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Richard Hamilton

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Everything posted by Richard Hamilton

  1. Since you have some experience, perhaps you will be ok doing 6 at once. I would have built and tested one first, then built the other 5 simulteanously. I wouldn't want to make the same critical mistake 6 times. A couple years ago. I knew a person who mounted all of the triacs incorrectly and blew out his board.
  2. I got a 10 year old boy to read my written scripts into the computer headset and then I used an audio editor to chop it up into segments. Visitors seem to like to hear a child's voice.... male or female.
  3. I'll be interested in seeing what people say about this. It is hard to visualize what you are doing, but I hope it is not the fact that you are holding a soldering iron onto a circuit baord for 5 minutes. YIPES ! I smell problems if you do that. Are you trying to solder a spade lug that is aready mounted to the case? If so, the case is going to "sink" away the heat and you probably will not get enough heat to solder it. If that is the issue, remvoe the lug from the case to solder a wire to it. Again, I can't visualize what you are trying to do. Can you include a photo?
  4. It's probably gonna look good regardlesss of the spacing. I've tried lots of spacing and they all looked good. My general rule for the best looking spacing on chasing effects is to space trees 3 times the distance of the tree diameter. In other words, if a tree is 12 inches in diameter, then try places them 36 inches apart. Probably of more importance is how you sequence the trees. I typically like to have an overlap of timing. Example, start fading up tree 3 while tree 2 is fully on, and tree 1 if fading off. It creates a more fluid looking effect than having a tree snap on or off as it is sequenced.
  5. It's probably gonna look good regardlesss of the spacing. I've tried lots of spacing and they all looked good. My general rule for the best looking spacing on chasing effects is to space trees 3 times the distance of the tree diameter. In other words, if a tree is 12 inches in diameter, then try places them 36 inches apart. Probably of more importance is how you sequence the trees. I typically like to have an overlap of timing. Example, start fading up tree 3 while tree 2 is fully on, and tree 1 if fading off. It creates a more fluid looking effect than having a tree snap on or off as it is sequenced.
  6. rikerz wrote: Ah! Christmas in September ;-)
  7. Jeff 1S.A.H.D. wrote: There is also a fairly extensive discussion thread about this on this forum. Type "Donation Box" in the search window at the top.
  8. NINtender, I guess you have thought about just switching to LED lights? Seems cheaper than putting in upgraded electrical services.
  9. Sorry if I overlooked the point about transmission power in this long thread, but I thought it was worth mentioning here. Regarding this comment in the advertisement for this transmitter; "The LCD transmitter includes variable power control and should only be operated in a manner compliant with FCC Part15 regulations...." A guy about 15 miles from here got himself a nasty little $1500 fine and a "shut-down order" from the FCC last Christmas for transmitting only 200 mW of power. After hearing that, I cranked down my signal quite a bit. This is the second one I know about in this area in the last 2 years. This add mentions that the power is variable (I think they mean adjustable, not variable) up to 100 mW. That is 4 times over the FCC limit for transmitters. Well actually, the limit does not go by power, but the limit roughly equates to 25 mW of power, depending on antenna, connections, amount of standing wave reflections, etc. Until last year I thought the FCC was too busy and too under-funded to worry about small-fry people, but due to popularity of things like LOR and real-estate home advertisements, it seems to be a problem in some areas with these transmitters over-riding local stations in neighborhoods. In the case of the guy I know in Danville, someone in the area complained to the FCC about not being able to hear their favorite Spanish station in San Francisco. Summary, watch your power and choose your radio station wisely! Hence, I am posting this link to a site where you can enter your zip code and see what stations to avoid in your area. http://www.radio-locator.com/
