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Richard Hamilton

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Everything posted by Richard Hamilton

  1. nmonkman wrote: Our announcements are very similar to the ones listed above. I guess Tim and I think a lot alike. We also flash the sign and donation box when talking about donations. We don't do "Voice Overs" on the songs as it distracts from the show... actually "Voice Tracking" is the more common industry term. We use simple sound recording and editing software (Roxio) to have my son make recorded annoucements. The only announcements between songs are to mention the name of the next song coming up. Other than that, we have an intro announcement at the beginning of the show as listed below, and then a shorter announcement about mid way through the show. Finally, there is a short ending announcement. The intro mentions... welcome, show length, show times, how and where to park, safety reminder to watch for kids and not touch display, turn off lights, keep noise down to not disturb neighbors End of show announces... thank you, next show coming up, donation box and the charity we give it to (there is also a lawn sign), We refer them to the web site for more detailed information. Then we have a two minute break for traffic to clear out. Lastly, I uses "Zara Radio" software to make announcements and play Christmas songs during non-show hours (day and night). It automatically stops playing music when the LOR show starts. One nice touch is that I have an RDS encoder tied to Zara Radio and timed to LOR. The result is that on the car radios, it shows the name of the song that is currently playing and an occasional other message like our web site name. Most all radios in the last year have RDS decoding and displays built into them. I would be as happy as a pig in mud if Dan ever got around to putting a tie-in to RDS encoders so that messages and song titles could be sent out on the radio broadcast without needs to do that outside of LOR. (Pretty simple stuff)
  2. basis21b wrote: That is a great list of options above. There are tons of choices available that you can "Google" for them. I saw one post where a person said they couldn't find anything and started programming his own. Clearly, no search was performed before starting that project. Also to comment, this is an area where you DON'T get what you pay for. I'm seen several programs for sale ranging from $20 to $50, and none of them are as powerful as a couple of free ones. I could not help but notice that the one I use is on the list... "ZARA Radio" For me, it was a slam dunk choice to go with it. That software is very powerful and easy to use. And best of all, it is FREE ! Actually, I use it all year long to transmit different sets of mp3, weather, time, and internet feeds throughout my property so I can hear it on various FM radios.
  3. Jeff Millard wrote: Well Jeff, I guess I'm going to disagree with this. I don't use Saran Wrap, but I use tiny sandwhich bags to put connections in the bag and then a rubber band to keep it closed. The trick is not to let the bag dangle so that water can get in the bag. The bag entrance should obviously face down. This is only my 3rd year using LOR, yet I'm been doing this with other equipment for 15 years. My first 2 years were nothing but trouble with GFCI trips and other issues of sockets rusting out. However, in the last 12 years of "bagging" connections, I can honestly say I've never had a single trip issue across the whole 80 channels. The difference might be plastic wrap. It's too easy for water to get trapped in there, which is probably what you are referring to
  4. michael spencer wrote: Your statement and question are not clear to me. When you say you "Downloaded Wizards of Winter"... what exactly did you download... the music, the sequence, or both? Hopefully you downloaded both. This is simple. Open the sequence editor, open the sequence, and go to the EDIT menu to add the audio file. Hopefully, you downloaded the correct version of the audio file that goes with the sequence that the original creator used. Otherwise, it won't sync properly. I suggest you spend some time going through the manual and the LOR Wiki sites first. It will save you a lot of time trying to figure these things out and getting replies from this board.
  5. I am posting message for husband. If you are expecting any answers to questions from him, please understand he will not be able to answer them for the next couple of weeks. We have had a death in the family and he had needed to travel out of state. I have a big list of places to post messages and didn't realize all this internet activity goes on. It was bad enough with all the time spent on doing lights. :shock: There is this stuff too ! Now, back to my own web sites. You know, interesting woman stuff... like decorating... not bits, bytes, and electric things.
  6. My number 1 tip for newbees is to consider wrapping your connections. I started doing this 10 years ago, and it is worth the time. You will probably blow fewer fuses, and prevent GFCI circuits from tripping. What I mean is that in each location where an extension cord plugs into a string of lights, or at the end of a light string where there is a recepticle, I fold back the connections, stuff them in a small plastic sandwich bag and wrap a rubber band around it. Then I position it vertically so that water does not drain into the bag. This usually means I rubber band it to a twig on the tree or bush, or whatever the lights are mounted on. We get a LOT of rain in Northern California that usually starts in December. Every since I started using this technique years ago, I've never had the show go out during a rainy night. It also keeps the connections from rusting out. At the box, I don't wrap anything. I just make sure that the box is mounted high enough that the cords hang naturally downward so rain water drains away from the controller recepticle plugs instead of into the plug (don't have the plugs laying on the ground).
