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kdunn

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Planning to get the 16 channel started set and have a few questions for all the light masters out there:

  • Where do you mount the controller? 
  • I have all LED lights, do I need something different with my electric? 
    • Starting out with Roof line lights, 3 wrapped trees (each have 2 colors) and bushes. 
  • Does the controller just plug into one outlet?
  • I have most of the lights that I want to use for this year but wanted to buy new lights for the roof line. Does anyone have a cost effective option that they love?

Thanks in advance for all your advice!

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Hello kdunn, 

Great job upgrading... You'll enjoy every bit of the addition!

Answers: 

1. Mounting controller - I tent to mount my controllers as close to the prop or on the prop. Depending on your specific display this should reduce the number of power cords. 

2. LED/Electric- Not knowing your specific layout, design, etc. Usually the LED bulb consumes much  less power than the incandescent bulb(s).You shouldn't need to do anything specific with power. In 2016 I added 40 AMPS of additional power for various reason, (1) I was still running hundreds of incandescent light and (2)  my display was growing. My electric bill was bwtn $500-$700 (Colorado)for the entire season. Slowly switching out from incandescent to LED my electric reduced and I could add more light using less power. 

3. Yes,  again, not know your specific layout, design etc. the controller plugs into the standard three prong extension cord and/or outlet. I recommend visit YouTube, there are many videos available to walk your through your design. I have started  a VLOG where I'll attempt to answer these specific type of questions: peter rouse xmas (YouTube). 

4. roof line- I think YouTube is a very good starting point to find the answer(s)... There are many moving pieces to your questions i.e. clips, type of lights, number of strands of lights, how are you attaching them, etc. Your biggest cost should had been the cost of the LED's. I am converting over to both smart and dumb Pixel's this year. Dumb pixels will go outline the house. Pixels are more costly upfront but more saving in the long run... 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieo3queGJC4  (#1 VLOG)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kk0hj_GXT1Y (2017 light display) 

Good luck and keep 'em lit! 

rousefamily5

 

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55 minutes ago, kdunn said:

Planning to get the 16 channel started set and have a few questions for all the light masters out there:

  • Where do you mount the controller? 
  • I have all LED lights, do I need something different with my electric? 
    • Starting out with Roof line lights, 3 wrapped trees (each have 2 colors) and bushes. 
  • Does the controller just plug into one outlet?
  • I have most of the lights that I want to use for this year but wanted to buy new lights for the roof line. Does anyone have a cost effective option that they love?

Thanks in advance for all your advice!

  1. Where do I mount controller? Well, this depends on what you are talking about, if you are talking about the controller board itself, most people put them in PVC housings (LOR sells some themselves or there are other vendors). If you have a pre-assembled  kit that is already in a housing and are asking where to put it, that depends on how many extension cords you want to run, and how far you want to run them. Some people localize their boxes, where they put them at the center of whatever props that box is driving and power is distributed from there. This has the advantage of not requiring as many total feet of extension cords. The disadvantage here is that your box is out in your yard, probably more exposed to the elements than it would otherwise be, and its easier for grinches to steal (some people put them in those plastic tote boxes to further weatherproof and deter would be theifs). The other method some people do is creating a central location such as the garage as a place to put all the controllers and then running individual extension cords to every prop from there. Advantage here is that you know the boards will stay dry, and that you don't need to run com lines outside. Disadvantage is that you wind up running a lot more extension cords in total feet.
  2. Do I need to do something different with my electric? You don't need to do anything different with electric, but you might check to see if your lights are full wave or half. Some LEDs like Martha Stewart brand ones do not dim. If you find that your lights have a hard time dimming and being controlled at lower light levels, maybe consider using a snubber. The best thing you can do to make your show more expandable/ easier to program is to do everything in groups of 4. If you have a 4th tree that you can wrap, maybe do that. But bases of 4 are really good due to most songs having a 4 count, plus you will be able to modify other peoples sequences to fit yours a lot easier. Trust me, as someone who modified others shows to work with the groups of 6 that I have for some areas, just go with groups of 4, you will thank yourself in the long run.
  3. Does the controller just plug into one outlet? Depends on the controller, and if it has a jumper already or not. Some boxes come with just 1 plug in, others come with 2 (each plug powers half the board). The 2 plugs board is relevant if you were going to be running incandescent lights, but with an all LED show, you can run it all on 1 plug, however if you have a board that comes with 2 plugs you need to put a jumper on it, just plugging in 1 will not work. 
  4. Cost effective option for new lights for roof line. If I was going to do regular LED lights for the roof I would probably look at holidayleds.com selection and order from them after the end of the year when their major sales occur. If I was going to go with pixels, some of the best budget pixels are available from holidaycoro.

