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Klayfish

Have you had "that moment" when you realize you need to change course?

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So I've been trying to gradually build a non-static display since 2012 (well, 2011 actually but I started with one of those 4 channel things DJs use).  In the three years since, I'm only at 2 controllers and about 8 of my own songs sequenced.  I wanted to try to dip my toe into RGB this year.  I actually started planning it last year and bought the hardware at least 9 months ago.  Here we are in late September and I haven't even gotten to get a test sequence to work yet. 

 

I'm starting to come to the realization that I just don't have the time for this.  I'm NOT saying I'm planning to walk away from the hobby, I absolutely love it...you could say obsessed, like many of you.  But I need to face reality.  My biggest challenge is time, it always has been.  Right now, my weekdays literally start at 4am and end at 9pm...gym, work, kids activities.  Then my weekends are full of things that I don't get to do during the week.  Throw in my other hobbies, and my free time to do this stuff is minimal.  I realize how much time is required to learn RGB and doing all kinds of building props.  I don't have that time, and my building skills are not good either.

 

But I refuse to give this up.  It's awesome.  One thing I can make time for is sequencing in SE.  The way I've been able to get my sequences done to date is during my lunch at work.  I go out to my car for 30 minutes every day and sequence.  So that I can do. 

 

I'm thinking maybe the smart thing for me to do is turn my display more into "store bought" pieces and props that I can just do regular SE sequencing for.  I don't mean just the stuff from WalMart or Home Depot, but some nice pre-made props from Christmas specialty retailers.  That way I can sequence all year but don't need to try to find time to learn how to build props/RGB/etc...  Has anyone else done something like this?  Basically the idea is for me to do the sequencing for regular LOR controllers, but apply them to "plug and play" pieces.

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Don't give up because you are frustrated, I live an hour or so away and would gladly take a drive to help you figure things out.

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Little by little. That's what I do. I'm in a similar situation as you. But some how I pull it off. Don't worry about how many songs you have. Whether they are yours or tweaked versions of others.as long as you have blinky lights. Your good. This is only my second year. I took on regular LED and RGB(dumb)lights my first year and it went well. But this year I jumped into pixels. Wow. That's a learning curve. You can do it hang in there.

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I put a plan together the week of Christmas for what I would like to build accomplish the following season. After Christmas I take down and store away my show. Usually the 1 or 2nd week of January I start working on something and just slowly pick away at stuff during the course of the year. I probably spent the first month with my computer, a power supply, pixel controller and a set of pixels just figuring out how to make it all work. Then proceeded from there. I find it easier to tinker and build stuff during the bad weather of January thru April

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Yep, one little piece at a time.  If you have more disposable income than time, then you are NOT CHEATING by buying something pre-made.  James at Boscoyo has come up with some wondering little props lately.

It's when the hobby no longer brings you joy that you should change course until it does or you find something else.  My kids think I am obsessed and the wife puts up with it until she sees the faces of the little kids out in the their cars and she's out handing them candy canes and telling them which song is her favorite.

She ran into one kid that asked if she had seen the "fox song" house..  she decided she did not dislike that song so much after she heard the little girls tale of how much she liked it!

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No, this is definitely not a "Whoa is me, I give up" thread at all.  I love this hobby and am very passionate about doing it.  My wife and I started small...just static lights on the front bushes...sometime around 1997 or 1998 and it's grown every year since.  We do the inside of our house as much as the outside (5 trees, village, etc...).  I just think that maybe it's time for me to face reality.  I have very active kids.  They're involved in football, lacrosse, cheerleading, gymnastics, etc...  So 8 or 9 months out of the year, I spend my evenings and part of my weekends at practice and events.  I also have other hobbies that I'm into, such as auto racing.  Top that off with being light with hands on/building skills, it makes it an uphill battle.  For example, many of the props you guys build out of PVC and/or metal I would really struggle to do and it would take me forever to make one.  I've definitely used my share of PVC made props, but they never look "great".  They're usually slapped together last minute.  But I totally agree with that fact that as long as my lights go blinky blink, it's awesome.  I just am coming to terms with the fact that I may need to stop trying to make this a DIY project and focus more on a plug and play.  I can and still will do the sequencing DIY.  Like I said, I can make that my daily lunch hour at work.  But the props and such will be easier for me to have someone else do it.  If I can find pre-made props (snowflakes, candy canes, etc...) and just do the sequencing for them

 

I realize that's a much more expensive way to do it, and even though I check daily, my money tree hasn't sprung up in the backyard yet.  Or if it has, my wife and kids pick it clean daily... :P  So what vendors can you recommend that have some nice plug and play props at a good price.  I mean things beyond what the big box stores sell.

