Noob looking for guidance for Disc Golf lightning project

Thread Starter

MilitaryMisfit

Joined Jul 8, 2022
6
Hey All,
My name's Brian, I'm a Park Ranger up here in OR and I'm working on a project I was hoping I could tap into everyone here for. I'm a retired military mechanic and I'm pretty good with AC and DC electrical wiring and installation, but most of this stuff is pretty new to me. I understand the concepts of what specific parts do, but that's about it. I'll describe what I'm doing and if you could give me some keywords to search for I'd really appreciate it.

This project is for a couple Disc Golf courses we maintain and requires 36, possibly 54, LED strips. Its a personal project, which means everything is coming out of my pocket, but I'm trying to make the parks a little better while doing something that the community will enjoy.

Like I said, this is for a Disc Golf course, specifically a night course and there are a few things I need to have illuminated such as
The Teebox(where you throw the discs from)
Teebox.jpg

and the Basket(the place you're trying to get the disc into)
Basket.jpg

For the teebox I have 600meters of this. They are supposedly 14.4w/meter1346599973821.PNM.jpg

this is what's inside
20220708_161026.jpg

Everything will be run off of batteries and I have enough ESP8266 NodeMCU for each teebox plus an extra 25.

So here are my questions. What do I need for a "driver"? I understand the possibility of runaway current on LED strip lighting, but I'm not sure what I need for that.
I was also planning on using one 12v - 10ah LiPo battery per teebox to run these for maybe 5-6 hours. Will that work?
So when soldering everything up would it go from battery to main power switch to driver to 8266 to the LEDs? Would I need a potentiometer for a manual dimmer?

Thanks in advance for any help y'all send my way and if I post this in the wrong place, my bad.

Respectfully
Brian
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
14,897
Hi Brian. Welcome to AAC!
What do I need for a "driver"? I understand the possibility of runaway current on LED strip lighting, but I'm not sure what I need for that.
I suspect that all you'll need is a MOSFET to switch ground or 12V to the strips.
I was also planning on using one 12v - 10ah LiPo battery per teebox to run these for maybe 5-6 hours. Will that work?
Probably. Do you have a source of AC power to charge the batteries in place? Is there sufficient budget for solar chargers?
So when soldering everything up would it go from battery to main power switch to driver to 8266 to the LEDs?
You want it to switch from batter to line power automatically?
Would I need a potentiometer for a manual dimmer?
You'd be better off using PWM to control the on time to get the light level you want.

I haven't used ESP8266, but can help with coding and wiring.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
12,686
What I see in the photo IS the driver!! What is missing is the entity that related to the D and B terminals. Each of those segments appears to be a complete system, able to deliver a vast number of colors. So your very first move should be to learn how to speak the LED strip's language.
 

Sensacell

Joined Jun 19, 2012
3,031
Power consumption is going to be the critical design parameter, the LED strips shown are not very efficient, they are addressable RGB powerhogs.

Consider some simpler monochrome LED strips driven from a simple PWM controller, this could consume a fraction of the power.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
26,789
Power management would be at the top of my list.

1. Look for energy efficient LEDs. In the dark you don’t need very bright LEDs.
2. Think solar battery charging.
3. Activate the LEDs on demand. For example, if you are in the park at night you must be carrying around some kind of flashlight. Use this to activate the LEDs instead of them being on continuously.
4. A more sophisticated project would be to use your cell phone to activate the lights.
 

Thread Starter

MilitaryMisfit

Joined Jul 8, 2022
6
Wow, I was not expecting replies this quickly.
@dl324 These lights are not going to be permanently installed. In the evening I'll pull them out and set them up, and at the end of the night I'll break it all back down.
I'll charge the batteries individually (for now).
The power switch I was talking about would be from each of the batteries.