  10. Folks, Thanks for the posts. I thought about adding some strobes this year for another display.
  11. I see that this thread is a little old, yet the is a common one that new users may see, and it comes back to haunt prior users. Here's my 2 cents on transmitter noise. Noise of any type will get into the transmitter in two ways... conducted (through the wires), and radiated (through the air). There are other terms to describe it, but you get the idea. For conducted noise, many transmitters will get a 60-cycle hum that often comes through the low-voltage "wall-wart" that these transmitters have. One really good and easy way to solve this is to take the wire that comes out of the low voltage transformer (wall wart) and wrap it around the transformer with 5 or 6 tight loops and then tape it, tie-wrap, it, or hot-glue it in place. You will likely notice the hum to drop appreciably. The other type of most common noise is as one person says above. It comes from the computer through a conducted or radiated means. Ways to solve this are to have more physical separation of the audio output line from the computer with the rest of the computer or other cables coming from the computer. Use a really good quality SHIELDED audio cable, not those cheap things that are packaged in with every electronic audio device you buy. Sometime a small iron ferrite "doughnut" on the end of USB cables near the computer will greatly reduce interferrence conducted out of the computer. Lastly, put the transmitter as far from the computer as you can (at least 3 feet). Richard
  12. Dr. Jones wrote: Quite some time has passed since I made the original posting, but I have new information on this topic so I thought I'd come back and post it. I hope this doesn't sound like an advertisement, cos it is really just a recommendation based on my experience in the last couple of months. We looked at a lot of light sets for a combination of quality, features, price, availability, and company support. Happily I can say there are a few good places out there and I see a couple of them mentioned in this thread and other threads. For a variety of reasons, we placed our order with Travis. The sample string tested very well with LOR and does not flicker during fades. Therefore, no snubbers are needed. Also there is no "perpheral vision flicker" since they are full-wave rectified, hence they also appear slightly brighter. The cost is good and he had some long 24 feet long strings with 70 bulbs that will make our installation easier. After all, we have to install 800 strings of lights. I don't expect we will have much of any winter weather problems in Texas where this display will be going up, but just for the fun of it, I drowned the lights in a bucket of water just to see if I could blow up my house! Well, that was not really the reason. I actually wanted to measure leakage current. Then I dried they off thoroughly and started forcing out the bulbs to look for hints of internal water penetration. After all, it isn't the life of the bulbs that matters with LEDs. Choosing a 50,000 bulb over a 10,000 hour bulb makes little difference if these things are outside in the rain. It's the rusting of internal contacts that will kill the string after a couple of seasons. Well, surprisingly on the lights I tested, a tiny amount of water penetrated only 3 of the 70 bulbs. I was expecting over half the bulbs to show signs of water penetration. And I was expecting large leakage currents, but there wasn't. Your mileage will vary! Of course the 110 VAC ends of most any string will be vulnerable unless you get the commerical style strings. The one thing that was the icing on the cake with Travis was his responsiveness. Replies were very fast and all the information was at hand. Summary, there appear to be some good lightly sets out there this year. We like the ones from Travis, but there are probably others too. The real rubber will meet the road when we get them up and see how they perform. I'll probably be back in January to report on that. Good luck to everyone on their displays this year, and thank you to the people who helped with recommendations. RGH
  13. rrader wrote: Hey Ralph, Good to see you on the board this year. We should meet again before the winter so we can compare notes on things for the year. Yes, we will still have our home display. I'm just making some trips to Texas to help them out with the mall setup. They have local people there to install and maintain. I'm just designing it for them and acquiring the components. I'll be around here for Christmas. Thanks for the recommendation.
  14. Hi Folks, It's soon going to be that time of year again. I'd appreciate hearing from people about your suggestions for where you bought LED strings and your experience if it has been good. I have to make a LARGE purchase of about 1,000 strings (or more) for a project I am doing to setup an LOR system at a shopping mall in Texas this year. You know those Texans.... they do things in a big way ;-) Since this is a commercial installation, I'm interested in higher quality LEDs. Ideally, I would hope for some C7 or C9 full-wave rectified strings so there will be less flicker and I won't have to use any snubbers to keep the fades smooth. Cheers to everyone, and thank you for your thoughts. Richard
  15. James Shelby wrote: James, Something to consider here...... A couple of years ago, it suddenly occurred to me as to why I was putting lights around the whole tree after doing it that way for a few years. Last Christmas, I only put lights around the front 180 degrees of the tree. And you wanna know something?.... no one noticed any difference. Unless the tree is out in front of the lawn where people can fully see it and get the depth perception, then it is not going to make any real difference if you go all the way around the tree. Example, my tree was on top of a potting shed on the side of the house. People could only see it from the front and not able to walk around it, so I was able to push all of the lights to the front half of the tree that I usually put on the back half. The pattern is much more dense with lights and looked better. When you look at a tree at night from even a short distance, light patterns such as circular movements don't really appear circular at all due to the lack of depth perception. It looks like side to side movement. In fact, when you put lights in the back, often they are obscured somewhat by the strings in the front. In summary, I'm not going to put lights all the way around the tree any more. It saves on lights and controllers, and I got a better effect. Although if your tree is out in the front of the lawn where people see it from various angles, then it might look better with lights all around.
  16. Sounds pretty risky to me. Why would you want to do that? Knowing what you are trying to accomplish will give us possible other solutions for you.
  17. iresq wrote: Oooops, sorry to mistated. I meant to say "Normalize" not "Maximize" in my earlier post. This is usually a cure for all default positioning issues since Windows stores positioning information in the registry for dual monitor systems. Once you have it coming up on the correct monitor, you can then set it to maximize and close the window so that in the future it will always come up in that state on that monitor. Cheers
  18. Not problems here with Hobbytron and I've bought a dozen things from them.
  19. iresq wrote: Often this can be solved by moving the app to the monitor you want it to default when opening, then maximize the screen, and close the program.
