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Hi Everyone,

I was contacted by the Mayor of our Village. He really enjoyed my LOR light show at my house.

Seems he would like me to put together an LOR light display on a trailer with music so we can roll through the Village playing music with the choreographed light show (and the Mayor as Santa). Since I know the tow vehicle won't put out enough power using an inverter, I believe I would need a generator in the back of the truck to supply power to the computer, controller, lights and amplifier. I will be using a single CTB16PC for this show as well as new led lights (possibly as many as 64 strings) (it's a very small trailer and a very large Mayor).

I have put on a light show the past 3 Christmas at my house so I do know a bit about LOR, sequencing and scheduling.

Has anyone done anything like this? Will a Honda type generator provide enough clean power for the controller and computer? Any thoughts from any of you experts out there? Am I absolutely crazy to try something like this?

Thanks,

Rick

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I am not an expert by any means but I have been thinking about putting a float together for our towns Christmas light parade myself.

Our parade would last around 20-30 minutes max so the power requirements would not be huge. A laptop would work for me even on battery for the whole show. That would leave just the controller, lights and sound system that I would have to power.

I have a couple of Group 31 Deep Cycle batteries that I was thinking I could use for power. With a large inverter (or 2) I think I should be able to power the lights, controller and even the sound system. If I needed a little more I should be able to get some power from a inverter using the vehicle power. Putting everything into the bed of my pickup will free up space on the trailer and allow me to pre-wire everything so I could use my controller from the house display.

In my case this setup is driven by 3 things, cost savings, fumes and sound levels. I have a 4500 watt generator but that sucker is way to noisy. If I already owned a 1000watt Honda generator I might use it since they are fairly quiet but they are pricey.

Using LED's makes the power requirement fairly low and the fact that small town parades just do not last long might make this idea feasable.

Dan

Anyone else see any holes in this way? My lack of experience probably has me overlooking more than one problem with using batteries with inverters.

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A good power inverter would work fine, if you are using all LED's for the setup. Your only using 1 16pc. You might want to post up the total light count and let the power guys figure out the load. The only thing I dont know about a power inverter is if the noise from the process would do something to the controller. Also something the power guys here can figure out. This would work very well with the mini director as well. You wouldnt need a computer on board for lights and audio. Just the 16PC, mini director, and speakers.

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The problem with inexpensive inverters and generators is the wave form they put out. Many will put out 'modified sine wave', which if you look at it actually looks like a big old mess (it'll be square, not a nice curve). Typically that means dimming is going to be out of the question. On/Off should work OK. You can also go with a pure sine wave inverter, but those are much more expensive than normal. For example, this one at Amazon is nearly $200, compared to a modified sine wave one at $80.

The best advice is to get your stuff together early and test test test.

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To further reduce your power draw, run the show from a mini-director. Your audio setup will probably end up drawing more power than the lightshow will.

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Before you buy a generator, think about switching to DC. The advantages are many, including no noisy generator, no (electrically) noisy inverter, and the bonus is that the Mayor won't get zapped when he spills his drink on the light strings.

It is possible to convert a 120V LED string to 12V. (I did it as a test by taking a section of a malfunctioning string and wired it to my 12v landscape lights.) Or you can buy some cheap RGB strips from eBay. I have also bought a string of C6 RGB 12v bulbs from Ray Wu.

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The previous posts covered just about everything.

A good pure sine wave inverter with run the lights and controller with no problem. I can run a microwave off mine. Just make sure it is designed for electronics. And don't always believe the power output. A 3000 watt inverter won't be the size of a Cracker Jack box and come with a 10 amp fuse.

If you don't already have batteries you are better off going with 6 volt golf cart batteries. They are designed for continuous draining. 2 wired in series will give you 12 volt (or 4 wired in parallel-series) and will last for a long time.

Scott

Edited by Shubb

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Just a thought for the sound system. Use a FM transmitter and have the pulling car or truck tune to the transmitter. Open the windows and give the driver some foam plugs. Crank up the radio and let people listen this way. Its not like you need a 100 watt PA system for this. So now the inverter does not need to power up a PA system..

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FM transmitter and a couple boomboxs on the trucks bed, solves the problem of driver going deaf..

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Hi there, we specialize in floats for lights parades, mainly doing animated floats with the lights sync'd to music. We've done all kinds of testing with buying and renting all kinds of generators. The Honda EU line (which puts out a very nice sine wave) is the best we've seen and works great with both LOR Residential and Commercial controllers. You can check out the Honda EU generator line at: http://powerequipment.honda.com/generators/inverter-generators. We've had great luck with EU1000i for very small floats. But we mainly use and recommend the EU3000iS --- mainly because you are probably going to want a pretty loud audio system. Also, the majority of the floats we've done in the past we've used the MP3 Directors which work great. Some of the new stuff we are doing with CCD/RGB we are going with a mini or micro ATX computer system rack mounted into the audio system's rackmount enclosure. Feel free to reach out to us privately if you require any further assistance.

Someone mentioned to start early and test, test, test. That is the best advice!

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Thanks for the link on the Honda generator, Hitech!

