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Bowshock

Tips for the First Time Users

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OK everyone. Let's start a thread with words of wisdom for the first time users. It can be anything that happened to you in your first attempt to set up and run a light show with LOR.

I'll start with a couple:

1. Don't tell anyone about what you're going to do until you know it'll work and be on time.
My neighborhood is very competitive with the christmas lights. My wife told folks what I was doing when I bought my 16 channel box in Sep. Man alive did I feel pressure as Thanksgiving approached. I had 3 song sequenced, but I hadn't tested the "Show Scheduler" software at all. Lights were supposed to come on at 6:00 pm and I figured out how to "enable" the show at 5:58 PM. I just made it, but I still felt a TON on pressure.

2. Know what you have and what your layout will look like BEFORE you start sequencing.
I thought I had at least 8 if not more strings of luminaries to use in the show. When I started to set up the lights, I found I only had 5! I ABOUT HAD A BRAIN EMBALISM!!! Some quick thinking on my part and I got the number of channels I programmed for but I really would have liked it better if I the correct info from the start.

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1. Just totally wing it.

2. Have fun.

3. "Lock Timings"!

4. Buy green or brown extensions cords every time you see them on sale.

Cheers,
Charlie

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First time LOR newby this year with 16 channels. Good advice about not letting anyone know. I didn't and had my entire show sequenced before laying out the stuff. However with that said I am still waiting on 6' palm trees and flamingos, both are coming on Tuesday thanks goodness.

Even without the center pieces of the show people are already stopping by and commenting. My neighbor asked if I wanted to hook his lights up to it! Then proceeded to say I coould use his side yard if I needed balance. The next day he told me that him and his wife sat in their house with their radio on and watched the show. Comments like that make it all worth it.

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Push Eject wrote:

1. Just totally wing it.

2. Have fun.

3. "Lock Timings"!

4. Buy green or brown extensions cords every time you see them on sale.

LOL...yeah, right! Wing it...! lol (need the PC Laughing smiley!)

Yeah...buy some extension cords...then double your amount. You will run short (as I did...ran to HD at the last minute!)

Use the wave form...it's the most accurate out of the choices for the beats...

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From one newbie to others, before you try something new:

SAVE ! SAVE! SAVE! SAVE! SAVE!



The "save button" is your best friend...



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Start early! I am way behind.

Draw out your display on paper so you can start thinking about how you are going to run your channels and power.

32 channels = 32 seperate extension cords, you will most likely need more or longer extension cords than a static display were you have daisy chained power from one item to the next.

Did I mention start early?

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NkySpike65 wrote:

From one newbie to others, before you try something new:

SAVE ! SAVE! SAVE! SAVE! SAVE!



The "save button" is your best friend...






And the corrolary:

BACKUP! BACKUP! BACKUP! BACKUP! BACKUP!

Every year at least one person posts that their hard drive crashed and they lost everything. It happened to me 2 years ago and I lost some digital photos of our first son's birth, and it was only due to a huge coincidence that I didn't lose about 5 years of all of our digital photos (had copied them on a laptop to take on vacation to show friends, just a couple weeks before). I'm in software, I should know better...

I guarantee you, once it happens to you, you'll find a way to make backing up part of your routine. Please don't wait until it happens to you to start... External hard drives are dirt cheap these days, and many of them come with software that can fire off a backup every night (which is what I now do...)

-Tim

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Buy fuses in advance....

Last night I had a fuse to blow on controller 1.... I had not stocked up on any.

Also make sure the fuse can be removed ahead of time. When I went to replace the fuse it was stuck in the fuse holder. Not sure but I think glue from manufacturing had it held in place. I was able to get it out after removing the front panel and using a pair of hemostats to remove the blown fuse.

I was glad I had LORII. Went into the "Channel property grid" and was able to quickly and easily change the channels around to get a much better distribution of power. I spread out the power hog devices across all 4 power segments of my 2 controllers.

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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).

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Bumping this thread as it could be useful to the late crowd.

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BACK UP
TEST
BACK UP
TEST
Mark the controller cords and test them, I have a small piece of cardboard twist tied on each cord with the channel number.
Print out channels ( in sequence editor Tools - Channel Property Grid) Place one in each controller.
Mark Both ends of your extension cords.

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Plan to do 2 large light shows. That way you will probably get one of them done on time.. (said as I am still setting up at the house)

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As a newbee this year, here are my tips

1. Start early and don't be afraid to ask questions.

2. Don't be to proud to not use sequences already done.

3. Buy 1000' of SPT2 and plenty Male and Female plugs.

4. Get a Amp meter from HD or Lowes to evenly distribute your power load.

5. Get 12gage extension cords to hook up your controller to.

6. Expect things to go wrong, that way there is no surprise when things go to hell.

7. Start small, don't start with 6 controllers and expect it all to come easy, you will get familiar with how it all works by just doing it a little at a time.

