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Steven

Something new to control my transmitter, speakers, and porch light

10 posts in this topic

I have used various methods to turn my FM transmitter, outdoor speakers, and security lights on and off, and this year I found something new.

It's a USB Controlled Power Strip. It uses a Windows command to turn individual outlets on and off.

Last year I used X10 controllers, but they had a reliability problem last year, perhaps due to noise on the power line. After the transmitter didn't come on once or twice, I ended up turning it on manually and just leaving it on, which I don't like to do because I might be exceeding the FCC limits a little, and I didn't want anyone to complain during the day.

I don't use an LOR controller because the FM transmitter is in the garage, and all the controllers are in the yard, next to the display fixtures. My audio amplifier is also in the garage, wired to outdoor speakers. I need those to switch off precisely when the show ends, because I play Christmas music over the radio for an hour after.

I got the PowerUSB - Digital IO option, which connects to an Insteon I/O module. This will tell my home automation system to turn the outdoor security lights off during the show.

I'm looking forward to more reliable control this season.

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I've just been using plug in digital timers. Transmitter and speaker come on 15 minutes before the show starts. Speakers turn off at 9 and the transmitter turns off shortly after the show ends. Some of the digital timers that I'm using are over 10 years old and work perfectly.  It's always worked for me and I couldn't see any reason to make it any more complicated then it needed to be. 

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Posted (edited)

For my Christmas display I use a plug in digital timer as well.  I have my two controllers, my showtime box and my transmitter in the garage, and the timer sits right there with all the cords feeding under the garage door.  It goes on faithfully at 5:30 p.m. and turns off at 11 p.m.  Never failed me once in two years.  As my show gets bigger I could see how I might need something better as my controller count increase, but right now I have room for at least two more controllers (it's a six-plug timer) before I need to consider another option.

Edited by Jaynee

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The only thing that gets turned off is the power to the amps for the yard speakers. Those are powered by a relay which is controlled by a LOR channel. I have the yard speakers in the yard on until just after the 9:00 but the light show runs until 10:00 or 11:00. I have two shows that are exactly the same except the first show has a background sequence that turns on the one channel that turns on the relay. At 9:00 the early show goes into shutdown mode with a short shutdown sequence that announces that the speakers are being shut off and reminding people of the FM frequency. Then the late evening show starts without the yard amps channel turned on.
Every thing else stays on for the season. I run music on the FM during all non-show hours using Zara Radio.


Sent from my phone using Tapatalk, so blame any typos on Android!

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My system is controlled by a 40 amp 3 pole contactor which is controlled by a 120 volt timer . It controls my entire system lights,transmitters,music everything, and it has never failed since i built the controller in 2014

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Our display uses 2 separate power strips on a GFCI outlet.

One plugs into the bottom and powers the outdoor controllers and the second powers the computer, monitor, and downstairs controllers. (We're using a workstation computer that is a compacted machine w/o a monitor.) Our show runs on the schedule and turns off around the time we all go to bed, so we rotate responsibility of turning off the computers and controllers, unplugging them, then doing the reverse the next day.

It's probably the least ideal way to manage a setup but it works for us, I guess. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

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Since LOR is supposed to control X10. Why not replace the Porch switch with the X10 version and use a X10 outlet (adapter) on the Amp

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1 hour ago, TheDucks said:

Since LOR is supposed to control X10. Why not replace the Porch switch with the X10 version and use a X10 outlet (adapter) on the Amp

 Read his original post. He stated that he tried that and had reliability problems. 

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8 hours ago, lightingnewb said:

Our show runs on the schedule and turns off around the time we all go to bed, so we rotate responsibility of turning off the computers and controllers, unplugging them, then doing the reverse the next day.

Why do you bother turning them off? The LOR controllers, and all modern computers, are designed to be powered up 24x7.

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On 4/14/2017 at 6:29 PM, Steven said:

Why do you bother turning them off? The LOR controllers, and all modern computers, are designed to be powered up 24x7.

Because we aren't home 24/7 (we all leave the house to go to school or work) and therefore don't need a disaster like an electrical fire or other problems. Call us paranoid, but I'd rather come home to a rockin' display.

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