@MisterBill2 What you're saying is I dont need a driver because the strip already has them built in? Are those the 102 resisters?
The D and B terminals would be ..... the data conections then. Lets say from one of these? 8266.jpg
 

Thread Starter

MilitaryMisfit

Joined Jul 8, 2022
6
@MrChips I was planning on using the wifi and WLED to controll all the lights.
The strips come already inside a silicone tubing so they dont get as bright as they normally would.
tubing.jpg
These are not going to be hard-mounted so a permanent solar charging setup wouldn't work. These are going to be... portable.
 

Thread Starter

MilitaryMisfit

Joined Jul 8, 2022
6
@nsaspook I've been trying to keep night vision in mind. It can be a little difficult when working with state parks and all the regs that go along with them. I've already got the go ahead from my supervisors to test it out at the RoosterRock West course since that would be a LOT safer than Dabney (which I originally wanted). I'm planning on minimal lighting, just around the Teebox, UV lights to illumenate UV reeactive paint and stickers on the baskets, and then soft "warm" solar garden lights for the trails between on basket and the next teebox (spaced like every 6 or 10 ft).

I'm always open for suggestions also.
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
10,097
@nsaspook I've been trying to keep night vision in mind. It can be a little difficult when working with state parks and all the regs that go along with them. I've already got the go ahead from my supervisors to test it out at the RoosterRock West course since that would be a LOT safer than Dabney (which I originally wanted). I'm planning on minimal lighting, just around the Teebox, UV lights to illumenate UV reeactive paint and stickers on the baskets, and then soft "warm" solar garden lights for the trails between on basket and the next teebox (spaced like every 6 or 10 ft).

I'm always open for suggestions also.
Years ago it was really dark there before Portland light pollution moved east. The I-84 turn-off is still a star-gazing point when the park closes.
http://www.cleardarksky.com/c/RstrRkSPORkey.html
http://cosmospnw.com/rooster-rock-state-park/
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
26,789
You can buy 12 solar powered garden lights for under $25.
Change the color of the LED or use a different coloured diffuser.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
12,686
Illumination LEDs are brighter than most decorative ones. But given that the park is probably not open all night, the lights only need to be on a few hours.
What I have seen on a cross-country ski loop is the lighting arranged to not shine in the eyes of those following the loop. So that makes the installation more complex.
"Low power" operation is not what you will need for useful illumination at night, so the battery operation will take some careful thinking. I suggest evaluating one system at a time, so that learning can be a real benefit.
 

Thread Starter

MilitaryMisfit

Joined Jul 8, 2022
6
I appreciate that everyone is trying to come up with what they think is a better idea, but from what I've read, none of you have ever seen a night or glow course. Why tell someone their idea is wrong when you have no idea what they're doing.
I'm also a retired MILITARY mechanic. I've done over 20 years in the service, including hundreds of night time operations... I understand night vision pretty well. Why would you assume that I completely dumped all that information?
Anyway, I've literally gotten more information and help from a car audio forum than I have from this one.
I was excited at first because I thought I might be able to learn something but that didn't happen here. I'm out.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
12,686
I appreciate that everyone is trying to come up with what they think is a better idea, but from what I've read, none of you have ever seen a night or glow course. Why tell someone their idea is wrong when you have no idea what they're doing.
I'm also a retired MILITARY mechanic. I've done over 20 years in the service, including hundreds of night time operations... I understand night vision pretty well. Why would you assume that I completely dumped all that information?
Anyway, I've literally gotten more information and help from a car audio forum than I have from this one.
I was excited at first because I thought I might be able to learn something but that didn't happen here. I'm out.
Sorry if my comments were not appropriate. It was not my intention to be critical.
One of the things we do have at this site are folks with very limited backgrounds, along with those who have many years of experience in some narrow field.
And evidently recreational night cross country skiing visibility requirements are rather different from night disc golf requirements.
So you will find comments that are far off the wall from clueless individuals, but also comments from those who have vast experience in different fields.
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,260
@MilitaryMisfit in reading through the thread I didn't see any mention of how to use the ESP8266. Your question about the potentiometer raises questions for me about your configuration.

Could you provide a schematic or wiring diagram that provides a basic overview of your intentions (no concern if it is a guess in some places).

