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Thread: Through Pixel Charging Question(s)

  1. #1

    Default Through Pixel Charging Question(s)

    Hey Gang,
    I've been recently relieved of the burden of employment and got off my rear end to finish a neo-pixel saber I bought the parts, and then some more parts, then the right parts for. (I'm sure most of you have been there.) This was about 4 years ago and Through Pixel Charging didn't exist then. (At least I don't think.) My question is, does setting the saber up for TSC eliminate the need for a kill key? My first instinct says it wouldn't as it doesn't seem to sever the circuit, that I can tell. I looks like the board just gets attached between the blade wires and board.

    Anyway, it was something I was thinking of doing as it's only bout $30 for the plug an board. I have a charger already.

    I have some more questions if you all will indulge me.
    I'm using 1x Sony Li-Ion 18650 3.7V 15A 3120mAh PCB Protected Rechargeable Battery and it starts to die and crackle pretty quickly. I've tried lowering all of my blade colors to no more than half and I really don't see any reduction in brightness. I barley notice a difference between 50% and 25%. (I just did the math of dividing 1023. Using percentages is just easier.) I've tried a few different resistors and capacitors (as recommended by the manual) with results either being unnoticeable or blocking too much power and the blade not lighting. The speaker also squeals a little when the blade is on. I though it may have been the fonts but if I power up without the blade it's not there but starts as soon as I hook the blade up. Would getting the be better as it has more milliamp hours, or should I just get another 18650 and wire them together?

    To be fair, I have a lot of wiring clean up to do. I left myself a lot of room to work with because, even though I thought I had a plan, I seem to be planning this on the fly. So I am considering that some of the extra length in the wires could be causing some of the issues.

    I'm using a PRIZM5.5 now and have a CFX MK3 arriving tomorrow. (And another hilt side pixel disc because I thought I messed mine up, but I cleaned it and rewired it and it started working. I also have an activation box coming as I might want to use it to give me more room inside the saber.)

    It was working on this saber that I realized my near sighted vision was starting to give out and when I went back to start working on this saber at the beginning of last week, I was startled to see what an awful job I had done. I had to rewire everything but the blade. I did manage to knock that out pretty well. (I could have made the profile a little lower. I'm thinking about getting a different emitter because you can see the dead space where the electronics is in the vents. It's barely noticeable really, and it may even have something to do with my settings. Now that I know I have things "working" correctly, I can start messing with some of the setting. But, I notice the dark spot at the bottom.)

    I've also tried a few different blade timings (ls0, ls1 on the PRIZM) and I really haven't seen any difference other than, it works or it doesn't. I feel like having the correct timing would spare my saber from unnecessary electrical shinanigans. I believe running at the wrong timing(s) could shorten the life of the LEDs. Do anyone have any insight they could share on this subject. (Does anyone even have or use PRIZM anymore?)

    Well thanks for reading this and thank you in advance for any help or advice you all may be able to offer.

  2. #2


    Ok, let’s back up. Do you have in hilt LEDs or Neopixel on this saber?

    This is mainly designed for CFX with Neopixel setups from my understanding.
    All n00bs READ these first (PLEASE)!!!:
    1. Forum Guidelines
    2. FJK’s “Down and Dirty” guide to Ohm’s Law

    "Yeah, yeah, I've heard it all before... you want blindingly bright, super loud, running 1138 blinkies off of the cheapest sound card you can find AND you want all of it to run on a battery the size of a dime, and run for a very, VERY long time. That one cracks me up every time..."
    My email:

  3. #3


    Let's unpack this a bit here.

    Ok, so for through pixel charging uses an add on board to act as a switch so when the charging current is applied to the pins in the pixel adapter it cuts off current to the board and just goes to the battery, however it does not function as a kill key. If you already have a 2.1mm recharge port installed, installing through pixel would be redundant unless you want the neat display base. As FJK did say, this method is limited to pixel only setups for obvious reasons.