Edited by Klayfish

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Glad to hear you are not giving up. My offer still stands, if you ever need help I am just up the road.

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There are many good vendors with many good props.

Even some on these forums are starting to sell their props.

The snowflakes you mention - well get with Kevin.

He has some new "cosmic color starbusting snowflakes with a freakin attitude" here:

http://forums.lightorama.com/index.php?/topic/37056-what-would-you-call-it/page-1#entry342155

Candy Canes - Walmart

Etc. - Before anyone could really answer in a manner that could help you,

what other kind of props do you need / want this year?

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When learning anything new in any field you have to give yourself adequate time to learn and do what you want. Instead of trying to rush and get what you can added into this years show, take the time that you do have this year and next year for learning everything in the area that you really want to go into.

 

Somewhere around here is an excellent PDF LED manual that goes into detail about everything involved in RGB, pixels, power supplies, wiring and more.

 

The money that you plan on putting into store bought props can be invested in the things you really want in your show that will do what you really want once you learn the systems.

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I thought I had one earlier this summer when I started on my first RGB snowflake.  I originally planned 1 hour for each (I have 9)... the first took 8+ hours.  A lot of this was familiarizing myself with RGB, the wiring, the controller, the psu,  soldering, etc...  I soldiered on and when I got the first one running and I could see it in all its RGB glory, it stoked me to keep at it.

 

 

I can now get from out-of-box to up and running in a single night (2 more to go). 

 

I guess my advice would be to start small, get one thing running that excites you and motivates you to push on.  It worked for me. 

Edited by jrock_at_rons

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After my first year playing with pixels, which was limited to CCP's, I realized I was going to have to risk burning the house down and learn how to solder. 

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I don't think there's anything wrong with trying to stay within your comfort zone. If you enjoy pushing the limits of your time, skills, and technical ability then more power to you. But if going that direction turns this hobby into a burden then it's a mistake to do it.

Personally I lean fairly far towards keeping things simple. I'm responsible for keeping a lot of things running at work. I don't want all that stress at home.

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rwertz,
I agree with you completely.  As I had mentioned, I've been working on this stuff since late 2011 (first show was in 2012) and have made very little progress.  A lot of it is due to being very sporadic.  As everyone has said, a lot of this stuff is labor intensive, both in learning how and the actual crafting/building.  I may find a little time to start reading/learning/building, but then have to stop and don't get back to it for literally 3, 4, 5+ months.  By then, I'll have forgotten what I learned or where I left off.  It's been the same challenge with learning sequencing in SE, but I have enough basic skills to make the lights blink to the beat. 

 

Sorry, I didn't give specific examples when I was asking about pre-made props, mostly because I'm wide open to anything.  I know a lot of people have a certain theme.  I'm more free form, I'll find a way to incorporate all kinds of different things in my display.  So it could be snowflakes, candy canes, wire reindeer, whatever.  I'm open to any and all prop ideas and will select what I like...and fits the budget.

 

I'll still wind up spending many, many hours setting up the display, which I can do.  I just can't find the time the rest of the year to DIY it all.   

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Ehhh...there's ALWAYS time to get stuff done.  The issue is getting the motivation up to do it.  I work from 7-6, M-F.  I've got 3 kids under 7 (including a demon-possessed two year old) and I've still always managed to get my show done.  My go time is from 10 pm to 12:00 am on weekdays.  I use the weekends for prop building.  Also, pixels aren't all that complicated and I found that by just buying a SanDevices controller and pixels, and playing around with them, things were fairly easy to figure out.  I guess, the truth is that there will ALWAYS be enough time to get a show running so long as you remain passionate (edit. obsessive)...

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Well, you've certainly got more energy than I do. ;)  I can assure you it's not lack of motivation.  My normal schedule has me up at 4am, out the door by 4:30am and not stepping foot back home until 9pm.  Scramble to get housework done, put the kids to bed then collapse and go to bed.  Rinse and repeat.  Weekends are no better...between the games and then errands/chores that get neglected during the week, the free time is minimal at best.  I can barely function on the current 6 or 6.5 hours of sleep I get a day now, no way I could stretch my day out longer.  Everyone's situation is different.  I'm obsessed with this hobby too.  I drive my wife nuts with my whining that I want to get it done.  I just realistically can only cram so much into 24 hours.