Also, could you provide either the sketch you will use to control the LEDs, or a description of what you expect it to do?

From what i gather, the LED strips are typical WS2812 type. It is not hard to control them from an MCU like the one you are using. I prefer the FastLED library. I can do very sophisticated things or simply ones equally well. I have used it on ATTiny85 MCUs which are very small in every way with out trouble so the ESP8266 will certainly do the trick.

As far as dimming, the library allows for intensity adjustment so there is no need for a potentiometer. You can also not use all the LEDs in the strip is fewer are sufficient. Of course recduced intensity, or fewer LEDs will also reduce that 14.4W/m, possible dramatically.

The basic functionally that I think you want form the first post is very easy. I suspect your batteries have more than enough capacity for the job. The ESP8266 will of course need 5V and that's easily provided with a simple buck converter, there are many options, some quite cheap.

Once you've built up the basic system and have it working, the possibilities for enhancement are pretty interesting, Using a simple, cheap light sensor like an LDR, the brightness can be made adaptive so the perceptual brightness remains the the no matter the ambient light level, and possibly turns off if the level is enough to see without the LEDs.

Also an appropriate sensor (vibration, tilt, something...) might be able to cause a change in the lighting when a goal is made. A little display to indicate at least a hit if not an actual goal. Also an app could allow golfers to ask a particular hole to indicate itself in case they are unsure of what they are looking ot.

As far as networking goes, it would be a bit annoying to have to talk to each node separately. It seems that some sort of mesh network (possibly using ESPnow protocol instead os WiFi) with one (or more) of the nodes providing a web server interface, would be nice. It would be a bit of work but it could be very slick and offer other functions as well.

Blue sky thinking, RFID tags of the self adhesive type on the discs could detect which disc is in the goal and report it, etc. Lots of future fun possibilities... but your basic project should be simple once the details of it are worked out.

I would recommend you cut of something like 10 LEDs for testing, then connect them to an ESP8266, with a 12V bench supply powering them and the USB powering the ESP8266 and try the FastLEDs library examples ot get a feel for how it works, I think this will help you decide what you want to do.

Please do not hesitate to come back for help with the sketch or anything else. It sounds like a fun and neighborly project I wish you great success with ti.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
14,897
I thought I might be able to learn something but that didn't happen here. I'm out.
I hope you'll reconsider. Some members really are here to help others with their projects. Emphasis on "their".

Some members have a tendency to try to take over and redesign a member's project instead of just giving members the help that they want. If a project is way off base, I'll indicate that and offer "better" suggestions, but, in the end, it's up to the member to decide. In your case, you already had parts on hand (and at your expense), so going with different LEDs, etc, didn't make much sense.

You can also put members who rub you the wrong way on your ignore list so you don't have to read any of their posts.

If I hadn't managed to get past some fairly aggressive trolling (I didn't even know what that meant until I came to this site), I wouldn't still be here after 7 years. Fortunately, moderation intervened in some of the more egregious instances of ad hominem attacks and some of the members who, for some reason, liked to nitpick me, left for greener pastures. There's still an occasional member who makes inappropriate comments about me, but my skin is a lot thicker than it was 7 years ago (unless they call me a d**k).
 
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nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
10,097
I appreciate that everyone is trying to come up with what they think is a better idea, but from what I've read, none of you have ever seen a night or glow course. Why tell someone their idea is wrong when you have no idea what they're doing.
I'm also a retired MILITARY mechanic. I've done over 20 years in the service, including hundreds of night time operations... I understand night vision pretty well. Why would you assume that I completely dumped all that information?
Anyway, I've literally gotten more information and help from a car audio forum than I have from this one.
I was excited at first because I thought I might be able to learn something but that didn't happen here. I'm out.
Thank you for your service but that's a rather quick turn about from "I'm always open for suggestions also."

I suspect I was using one of these with the red lens at night in the MILITARY before you left middle-school.
1657477033505.png
 
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