Hope this helps!

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6 hours ago, kdunn said:

Planning to get the 16 channel started set and have a few questions for all the light masters out there:

  • Where do you mount the controller? 

As others have said, it depends.  Since you are starting with the 16 channel starter set, it's easy.  The controller comes in a weatherproof box.  Mount it vertically so the cords come out the bottom and you are good to go.  They are designed to be mounted outside.  Later when you get into DC or pixel controllers, then you get to think about mounting them in other boxes.

Now, the other part of your question could be where physically do you mount them.  Generally that comes down to either near the props or in a central location.  With only one controller, there is not as much of a decision.  When you get lots of controllers, it gets more involved.  My recommendation is to mount controllers near the props.  Much easier to run one AC cord to the controller and one LOR network cable to the controller than 16 long cables to the props.

6 hours ago, kdunn said:

I have all LED lights, do I need something different with my electric? 

  • Starting out with Roof line lights, 3 wrapped trees (each have 2 colors) and bushes. 

With all LED, likely no.  Unless you are running massive numbers of LEDs, they just don't draw enough power to be much of a power problem.  One standard recommendation is to get one of these so you can measure your actual load:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/P3-International-Kill-A-Watt-EZ-Meter-P4460/202196388

6 hours ago, kdunn said:

Does the controller just plug into one outlet?

Depending on how the AC controller is wired, it may have one or two plugs.  If your power load is small, they can be plugged into one circuit.  If your load is high (unlikely with LEDs) you can plug each plug into separate circuits.

6 hours ago, kdunn said:

I have most of the lights that I want to use for this year but wanted to buy new lights for the roof line. Does anyone have a cost effective option that they love?

Check out after Christmas sales at your local retailer.  Some people have gotten some fantastic deals that way.  BTW, AVOID Martha Stewart brand LED strings.  They have a reputation of catching fire when dimmed.

 

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I belong to the Close to the props (reachable at ground level) camp. 1 (2 if running lots of Incans) Long cord for power, shorter runs for the lights.  I hang my controllers so the pigtail ends are 6" above the surface (ground or pavement) to keep wart away from the ends.

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Thank you all for your help for far! IF I wanted to get RGB color changing bulbs for the roof line, does anyone have a brand that works well with the software? I want to be cost effective but I also dont want to get LEDs this year and end up wanting color changing ones next year. 

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You can't control RGB dumb or smart pixels with an AC controller. You will need an RGB controller for that. 

I am mostly pixels now, and have been for 5 years, but I still use my two old AC controllers for some of the LED's on my bushes and my mini trees. I just like the look.

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Got it! So If I want items to look like they are changing color without getting an RGB controller I would just wrap it with both color lights and have them on different channels?

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Correct. That's old school?

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18 minutes ago, kdunn said:

Got it! So If I want items to look like they are changing color without getting an RGB controller I would just wrap it with both color lights and have them on different channels?

Sorta!

3 different color strings, are just 3 strings of color. Those colors don't blend and make new colors like RGB (whole string is the same color) or smart pixels (each bulb (or cluster of bulbs)

BTW each type needs a different type of controller. You have the 120VAC one (Warning: do not attach any ''color changing' bulbs (the type you control with a app) into a Controller

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4 minutes ago, PhilMassey said:

Correct. That's old school?

For now.. That is way more my speed! 

 

 

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3 minutes ago, TheDucks said:

Sorta!

3 different color strings, are just 3 strings of color. Those colors don't blend and make new colors like RGB (whole string is the same color) or smart pixels (each bulb (or cluster of bulbs)

BTW each type needs a different type of controller. You have the 120VAC one (Warning: do not attach any ''color changing' bulbs (the type you control with a app) into a Controller

Got it! So if I strung mini trees in red and green I could put each color on a different channel and then switch between the two?

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43 minutes ago, kdunn said:

Got it! So if I strung mini trees in red and green I could put each color on a different channel and then switch between the two?