8. Enjoy your work and kiss up to your neighbors! ( I have started a small Christmas Light war, in a good way, with several houses in the subdivision)

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brownjm74 wrote:

As a newbee this year, here are my tips

1. Start early and don't be afraid to ask questions. Better yet, start a month sooner than "early" and spend that month searching and reading forums so you can ask more intelligent questions and spend less time waiting for answers later on.

2. Don't be to proud to not use sequences already done. But keep in mind that it can sometimes take longer to extract the parts of someone else's sequence that you want to use than doing it yourself in the first place.

3. Buy 1000' of SPT2 and plenty Male and Female plugs.And when you think you've got enough ordered, double the order , and then double it again.

4. Get a Amp meter from HD or Lowes to evenly distribute your power load.It takes a lot less time to measure the load than trying to figure out why breakers, fuses, and GFCIs keep tripping.

5. Get 12gage extension cords to hook up your controller to. And when you think you've got enough, get twice that many.
6. Expect things to go wrong, that way there is no surprise when things go to hell. The more reading and learning you do in the beginning, the fewer things will go to hell when show time arrives. And when it DOES go to hell, it's a great feeling when you know exactly what to do

7. Start small, don't start with 6 controllers and expect it all to come easy, you will get familiar with how it all works by just doing it a little at a time. With 6 controllers everything will take about six times as long as with one controller, but there will be a lot more for people to look at and enjoy when they pull up in front of your house.

8. Enjoy your work and kiss up to your neighbors! ( I have started a small Christmas Light war, in a good way, with several houses in the subdivision)And don't forget to addess the issue of viewers respecting your neighbors in your radio announcements. That alone doesn't mean they WILL respect the neighbors but at least the neighbors will know you're trying.

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I am a noob, what I learned is WORK BACKWARDS. Figure out what you want your display to look like, figure out how many lights you have or are going to buy, double your cords that you think you need, get your electric set up making sure about amperage. Now if you have your equipment, start playing around with nothing set up, spend a lifetime getting things right, hook up lights, go outside and watch the fruits of your labor. YOU will be back again next year only bigger and better!!

Oh yeah, I agree with everything else said, and spend a lot of time of the forum reading and getting new ideas.

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My first year with a Christmas display. I started out with 10 controllers the CTB16KPC which I built. Using 8 of them now with a display in the front (5) and back yard (3). I also built my FM radio transmitter. All you have to do is set your mind to it and go for it. I'm running 10 sequences this year and still adding to the display.

Merry Christmas

Thomas

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I use a "Dry-Erase Marker" on my CRT Monitor (Do not use on LCD or plasma!!), helps with the sequencing.


Backup the files.
I didn't, then in just 15minutes I messed-up every sequence I had done. How?, I thought that a 30% background intensity would look good (nop too bright), and couldn't undo it or lower it.
Had, I had a backup file, it would have saved me a week of work. I did the two weeks ago.

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Little help please...newbie...LOR 16 Ch. Audio issue.

How do u make all the audio the same volume? I have 13 sequences and sme of the audio is at a different volume.

Thank you.

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BadSCR wrote:

I use a "Dry-Erase Marker" on my CRT Monitor (Do not use on LCD or plasma!!), helps with the sequencing.


Backup the files.
I didn't, then in just 15minutes I messed-up every sequence I had done. How?, I thought that a 30% background intensity would look good (nop too bright), and couldn't undo it or lower it.
Had, I had a backup file, it would have saved me a week of work. I did the two weeks ago.



I don't think you can emphasize this enough. I backup my show laptop everytime I make a change, no matter how small, whether it's to a sequence or a whole show. I backup to a flash drive, then back up the flash drive to an external 1Tb HDD connected to my main PC. I never overwrite my backups either. Each backup goes into a different folder lable with the date. That way, if I don't like a change, I can revert to a configuartion from previous.

I would add to this thread:

Make sure you got enough power coming from your main load center. Upgrade if necessary, you can never have enough power.

Don't trust every "shared" sequence. A few of the ones that I got I ended up scrapping because they were more trouble to correct timings than it was to just do it myself.

Make sure you really like the songs you pick, because you're going to hear them thousands of times.

Make a Radio sign that can be seen from different points of view. I have just one this year, and you can only see it from one direction. I'll be making two next year.

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Jeff Millard wrote:

...listen to everything George, William, Kevin and Greg say. Consider them Jedi Masters...

Jeff

Ah should you not include Richard Holdman in that List? Richard is a Jedi Master Sequencer.

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