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So how and when did you get started?

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TheDucks    28

Funny you should mention Color Organ.  I built the one designed by Fred Bleckman that was published in "Popular Electronics?" back in 63 or 4.

Mine was Stereo and was attached to 2 converted (each lamp socket had its own cord) Pole Lamps (Red, Green, and Yellow cuz Blue was too dim :P ) Pole Lamps.

As for Xmas lights, those were C9 Incans (till 2007) on a big Variac (to make them last longer).  Some years, I plugged the strings into a couple of 'cycle timers' to get blinky

The only time I did not hang lights, was those 8 years I was in the Navy.

Edited by TheDucks
forgot to add words afrer a correction

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dibblejr    376

I assisted my father in hanging lights, blow molds about 47 years ago.(5 yo) Then I enlisted in the military and for the first two years lived on bases. I went to Japan where I lost touch with the fun. They did have holiday music though and their technology was way ahead of ours so they had lights on the billboards, shops and streets.

Then I returned in 1993 (almost ten years deployed). Started decorating with incans and some props.

1994 changed from USMC to US Army after being RIF'd out. Moved to Birmingham for duty. Started decorating once again with incans. Moved to Fort Drum, NY where the lights are beautiful with the snow. Purchased my first Mr. Christmas (show in a box) if I remember the first one was wired.(2004) Shortly after purchased two more Light Shows in a box (wireless).

That gave me a total of 12 channels. I was a hit in the community. Finally retired to Alabama where I finally got into LOR stuff. Lurked here forever (treatment of newcomers) made me not want to join. After several years it appeared things improved and older members were actually being helpful so I joined the forums Jan or Feb 2016. I had my singing faces for quite some time and moving from home to home finally settled down and started using my props.

With a little help from my friends here was able to create a show using my faces until I got tired of paying for sequences and pulled up my boot straps and learned how to sequence by looking at the ones I had purchased or was shared with me.

Little by little starting converting to mini LED's until 2015 where all but my singing pumpkins were converted to LED's.

2017 adding RGB's which has been an ongoing challenge.

JR

Edited by dibblejr

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dibblejr    376
26 minutes ago, TheDucks said:

Funny you should mention Color Organ.  I built the one designed by Fred Bleckman that was published in "Popular Electronics?" back in 63 or 4.

Mine was Stereo and was attached to 2 converted (each lamp socket had its own cord) Pole Lamps (Red, Green, and Yellow cuz Blue was too dim :P ) Pole Lamps.

As for Xmas lights, those were C9 Incans (till 2007) on a big Variac (to make them last longer).  Some years, I plugged the strings into a couple of 'cycle timers' to get blinky

The only time I did not hang lights, was those 8 years I was in the Navy.

We are all "dating" ourselves! LOL

I guess most youngster could care less. May be a dying hobby just like model railroading.

JR

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jfuller8400    15

I swear that I was bit from birth.  I always loved untangling light strings and hanging them up when I was a kid.  From there I convinced my parents to let me start decorating my very own 'Charlie Brown' Christmas tree in our font yard.  Flash forward to the mid 90's when I finally got my own house and put up ever larger static displays.  Imagine how excited I was when purchased a Mr. Christmas controller and added some blinky/flashy effects to music!  I even went out and built a relay system so that I could switch higher loads than the Mr. Christmas could handle on it's own!  In 2014 I hit the holy grail - my first fully synchronized show via LOR.  Each year since I've added something to the show and (hopefully) made it a little better.

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plasmadrive    318

We are dating ourselves.. huh!  ha ha..

I remember getting this color organ because I had been playing with lights for a year or two and my mom thought this would be a cool present because I spent so much time in Western Auto watching it.. 

In high school I actually started a lightshow company with a friend of mine. We did lights for local live bands.. Now that was a fun time..

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Jaynee    47

We started decorating with more than just wreaths in the windows in 2011, but didn't add a light show until 2015.  But it was mostly lighted animals in the yard and a few inflatables.

In 2015 we added 16 channels, but it was very modest - mostly the window frames and a few other things dancing to music.  Even in 2016 it was modest by most standards - I added a snowflake fall on the house as well as a 7-foot, 8-channel spiral tree, which was a big hit. 

We'll be dark in 2017, but in 2018 I hope to have more channels on the spiral tree as well as lighting on the rooflines (it depends on the house we end up buying).

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lightingnewb    30

I'm going to be that guy and just copy and paste the story from my website about how we began the light show.
 

Quote

The family of four - Tod, Janine, Chelsea and Ryan - always have made Christmas decorating a team effort. Tod and Ryan would take care of stringing the lights on the house, while the snowman and train were positioned by Janine and Chelsea (they know how to perfectly place them on the hilly lawn). In years past, the family would throw a synchronized light tree into the lineup of lawn decorations. This tree was put away when the synchronized lights seen today became feasible, though not without argument from Chelsea (it was her favorite part of our decorations after all). The static "traditional" display seemed to be not quite enough for the family when the subject of synchronized lights seemingly found its way into every conversation during December...