    Battery wise, it sounds like the battery being used may not be suitable for pixel. the protection PCB on it may be limiting the current going to the blade and the board causing odd issues. That 21700 battery you linked is perfect for pixel setups, just keep in mind it is a larger battery so you will need to make room accordingly.

    blade timings when it comes to plecter boards is referring to the data line config, not how fast the pixels respond. You only need to alter these from default if you are using pixel strips with different data timings than the standard strips we use. The default timings cover 90% of strips on the market, and pre-made blades are 100% correct for the timings.

  4. #4


    Thanks for the info gang.
    To answer FJK- Thanks for asking. I do not have any accent LEDs just the pixel blade, act & aux buttons, and a recharge port. I got my CFX in the email today so I am going to use that. Kind of starting over but not really at the same time. I used a lot of quick connects that I really don't need anymore now that I've decided that this will be a permanent install. (I originally was going to make it more modular. I have 2 of the US Diamond/Obsidian setups and 4 hilts so I added quick connects to the switch so I could easily swap them or just the board to another hilt. I think I'll make that my 2nd Neopixel project. After 3-4 years, I just want to finish this one off.)

    To answer RavenXP- Thanks for the info. I will pass on the through pixel charging then. I would have converted over but I like having the kill key for the confirmed open circuit.

    I am aware that the battery is bigger. (It was another thread here somewhere where it was pointed out that the model/part number references the size of the unit.) I got a Dremel, so I can make any holes in the chassis plastic parts bigger as needed. (I even got a drill press about 4 years ago just so I could drill the holes for my own saber projects. It's had other uses but that's why I asked for it that Christmas. )

    Thanks for the info on the blade timings. That's pretty much what I thought, I just like to confirm things as I'm not formally educated past a semester of Ecommerce in 2001 when I dropped out because I got tired of paying to be a student, while ending up regularly correcting the instructors as the books back then were out of date by the time they were printed. (I was already in an I-marketing start-up and was primarily going just to add it to the dossier for attracting funding.) The more business related classes were informative but I already knew the instructors from IT meet & greets in the town, so I was already picking their brains for free anyway.

    My real hobby is collecting hobbies, which has afforded me a lot of information, knowledge, and additional skills in a variety of subjects from basic electronics, 3d printing (FDM and SLA), Robotics and Micro controllers like Arduino. So, I always try to get confirmation of something when I'm not 1000%.

    I'm off to order a few more items from the shop LOL. (I bet they just hate that )

    Thanks again guys. I'll post again if I have more questions and I will provide any updates as I make progress (or failures) throughout the week.

  5. #5


    Sounds similar to me, though I got my machining and robotics experience from high school. Electronics has been learnt over time since grade school, I'm that kid that took anything apart to learn how it works. I'm a big fan of learning new skills, then adding it to the ol toolbox.

  6. #6


    Hey Gang,
    Things are coming along. I got a few holes drilled. They could be better.

    Let's talk about the importance of proper tools for a second. This is a subject that has haunted me time and time again. Even when I think I can make do with what I have laying around, sometimes it best to just be patient and wait until you have the right stuffs.

    As I said, I got some holes drilled. The 4-40 for the ActBox went fine. Drilled and tapped perfectly. (This was the only one that needed tapped. I also have the tap for the 16mm momentary buttons I got to mod a US stunt saber to be usable with the Diamond/Obsidian board back when I got the drill press.) When I went to do the button hole, I had some issues. I don't have a proper drill press vise and I've always been able to just clamp things down when I use it. This time, since the hole is much bigger, it still slipped a little on me. I was using some thick cloth for padding between the clamps and the body part. To top it off, I flattened the ends of the piece a little. So it was too tight and still slipped. I was able to pretty much fix it with some wire strippers that were big enough and coincidentally only opened just wide enough to fix it 98%-99%. It goes back together now, but the threads wear a little, so I'm def going to have to grease the threads and once that top section is complete, it will be best to never open it again. (Unless the PCB for the pixel blade needs repaired, but I'm hoping to not have any issues there.) I managed to get the hole for the RC-Port drilled, but it too was a struggle. IDK what I did when I used it on the US saber but I don't remember having any issues doing it and looking at it, the hole is clean as a whistle. [EDIT] The US piece is a lot longer, therefore it was fairly easy to stabilize it. I remembered right after I posted this. [/EDIT] I got a decent drill press vice cheap off Amazon. It's the same brand as my press, as a matter of coincidence. I'm gonna hold off on my last drilling until it get here. Use proper tools.

