FAQ

How many LEDs can the ViVi Music LED Controller control?

ViVi can control 300 LEDs addresses per output, for 900 total. The data signal from each of the three outputs can be split to multiple strips so that they show the same thing, so you can control more than 900 LEDs with some mirroring others. ViVi can power the LEDs directly as well, but if more than 600 LEDs are being used additional power connected directly to the LEDs may be required, more on power is further down the FAQ.

What length of LEDs?

Maximum length of LEDs depends on the density of the LED strips and installation configuration of the strips. The main limit is the number of LED addresses, which is 300 per channel. Using 30 LED/m strips that would be 10 meters (32 feet). You can also use a splitter (or multiple) to send the same signal to more than one strip, so still a max of 300 unique LEDs, but you can have multiple strips displaying the same thing; The most common use it to start two strips at the same point and go in opposite directions, so you could have a span up to 64 feet that is mirrored from the center.

When using more than 600 LEDs total you need to run additional power directly to the LED strips to prevent tripping ViVi’s overheating protection. When connecting strips end-to-end you need to run power directly to the LED strips as well because voltage drops over distance and affects the color and brightness of LEDs furthest from ViVi; lowering the brightness can reduce the effects of voltage drop as well.

How much Power can ViVi provide?

NOTE: ViVi only works with 5V and will be damaged if 12V is attached.

ViVi can pass-through a maximum of 5 amps of continuous current. If this is exceeded a protective circuit shuts down the controller and any lit LEDs will turn red and the animation will freeze. To reset, unplug the power and wait 1 minute, then plug back in. If the LEDs turn red and freeze again quickly, remove some LED strips before restoring power. Follow the guidelines below for creating a setup that does not exceed the power limits. Adjusting brightness is the best way to limit power.

LED POWER GUIDELINES (amps per 100 LEDs at 5V):

  • 1A per 100 LEDs – Music reactive animations, 100% brightness
  • 2A per 100 LEDs – Constant on, all LEDs, assorted colors, 100% brightness
  • 3A per 100 LEDs – Constant on, all LEDs, white, 100% brightness

Power consumption drops in relation to brightness, power consumption decreases faster than brightness, so, for example, LEDs set to 70% brightness will use 60% of the power compared to LEDs at 100% brightness.

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Spec sheets and reality don’t always match. All the videos we make use a single 40 Watt (5V 8A) power supply and distribute the power through ViVi and then to the LED strips along the same cables carrying the data. In our testing with animations running the strips use about 1 watt per meter. Setting the strips to a solid color uses about 2 watts per meter.

The spec sheet rating is based on setting the LEDs to white and full brightness, but our tests show that still doesn’t reach 45 watts for 5 meters, it’s closer to 15 watts (3 watts/meter). If you have a separate power connection to each individual LED then you may be able to come close to 9 watts per meter at full brightness white, but because the power travels down the LED strip, the voltage is reduced over distance, especially when the LEDs it passes are on and reducing it even faster; this makes it impossible for the LEDs further down the strip to draw their maximum potential power.

The LEDs are very bright, so we usually run them around 50%. Running at a lower brightness also creates a more even display because the first LEDs are not operating at maximum capacity, so the later LEDs can still operate at the same level as the first ones. They can be operated at 100% brightness but to maintain consistent color and brightness along the whole strip(s) you will need to add a fresh power connection every 2 to 5 meters depending on other settings like color and animation.

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How long can the cable between ViVi and the LED strip be?

Testing for a single cable from a ViVi output to an LED strip showed a maximum length of 75 feet for WS2812B strips, 85 feet for WS2811 string lights, and at 65 feet the signal was still strong enough to be passively split to 4 strips. This testing was done with standard 20 AWG stranded wire and the cables provided both data and power (used the 2 meter extension cables including with ViVi). Further testing with twisted pair or other wiring could yield further distances. This means your LED controller can be 75 feet away from the start of an LED strip with no booster needed in between, using standard wiring!

Passive Split max distance examples:

  • 65 feet single cable -> SPLIT -> Four 2 foot cables to four strips. Making the cable length after the split longer will result in data errors.
  • 1 foot single cable -> SPLIT -> Two 26 foot cables to two strips. Making the cable length before the split longer will result in data errors.
  • Middle ground (not tested): 30 feet single cable -> SPLIT -> Two 12 foot cables to two strips.

Add stuff about splitters and symmetry here.

