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LOR Boards, inside or outside?

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I am thinking that I want to keep my LOR boards inside to protect them next year (once I have some of course). Does this make me part of the minority?

Thanks,

Chris

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One of the exciting things about serial port control was that we would only have one wire going out the window, instead of hundreds. The closer you can get to your controllers, the less cord you have to use. Some people don't really think too much about this, until they have to start buying 100's of extension cords. It's not cheap, so to me, the closer the better. I just build waterproof enclosures. I feel like you are defeating one advantage to serial control if you mount inside, and have to run cord to it. Of course, as always, this is just my opinion.

Bill

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Since nobody else has replied, right now it makes you the majority :].

Actually, I'm in the same boat. Working on my current long term project, I'm trying to figure out which is better.

Tom

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Santas Helper wrote:

Since nobody else has replied, right now it makes you the majority :].

Actually, I'm in the same boat. Working on my current long term project, I'm trying to figure out which is better.

Tom



OOps, Bill beet me to it.

My deal is since I'll have a show operating 9 months out of the year (if all goes right), I have to really think about this. If the LORs are going outside, I better make them very SECURE. BUT, If I hardwire my LORS and run conduit, another 15 feet won't that much of a difference (for my set-up). Bill is correct in the way for costs of extension cords (if that's the route you go. It can add up.

It just depends on how much your willing to spend to keep it indoors and running those cords thru the window or what ever access.

Tom

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As Tom said, it really has to do with your situation. In his case, I would have to re-think what I just said, because 15' is not a lot. In my case, I would have to run numerous 150' cords. With one animated display, alone, I would have to run 19 (75') cords, back to my garage and through the window, and I have a lot more animated displays than the one. Everybody's setup is different.

Bill

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I can understand the whole cost of and amount of cords thing. For me each channel would basically equal a 100' cord, but I also thought about making special cords to run multiple channels in one cord.

I guess I am just worrying about having a $200+ piece of electronics in my yard (never mind many of them) and that getting stolen. I live in a country setting so there really isn't too many people that would see if anything did happen...

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Chris,

I think you just answered your own questions. Nobody can say whether or not you will get vandalized. But if you are worried that much about it, spend the extra bucks and run the wire. :P

Bill

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Chris, is the case of yours were you are decorating at a home, I would keep them outside.

Tom, in the case of you thou, since your running conduit I would think of keeping the LOR's in a locked room. Since your running conduit why not just run just wire. You can buy plain 16 or 14 awg wire alot cheaper than buying extension cords.

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itsmejrv wrote:

Chris, is the case of yours were you are decorating at a home, I would keep them outside.

Tom, in the case of you thou, since your running conduit I would think of keeping the LOR's in a locked room. Since your running conduit why not just run just wire. You can buy plain 16 or 14 awg wire alot cheaper than buying extension cords.

Yes, JR, that is exactly what I was thinking. Run the conduit, mount the boxes and run the wire. Probably 16 awg wire. And your right, buying that many cords are expensive. I have over a hundred of them (the big thick black cords) strung to almost everthing electrical in the ride except the track transformers, They're hard wired which is probably how I'll connect the LORs. Run a couple power lines and mount to them.

Thanks for keeping me in check though. I often overlook the important stuff :].

Tom

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I'm in a nother situation, since my dad is retired, and occasionally wires houses for vacation money:: wire is plentiful , and we havd a workshopshed on one side of a large yard I'm decorating, and the house on the other. I'll put some controllers in the utility room of the house, then run some CAT5 to the workshop For the rest.

We have LOADs of old waterhoses that have busted ends, etc etc we plan to use as "conduit" for the outlying areas

Just put the stranded wire in the hose, and strap on a box wherever we need a plug.

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Hi all,

I decided to centrally locate most of my LORs. I have 5. And 4 of them were located together.

My concerns were:


  1. Chance of vandalism ... although I live in a neighborhood where this is a rare problem.
  2. Theft ... again maybe just paranoia, but I didn't want to have to worry about them
  3. Aesthetics ... I didn't want to see the boxes. Regardless of how well hidden they might be.
  4. Location ... most of my lights were going to require runs of some length anyway. No matter where I put the units. The one unit that was located close to what it was controlling, was on the front porch. All 16 channels were plugged directly into the lights they were controlling ... no extension cords at all.


So, the 4 that were co-located. They were behind a 6ft privacy fence in the back yard. As a result I had to run hundreds of feet of cord -- some homemade, some store bought.

