Project update 15 of 17
The beginning of the new year is a great time to inform you about the current status of the Pixblasters project, latest developments, and the near future plans. For starters, the Pixblaster MS1 Video LED Controller board is back in stock!
The Pixblasters MS1 LED controller board (previously called ‘Pixblasters Go’) and the Array-SL are both in stock and available to order.
A Note about the Array-SL:
The difference between the Array-SL (currently available for purchase) and the Array-S from the original campaign is that the Array-SL does not have mounted connectors. This slight design change was made in order to preserve the functionality and maintain the price of the Array offering.
After the successful crowdfunding campaign, we received positive feedback from different parties, including the innovation award from the Croatian technology magazine VIDI, all of which managed to set our small company on a solid foundation.
In 2020 we did two successful production runs. Though the Pixblasters MS1 Video LED Controller board was carefully tested and designed for production, building larger numbers of fairly complex electronics boards is always challenging. We are very pleased to announce that our production was 100% successful, with no faulty PCBs coming out of the factory.
To improve the product’s quality, we have developed and successfully applied auxiliary HW test tooling, test software, and procedures for testing the assembled PCBs. On top of that, we have perfected firmware flashing and set up the release procedure to assure that only fully tested boards make it to users.
Figure 1: Pixblasters MS1 PCB Second Revision Improvements
We received initial feedback from early users who ordered boards during the campaign. The valuable information actually initiated important changes introduced in the second PCB revision, shown in the above figure. This Pixblasters MS1 Video LED Controller’s version is currently fully available for purchase on Crowd Supply.
Flexible and big video displays sometimes require that the Pixblasters MS1 controller is positioned far from the beginning of display’s LED strips. Since the LEDs use the single-ended signaling, large cable distances between the controller and the LEDs may cause unwanted flickering and other sorts of EMI caused video artifacts. To solve this challenge, and to make things easier for developers of immense displays, we have added on-board termination resistors (1, Figure 1) at the LED outputs. To learn more about this design improvement, please see the new Application Note describing our wiring recommendations.
The new Pixblasters MS1 PCB revision also includes a new chip on the board (2, Figure 1) – the TI DS90C032 LVDS 5V Quad CMOS Differential Line Driver. It effectively extends the distance between the chained MS1 boards in extreme video installations to recommended 5 meters, which is more than double the distance recommended for the first board’s revision. This allows for an additional design freedom and enables even more extreme video installations.
At the moment we are working on a full integration of the APA102-like (4-wire) LED support into the official firmware that will be distributed through our website in the 1Q2021. In case that you’ve missed it, you can read about our plans in this previous update.
Through intensive communication with the existing and potential users, we have detected the parts of technical documentation that should be upgraded. At the end of this short update, please check the Quick Start Guide Pixblasters video clip that demonstrates steps necessary for video LED display configuration and its activation.
More detailed instructions can also be found in Pixblasters User’s Manual.