  7. fire_paramedic wrote: Out of curiosity, isn't that only true with incandescent bulbs? As I recall, the current through a string of LEDs will not change much at all of an LED fails, so the other bulbs stay at about the same brightness. I forget the details about that.
  8. Kevin, your information makes a LOT of sense. Thanks for the post.
  9. Holy Smoke ! You better start taking out a home equity loan RIGHT NOW to pay off your electric bill when it arrives :shock: There sure is a lot of action going on there.
  10. I like the idea and I can't think of any reason why it would not work. I don't buy the comment from whoever told you that it would blow out the diodes if connected wrong. I agree with you that the stran simply won't work if connected wrong. They are already being subjected to a back biased 120 VAC during part of the AC waveform, so blowing them out isn't something that should happen. My only concern is that if you are experimenting, leave the LOR out of the experiment for risk of blowing out a channel if you build the full wave rectifier wrongly.
  11. rickharp wrote: I switched to LEDs last year on my mega-tree and I prefer them over incandescent lights for a lot of reasons, but the main two reasons for the switch to LED is that I wanted them to be more reliable, and better color. My tree is mounted on top of a shed and I don't want to be replacing bulbs during the season. I like the brilliant color of LEDs far better than incandescent bulbs.
  12. Here is a link to my Show songs and order... http://magiclightshow.com/2007_shows.htm From comments last year I learned that our attendees generally fall into one of two groups... "acid heads" and "old foggies".... well at least that is what my son calls them. some people don't like the rock music and think it is not appropriate for Christmas and other folks think that classic songs are too boring. Sooooo, this year (as you will see from my page) we have alternate nights of rock music and classic music, but on the weekend we run both shows. It is interesting to see from the crowd that I can determine which show is playing by looking at them. Parents with young kids and older people seem to come on the "classic" night, and teenagers come on the rock night. Shows have played only a few nights but the response to this layout has been better than I hoped. People like the split. Also, I only have about 30 minutes of songs on each night because I want to keep the traffic moving. Last year I had about a one hour show and that was much too long. We also have an intro to explain parking suggestions and a little information. Each song is announced before it starts, and at the end of the show is where we give the thank you and beg for charity donations ;-)
  13. johnny christmas wrote: Good idea to check the manual. Depending on the age of the camera, most all recent video cameras have a slide button or push button labelled "manual" or "auto" for the focus. Then turn the lens ring to put it in focus at infinite distance. I have seen some cameras that inconveniently place this feature in an on-screen menu.
  14. johnny christmas wrote: Nice job Johnny. I have a suggestion for the next time you make a video of your display... Set the video camera to manual focus mode and turn the focus ring to infinity. This will prevent the auto-focus control from trying to find the range during dark segments.... thus causing it to run in and out of focus. Cheers, Richard http://MagicLightShow.com
  15. Michael M wrote: Michael, my recommendation might be too much overkill for what you need, but I will mention below what I use for X10 control. There are many solutions and I am sure you will get a lot of good responses. This information below is copied from my web site and is more than you likely care to know about X10 technology. You probably know all this stuff already, yet I will mention some issues with old X10 for people not that familiar with it. X10 technology is over 20 years old and the designs of the circuitry have not changed much. I have found X10 to be very unreliable since they first came out. A few years ago, I ran across an upgraded X10 design that I purchased. For me, it has been extremely reliable in sending signals. It is a company called SmartHome and here is a link to their X10 stuff... http://www.smarthome.com/_/X10_Compatible/_/23X/land.aspx I've used their equipment all over the house to automate lighting. While on the subject, I should mention that it is worth looking into "Insteon", also found at SmartHome. The is a newer generation of device that is even more reliable. For replacement X10 devices and adding new one ones, I have been buying the Insteon devices. They also work with older X10 devices. The biggest problems with X10 over the years has been that signals sent from a control device to a receiving device has not been very reliable. It is a "simplex" communication, so signals are not sent back to the controlling device. Therefore the controller does not know if the receiving device really got the signal or not. As such, you can't poll the status of a device to know if it is really on or off. Some of the newer generation stuff (not the Radio Shack junk), uses a half duplex communication method where a controller can poll the status of a receiving device. All SmartHome equipment works this way and it improves reliablility. With X10, there are many forces at work which make them generally unreliable. Electrical lines tend to be very noisy because of heavy load devices like refrigerators, air conditioning, and heaters turning on and off. Many plasma TVs and other high tech devices will kick low and high frequency noise back into the electrical lines if not well regulated or filtered at the outlet. If that were not bad enough, there is also an issue of trying to send signals from one leg of the house current to a device on the other leg (your house as two 110 Volt legs to generate 220 where needed). The signal almost never gets to the intended device unless you use a "crossover" device at your electrical panel or at the clothes dryer. And lastly, as your house is bigger and the more devices you use, the problems get worse because of the longer electrical lines and loading from many devices. This is where Insteon helps. Those devices send control signals both wirelessly and over the house wiring. My long winded message can be summed up to say, don't buy the cheaper old X10 devices. They are not worth the hassle. And if you have a lot of devices, a big house, or need to send signals across different AC legs of your house, then you probably need to invest in signal boosters and a crossover device. Richard http://MagicLightShow.com
