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RPi + Other Software APA102 setup flickering after a month

Discussion in 'Hardware Support' started by sininspira, 27 June 2018.

  1. sininspira

    sininspira New Member

    Hello all,

    I did my setup following these instructions: https://hyperion-project.org/threads/raspberry-pi-3-mediacenter-hyperion-ambilight-no-soldering.77/

    I'm using raspbian stretch as my OS.

    Everything worked pretty well for about a month, now all of my LEDs after the first 15 or so (estimating, I'm not at home at the moment) flicker/go crazy. Also, using hypercon, when I set the LEDs to black (off) on the color wheel, the working LEDs turn off but the remaining go 100% white.

    I'm thinking that maybe an LED blew, but i'm not sure how to test. I've messed with smoothing settings, lowered the baud rate, and turned off grabber/other features to try to isolate on the software side. I've also removed/reinstalled hyperion.

    Some of the other threads mention using level shifters, but they weren't mentioned in the tutorial - or is that just for another type of setup?

    Please let me know what pictures/information to provide.
  2. Lethargik

    Lethargik New Member

    RPi1/Zero, RPi2, +Arduino, +PhilipsHue
    Between your description and my experience with a few APA102 setups now I can only make a guess, but based on the tutorial you followed, if you did no soldering, I would think the most likely culprit is a loose/bad connection somewhere. The solderless/clip-on connectors will expand and contract from the heating/cooling of the LEDs and can come loose or create a bad connection over time. This would be the first thing I would look at.

    If it was working properly for a month, a level shifter likely won't solve the problem. However, if you have long data and clock wires (more than 12") between your pi and the first input on the LED strip, you may consider shortening them. That's not a hard rule per se, but the shorter the better on the clock and data wires. I'm NOT AN EXPERT by any means, but if level shifters are new to you (as they were to me just weeks ago) the basic idea is that the pi outputs data signals at 3.3v but the APA102 (and most if not all 5v LED strips) expect to receive data signals at 5v. It works with 3.3v but the longer the wires are, the more the signal degrades along them (and can result in badly flickering lights), therefore the shorter the better. A level shifter essentially just takes the 3.3v signal and converts it up to 5v but if this was the problem, it would have been a problem since day one.

    Hope that's helpful - good luck!
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