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These are the words I spoke to my wife this morning...  but lets start at the beginning.

As you may or may not know, a pretty good storm just passed through Indiana.  It dumped some freezing rain, sleet, and about 6" of the white stuff on my area.  Well, it just happened that I was starting my show the night the storm hit (Thursday night).  Now I had set my show to run from 6pm to 10pm on week nights and 6pm to 11pm on Friday and Saturday.  I was working a night shift this week, and I was frustrated that I wouldn't be able to see the show until the weekend, so I set it up so that it would be on when I got home from work at about 2AM.  I figured I'd run it from 1:30am to 3am (with the sound turned down low on the outdoor speakers) so that I'd be able to see what it looked like at night (I go to work at 3pm).  Well, wouldn't you know I had to work overtime that night, and didn't arrive home until 3:03am... drat.. Well, such is life, so I set it to do the same thing again last night.  I come home to see the show running, but notice that one of the controllers (an LOR "build-it-yourself" CTB16PC controller) is not turning on the icecicle lights.   *much grumbling here*  I did notice that one string of lights were flickering erratically and that all the rest were completely out.  Being 2:30am I just figured I'd check it out in the morning.

Flash forward to this morning.  I get up, fix my coffee, sit down at the computer to check DLA to see if anything neat and nifty got posted last night.  At about 10am I decide its time to go out and check out the controller.  Bundle up (its about 18* F), walk out side to the controller, where I find its laying on the ground... OPEN!  yikes.gif  There it sits, laying open like a book, filled with about 6 inches of fluffy white goodness. (did I mention it snowed?  with freezing rain?  and sleet?) There is a small area that isn't covered right around the transformer, but everything else is packed.    cry.gif    Wednesday, I had been having a few problems with connections, so I had been visiting the different controllers (two active hubs, two Lynx Expresses, and two LOR 16PCs) trying to figure out where the issue was.  Well, apparently, in my haste to troubleshoot the issue, I had left the LOR box open and never returned.   facepalm.gif

I walked inside with the frozen controller and uttered those disturbing words you see in the title.  (anyone in disagreement here?)  I figured the controller was toast and would make a nice doorstop at this point, but being an adventureous individual, I decided to see if it could be saved.  We use a wood burning furnace for heat, and if you've ever used one, you know that it really drys out the air in the house so I put the controller, standing on end so the water would run out, over one of our heating vents to see if it could be salvaged. 

Jump forward again, a couple of hours.  The controller has dried out... no water anywhere, and just a very small amount of corrosion (that milky white dusty film) on the board.  Saying a prayer to the lighting gods I plugged the controller in.  Upon opening my eyes (I had closed them to protect them from the shower of sparks I was SURE were going to come streaming out controller), there, on the board, between the transformer and the PIC, sat the status LED blinking happily. 

"Surely not!" I exclaimed... "Yes, and don't call me Shirley" it muttered in reply.  Wishing to push my luck a little further, I plugged in a CAT5 cable attached to the LOR 485B and powered up the LOR hardware utility. 

***NO DEVICE FOUND***

ARRRGH!  "I KNEW it was too good to be true" I cried...  but as those pesky referees say in pro football... "upon further review"... I noticed that the utility was trying to connect to the wrong comm port.  Timidly, I moved the mouse to select the proper comm port.  I very very carefully reduced the network scan range to reduce the time it takes to scan for the controller...  Then, after sacrificing several (non-working) candy canes to the lighting gods, I pressed the scan button....





****  LOR CTB16PC 02 FOUND ON COMM 13  ****

The status LED went solid red (as it was supposed to do).  "I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!!!"   "Oh ye have little faith" it chirped in reply.  I quickly attached several strings of incans and ran the controller through its paces.. The lights faded up and down in response to the commands... they twinkled merrily when I pressed the twinkle button... the shimmered shimmeringly when I pressed the shimmer button!!!  The controller was SAVED!  (sorry.. there's no emoticon for jumping and yelling and screaming in joy)

So, now you understand the title of this little tale... and the value of SLOWING DOWN as you are setting up and trouble shooting your display.. and say what you will about LOR's controllers... too commercial... too high priced... whatever...  but those things are ROCK SOLID. 