  20. Mike_1 wrote: I use this product and it is pretty good. http://www.smarthome.com/9034.html It can also automatically calculate energy cost for you when you enter your electric cost rate. I put it on one controller for one night to measure the power for all the shows on that controller, and then put it on another controller on another night. within a few nights I have accumulated data on what each of the controllers consume.
  21. Jeff Millard wrote: Jeff, that is pretty clever stuff. Seems that you have a lot more time on your hands than I do, and I am retired
  22. I've experimented with 3 different projects and the one I settled on was one sold by Target for about $45. It is square, reasonably water resistant, and has easily replaceable bulbs and image wheels for use with various images that come with it. There are surely other good projectors. You need one with lots of wattage (50 watts or more) for best effect. I tend to like the projectors with a mirror ball inside because it gives me the widest dispersion of images across the house. This year, my two neighbors and I used theses projectors on all three houses. In my opinion, the biggest problem you will have is image washout due to your other lights on the house or nearby street lights. You will probably need a couple of projectors and place them closer to the house to get more brightness and coverage. One projector at a distance is not going to work. We use the snow projectors sparingly and for a specific reason, such as... at the beginning and end of the show when we make announcements, we have all the lights on the houses set at a very dim (glow-like) effect and have the snowflake projectors on full brightness so they can be seen easily. Also during soft music such as Dean Martin's "Let It Snow", we have the projectors come on during those times, and the other lights are also going through relatively dim wavering effects.
  23. Griz, I think you will be pleased with your switch to LOR. I suggest you hang out for awhile on the wiki site... http://www.lorwiki.com as you will find many answers to questions like the one you just asked and similar questions. I might add that I noticed LOR II also has a "Beat" wizard in addition to the tapper wizard. During my short experimention with it, I was impressed that it did a nice job of detecting the beats of two test songs I used.
  24. LightORamaDan wrote: Amen on Dan's comment. I was thinking similarly. A 1/4" to 1/2 inch of plywood should reduce the effect range by an almost unnoticeable amount. My guess is a 15 feet reduction. I am effectively transmitting line-of-sight to two neighbors that are 250 feet away with the only physical barrier being their wooden garage door. As Dan mentioned, can have a larger effect due to ground proximity. In fact, it can be quite large depending on your terrain, and your range greatly decreases as you near the ground due to modifying the radiation pattern, SWR and other ground absorption/reflection effects. I suggest staying at least 3 feet off the ground if you want to get the best range. I keep my transmitter and receivers > 5 feet off the ground because I need maximum range to my neighbors. Think of these receivers/transmitter as cordless phones when you think about range. The units operate at 900 MHz which is the same frequency as older style cordless phones, and transmit at about the same power level. When I do testing for the season, I create a one minute sequence where I have a single "ON" event across all channels on all controllers. Then I watch to see if the lights go off on any controller during that time. If a controller shuts down quickly, it tells me communication is poor. I try to get it so that all controllers stay up during the full minute (or longer). Since LOR appears to have a nice feature of turning off the channels if a signal is not continually received, this is the easiest way I know if a controller is not communicating reliably with the transmitter. LOR folks, please correct me if I am wrong on this assumption.
  25. You are going to get a lot of good replies and tips on this thread. As for me, I store away all controllers except for one that I keep handy in the garage so I can experiment with it in the summer. Other controllers go into storage. I keep them in the garage rather than the attic or the garden shed because I don't like for electronics to go through regular daily wide temperature changes. In theory, it should not matter, but I am just finicky not take unnecessary risks. I start updating software, firmware and experimenting with the "handy" controller in late summer to make sure it works with new changes, and take a leisurely pace at sequencing new songs for my weekend hobby. Having a controller available to view a couple of strings of lights gives me a better idea of the timing and appearance. Around November 10 is when I start setting up and testing everything for about a week. This gives me plenty of time to work out quirks and problems and get repairs done before the season starts. Although we don't fire up the shows until the weekend between Thanksgiving and Dec 1, this gives plenty of time to test everything out. While I'm on the subject, my best advice is related to what happens AFTER you set up the show next year. No matter how temped you are to tweak songs, sequences, shows, firmware, software, etc. DON'T DO IT! More than likely, you'll just cause problems. Changes are not worth the risk for an adjustment that your audience is not likely to notice anyway. This is where people get into trouble with their equipment failing. Remember Mark Twains adage... "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I use this advice even for updating firmware. Unless it is actually fixing something that is broken or gives me a great new feature, I don't update just for the purpose of having the latest and greatest. I noticed that some people were updating firmware a week before going live. I think that is poor judgment.
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