More about powered signal repeaters here.

Are the LED strips directional?

Yes, data flow is one way on the strips. You must connect data at the correct end of the strip or data will not reach any of the LEDs. Direction of data flow is indicated by arrows on the strip. Power is not directional, so power can be connected anywhere on the strip.

LED Density: 5 Volt, 300 vs 150 LED reels (60 LED/m vs 30 LED/m)

300 is not necessarily better, it all depends on how big of a setup you’re building and what your goal is.

ViVi can control a max of 300 LED addresses per output for animations. So if you want more than 5 meters of continuous strip you would need to use a splitter instead of connecting strips end-to-end when you have a 300 LED strip.

ViVi can directly power 600 LEDs at 100% brightness running animations, at 50% brightness you can do about 1200; you can always connect extra power directly to the LED strips if more power is needed.

There is also voltage drop to consider, as power travels down an LED strip and passes lit LEDs the voltage will decrease and the furthest LEDs begin to get dimmer and the color shifts to red (the red diode operates at the lowest voltage). At 150 LEDs it is barely noticeable, at 300 it’s very noticeable, but you can turn down the brightness to help keep the strip more even. Attaching extra power further down the strip corrects voltage drop.

Another consideration is the perceived linear animation speed. Because the LEDs are twice as close together, for 60 vs 30 LED/m, whenever a lit LED moves one position it only covers half the distance, so linear animations will appear to move at half the speed.

Does ViVi work with 12V LEDs?

Short answer, No. ViVi is only 5V compatible and will be damaged by 12V. The most common 12V LEDs are non-addressable RGB LEDs, ViVi only works with digitally addressable LED’s, and currently only those using the WS2811 protocol (WS2811, WS2812B).

There are 12V versions of compatible LED’s and the data signal is still 5V, so ViVi can control them, but they cannot be plugged straight in. The connector wires needs to be modified to ensure no 12V power feeds back to ViVi and the LEDs and ViVi must be powered separately with the correct voltage.

WS2813 LEDs

Using WS2813 LEDs requires modifying the connector/wiring because they come with 4-pin JST and our adapter goes to 3-pin JST (the connector on WS2811 and WS2812B LED strips). The input of the WS2813 strip needs to be wired to have ViVi’s one data line get sent to both data input pins.

The WS2813 only needs one data signal, the second circuit is a duplicate used for skipping a dead LED. The WS2813 will work with just one data input connected, but to make it so it can skip the very first LED, if it fails, is why you should wire the data output from the controller so it attaches to both the data inputs on the LED strip.

LED Strip Dimensions

WS2811, WS2812B, and WS2813 LED strips have the following dimensions.

With silcone sleeve: 12mm wide x 4mm tall

Bare: 10mm wide x 2mm tall

Length is up to you, the strips can be cut between each LED to the desired length. Other

How to mount the LEDs (in silicone sleeve)?

This is the only thing we know of that will stick to the silicone sleeve, more silicone, https://smile.amazon.com/00688-All-Purpose-Adhesive-Silicone-2-8-Ounce/dp/B000KE4PBQ/ Once dry it is flexible and can be cut and scraped off of surfaces, including the silicone sleeves of the LEDs, so it can be undone if needed.

There are brackets made specifically for holding LED strips and other lights, like Christmas lights, which can work as well. Essentially you need to mechanically hold the sleeve in place, rather than trying to stick something to it, unless you use the silicone adhesive above. For temporary setups we use a variety of methods, tape strips over the sleeve adhered on both sides creating a “tape bracket”, zip ties, or twist ties.

If you don’t need the LEDs to be waterproof you can remove them from the silicone tube and then use any tape to attach the bare LED strip. You can also purchase compatible LEDs not in a silicone sleeve.

How Accurate is ViVi?

The lights update instantly as the sound plays with no perceivable delay between hearing the sound and the lights reacting. This doesn’t mean the accuracy is necessarily 100%. ViVi is 50% data analysis and 50% artistic interpretation. When ViVi decides to trigger an action from a sound is a complicated thing, so it may trigger action for a specific sound once and then not the next time the same sound plays. For the main beat of a song it is very close to 100% accurate in all scenarios, for other sounds it can vary based on the music genre, instrument, audio quality, current animation selection, and other factors for how accurate it will be in regards to triggering consistently to the same specific sound. The overall functionality is designed to create an enjoyable light show, not an analytical view of the audio data, and it excels at this! Paying close attention is best way to enjoy ViVi, it creates a mesmerizing experience where you lose track of time and all other cares, no drugs required.