The synchronized lights you see today are inspired by a community who have participated in this very hobby many years ago. In the month of December, we would choose one evening to research all of the synchronized light shows -or awesome light displays- in the Sacramento area. We would pack the car with blankets and mugs of coffee and hot cocoa and set out for a long journey. One day, Tod's daughter Chelsea asked him if it was possible for their family to make their own synchronized light show. He would put it off for several years until around 2012-2014. This is where Ryan played a huge role in researching and designing several concepts of how they could pull off their very own light show. In 2014, the plan was finally put into action. Over 300 feet of extension cords, 300 feet of LED rope light, 100 feet of plexi-glass, 2 lawn decoration and 2 Light-o-Rama controllers would be hung on their two-story house. They were proud of the show they created in 2014 (for a quick and budgeted show), and had plans in 2015 to upgrade the show tremendously. In 2015, they introduced the concept of RGB lights, which made a huge impact on the show. 2016 brought an even better upgrade – you’ll just have to come see it to believe it.

from www.lightmaestros.com

 

We started by using 3 different colors of rope light ziptied to plexiglass strips we special-ordered from a plastic company in town. We then drilled holes in the plexiglass for both the mounting and the securing of rope light onto the plastic. We used around 14 strips of 8-10 feet of plexiglass. To learn more either contact me or visit the website.

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wensteve    7

My husband took me to see Marty's Christmas display in 2011.  We drove up and the first words out of my mouth were "I want it." We went home, did some research online and the rest is history.

 

Marty's house:

 

 

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Thanks Wendy, your display is always my first stop and the one I tell folks to see especially your haunted house, amazing!  For myself I got the bug in 1990 when I saw an ad in a newspaper selling billboard paper of a nativity scene. Bought the paper, glued it to wood, built a manger and added about six strings of C-9 incons.  It was my 1st daughter's first Christmas and I won 3rd place on the military base I was stationed at.  27 years later and still loving it and learning thanks to all of you. 

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caniac    215

2007, my better half and I invested in a Mr. Christmas. After dealing with that POS for four weeks I knew there had to be a better way and there was.  Thanks to all those on here that helped me along the way.

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james morris    198

Mine was sitting down watching TV a bud comerical came on it was  lights on the house  going to tso ww I started looking it how to do it  got in to mr Christmas not happy with it took it apart found a way to get it to play music using mp3 player hooked up to it still not happy then found light o rama

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dibblejr    376
4 hours ago, james morris said:

Mine was sitting down watching TV a bud comerical came on it was  lights on the house  going to tso ww I started looking it how to do it  got in to mr Christmas not happy with it took it apart found a way to get it to play music using mp3 player hooked up to it still not happy then found light o rama

Mr Christmas hack. Bud Wise Errr! Seems as though a lot of us started with Mr Christmas.

JR

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toddm1919    7

My family has been decorating with static lights ever since I can remember (late '70s).  I can remember my dad diving off a ladder as it slid down the front of our house, while he was hanging frames of lights around our windows...remember the one with the clear plastic petals over the lights?  I was very impressed with his roll out as he hit the ground...not a scratch.  I thought he was a stuntman.

Anyway, we did static until the bud commercial, like James.  Luckily I found LOR right away.  I wonder how much the one commercial has cost people??

Oh well, I can't say it hasn't been worth it.

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When I was a kid it was a tradition for me to go out in to the garage, pull all of the bins down off the shelves and get out all of the Christmas lights. I will always remember stringing them out in the living room and testing each strand before carrying it outside to hang it on whatever bush I felt like at the time. I've been decorating since as long as I can remember... and I probably had thousands of Christmas lights to hang even by the time I was 8 years old. Most kids were out in the street throwing a football around or shooting hoops, and I was that one kid spending hours and hours hanging lights. It slowly built up over the years and over time I gained a knowledge of how to create more visually coherent displays. If any of you have ever heard of a neighborhood in southern California called "Balboa Island," you'll know how I was motivated to start decorating. There are hundreds of homes all with incredible, massive scale Christmas displays, and during the season it attracted tens of thousands of visitors just to see it. Because of the sheer amount of grand displays, the neighborhood lighting contest was fierce, and I was able to win an award 4 years in a row. I had constructed 7ft tall painted wooden cutouts of a Christmas tree and a snowman, and drilled hundreds of holes through them in which to stick multi-function mini lights. The effect was spectacular and it probably won me the award by itself. By the time I moved I was decorating 3 of the neighbor's houses because of how much they liked my display. That is a time that I can never relive but I am so thankful to have been raised in that environment. It spurred so much creativity and the desire to construct and design things. Now I await the arrival of 50 strings of pixels to start getting ready for next year. How things... well haven't changed much haha.