Jamie

 

 

** Note - I originally posted this on another site and figured I'd post here as well as a testament to LOR's equipment.

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I thought the title was what an angry neighbor yelled at your wife after you ran your display for 1.5 hours in the middle of the night for 2 nights in a row (with a speaker no less).

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Great story..  Well told! 

 

The worst I have done is leave my rolling table I use for the computer outside and it rained that night.. the headphones I left on the shelf underneath the butcher block top even survived.  The butcher block however, is warped and cracked now.. I did not fair as well as thee

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From what I've read in previous posts, I've come to the conclusion that "These are sturdy little boogers".

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I thought the title was what an angry neighbor yelled at your wife after you ran your display for 1.5 hours in the middle of the night for 2 nights in a row (with a speaker no less).

Shows you what you know... cows can't talk.  It might have startled the racoons and deer a bit, but I don't value their opinion very much.

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Great story about a well designed and reliable LOR product.

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Great story a number of years ago could be around 2007 there was a discussion on using a spray I don't remember the name of it to protect the boards from moisture just wondering if anyone out there is using anything to protect them

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Great story a number of years ago could be around 2007 there was a discussion on using a spray I don't remember the name of it to protect the boards from moisture just wondering if anyone out there is using anything to protect them

 

If you're really paranoid just throw a trash bag over your controllers, I know some people do that.  I just use the provided enclosures (and a few I've provided myself) and see no need for coating the actual board itself.

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At our mini's "swap meet" they were clearing out left over equipment from one of our late decorators.  In the pile of equipment there was one 1601 controller in a case that was very worse for ware.  It was missing dongles, power cords and had a huge crack in the case.  There were what looked like black marks and some obvious corrosion on the board.  It had a sticker on it saying something such as burned mark on board.   And had a price tag of $25.  Being a gambler, but also a smart man I remembered this segment of the LOR warranty: 

 

Regardless of current end user, any Light-O-Rama hardware device that fails for any reason (e.g. eaten by dog, no longer like color) can be replaced with the same or current equivalent unit for 60% of the current list price of the new unit.

 

I figured that if the board was toast, at least it was good for 40% off of a new board.  If it was still good.....well that would be a lottery ticket moment.  I grabbed a set of dongles, spare fuses, and some other things that they had, totaled my bill and crossed my fingers.

 

When I got home I cleaned the board with rubbing alcohol and a tooth brush.  I put it in a nice metal case, wired up the dongles and power cords.  Doubled checked everything then plugged it in.  First mark of success, no magic smoke.  Second mark, the status light was blinking..... hooked up 16 sets of lights, plugged it into the computer and fired up the hardware utility....Twinkle, Shimmer, Fade they were all there on all channels.  And the stand alone feature worked too!!!

 

All said and done the build cost me $67.00 including, cords, box, and board.  Not bad for a complete gamble!  Just proves the fact, yes these boards are tough.  All the veterans thought this board was toast and it sat on the table all day and no one would touch it.  Like a zombie these things are tough to kill.

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A couple of years ago I experienced roughly the same story, except it was Halloween, it was rain, and I left the door open, but not lying on the ground. The controller stopped working, so I replaced it with a spare and rescued the Halloween show (which no one was watching anyway because normal people don't go out in the rain).

 

After drying out for a few months, I found the broken controller and decided to give it another try. Of course it worked as if nothing had happened!

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You can get some CorrosionX from amazon and spray the board. It will clear any lingering corrosion and protect from elements.

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Water is not the bane to electronics that everyone thinks.  What does kill electronics is having them powered ON when they get wet -- which actually means it's stray electricity that kills, not the water.

 

You should be able to take any powered OFF board of recent vintage, and dunk it in the sink.  It will emerge unharmed -- as long as you dry it off before applying power.

 

In this case (with snow), you did exactly what you are supposed to do.  The snow had not melted to a great degree, so there was not a lot of water around while it was powered up.  You powered it off, thoroughly dried it, checked for corrosion (or other nasty bits that would lead to stray electricity), and cleaned it up.  

 

Happy endings are always best :)

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