I became painfully aware of the downside of this decision -- 1.5 MILES of Extension cords and homemade spt1 and spt2 cords.

THE UPSIDE?


  1. All the cords are run together along the same routes. And are virtually unnoticed even during the day.
  2. The units are protected behind a locked fence
  3. I didn't have to build enclosures to "hide" them ... which I would have had to do if they were in the front yard
  4. I HAVE MORE extension cords on hand than our local Lowes.
  5. Because I could put the boxes in the backyard out of sight. The enclosure I used to protect them was a wheeled large trash can made of heavy plastic. I mounted the boxes on the sides, and then drilled door-knob sized holes in the sides of the trash can and passed all the cords through to the units. Rain and Snow and NO moisture concern with the boxes.
  6. During take down, I'm just going to roll the whole thing into the garage.


I'm considering adding a Mega-tree next season. But, with that, since 1 or 2 units will be needed to controll just that unit. I will likely build an enclosure and locate those boxes right at the tree. I will, however, chain the enclosure to the flag pole.

In SUMMARY:


  • The more channels you have the more cost and storage space will be required just for your extension cords if you choose to locate the LOR units away from the items you are controlling.
  • But, you can have more security and better weather protection by doing this.
  • If you are not handy at building and/or designing enclosures to hide/protect your LOR units ... then this must be considered in your finaly decision.
  • My Recommendation: Having read about people who had a problem with vandalism this year, it was worth it to me to put all the units in a fairly secure location.
  • I did have people who let their kids roam around my yard while watching my display -- I saw the foot prints in the snow. It would have been very easy for one of those kids to have accidentally damaged one of the units.
  • If you choose to keep your units inside or at a distance from the display -- start buying extension cords a little at a time. Or making them now! I had to search at 6 home and garden centers one night to find green 80ft extension cords (20 of them) because I had under calculated my need for them -- and it was too late to order the bulk wire.
  • PLAN PLAN PLAN DRAW PLAN PLAN CALCULATE PLAN!


Good luck.

T





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This is personal preference. But I have a very strong preference for keeping the boxes as close to the lights as possible. I simply could not handle miles of wire and having to home-run the smallest channel back to a central location.

You see all the threads about "I need more extension cords" -- these are mostly people who keep their boxes together in one location (or use a non-distributable technology).

As an example, my mega tree uses 38 channels -- all 38 of them plug directly into the boxes. If I had to run 100' of wire for each channel, that would be a LOT of extension cords -- and that's just for one tree!

-Tim

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I work at mining mill here in Sudbury Canada and have access to 19 conductor 14 gauge wire covered in armor or neoprene Has anyone considered using this We can can get for scrap it is only dirty with dust .Maybe you can look at ascrap yard ?? Planning on bringing some home for the fall for my project 75 feet would get me from shed to tree location.

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i was thinking of locating my bord enclosure out of my second story window heres why:

no one will steal it

its just right out side my room where i can do my sequences.

id rather have 100's of extinsion cords than a stolen bord

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Silverado wrote:

I work at mining mill here in Sudbury Canada and have access to 19 conductor 14 gauge wire covered in armor or neoprene Has anyone considered using this We can can get for scrap it is only dirty with dust .Maybe you can look at ascrap yard ?? Planning on bringing some home for the fall for my project 75 feet would get me from shed to tree location.

I use a similar setup for my 96 channel mega tree - I have 12, 12-conductor wires going 80' from my LOR boards locked in the backyard out to the mega tree. It really comes down to personal preference. My display has had such publicity and has a tremendous amount of traffic most nights (20-30 cars in line most of the time) that I can't risk a board mounted "close to the lights" from walking away. I have all of my 19 LOR boards mounted in the backyard during December...

It really comes down to your situation.

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If you're really worried about theft and vandalism, I'd suggest:

1) Buying a really good metal enclosure that can be locked. The LOR Showtime enclosures qualify.

2) Locking the enclosure, and chaining it to something immobile, or, even better, mount it to a post/tree so it can't be thrown around.

This way you can put the controllers outside, close to the lights, but not worry about them getting damaged.

-Tim

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I was thinking along the lines of multi-conductor extension cords as well...