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k6ccc    499

I started putting up static lights with my Dad back in the 60s and 70s.  Once I moved out on my own, continued with static lights.  Nothing fancy, but we put up lights every year.  Around 2011 as part of a landscape project I installed some LED light rope along the edging in front of some roses.  I wanted to be able to dim them.  Being LEDs, I could not just put a variable voltage DC power supply on them, but rather would need to come up with a Pulse Width Modulation based dimmer.  Being an Electronics Technician, I figured I could design and build something. But why - this has already been done before.  I little research landed me at LOR.  Installed a CMB-16D, a CTB-16D for a couple channels and a Servo Dog (primarily for a a couple inputs) and had a simple show.  There was never any intent to do a holiday light show.  Fast forward to the end of that year and I went down to the house of another LOR person for the purpose of helping him setup for an afternoon.  Figured I might learn a few things.  At the end of the evening, just before I left, he said "Mark my words Jim, you're going to do a light show".   No, No, No, I assured him...

Around September of 2012, I built a 12 string x 50 pixel pixel tree.  I knew I did not have time to sequence to music so I just threw together some animations on the pixel tree.  The bottom video at:  http://newburghlights.org/Videos.html  Ran the animations for two years, then in January 2014 I decided to take the plunge and go full musical.  I added a bunch of stuff that year, and as they say, the rest is history.

 

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BMurray    55

I ooggled and drooled over LOR displays for a few years.  Before  i took the plunge and bought my first 16 ch controller in 2014. I had been doing static displays for about 20 years. Fast forward to 2015...3 LOR controllers, a 12 strip 12 tree, 12x50 pixel tree and 4 tree singing faces.  Then in 2016 i added 20 - 10w rgb floods and 6 - 50 watt rgb floods. Each year i get more ( it never ends. Lol) This year is a new 24x50 pixel matrix (built and tested for the upcoming season). And possibly a 24 strip matrix (still thinking about this one) 

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uncledan    33

I started when my son had his first Christmas with large static display.  He's now 12.  16 channels in 2008 I believe, 32 in 2009, 224 in 2010, 60k+ channels in 2016.   Who knows for 2017... It started with a bunch of blow ups and static C9's.    

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plasmadrive    318
3 hours ago, uncledan said:

I started when my son had his first Christmas with large static display.  He's now 12.  16 channels in 2008 I believe, 32 in 2009, 224 in 2010, 60k+ channels in 2016.   Who knows for 2017... It started with a bunch of blow ups and static C9's.    

My favorite is when a parent references the start of a tradition with the young age of a child.   NICE!  I hope it is something you pass on and he loves

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Dcroc    85

Was wanting to do this for awhile.  Had no idea what was involved.  Did a little (very little) reading, found this forum, and dropped $1600 on a starter kit from Wowlights.  My wife threw a fit when she saw the bill. Said "I could see as much as $500, but $1600!!!".  She didn't know about the other $500 or so I dropped on cases of lights, sequences, cords and wire, etc.  My first display was Halloween, and it was weak.  This will be my 4th year, and it's still weak, but it is getting better. I am starting to understand that the flashy winky blinky thing isn't all that attractive, and loses peoples attention quick.  Would say I spent the first 3 years learning how to do it, and the last year learning my mistakes.  Gonna take a fair guess, and say I'm still 2, or 3 years from actually having that "wow" show.  Adding a pixel tree, and backing off everything flashing all the time, is a big step in the right direction.  So good to have people on this site to guide, and help.  Can't imagine doing it without all you people.

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caniac    215
5 minutes ago, Dcroc said:

Was wanting to do this for awhile.  Had no idea what was involved.  Did a little (very little) reading, found this forum, and dropped $1600 on a starter kit from Wowlights.  My wife threw a fit when she saw the bill. Said "I could see as much as $500, but $1600!!!".  She didn't know about the other $500 or so I dropped on cases of lights, sequences, cords and wire, etc.  My first display was Halloween, and it was weak.  This will be my 4th year, and it's still weak, but it is getting better. I am starting to understand that the flashy winky blinky thing isn't all that attractive, and loses peoples attention quick.  Would say I spent the first 3 years learning how to do it, and the last year learning my mistakes.  Gonna take a fair guess, and say I'm still 2, or 3 years from actually having that "wow" show.  Adding a pixel tree, and backing off everything flashing all the time, is a big step in the right direction.  So good to have people on this site to guide, and help.  Can't imagine doing it without all you people.

do you have a "theme" for this years Halloween?

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ebrown1972    22

When I was a little kid I would decorate my room with Christmas lights during that time of the year. When I got older and moved out on my own I would decorate with only static lights. In 2012 I bought a Mr. Christmas. It was not what I wanted and the following week I purchased one LOR 16 channel controller. That was in October of 2012. I learned a little about how LOR worked and bought pre made sequences. I ran my first show that year with just 16 channels. My town only has around 10,000 people in it but I won the best decorated house that year for my town. After that year I was hooked. A few years later I would add pixels and was amazed by how they could be controlled. 2015 was my first year using pixels. In 2016 I was 100% pixels and had close to 5,000 of them in my show. In 2017 I plan on using close to 8,000 pixels. I no longer use LOR hardware. I do all of mine the DIY way. I still use LOR software though. I was hoping to do my first Halloween show this year but am not sure I will get to. My other hobby is my street/strip car. With the light hobby and the car hobby I just don't have much time for anything else. 

Edited by ebrown1972

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