Will I do more harm than good?

So, while I'm personally occasionally accused of not being the brightest bulb, my LEGO town has been cast the same slander... but with good reason.

Me thinks there's far too much teeny gauge wire connecting the 32 square foot community (and "it's not you, it's me.")

I'm thinking the best answer is to introduce a second USB-powered feed into the 'grid' on the opposite side and boost the juice.  Being a remote-controlled 40channel IR today, is there any consideration (risks, hazards) to introducing a second power supply by way of a second 4-channel IR controller?  (Just need the one channel, but not fussy). 

Figuring when I click the power button, both IR controllers would get the message* to power on, albeit on opposite sides of the space, and power-and-supplement-power the build.


* Disclaimers of IR range notwithstanding, of course...

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  • Hi Paul, I think you're always doing more good than harm!  How can you go wrong with LEGO, after all?

    In answer to your question, the safest approach would be to split the setup in two (two isolated circuits), and power each with its own USB feed.  You could take the other approach (not isolating the circuits), but that could have unintended consequences (pushing power into your USB mains adapters instead of out, for example).

    Can your setup support isolation?

    I know Jim Pirzyk has spent more time than just about anybody thinking about wiring large-scale lighting setups. Maybe he has thoughts along the dual-power supply line as well.

  • I would second Rob's thought about doing to isolated circuits.  It does sound like your trying to push too many amps through a thin wire.

    If you have 32 baseplates to power up I think you should be able to run it off 1 USB circuit.  You may want to look at a better wall wart.  Check what the Amperage your current one does.  You can get ones that can put 1 A per port.

    The second recommendation is to make some heavy duty extension cables.  I have bought many DIY Brickstuff Connecting Cables and make yourself some thicker cables.  I would recommend getting 26AWG wire or thicker, I think the Brickstuff wires are 32AWG.  Use the Brickstuff wires for the last mile of wiring.

    The last suggestion is to think about how you distribute your power.  I also use many of the 1:8 Expansion Adapter boards and try to have a "bushy tree" distribution instead of a "spindly tree" (or worse linear) distribution .  That means the power has to travel through fewer wires and connections as possible.

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  • And frankly, isolation isn't that bad - it's a few parallel 24-inch wires to unplug and re-grid with a center break... after all, it'd still be a dual power input, two IR controlled space.

    It's a one-amp (Apple) brick, but Jim Pirzyk is probably spot on: it's the tree style.  (The build was in place before I discovered BrickStuff, so it was a bit of a retrofit with 2:1 boards.)

    But it's a bit of a mess; it's mostly 24-inch with 2:1 boards with a few DIY alarm wire (solid copper, maybe 22 AWG or so) that somewhat try to act as a "feeder" for the longer distances.

    But load is probably also a consideration, albeit perhaps not a huge challenge (yet)...

    • Channel 1 covers 19 2-LED strip lights (to date), 1 flashing PICO, 14 steady PICOs and upwards of 20-something in Ninjago City
    • Channel 2 is just two PICOs right now
    • Channel 3 is the fishing store (4-5 PICOs)
    • Channel 4 is the stadium @24 PICOs)

    The Downtown Diner will add 9 additional PICOs and probably 2 more 2-LED strips (unless that darn sign goes 4x PICOs; still messin' with it.

  • I have a question ...  did you use extension cables or connecting cables ??..   having an issue where my IR isn't working at all..  I used only extension cables in my build, and not getting the IR to work.  will light up if i go direct power to expansion board, but not if i use IR board, and Extension cables....   any suggestions??

  • The VAST majority of Modularton's lighting is using 24-inch cables (connection, extension... I use the words interchangably).

    The thick purple - and a few others have been inserted since, are made with the DIY connectors and some doorbell wire... and that had nothing to do with IR issues, simply the distance was too far for enough current, so things were "dim bulb" looking.  (I'm generally the only dim bulb, but when I saw my township looking the same, I sorted out I had an issue.)

    But that sounds different.  So, if you put power directly into the lights, they're glowing pretty, but if you pit through the IR controller/board widget, no love?

    Would posting a photo of how you wired it up be a hassle?  Not to cast doubts, but I had issues when I got the power/output lights in the wrong dang plug...

  • Brianna Matthews Sorry for an confusion-- "extension cables" and "connecting cables" are the same thing.  I see your separate e-mail thread in our support group and will respond there as well.

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