Control Lots of Pixels – Without Losing Your Mind!

If you’ve played around with controlling LED pixels, you know that getting the infrastructure set up to control your pixels can be quite time-consuming.

For about every 300 pixels, you’ve got a pixel controller which communicates to your lighting console.

And if you’ve got a lot of pixels, this means you’ve got to configure a lot of controllers individually, then wire them all back to your lighting console and hope it works!

And then, if you’ve got to re-configure, that’s a whole ‘nother problem! Time to pull your hair out!

If you’re dealing with small amounts of pixels, and you only have a few controller boxes, it’s manageable to use individual pixel controllers.

Learn more about the basics of pixels and LED tape here – LED Tape and Pixels 101

In this post, I want to highlight ENTTEC’s Pixelator system and how it can work to help you manage your pixels and keep the hair attached to your head!

Full Disclosure – while I do work with ENTTEC on a number of educational endeavors, they did not pay me to write this article, and the opinions are all my own.

How Does the Pixelator System Work?

Enttec Pixelator diagram
Here’s a great diagram from ENTTEC on how this all works (click to enlarge).

When I first began learning about pixel mapping and LED pixel products, I remember coming across ENTTEC’s Pixelator System…and then I got just plain confused!

Thankfully, as time went on, I had the opportunity to see the Pixelator in person, and really understand how it works…

Here’s how it works:

The Pixelator system begins at your lighting console or media server, which sends out Art-Net or sACN data to your Pixelator or Pixelator Mini.

The full-size Pixelator can control up to 8160 pixels, and the Pixelator Mini can control up to 2720 pixels.

From there, the Pixelator or Mini converts that data into what ENTTEC calls “P-Link” data, which then runs over Cat6 cable to your pixel tape or other pixel products. It can go up to 300 meters.

Once your Cat6 gets to your LED’s, it’s time to inject power and convert the P-Link data back into the serial communication that your pixels need. This is done via a P-Link injector, which ENTTEC makes specific to the voltage of your pixels. You can also get P-Link injectors for standard “dumb” RGB tape if you need to operate a mixed pixel and non-pixel system.

At this point, you can bring in power via a power supply which matches the voltage of both your LED’s and the P-Link injector (recommended brand = MeanWell), and wire it all together using the terminal blocks.

ENTTEC also now offers a “PSAT”, which includes a power supply and PowerCon, EtherCon, and XLR 4-Pin connectors.

Why Pixelators?

ENTTEC’s Pixelator is the only system that I know of, which enables you to easily distribute your pixels all over the place, with the centralized brain coordinating your assigning and configuration.

The benefit of a system like this is that it allows you to run your networked DMX to 1 main control box, and from there, you can use inexpensive CAT6 cable to run data to each pixel strip, injecting power at the destination – and all of this without (much) soldering!

This allows you to much more quickly deploy and troubleshoot your pixel projects as they grow!

Learn Stage Lighting Labs Member Extras:

Want to learn more about pixels and creating your own custom designs?  Learn all you need to know inside of the Custom LED Design Action Plan!

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