The wiring is the hardest part of this project. There are a lot of connections to make, and a lot of places where things can go wrong. Test each connection as you go, and you'll minimize any headaches later on.

Power Wires

Power that has to travel a long way down wires or through a lot of pixels can degrade with the resistance in the wires. In practice, this means the pixels at the end of a long run of wire will "brown out" -- they look dimmer than the pixels at the beginning. To avoid this, I've set up my wiring to run power directly to the bottles instead of following the data line, which must run in sequence through all the bottles. 

Most bottles have a direct link to the power source. It's ok to daisy-chain one or two bottles, but you may need to add an additional ground wire between the final bottles in the chains if you find you've got a lot of flickering.

So, the power wires are set up in a "star-fish" or "home-run" configuration, where each bottle is on its own power line.

Data Wires

NeoPixel data wires MUST flow from IN to OUT in one unbroken chain if you want to be able to animate all the bottles individually. 

The data wire is attached to the CPX pin A1, then goes to IN on the first bottle. Another line attaches to the OUT pin at the end of the NeoPixel strip, and heads to the next bottle in line where it will attach to IN. Fairly simple, yes?

However, NeoPixel data does not like to travel long distances over wire either. The signal can begin to degrade if there is more than around 3-4 feet of wire between your bottles. 

Some of my bottles were placed further than this, so my solution was to use a single pixel or a bit of NeoPixel strip as a "repeater" for those long wire runs. The pixel can be hidden among the branches (or can be covered with black tape, if it's not easy to hide) and this keeps your data clean and flowing.

In a couple of places, I added a whole NeoPixel strip along the top of the branches, which shines light up at the ceiling and provides more ambient light for the room. Solving the data-run problem this way really added another beautiful dimension to my final project.

Connectors

Since most of the assembly needed to be done in place instead of on my soldering table, I found it really useful to use JST connectors and splitters to attach each bottle to the power / data grid. If something was flickering, or not lighting up, I could easily swap out the LED bottle for a different bottle. This helped tremendously with troubleshooting. 

Using JST connectors means you'll be making more than twice as many solder connections, but I really recommend doing it this way - it will make your life much easier in the long run.

This guide was first published on Feb 08, 2020. It was last updated on Feb 08, 2020. This page (Wiring) was last updated on Feb 10, 2020.