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I use what I fondly refer to as "ugly boxes". They are made out of scrap treated lumber, and I can just hang them in trees, lay them on the ground, put them in bushes, etc. I have 6 of them right by the road, in trees. They have wall receptacles, instead of pigtails. They look like junction boxes, and I can't imagine anybody would think there was anything valuable in them, so I feel safe using them. If somebody sees a nice, pretty enclosure in your yard, and it's chained down with a nice shiney chain, they are going to think something valuable is in that enclosure. If they want it, and it's close to them, cheap bolt cutters from Big Lots will cut your chain in a blink of an eye. But if you have an "ugly box", in the same situation, why would they want an old wood junction box, that isn't even tied down? It could be stolen, but the odds that it wouldn't be, are in my favor.

Bill

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94-302-vert wrote:

I can understand the whole cost of and amount of cords thing. For me each channel would basically equal a 100' cord, but I also thought about making special cords to run multiple channels in one cord.

I guess I am just worrying about having a $200+ piece of electronics in my yard (never mind many of them) and that getting stolen. I live in a country setting so there really isn't too many people that would see if anything did happen...



This past year was the third year I used LOR and have 8 CTB08 cards. The first year I ended up making boxes and had them spread throughout the yard as close as possible. Even with that I still had a ton of extension cords that I had to use because my display was spread out so much. After I took down the display I decided to rent a small storage unit where I could put all the display stuff as my garage space was so limited. Then in the summer of 2004 someone cut the locks on 18 storage units and took whatever they could out of each. This included all my extension cords and about 30,000 lights I had bought for 2004. Luckily I kept the controllers at my house so nothing happened to those.

Now as a result, last year I decided to try something different which worked out really well. I built a small wooden enclosure that would house all 8 cards and was waterproof with a hinged front so I could get access to the cards if I needed to replace a fuse or anything. What I ended up doing was buying a bunch of stranded wire off of ebay real cheap and did the following.

I went and bought the grey non metallic liquid tight conduit and outdoor 2 gang outlet boxes and the connectors required to connect the liquid tight to the outlet boxes. Then I would make my cords using shared conductors. I cut varying lengths of liquid tight to match certain lengths to items in my yard from where the control box was located. I would have like 25' then 4 outlets then 25' more and then another 4 outlets. Others I had 50' and 8 outlets or 50' 4 outlets then 25' more then another 4 outlets. Then I would cut and pull the wires through the conduits. For the first x feet I would have 8 hots, 1 neutral and 1 ground so 10 wires instead of 3*8=24 wires plus all the added insulation etc, if used outdoor extension cords. Then going to the next outlet box on the run I would only have 4 hots 1 neutral and 1 ground. By breaking the hot tab on each outlet, then I was able to have 4 channels in each 2 gang outlet box.

I found that most the items in my display used groups of 2, 4 or 8 channels so this configuration worked out well for me. This way I was able to get the cords close to the locations where they were needed and could either plug things directly into the outlets or use the cheaper two wire 6 and 9 foot extension cords to light connect the lights.

This way someone cant take the extension cords, I have used liquid tight and sealed the outlets then wrapped and taped plastic around the outlet boxes just to shed water and dont have problems with water getting between connectors on extension cords. So you can imagine I had this Octopus that I ran power to then had these grey tentacles reaching throughout the yard.

The only downside to this is that it makes it more difficult for me to move the main box out to the display or back in when the display is taken back down. However, I am going to be making a wheeled storage rack that I can use to wind up the liquid tights and attach the box to and then be able to move it more easily. I have not decide whether the box will be permanently attached to the rack or not at this time. This year I just layed the octopus on the ground and did not have any problems with rain or snow but if I had a wheeled storage rack I could just leave it on there and then wheel it into a corner of the garage when I am done with it.

Anyway it worked well for me and was a lot cheaper then having to replace all the extension cords I had and eliminated some of the moisture problems I had the first two years for the display... Thats my $.02 opinion.

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Steve,

I read your reply a couple times adn I think I know what you mean by what you are using for your lights, but I can't picture it. I didn't see any pictures on your web page. Do you have any pictures of these extension cords?



Along these same lines has anyone thought of using regualr romex or UF wire to make cords? Not sure if this is cheaper or not it is just what i was thinking reading Steve's solution...

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I dont have a picture of it right now. I will try getting one today and posting it for you. As far as romex goes, I have seen some displays use it but I myself would shy away from it. The main reasons are that its solid wire and would be hard to work with because of it. Plus, depending on how cold it gets it can become very stiff and almost brittle and then trying to wrap up and store when done.

The attached drawing might help with visualizing my octopus.