    I was also not using the best wire. Some of it was kind of stiff with hard plastic coating. I was also using a lot of quick connects, which are all getting eliminated except for the one that goes from board to battery. I got some chassis coming so now that I think about it, that QC is probably going to go away as well. I have some silicone coated wire(s) now and it's much easier to work with. Use proper tools.

    Anyway, it's coming along. There are no visible oopsies or anything as the ActBox covers the holes. I might need to really buff and shine it when it's all said and done. Overall, I'm really enjoying the journey. I feel like a padawan crafting their own lightsaber. I got a bunch of parts and started out in one direction and end up re-arranging all of the parts to end up with something else. The emitter/blade holder is the only thing that didn't move. Having said that, it feels even more "me" now.

    I haven't messed with the CFX board yet, but I've been skimming through the manual and found some items I wasn't familiar with that also helped me have a better idea on how I want/need to set it up. Like board orientation and it's relative setting. I didn't really even consider it, but knowing it's a thing, I now know to make sure I have it set correctly when I go to fire it up for the first time.

    And while I have the hilt layout finalized, I only have half the guts figured out. The pixel blade board is in the section above my switches and RC-port, but I'm not sure where I want to put the speaker. I got a lot of room. Right now I have a chassis built off of a speaker holder so the speaker, board, and battery are/will be all in one unit. But, I have another 2 inch choke before my pommel, so I could break the speaker out and move it closer to the the pommel. The choke has holes in it so the whole back 2.5 inches is going to act as a giant resonance chamber. And before anyone asks, I did have the choke under the emitter but after swinging it around I didn't like how top heavy it felt, so I took it out. Then it felt a bit stubby so I flipped the choke and added it to the back of the hilt and put the pommel on that. That was the winner. After looking at more sabers I have laying around (I also got an older V4 Kyberlight. I was hey are on V10 now when I looked the other day.)

    And another thing before I stop penning this novella LOL. Not only is it important to use the right tools, clean them and your work area frequently. This is one thing I am halfway good about. I'd also say to be organized but if you saw my basement when I'm working on something, you'd call me a hypocrite. I have my tools all put away and the drawers labeled and all that, but when the stuff is out, it's all over the place. I'm the same way when I cook too. I'll have half of the stuff in the kitchen and the other half on the dining room table and I'm constantly going back in forth between them. (It's only 7-8 feet. Literally a couple of steps, but it feels like I'm running all over the house sometimes.)

    And finally, I noticed I keep mentioning other brands, that's fine on this board right. It's another forum where they are very strict about people mentioning other vendors products that they may own or be considering. I'll be sure to stop doing that if so. I just want to be sure to not offend or upset anyone.

    Anyway, that where I'm at, that's where I'm going, and that's what I'm doing so for. Any input is welcome.

    Thanks again for the help earlier. I should be done with this by the end of the weekend. I'll take some pics and such for my next update.
    Last edited by Antron; 04-04-2023 at 10:24 PM.

  7. #7


    I'll leave the determination about discussing other brands topic to FJK and the TCSS staff.

    That being said, I do have some advice/wizdom to throw your way. One is the connects, it's a good idea to move away from them since space inside a hilt is at a premium. It's especially good for pixel since the older style JST connectors can't handle the amp load of the pixel strips, but can still be used for things like accent LEDs, switch lines, and speaker lines. Power, if you need to use a connect, you should use a DeanMicro (the sell them in the store), but in general you'd want to limit the connectors used unless it's required for the design idea.

