If you’ve ever tried pushing pixels into strips or matrix panels WITHOUT any tools…your hands hurt just thinking about it! Here are my top tips and tools for pushing pixels for your animated Christmas light display.
If you are new to the hobby of Christmas lighting you may have heard others talking about pushing pixels and be curious about what this means and what it can do for your display.
Pixels come in a variety of different sizes and shapes but by far the most commonly used is the node type pixel. Similarly to the node pixel is the square node pixel which has a flat back to it.
When working with these types of pixels you generally use them in your show inside what are called “props”. Props are any item in which you place your pixels, such as a strip or cut out board, etc.
In order to use these props you will need to get your pixels into them. So how do we do this?
Pixels in Props
To get your pixels into your props of choice, you will first unwind and stretch out your pixels of choice. You will need to locate the male end of the cord so that you know where to start and can ensure the proper end will be accessible to plug in easily.
To insert the pixels into your prop is typically fairly straightforward. You just need to make sure that you are supporting the prop while inserting the pixels to ensure that nothing gets broken.
If you are using regular plastic props chances are you won’t need tools or guides to help you push them in; however, if you are using strips or panels or other similar props instead and try to go in to push all the pixels through by hand you will find it INCREDIBLY tedious and painful. The reason for this is that you have to simultaneously push the pixel through as well as support the object that you are pushing them through. It is much more difficult than you might imagine depending on how many pixels you are pushing through. That’s where the tools come in!
There are a few things that you can use when you decide that tools are the route to go.
Socket and Plyers
One thing that a lot is people choose to use is a 10mm socket.
Another option to think about using alongside the socket are pixel plyers. Many vendors sell these and they are quite simple to use. You will simply take the pixel in your plyer, and using the socket as support you simply push the pixel through.
This can work quite well, with the only difficulty being that you will have to move the socket along with each pixel. You can instead decide to clamp the socket, or perhaps a piece of wood that you have drilled a hole into, to your work surface and move the strip along as you go to save time and effort.
3D Printed Pixel Pushers
Another option you may consider are 3D printed pixel pushers. These will come with the pixel pushers as well as a plastic strip piece that you can push strip props through. If you are doing a lot of strip props, this can be an absolute life saver for you both time and effort wise.
You will simply feed the strip into the plastic piece that is provided and it supports it. You won’t need a socket underneath and it will leave room for the pixel to push through easily.
A really simple and great option for pushing pixels through props is a T-Handle tool. It has a cut out section where you insert the pixel and a t-shaped handle designed for easy holding. You will just support the prop and push in the pixel with very little effort.
An added benefit of the t-handle tool is that they also work for the square nodes. This comes in handy when you are fixing props that are going to be mounted directly on your house because the back does not stick out as far and allows the prop to sit nicely against the house.
Ultimately what you choose to use to help guide or assist you in pushing pixels will depend on your personal preference. When it comes down to it, if you are going to be pushing a lot of pixels through props, any of these tool options are going to be immensely helpful in easing the task as well as making it a faster and more comfortable process for you so that you can just focus on enjoying the end result of your display.