  16. Ah yes, thanks for that clarification for folks. I try not to buy those kind.
  17. RicPenn wrote: I had this problem earlier in the year with XP. Send email to LOR support. Dan will have a solution for you. I can't post it here.
  18. cmoore60 wrote: For anyone who is interested, I explain on my web site a bit more detail about the issue of LEDs not fading properly and how to get them to do it by making a VERY SIMPLE terminator for about $1 each. High Resolution photos of the teminator are included. The solution is similar to the novel approach posted on planet Christmas, but doesn't involve the extra time, soldering, glue, tape, etc. Anyone can make these terminators. http://magiclightshow.com/bb/index.php?topic=41.0
  19. Becky_Racioppo wrote: The lump you are referring to in the Phillips LEDS is where they put their current limiting resistors. LEDs need current limiting to prevent burnout. Some of the better designs will have a "full wave rectifier" (4 diodes) in the "lump" so the LEDs will get 60 cycles per second of on/off instead of the 30 Hz that cheaper strings use. While I am on the subject, the difference is that an LED with full wave rectification in the circuitry will almost totally eliminate the noticeable peripheral vision flicker you might see in the corner of your eye when you look away from the string (your eyes are more sensitive to movement and intensity changes in the peripheral vision). Thus, for my internal Christmas tree lights, I only buy the better strings. It is often almost impossible to determine in advance of the purchase as to whether the LEDs have this feature or not. You usually don't see that information on the box. People won't know what it means. LED lights don't have internal transformers, so I don't think that is what people are talking about here.
  20. fire_paramedic wrote: Fire_.... thanks for posting this link. I was just about to do it and I saw you got ahead of me ;-) That was my thread. Let me add that I was skeptical about the solution, but since it was coming from Dan, I figured it had to be a good fix. It took me all of about 3 minutes to remove the cover (with power unplugged of course), set the controller ID to default, power it up, then unplug and set it back to my previous channel. The unit has worked flawlessly every since that time. No more dim channels that would not fully turn off. I assume it was a mistake for me to set the controller ID as soon as I received it from LOR. I probably should have plugged it in first, so it would do it's magic initialization thing (or whatever reason it needed that process). Plugging a new unit in to the AC first is probably something that people should do before changing the unit ID.
  21. JeffBlan wrote: Ok, then you probably are not having the same trouble I was having. My new unit had this problem and Dan told me to reset the unit and that solved my problem. On my unit, it did not matter what kind of lights were plugged in it.
  22. johnny christmas wrote: I guess I am too lazy. I bought mine at Target... prelighted, 3 in a box.
  23. Tim Fischer wrote: I think I remember Dan saying awhile back that there's a bunch of preset intensities/fades that you can customize, instead of just one that you have to keep changing. This would be really helpful, as I'm constantly changing that setting... -Tim AMEN ! A feature I would love. I could really use preset intensities. Also I saw on a wish list somewhere on this board that they wanted to be able to show intensity of a segment on a popup when rolling the mouse over it. I could really use that feature too. Often I have to go in and experiment to see what setting I made for an intensity.
  24. Tim Fischer wrote: Tim, "Great minds think in the same gutter." :-) I do the exact same thing and I agree it is a good technique. In my case, I have one controller dedicated to 16 candy canes on the ground. Each candy cane also has a mini tree tied to the same channel. I chase the candy canes (and associated tree) at full brightness in parts of a song while the background intensity is set to about 25%. It looks a lot better to me than simply chasing the lights from full off to full on (of course I do that too at some times).
  25. We have had a donation box for 15 years. Our donations go to a different charity that we select each year, but it always involves the selection of an organization that benefits ill children. As for the donation box, ours was so old we replaced it last year. I bought one of those vertical locking metal mail boxes from Home Depot that is intended to mount on the outside wall of the house. It is opened with a key in the top. There is a small wide slit in the top of the box where people can enter checks or cash. I installed it to a 4x4 wooden post that fits into a metal stake in the ground (stake comes with the post). Each year we leave the stake in the ground and just mount the post in it (a 5 minute job).
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