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About radioguy1007

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  • Birthday 06/25/1954

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  • Location
    Caledonia, WI
  • Occupation
    Electrical Engineer

More About Me

  • Interests
    Love music - from the 50's through the 80's.
  • How I learned about Light-O-Rama -
    Saw the Carson Williams video - the rest is history.
  • Favorite Decorating Holiday?

LOR Software

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  1. I never heard them called a "catch" diode. In all my years of electrical engineering I called them flyback diodes or snubber diodes. From Wikipedia: This diode is known by many other names, such as kickback diode, snubber diode, commutating diode, freewheeling diode, suppression diode, clamp diode, or catch diode. A 12 volt DC relay can generate a voltage in excess of 500 volts - and as Mr. D said - will likely kill any electronics attached to it. They are most effective connected directly across the coil and not at the other end of a 50 foot wire.
  2. Great tool but way too pricey. I get bags of 100 4 inch zip ties at my local hardware store summer sidewalk sale for $1 each. The UV resistance for me does not matter for the short time they are exposed to the winter sun. I have some props that have plain ties that are now 12 years old and none have gone brittle or cracked. Does not say ones exposed to summer UV rays would hold up similarly. And on temporary attachments, I leave the tails on as it is easier to hold on to when cutting them off in 10 degree temperatures!
  3. I think it all depends on how much your music selections will vary from the normal show. If a family visits on a day that is playing songs that are familiar to them and they tell their friends about what they saw, their friends would naturally want the same experience. I know a lot of shows vary day to day, but it is the same type of music from playlists people have posted. Kind of like changing from station to station on the radio. I have 3 stations here that I will switch between, but will not listen to all the others.
  4. Can I make a suggestion as to getting an over the air signal to your TV? Many years ago when analog TV was discontinued the government gave everyone 2 free DTV adapters if you turned in a coupon. They typically had an HDMI port and composite video / analog audio output on them. Just add antenna. Do you have one maybe collecting dust in the closet? I'm sure there are still some around if you asked and would be a lot less costly than an entirely new TV.
  5. A lot of the visitors to my display are families with small children, or those with older parents and buses from retirement communities in the area. My songs include kid favorites like the Chipmunks and sing alongs like "Must Be Santa". Yes the traditional favorites are all included. But then I like to go a bit outside by using songs that are not Christmas tunes but have been resung changing the lyrics to Christmas ones. Examples of that type are "Taking Care of Christmas" (Taking Care of Business - Bachman Turner Overdrive), "Toy Sack" (Love Shack - B-52's), "Dueling Jingle Bells" (Dueling Banjos), "Mr. Santa" (Mr. Sandman - Chordettes), "Decorations" (Good Vibrations - Beach Boys), and "Yabba Dabba Yuletide" (Flintstones Theme). I never understood why some shows use songs that had absolutely nothing to do with the holiday season.
  6. Although I am far from the nearest street light, it was an old sodium type for the last 9 years I have lived here. This spring the HOA updated them due to failing of the old ballasts went to a new LED design - and they are BRIGHT. So my solution is to make my display BRIGHTER!
  7. I 100% agree with Jim's suggestion to use PEX. The effect is great. A couple years ago I built a fan using dumb LED strips inside 1/2 inch white PEX, folding the flex strip inside the tube so I had lights 180 degrees apart filling the inside of the tube (the width of the flex strips was just about the same size as the ID of the PEX tube). Advantage to this approach was I did not have to drill a hole for every pixel, and the finished tubes were sealed on both ends to eliminate moisture. This was not my idea - I saw it here some time ago by another member. The 12 volt flex ribbon I bought could be broken at 3 inch spacing if needed, so you could make segments at just about any length you need. I used a nylon screw at one end where it looped around in the tube so to not cut through the flex circuit traces. I bought the RGB LED strips from China, and they were under $10 for a 15 foot length (which made 7 1/2 foot tubes). The one downside is PEX is more flexible than PVC, but with proper support it is workable especially around a window frame.
  8. I saw Brian's tree "Brandon" many years back and used the idea to create "Douglas Fir". I also started with the simple open / closed mouth concept, but then added an "O" configuration to the mouth a couple years later and that adds to the visual without adding too much to programming. I used rope light in the construction, and could be cut at 18 inch spacing which worked out great for everything.
  9. I just bought one to replace an old incandescent one I had for years. Bulbs had faded and was just too much to rehab. I am impressed with it too - very bright and I know the colors will not fade with time. Thanks for the heads up!
  10. AC means alternating current and has a frequency that it changes, specified in Hertz. The US standard line frequency is 60 Hertz. DC (direct current) has no frequency component, it is constant potential. The only way to make a frequency from DC is to use an inverter that chops the DC into pulses. As members above have stated, many small motors are universal type - they will have a commutator and brush assembly. DC motors will have brushes - with the exception of stepper motors where the magnetic fields are electronically rotated about the rotor to make it spin. I am an electrical / electronics design engineer with nearly 40 years of experience.
  11. Please keep in mind the current rating - 4A may be to small for a bunch of landscape lights. The 25A version you linked to from Radio Shack would probably be OK. As to your comment about a bridge rectifier turning DC into AC - the laws of electronics make this impossible. The + side of a bridge has 2 cathodes connected to it, blocking current flow to the ~ terminals. In a similar fashion, the - side of a bridge has two anode connections. You need a DC to AC inverter to get AC from a DC source.
  12. The CMB24D is specified at a maximum 30 VDC input. From personal experience hacking some LED wreaths, the input regulator without a heat sink gets burning hot at 29 VDC. And if his lights are 12 volts, anything much above will be an issue.
  13. OK I have to ask. You are actually running a 12 volt transformer into the CMB24D? Not having a schematic, it is likely there are protection diodes for the input power to the chips and voltage regulator because the board can either be powered off the supply terminals or an aux power jack. There are some big filter capacitors in the board photo. So it may be working because the circuit is being powered off of a half wave rectifier. Now for the mosfets - is your lighting all LED? They too may have protection diodes that convert the incoming voltage to DC. As Jim said, they SHOULD NOT have AC across them or they will release the magic smoke. But you may have got lucky that the lights with polarity diodes are providing protection for the mosfets. A diode anywhere inline would convert the AC from the transformer to DC - but it would be a half wave DC. Your lights are likely not as bright as if they were being driven off a pure DC source.
  14. I have to say this has been the most challenging setup in the 12 years of doing LOR shows. Halloween setup was great - temperatures in the 70's working in short sleeves. Takedown of Halloween completely different story. Got out 11/3 (Friday) and took some stuff in. Next day rain - all day making yard mud. Halloween finally down on the 5th and start on house same day. Last weekend rains Saturday all day. Sunday OK, but yard is mud. Was able to do some things during short daylight after work and fixed a few loose connections. Still have neighbors yard to do - 3 large props. Tomorrow more rain or possibly snow. And cables coming in today from China to finish up 4 hacked LED "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays" wreaths from Menards. This is cutting it close - black Friday (I like to call it LIGHTS Friday) has been the traditional start. I do turn on my host, "Douglas Fir", as a tease early. First few nights just sleeping, then wakes every 30 seconds and looks around going back to sleep, 2 days before wakes, sees a simple chase around the yard and smiles.
  15. I turned 63 this year. Been doing this with LOR since 2004 after seeing the Carson Williams video. I had an animated display since the mid-80's that used 8 bit microprocessor controllers custom built to flash lights in patterns. This year I am mentoring a neighborhood boy to sequence a song for my Halloween and Christmas shows. So when I'm ready to hang it up..... Naw!
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