New not edited, from email—– The light updates are instant, there is no perceivable delay between hearing the sound and the lights reacting.  This doesn’t mean the accuracy is necessarily 100% though.  When ViVi decides to trigger an action from a sound is a complicated thing, so it may trigger action for a specific sound once and then not the next time the same sound plays.  For the main beat of a song it is very close to 100% accurate in all scenarios, for other sounds it can vary based on the music genre, instrument, audio quality, current animation selection, and other factors for how accurate it will be in regards to triggering consistently to the same specific sound.  The overall functionality is designed to create an enjoyable light show, not an analytical view of the audio data, and it excels at this!  Paying close attention is best way to enjoy ViVi, it creates a mesmerizing experience where you lose track of time and all other cares, no drugs required.

Future Updates, Firmware, App

First major app and firmware update is expected in February 2019.

New animations and enhanced features, like scenes, color themes, and quick action buttons, will be added.We have many planned features and will be adding them over multiple updates once every few months. We will be working on DMX and MIDI control, physical controls ranging from buttons to accelerometers, and adapters for the LED outputs to enable controlling non-addressable LEDs, standard lights of any kind, and really anything at all if there is enough demand. We will also be providing documentation for the Bluetooth communication protocol, a hardwired control protocol for the development port, and the PWM output (not yet enabled) for the LED outputs so people can make custom apps, hardware controls, and output adapters of their own.

ViVi has Bluetooth only and doesn’t have integration with any smart home devices/protocols yet, but we will be working on connecting the Bluetooth to an existing third-party bridge, or make our own bridge, and also making a WiFi adapter that could plug into the development port and enable direct integration with even more smart home systems. We put the hardware in place to do all of this and just need to develop the firmware, so all ViVi’s from the earliest crowdfunding orders will be able to get all the latest features, and we hope to avoid any hardware revisions for a long time.

We don’t have a beta program yet, but as we get closer to releasing the first firmware update we will annoucne and enable app beta testing to let select users test the new firmware early.

What are the EQ Frequency Ranges?

These are the approximate frequencies covered by each range. ViVi gives priority to certain frequencies within the ranges and sounds with a primary frequency outside of one range may still have overlapping sound that can affect other ranges:

  • Bass: 20 Hz – 150 Hz
  • Mids: 80 Hz – 900 Hz
  • Treble: 1,000 Hz – 15,000 Hz

Sounds and music are complex combinations of frequencies so a bass hit could be accompanied by frequencies well into the treble range even if it’s not obvious when listening. A single note played on a musical instrument will often cover 2 ranges, sometimes all 3, so a single sound can trigger animations on multiple outputs. If there are prominent sounds in each range they will tend to remain separately triggered, but if sounds in one range are less active then that output is more likely to trigger from an overlapping sound that is more prominent in a different range.

The frequency ranges are currently fixed and non-adjustable with one LED output per range, LED 1 reacts to Bass, LED 2 reacts to Mids, LED 3 reacts to Treble. In future firmware updates we plan to enable changing which frequency range is on each output, including the ability to have multiple outputs reacting to the same range.

If you are trying for a click track type of use then we estimate the frequencies to best keep from overlapping would be 30Hz for bass, 400Hz for mids, and 6kHz for treble, but ViVi was not designed for this type of use.

Is there a real person controlling the show?

We did NOT use an XS4200 Shrink Ray to miniaturize a lighting engineer, provide a 100 year food pellet, and trap them inside the ViVi controller to make awesome lightshows. We did however spend 7 years fine tuning our algorithm before releasing the ViVi Music LED Controller and we continuously work on improving it.

Does the ViVi Music LED Controller have a Warranty?

Yes, the controller has a 1 year warranty against manufacturing defects. There is no warranty on the LED strips, accessory cables, or power supply, but if they are defective upon receipt and you notify us within 30 days, we will replace them. If you damage your controller (not a manufacturing defect) at any time we may be able to repair it and will charge a reasonable fee based on what is damaged. If your controller stops working after more than one year, or five or ten, you can contact us and we may still fix it for free; We plan to extend the warranty over time, but we need to balance the potential financial liability with what our company can survive so that if a widespread issue ever does arise we can repair or replace controllers at a pace that doesn’t put us out of business.