

Ash
 

BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
5,458
Bluetooth could work, as I stated in post #2, as could WiFi. You don’t need a WiFi router and external internet to use WiFi your phone.

Edited to add: Of course the WiFi option without external internet would not allow you to control them from China.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
12,686
There are quite a few Bluetooth remote control devices available, but I have not used or even researched the details. My observation is that at least with the systems I have observed other struggling with, only one receiver at a time can be accessed. So it may be that a different communications scheme will be required. Bluetooth gets paired, and three is a crowd that does notwork. But other schemes should be available.
If these cylinders will be hanging, then low voltage power connections used as the hanging wires may be a workable powering option that might also allow wired control from a single Bluetooth receiver. But at this point we are getting into realms that I have not visited, but have seen mentioned.
If a single point of mains power in the general garden area is available then a single point supply and receiver location with low voltage wiring to the hanging light cylinders could be possible. Low voltage wiring can be very discreet and almost invisible.

And external internet access would offer no benefit at all, except to hackers.
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,260
  • Budget = Approx. £30 per cylinder (my time is free as the ‘client’ is my uncle)

On a materials basis, this seems possible though the battery may be too expensive considering the idea of 112 hours run between charges. This also depends on the selected control scheme.

  • Run time = 4 hours in the Summer, 8 Hours in the Winter

Run times of between 56 and 112 hours between charges sounds pretty marginal. If we do some quick and dirty estimation:

30 LEDs running 20mA at ~3V is 60mW. 30 x 60mW = 1.8W, 1.8W x 112 hours = 201.6Wh or about 60000mAh.

To get that power you've had to use about £30 of 18650 cells, just as an example. This only leaves £0 for the rest, so that doesn't seem to work, If you scaled it to a weekly charge, you would be looking at about £15 for the cells.

Bear in mind, I made the assumption that you'd be happy with 20mA per LED, this could be off by as much as a factor of three in the positive direction. That makes it seem pretty unlikely.

  • I’ll have to double check whether he would be happy with the solar charging aesthetics.

After doing the calculations above, and considering you live in the UK, a new problem arises. It would take about 6000mAh to cover the 14.4Wh of the worst case 8 hour lighting time. That's just a coupe of cells but it's the charging that's the concern. You'd have to get enough power out of the PV (PhotoVoltaic) cell(s) to provide somewhat more than that power in a day to recharge.

If we assume a ~20W panel getting less than optimal sun for ~6 hours a day might do it. This is very loose guesstimating.

Such a panel might be had for less than £15 but it is pretty large at about 300mm x 145mm. And, I am not sanguine about reliability of solar charging in the UK.

  • Each cylinder will require a strip 65-75cm in length and approx. 30 ish LED’s per strip

Potentially a lot of power needed, see above.

  • We have Wifi in the house but not convinced the signal will stretch to the garden.

You can test that, or add an extender closer to the garden.

  • We would like RGB colours, dimmable and on/off functions. All of which ideally controlled by a phone. Also all 6 cylinders controlled at the same time, Is that possible

It's possible, but it does complicate the unified control scheme.

  • This project is outside in the garden

Got it.

  • My uncle would probably charge batteries once every 1-2 weeks but 1-2 days would be too much.

As you can see above, even charging every week is going to require a largish battery and a fair amount of time.

  • My uncle would be satisfied if I told him it isn’t really practical but ideally, I’d like to sort it out for him

Hopefully I’ve provided some more useful info there. It seems we need to make the decision, solar or charging batteries. If we can get over that though, do you think our switching requirements are achievable?

Not to be a wet blanket, but considering everything: the budget, the runtime requirements, the control flexibility, and your neophyte status, I would reluctantly advise abandoning it.

But, you could try to build a single instance using one of the BT controllers I kinked above and a big USB power bank to test out how it might work. You very well could learn something that makes scaling up more practical.

If your uncle is willing to do an experiment to test practicality, it would be worth the try.

Thanks again for your reply!

Happy to help if I can, sorry I don't have better news to offer

[EDITED: typo repair]
 
Last edited:

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
12,686
"Y" has certainly done a detailed analysis of the battery power option, and certainly it would be a serious challenge. So I am once again suggesting an arrangement using an external mains operated power supply, and low voltage distribution, which could use conductors doubling as support wires, presuming the cylinders will be of the hanging variety. I don't recall that detail being mentioned. Mains power will remove the cost and limitations of batteries, and a wired power distribution scheme will remove the cost of multiple control receivers. But the fact remains that we lack a lot of details, including just how much light is actually desired and if the light cylinders will be hanging, mounted on posts, or standing on the ground. we are aware that they will be in some variety of "An English Garden" but not much more. We do know the intended illumination times, and the proposed budget, as well as the desire for dimming ability and color control. But the other questions remain.
 

ErnieM

Joined Apr 24, 2011
8,328
I just added RGB LED lights to my pool and they are still working 3 weeks in. Used the strips that come "IP65" which means they are covered in clear rubber or such. I use a controller that has a phone app over Wi-Fi (also works with Alexa). Power is from a power brick, which I tested at the office to be isolated to 200VAC/DC. Any stray ends I covered in RTV sealant and let cure for 24 hours before dipping them in the pool.

With fewer lights (I have some 18 meters of lights) you wouldn't need a huge supply. I keep the supply and the controller in a water proof box.

Your biggest issue will be getting the 4 wires to each of the plant pots, which is best done as a star from the controller (no daisy chain).

Obligatory brag picture:

pool.jpg

Do note the ground up lights are simple solar LED pucks that you put in place and let the sun do all the hard work. No wiring needed (but these only do white).
 
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