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I have written (cobbled together from code snippets) an Arduino program that pushes various patterns down 160 APA102C LED strips (5). I originally was using a 5V 40A power supply and everything worked peachy. That was when the length from the clock and data pins was maybe 6-8 inches. Now I am try to get ready for a XMAS parade and attaching 100 LED strips. I have the power but the data and clock pins aren't getting to the strips. Is there some quick and dirty (not a real electronics guy here, just a code pusher) method to get signals out to the strips, maybe 6 feet? I would greatly appreciate any help I could get and I'm sure the kiddies would have Santa throw some extra goodies your way if I could get this figured out. I've got like 10 days.....YIKES!!!!

Thanks so much!!!! And Happy Holidays

Joe B

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For a quick and dirty way you could cut a few LEDs from your strip, so that you have a number of single LEDs. Then you can place one LED after X feet of cable. Each LED receives its own data and outputs the signal for the next LED. So the signal after an LED is of the same quality as of the first signal. At least that is what can be done with other similar RGB LED strips. I would bet, that this is also the case for this type.

Before wiring everything up you should probably experiment a bit with the cable length. Test how long you can make the cable until you see problems. Then make the cables inbetween the LEDs shorter than that.

If you don't want these intermediate LEDs to light up, you can set them to off in your program.

Another - not so quick and dirty - way would be to put one microcontroller near the start of each cluster of strips (where one or multiple or all strips start) and let them communicate with a master microcontroller using an interface for longer distances (like RS485).

Depending on your situation the quick and dirty method might be enough.

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  • Well then again there is always having a FAULTY strip!!!. I was working on the base code and hardware configuration and never thought to try one of the other strips (I do after all have 5 of them). I just happened to grab one of the other strips and BOOM, all was well. At least to a point. It looks like I can run 3 or 4 strips at the same time from one Arduino (Mega 2560) if I crank the brightness factor down and limit the strips to 120 LEDs. Since this is a nighttime parade. I'll still be bright enough. I just HATE cutting the extra 40 LEDS off the strip.
    – joebataz
    Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 19:30
  • At one point I was looking at using multiple Arduino Unos. Problem is they're the cheapo chinese ones with the 240 chips and I have a hell of a time communicating with them. Was going to use fiber optic (which I also play around with) and use them to communicate with each other. THANKS SO MUCH FOR THE RESPONSE!!!!! Of the 5 boards I posted to yours was the only answer I got. On top of all this silliness I also got a granddaughter on Monday afternoon. Now all I need are my new soldering tips.... THANKS AGAIN, Best of the Holidays to you and your family, STAY SAFE
    – joebataz
    Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 19:37
  • @joebataz Why do you need to crank the brightness down? Are you providing the strips with power through the Arduino? If yes, then DON'T! You can easily burn the voltage regulator or the protection diode. Instead connect the strips power lines directly to the power supply (not through the Arduino). The Arduino can be connected in parallel.
    – chrisl
    Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 20:11
  • Hey Chris, I have MASSIVE power supplies 40A at 5V unfortunately my vehicle which has a 110V outlet only puts out about 2.5A so I am running the strips thru a 5V 5A supply. I got 3 strips (160 LEDs) running at acceptable brightness. The Arduino itself barely will power 1 strip, found that out years ago when I was developing the system. Here is what the strips look like at 200 LEDs per strip. I was a DJ/VJ until I got hurt. youtube.com/watch?v=g7qDTtEqrSI Video was shot in my very small office. Much more impressive in a club environment. Thanks again, Joe B
    – joebataz
    Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 23:47
  • Ah ok, just wanted to be sure. You can also use the big power supply. The important measure here is power in Watts. 40A at 5V are 200W (current multiplied by voltage). 2.5A at 110V is 275W, so enough for your big power supply with some headroom for losses
    – chrisl
    Commented Nov 24, 2022 at 0:09

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