Edited by Klayfish
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No sin in buying premade props.  Not everyone has the time or ability or tools (or combinations thereof) to make everything.  I don't have many props, mostly lights, but the few I have were all purchased.  My hat is off to those who do make their props - most of them are fantastic.  And that way you get exactly what you want as opposed to buying something and perhaps modifying it for what you need.  In the end they all have lights going on and off, bringing smiles to faces worldwide.  So don't give up the ship, just do what you can and know everyone who sees it will be amazed.  If you have RGB lights along with the superstar software there is a feature called instant sequencing.  It will create sequences for you.  You have control but it does all the hard work for you.

Good luck with your display this year.  I'm sure you'll make lots of people smile.

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Honestly, I don't get the mentality of spending a ton of bucks on pixels and then Having Superstar create all the effects for you.  Also the, insta-sequences I've seen on SS look pretty average and really don't take advantage of all the cool things you can do with pixels.  Using the instant sequencer on SS is akin to buying a brand new Porsche 911 .... and never driving it....

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Honestly, I don't get the mentality of spending a ton of bucks on pixels and then Having Superstar create all the effects for you.  Also the, insta-sequences I've seen on SS look pretty average and really don't take advantage of all the cool things you can do with pixels.  Using the instant sequencer on SS is akin to buying a brand new Porsche 911 .... and never driving it....

But if he doesn't have time and if he has the software & lights at least it gives him something to display for this year until he can start doing them for himself. If he doesn't have the software I would not recommend buying it just for instant sequencing.  Although I believe some people have created some nice effects with instant sequencer.

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I'm not sure I understand where you're headed with "sequencing for regular LOR controllers, but apply them to plug and play pieces" (maybe you're not either). The discussion of having pixel elements and generating the effects using superstar certainly is a way to get a good 'canned' show going. But you can quickly end up with channel counts in the thousands using technologies that are far from simple (just look at the post where someone has E1.31 data leaving his house and hitting his ISP).

There are display elements like wire frames that have built in animation that would start automatically when you applied power to the device. I'm thinking of a waving Santa. But maybe there are more elaborate elements like carousels out there. The dripping icicle lights generate a lot of activity and all you do is apply power. A lot of my slower songs have the icicle lights on for the whole song.

I've also seen several examples of displays that only had a few arches or a mega tree with 12 to 16 channels of one or more colors. With an assortment of sweeping type effects they look pretty good. You could reuse the effects as long as you stretch the timing to match the music. A few arches and a tree or two backed up by some icicle lights and maybe some strobes could come off looking pretty nice without a lot of intense sequencing work.

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Sorry, guess I didn't explain it very well.  Let me try to clarify.

 

I already have two 16 channel LOR controllers, so I have 32 channels there.  I've had them for a few years.  I sequenced 8 or 9 songs for those in Sequence Editor and have used them since 2012.  I had a goal of adding RGB to the display this year, which is where the pixels conversation came in.  But here I am in late September and I'm nowhere close to ready to put RGB out.  I have songs sequenced for RGB...in anticipation of having RGB, I actually started programming the songs I had previously done in SE, using SuperStar.  But the hardware (E682, PSU, etc..) aren't put together and I haven't started building a single prop. 

 

Hence my thought that maybe for now RGB is beyond my time/skills.  Perhaps I stick with the LOR 16 channel controllers.  I've already got 32 channels done, and the props for those are done (simple tomato cages).  When I say pre-made props, I used the example of candy canes and snowflakes.  I would buy those and then program a sequence in SE that uses those props. 

 

Hope that's a little more clear.

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So I've been trying to gradually build a non-static display since 2012 (well, 2011 actually but I started with one of those 4 channel things DJs use).  In the three years since, I'm only at 2 controllers and about 8 of my own songs sequenced.  I wanted to try to dip my toe into RGB this year.  I actually started planning it last year and bought the hardware at least 9 months ago.  Here we are in late September and I haven't even gotten to get a test sequence to work yet. 

 

I'm starting to come to the realization that I just don't have the time for this.  I'm NOT saying I'm planning to walk away from the hobby, I absolutely love it...you could say obsessed, like many of you.  But I need to face reality.  My biggest challenge is time, it always has been.  Right now, my weekdays literally start at 4am and end at 9pm...gym, work, kids activities.  Then my weekends are full of things that I don't get to do during the week.  Throw in my other hobbies, and my free time to do this stuff is minimal.  I realize how much time is required to learn RGB and doing all kinds of building props.  I don't have that time, and my building skills are not good either.