    Wires wise, sounds like you are using a PVC style of wire. Personally I use a silicone coated stranded wire, nice and flexible. One thing I want to make sure of is that you are using the proper gauge wire for the correct application. Pixel sabers run way more amps through them than older in-hilt ever did, so the wires used for power need to be thicker otherwise you run the risk of melting. Personally I use 20 AWG for my main power leads (battery to board, board to pixel adapter, and battery to pixel adapter), though minimum to use for this is 22 AWG, 24 if you double up. Everything else can be 28-30 AWG. I use 30 AWG, but it is a little on the thin side, so for beginners or those that aren't sure on their wiring I recommend28 AWG.

    As for the organization, I feel ya there. I know how useful it is to keep things organized, but however I can't keep my work area organized for very long. My work table always looks like ordered chaos.

  8. #8


    OK, on the mentioning that vendor (or other outside vendors regularly) - we HEAVILY FROWN about that here, just an FYI.

    I also did a long video on the CFX board - you can find it in the video section, so that should help.
    All n00bs READ these first (PLEASE)!!!:
    1. Forum Guidelines
    2. FJK’s “Down and Dirty” guide to Ohm’s Law

    "Yeah, yeah, I've heard it all before... you want blindingly bright, super loud, running 1138 blinkies off of the cheapest sound card you can find AND you want all of it to run on a battery the size of a dime, and run for a very, VERY long time. That one cracks me up every time..."
    My email:

  9. #9


    Ordered chaos! What a perfect description. Thanks for the advice. I have purchased silicone coated wire in 22, 24, and 28 gauge. I was going to use 24, but I think I'll just go with 22 for the LED lines as well. Good tip on the JST connector. I am eliminating the quick connects. They were handy when I was starting out and not very sure on what I was doing, so it was easy to swap things out, but after years of research. I'm past that now. I was also under the impression that this was going to be more modular, but I have to be honest with myself. If I start buying parts for another saber, I might as well throw in the other $100ish to get another speaker, battery, and board. I think I probably could have built 3 sabers in the time it's taken me to build this one if I didn't waste a bunch of time trying to create a more modular system.

    I do have some new plans form making some type of module, but it's not going to happen with this saber. The switches are the biggest problem that I have. I can easily put the LED board at the end of a sled, with the battery and board. Speakers are a place where the thin quick connects will work out. (I did that to my US sabers.) Switches are the pain. I have QCs on the switch but it's still a pain swapping them out because they need screwed in, so the spaghetti gets out of hand quick. Because of the way it's wired, the aux switch would have to be smaller than the act so it could be fed through the act hole and threaded up into the hilt or act box. My initial goal was to have one, high quality set of electronics that I could just move between my hilts. Which I pretty much accomplished with my US sabers. But, then I discovered light dueling worthy NeoPixel blades were being made and it seemed cheaper to buy the parts, and do it myself. I had wanted to put together my own saber anyway So, I figured I'd do the same thing with this unit and just buy hilts. And while it can be done with some QCs, it just isn't stable. It's on the back burner for now. I just want to get my saber done and move onto other things. (Maybe, I haven't made a thread for that yet, but I have some other things I want to experiment with. If it's possible.)

    Shipping update indicates the next wave of supplies won't be here till Saturday. I want to get anxious and start trying to mess with it, but I need to just be patient and wait for the stuff to do it right.

    Thanks again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Forgetful Jedi Knight View Post
    OK, on the mentioning that vendor (or other outside vendors regularly) - we HEAVILY FROWN about that here, just an FYI.

    I also did a long video on the CFX board - you can find it in the video section, so that should help.
    oops, I started my reply before this was posted. I'll refrain from now on. Sorry about that. Thank you for the heads up. (If it's any help, I'm not lobbying or soliciting for other vendors. Just sharing my personal nerd work on what products I happen to own. )

    I also won't be posting my other thread now as it pertains directly to other vendors. I have some observations, questions and theories. It's more about available tech in general, but I'll find another place to explore and share them.

    Thanks for the tip on the video. I've been all over YT so far. I'll def check that out. [/EDIT] [Re-Edit] LOL, I've been watching that video for the past few days now. It was very, very helpful. Thanks so much. Just the general knowledge shared help me troubleshoot some issues with my PRIZM board. [/Re-Edit]
    Last edited by Antron; 04-05-2023 at 01:19 PM.

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