Greg

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Hi there, we specialize in floats for lights parades, mainly doing animated floats with the lights sync'd to music. We've done all kinds of testing with buying and renting all kinds of generators. The Honda EU line (which puts out a very nice sine wave) is the best we've seen and works great with both LOR Residential and Commercial controllers. You can check out the Honda EU generator line at: http://powerequipmen...rter-generators. We've had great luck with EU1000i for very small floats. But we mainly use and recommend the EU3000iS --- mainly because you are probably going to want a pretty loud audio system. Also, the majority of the floats we've done in the past we've used the MP3 Directors which work great. Some of the new stuff we are doing with CCD/RGB we are going with a mini or micro ATX computer system rack mounted into the audio system's rackmount enclosure. Feel free to reach out to us privately if you require any further assistance.

Someone mentioned to start early and test, test, test. That is the best advice!

Well there ya go. Answers most of those questions in a tidy kind of way. Get to it!

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Are the Honda's fairly quiet?

Yes, they are pretty quiet. I own a Honda EU2000i. You can stand beside it and carry on a conversation without raising your voice. They have an "Eco Throttle" switch that, when in the on position, the generator runs only as fast as is required to supply the load. In other words, if the load is light, the engine runs at an idle. If the load increases, the engine turns just enough RPMs to meet the demand. That feature further keeps noise levels to a minimum.

The Honda EU series generators are pricy but the quietest on the market. I've owned mine for four years and it has never let me down.

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Got a question about that generator Hank. You say that it runs at different speeds depending on the load. So, does this thing have a transmittion to change gears so that the spinning generator maintains a 60Hz? Or does it have multi windings with set speeds? Reason I ask is that I would be fearful that the output frequency of the A.C. would vari to much from 60Hz. The further it is from 60Hz the hotter some devices that are inductive will run. Motors and transformers come to mind.

Now my generator has a NO LOAD idle. But if it senses a current draw it kicks back up to normal running speed. Used it once like this when working far away from commercial power, with my circular saw. You could tell the saw did not like firing up like this and after a few times I just left the generator running full speed.

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I don't have a Honda generator, however the way mine works (A 6500W portable):

As load increases, the throttle is advanced only as far as needed to maintain a constant RPM. Let's pick a number, say 2500 RPM.

To turn 2500 RPM at a light load requires less fuel than turning 2500 RPM at a full load. As the load on the generator increases, you can actually watch the throttle linkage on mine adjust to open further. As the load is reduced, the throttle backs off, but never goes under/over 2500. (I'll bet it is some kind of centrifugal spring loaded dealyo).

I have a feeling that cheaper generators just set the throttle wide open, and then use a voltage regulator to bleed off the excess at lower loads.

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Thats not right either Mike. I agree as the load increases, the throttle needs to increase. Yet the engine needs to maintain a constant speed to crank out the proper sine wave Frequency. It is just like a car that you want to maintain a constant speed. There is more load on the engine going up hill so one has to advance the foot pedal, throttle, gas in order to keep your speed up to the speed limit. And going down hill is a lighter load and thus got to take your foot off of the gas so that you maintain the speed limit.

If you set the throttle wide open. I am reading no regard for RPM = frequency of the sine wave. Then this is a brand of generator that should only be used for lighting or heating. No motors or inductors. Note there is a transformer right on the LOR boards so this kind of generator is not good with the LOR board.

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The Honda EU2000i is one of a relatively new class of portable generator known as "inverter generators." The engine in these generators are connected to a DC generator, whose output is filtered and fed to a inverter that produces the AC. The output of these generators are as clean and as frequency-stable as a DC-AC inverter.

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I know what you are saying, and I agree 100%, but that's not how I understand the cheap ones work. I think the part that is missing is that these cheap generators have a constant load on them of X. Any of that current generated that is not needed is shunted through a regulator back to neutral.

I think the term Voltage Regulator threw you (it does me too). I'm used to the term from autos where a Voltage Regulator not only regulated VOLTAGE, but CURRENT as well.

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I have the Honda EU300i and it is very quite and works very well with the LOR contollers. They are not cheap.

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We use the Honda EU3000iS generators all of the time for lights parades, works great with incandescent and LED lights. And we've absolutely had ZERO problems with LOR equipment. Other generators, we can't say the same for. Even when using its Eco Throttle technology, it still provides a clean pure sine wave for good and safe use with electronics and LOR! :)

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A non inverter generator must run as close to constant RPM as possible, as RPM determines frequency. I've worked with some where the fuel injection ECU is the electronic governor to make it both as stable, and as fast responsive as possible.

Most consumer grade generators are just mechanical governors, which are ok for tools and stuff, but depending on how the controller firmware is written, may cause issues with dimming.

But the Honda EU series, and inverter generators as a class break down the link between RPM and frequency completely. By generating DC, and using a good inverter, they can run the rpm only as fast as they need to go run to make the wattage they need. It is kind of odd listening to a generator running 1500 RPM? And powering a big tent of demo big screen TVs and other electronics. But it was nice and quiet.

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The voltage regulator also applies to conventional generators, and is similar to on a car. The alternator generates a current that is proportionate to the field current applied to it. The regulators purpose is to adjust the field current such that the generated current passing through the load is resulting in the desired counter EMF, or output voltage.

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I know it's probably pretty obvious, but don't use cheapo LED strings for the float. The stroboscopic effect of half-waves in combination with movement would be very disquieting for many who are sensitive to it. DC would be much better in that regard.

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