 

But I refuse to give this up.  It's awesome.  One thing I can make time for is sequencing in SE.  The way I've been able to get my sequences done to date is during my lunch at work.  I go out to my car for 30 minutes every day and sequence.  So that I can do. 

 

I'm thinking maybe the smart thing for me to do is turn my display more into "store bought" pieces and props that I can just do regular SE sequencing for.  I don't mean just the stuff from WalMart or Home Depot, but some nice pre-made props from Christmas specialty retailers.  That way I can sequence all year but don't need to try to find time to learn how to build props/RGB/etc...  Has anyone else done something like this?  Basically the idea is for me to do the sequencing for regular LOR controllers, but apply them to "plug and play" pieces.

Amen..........to that statement, that sounds almost like my life to a tee. We own our own business and it requires a ton of time being everything from the CEO to the janitor. We started doing animation 3 years ago and I have over 40 songs in my display which I have sequenced maybe a half dozen or so, the rest I let others do for me because of the lack of time and creativity on my part.

 

Yes it cost more to have them sequenced for you but I look at it like if you were a Golfer and just had to have that club that cost $300 for a special putter or 9 iron (I think that's what it's called) LOL. So you might want think about using people to sequence for your display and free up a lot of time for you, I do build most of my props ..........it's amazing what can be done quickly with PVC pipe.

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But if he doesn't have time and if he has the software & lights at least it gives him something to display for this year until he can start doing them for himself. If he doesn't have the software I would not recommend buying it just for instant sequencing.  Although I believe some people have created some nice effects with instant sequencer.

True.  I'd wait til next year, however.  The controller and lights will always be there ;)

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My Halloween show has mostly custom props.

My Christmas show is mostly store bought props I have accumulated over the years.

My Halloween display does look better.

I guess I have more passion for Halloween and maybe that is why it looks better. But maybe the custom props help.

No matter, I still am buying a lot of store props for Christmas. Not that I am opposed to for Halloween it's just more props are available for Christmas. Several vendors online that sell premade props. Heck, you can even purchase complete mega trees with controllers and sequences from some vendors.

Prop building is the necessary evil for me. I love to sequence. And if there is one thing in my tool box that helps me sequence it is superstar. No, not for auto sequence. And no, not just for my rgb. Superstar speeds up all sequencing.

If I have a song that I like and get rolling in superstar, I can complete a song in 30-45 minutes. A 4 minute song. Because superstar takes away many tedious elements of sequencing. Such as timing. Superstar can help you get your sequencing spot on with nudges. That alone saves soooo much time. And when you save time there it helps keep the creative flow of sequencing rolling.

It's hard to explain. But if you love sequencing, I really reccommend superstar. It is not just for rgb. All my show elements that are years and years old....including a waving Santa, are being sequenced by superstar. And if you need time back...this gives it.

Just my 2 cents.

Oh, and no matter how hard the stores try....I will never buy an inflatable. NEVER!!!!!!

Sax

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Don't know that anybody is ever finished.  I started LOR last year and have a 4 plan in gettting to a display that I envisioned.

Being retiredd, I did 2 years work of the plan, this year. It's  basically has been a part-time job for most of the year.  If still working, I would have had to scale back, since I also have other interests in life.

There are strategies for simplifying and being more efficient.  One of my goals is that my halloween dispaly, is my xmas display, other than ;changing sequences. This can save a bunch of time as far as setup/takedown and building/maintaining display elements.

I'm using a lot of hanger bolts and keyhole hangers to speed installtion. No more drilling in screws each year.

There are some very nice, simply dispalys out there.  So one key, if you have limited time, is not to get caught up in the "bigger is better" metality.

The idea of DIY versus storebought is a significan tissue....saving money versus time.

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...Oh, and no matter how hard the stores try....I will never buy an inflatable. NEVER!!!!!! Sax

 

 

 

Yeah, yeah , yeah, I hear you tough guy.

However, if your granddaughter that helps you with your props:

 

 

Helper_zpsqdpgwbhw.jpg

says, "Papa, I love Minnie and I love you, too..."

Well, she can have an inflatable in the backyard if she wants....

Minnie_zpshhbvdban.jpg

 

Heck fire.

She could probably get it in the front yard if she pushed me...

Just saying....

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