Jump to content
Light-O-Rama Forums
Jim Hans

Att'n Newbies- Setup tips and tricks

Recommended Posts

Jim Hans    49

As we all will be setting up our displays very soon, I thought it would be fun to start a thread for our newer members on setup tips and tricks.  Every year on this forum we see the same questions/problems pop up as displays get set up.  So for all of the experienced light blinkers out there... let's populate this thread with those tips, tricks, lessoned learned that can save a newbie (or even an oldbie) some stress.  I'll start with a few....

 

  • Run all of your sequences through the LOR Verifier program to check for any conflicts.
  • Do check every light before you put it up.
  • Plan on everything taking twice as long as you have planned.
  • Yes that cat 5 cable can be bad.  Have a brand new one on hand to swap in when things seem to be doing strange things.
  • When things aren't going as planned and are doing strange things, approach it logically.  If your controllers are doing strange things or you are popping GFCI's disconnect everything and add them in one at a time starting from the show computer/director.  It may sound time consuming but it will help you isolate a problem much quicker than just guessing.

So let's jump in... tips, tricks, lesson's learned.  What advice can we give now that will prevent a newbie from posting a panic attack thread during set up?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cdanna77    27

Back-up-back up-back up your sequences and music.

I had a hard drive crash last year during my show and lost 3/4 of my show sequences.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ron Boyd    268
  • Label both ends of your connection wires. With bundled wires for mega trees and such, it's less of a headache.
  • On the subject of Mega trees, if using a crank up head, make sure you spread all strings out in somewhat of an order as they will be on the tree. If you leave them in the middle, it can take hours to untangle the birds nest you will have.
  • Test, Test, Test. Test your lights, whether they be Incans, LEDs or RGB. Test the controllers, especially if they will be elevated. There's nothing worse than trying to solder something when you're 15' high on a ladder.
  • Try to have your controllers as close to the elements as possible. It's better to run 1 or 2 extension cords to the controller as to run 12-16 ext. cords from the controllers in a garage or on a porch.
  • If you're worried about water intrusion on your controllers, a plastic grocery bag is about all you need to keep water out. Tie it loosely at the bottom.
  • Back up all sequences and audio. Mentioned above, but worth mentioning again. Back it all up on several different medias. When you get set up done, there's nothing worse than making a brain fart and deleting you're entire show a week before you go live. Luckily, it was backed up several times.

 

Yes, I've been bit by all of these.

Edited by Ron Boyd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
zman    71

  • Don't pack your controllers full up. Leave some spare channels in the yard. If something happens to a triac, you can quickly re-connect and update your sequences and be back running quickly.

Make all your extension cords with SPTx and vampires. Buy good quality 12/3, 14/3 cords for your power grid. Use Orange, Red or Blue for these so you can quickly see them on the lawn. Use brown.black or green for your channel cords.

A different idea on the plastic bags. Use Costco lawn and leaf bags. I put controllers on a small ramp using 1x12x2'. This keeps the majority of the plugs out of the lawn, should catastrophy hit, the ramp allows water to run out the bottom, then cover then with the Costco bags staking the bag with landscape "U" stakes.

Stick to your yearly plan. Last minute changes or additions cause delays and stress.

Is your display large enough to think about ordering a Sani-Can for the Season? Your guests will thank you.

Keep a set of jumper cables handy during the Display Season.

Something that hasn't been mentioned, back up your sequences :) to several places.

Edited by zman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
George Simmons    1,154

Get yourself a cheap digital voice recorder (or use a recording app on your phone) to send yourself a message to backup your sequences to more than one place AT LEAST once per week.

When you're in the yard and need something you don't have, but you don't need it badly enough to drop what you're doing, record it. It's probably healthy to get the steps, but I've grown so tired over the years at getting into the garage (or house) and suddenly having no clue whatsoever what that thing I needed was.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you're installing hard frames to your house (eaves/window frames), start from the top and work down.  Dropping a 2nd story window frame onto an installed 1st floor window frame will leave you with 2 shattered window frames (instead of 1).  Not that I know from experience... it was my friends, cousins, sisters brother-in-law... yeah...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Vince4xmas    44

Have plenty of cable-ties.