Every line between the main controller box and an outlet box or between 2 outlet boxes has 1 neutral and 1 ground which is hooked up to the neutral and grounds of each outlet. All the neutrals are tied together right off the LOR board and then only a single neutral goes out to the yard but its hooked up to all the outelts. Then each hot is for the hot on each channel.


Attached files 24312=1345-untitled.JPG

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I have priced the individual stranded wire and it runs about twice the price of the 16/3 100' extension cords you get for $9.44. 9.44 / 100 ft / 3 wires = .031 cents per ft. Locally I have priced the stranded 16 at 5-7 cents per ft. I have not looked to find it cheaper. The liquid tight connections can get pricey. Now in a comerical application that would be the direction I would go.

One possible solution at home that would seem to work fairly well. Cut off a foot of the male end of the extendsion cord and use it as a pigtail coming out of a junction box with either one or two gang outlet. With the three wires in the extension cord you can run two channels with a neutral. If you have a four gang box and need 4 channels then you would have two pig tails and two extension cords running to it. The other end of the cord would be hard wired to the LOR. Having the pig tail it allows the boxes to be stored separetly from the cords and does allow for many combinations depending on the year. This does reduce the number of long extension cords in half. Now you do need to remember that you can only run 10 amps through the cord for both channels since they share the neutral, but most of the time that is not a problem since you can only have 15 or 20 amps per 8 channels

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cvyvial wrote:

I have priced the individual stranded wire and it runs about twice the price of the 16/3 100' extension cords you get for $9.44. 9.44 / 100 ft / 3 wires = .031 cents per ft. Locally I have priced the stranded 16 at 5-7 cents per ft. I have not looked to find it cheaper. The liquid tight connections can get pricey. Now in a comerical application that would be the direction I would go.

One possible solution at home that would seem to work fairly well. Cut off a foot of the male end of the extendsion cord and use it as a pigtail coming out of a junction box with either one or two gang outlet. With the three wires in the extension cord you can run two channels with a neutral. If you have a four gang box and need 4 channels then you would have two pig tails and two extension cords running to it. The other end of the cord would be hard wired to the LOR. Having the pig tail it allows the boxes to be stored separetly from the cords and does allow for many combinations depending on the year. This does reduce the number of long extension cords in half. Now you do need to remember that you can only run 10 amps through the cord for both channels since they share the neutral, but most of the time that is not a problem since you can only have 15 or 20 amps per 8 channels



You missed one of the keys I mentioned. It took a while but I kept watching for wire at ebay. I won several auctions where I got stranded wire for a little less than $.02 a foot including shipping. I picked up a couple of 2500 foot stranded 16 AWG wire spools for $20 a piece which works out to be 8/10 of a cent per foot. Shipping ran around $12 to $15 dollars so that put it around 1.4 cents per foot. At that it runs $4.20 for a 100 foot cord.

But on top of that doing it this way you can share the grounds and the neutrals so you dont have to have as much wire which ends up making it cheaper. I always set up my LOR boards so that if al the channels are on at one time I dont pull more than the card can handle which is 15 Amps. I can get by with smaller guage wire for the hots as long as my neutral can handle 15 Amps which saves money as well.

Its always going to be much much more expensive buying stranded wire locally then watching and buying it of of ebay. The liquid tight connectors are not that much and yes the outlets and boxes add up as well but in the end I do save money because of how I do my display. Each person's display is different and unique so others mileage may vary.

The key to mine is that I watched ebay starting about this time last year and watched for deals on wire, liquid tight, connectors etc. I bought things a little at a time throughout the year when I found a really good deal. The thing here is patience, timing and planning. If you know what you need and watch for it then you can usually find a great deal.

Again, to each his own, I was just trying to provide an alternative and is not as expensive as was suggested. Also if its going to be up for more than a month as indicated by Santas Helper then this is a really good option.

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I Think I know what you mean see if I am right on the first Cord you use the ground as hot then black is 1 white is 2 then the next cord ground wire is 3 then black is 4 and white is 5 am i close or what do i need to change

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If you can get wire for that price then I can see an advantage. I started pricing out the cost to run almost all 80 channels and the extra cost per foot added up to a couple hundred dollars. That did not include the box and outlets. As I said I had not look for alternatives suppliers since I was just looking at my alternatives at the time.

The stranded wire does not need to be run in conduit. It could be left exposed, but tape or zip ties would be needed to keep it as a bundle. I think someone mentioned using an old water hose to hide wires.

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