Allow twice as much time as you think you will need.

Backup all files at multiple locations.

Label, label, label.

 

Cross your fingers before you throw the main switch!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jstorms    214

Start sneaking up lights with Halloween decorations.

Wear sunscreen (I burn the back of my calves every year).

Strain relief your CAT5 cables. You will trip over them.

Don't let your wife catch you on the roof. You'll be punished, and not in a good way.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Get yourself a cheap digital voice recorder (or use a recording app on your phone) to send yourself a message to backup your sequences to more than one place AT LEAST once per week.When you're in the yard and need something you don't have, but you don't need it badly enough to drop what you're doing, record it. It's probably healthy to get the steps, but I've grown so tired over the years at getting into the garage (or house) and suddenly having no clue whatsoever what that thing I needed was.

This is due to bumping into an Alain. Whenever you do this the men in black arrive and remove the Alain. They then have to erase your memory and they always take a little bit more. This is why you can't remember what you went for. It isn't an age thing. Well I keep telling myself that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
George Simmons    1,154

Use light stakes to keep all your plugs off the ground.

Water and dirt will short out your plugs very quickly.

Anyone know where I can get a deal on about 900 light stakes?

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mega Arch    599

Rule #1 :

Search and read everything on this forum. All the answers are here. Then when you've read and it just wasn't plain to you and didn't pop into place for you, ask the question the way you think you need to and someone &/or many will chime in to help you. The people here are awesome about sharing and helping. Many old timers as well as newbies are wanting to help you get your show up and running. Time tested suggestions - humm.. - kinda just like this thread.

 

 

Rule #2 :

See rule # 1.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
George Simmons    1,154

Thanks guys, but my post was meant as a joke after reading John's advice. It might work for some people, but in my case trying to elevate hundreds and hundreds of connections would be a practically unimaginable waste of time. (Not to mention having to try to avoid tripping over them and pulling the cords loose afterward.) I've actually had a few hundred of those green stakes in inventory for years that I'll gladly give away to someone who'd use them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mega Arch    599

....but my post was meant as a joke after reading John's advice......

Really? A joke?

We've never read a post from you that wasn't just heartfelt and with purpose. Never any sarcasm either. Just straight forward and factual.

LOL my friend.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jim Hans    49

This is great stuff!  Keep the tips and tricks coming.......

 

*** I will stress the tip above about securing your cat 5 cables (stress relief) and add that I secure my cords that plug into the controllers and strings as well.  When, not if, you trip over a cord you don't want to rip out a cat 5 nor unplug a string.... A quick zip tie can save a lot of heartache...

 

NEXT

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
radioguy1007    15

Get a critter trap NOW - bait it - and relocate ANY caught a long way away.  Those green cables look awfully tasty for some reason on Christmas eve.  Yes, from a real experience!

 

I know some people have another more quick and permanent method - but the neighbors might get concerned.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Slowpoke    11

Newbie myself this year . I tested my lights before putting them up and just left them plugged in to an extension cord until I finished hanging them . Actually had one strand that would flicker as I moved it . Had extra strands so just put it up and will look at flicker one later . Could save you from getting all done and having strand out that you thought worked . I have really small display so was easy to do for me.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Swedge    0

Another newb here. A few things that I did right:

-test all of the lights before installation

-all fabricated extensions (spt1) were made in 5ft increments (ie. 15, 20, ...)

-found that zip ties are MUCH less expensive at Harbor Freight than the big box stores

-built stands for my controllers that got the connections off of the ground

-used spiral (not split) wrap for cable management

-bought extension cords early

-had an electrician install two 20A circuits to power the show

-bought a refurbished laptop to run the show

-labeled all of the outputs and some of the extensions

Things that could have been better:

-label all of the extensions

-start earlier!

-have a better vision of what I wanted

Hope that this helps someone,

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×