Yep!  That is what my first (AC) controller does. A tree (1/2 round) with 9 strands of weed wacker line, then (different color) strings of LEDs on each. Last season, I added a second string of white to every other strand for a total of 13 strings

Old school rules

K.I.S.S.

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13 hours ago, kdunn said:

Got it! So If I want items to look like they are changing color without getting an RGB controller I would just wrap it with both color lights and have them on different channels?

Mega strand. Multiple strings twisted together that will look like rope.

JR

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On 10/8/2018 at 10:47 AM, kdunn said:

Planning to get the 16 channel started set and have a few questions for all the light masters out there:

  • Where do you mount the controller? 
  • I have all LED lights, do I need something different with my electric? 
    • Starting out with Roof line lights, 3 wrapped trees (each have 2 colors) and bushes. 
  • Does the controller just plug into one outlet?
  • I have most of the lights that I want to use for this year but wanted to buy new lights for the roof line. Does anyone have a cost effective option that they love?

Thanks in advance for all your advice!

Going back to the original post briefly to share my thoughts:

1. Controller Mounting: I'm in the camp of "whatever you're comfortable with." If you have a super secure system that allows you to have your controller by your props, so be it! If you're like me and don't trust others, I keep my controllers out of reach and out of sight. All controllers are either seen on a security camera or behind closed doors or just ridiculously out of reach.

2. LED vs Incandescent lights: LED all the way, in my opinion. I have made the mistake of using both in my show and can tell you that LEDs are not only brighter, but better to use. Most LED strings have the "constant on", even if a light goes out. There are resources I can give you outside of LOR's website that can point you to vendors we use.

3. Depending on the controller(s) you get, you might be using two. For my setup, I use about six I think, counting our show computer. Two RGB controllers, three LOR controllers. AC controllers typically use two. Be careful with wattage with GFCI outlets, too.

4. Kinda answered this in #2 but I also try to leave myself some room in next year's show to add more to the show. Each year our show has progressively gotten larger and larger. This year, we're doing something we think has never been done, but I could be wrong. (It, at the least, it hasn't been done near us.) In terms of space to use, we've pushed ourselves up against the edge of our box, but we're dropping new things in and I'm personally really excited. Think of this as you budget out your show and think about the long-term ideas.

Other tips/notes:
- Zip ties are your friend. After 3 years we ran out of our 1000 zip tie baggy from HD!
- Label, label, label! Label both ends of your extension cords properly. (We label with the destination for that end, and label the destination itself with the matching acronym.)
- Check and test everything. Before we kick off our show (we only do this once per year), we test to make sure each channel is connected properly and receiving power.
- K-I-S-S: don't overthink the solution to your dilemma. Sometimes saying the problem out loud may yield the right response. Also, don't overthink a build and take a difficult path to the awesome solution. Sometimes simplicity is best.
- Do it for yourself. If not for you, then who? Ignore those who give you grief for your show and celebrate the reason for the season.

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On 10/8/2018 at 3:35 PM, Rousefamily5 said:

Hello kdunn, 

Great job upgrading... You'll enjoy every bit of the addition!

Answers: 

1. Mounting controller - I tent to mount my controllers as close to the prop or on the prop. Depending on your specific display this should reduce the number of power cords. 

2. LED/Electric- Not knowing your specific layout, design, etc. Usually the LED bulb consumes much  less power than the incandescent bulb(s).You shouldn't need to do anything specific with power. In 2016 I added 40 AMPS of additional power for various reason, (1) I was still running hundreds of incandescent light and (2)  my display was growing. My electric bill was bwtn $500-$700 (Colorado)for the entire season. Slowly switching out from incandescent to LED my electric reduced and I could add more light using less power. 

3. Yes,  again, not know your specific layout, design etc. the controller plugs into the standard three prong extension cord and/or outlet. I recommend visit YouTube, there are many videos available to walk your through your design. I have started  a VLOG where I'll attempt to answer these specific type of questions: peter rouse xmas (YouTube). 

4. roof line- I think YouTube is a very good starting point to find the answer(s)... There are many moving pieces to your questions i.e. clips, type of lights, number of strands of lights, how are you attaching them, etc. Your biggest cost should had been the cost of the LED's. I am converting over to both smart and dumb Pixel's this year. Dumb pixels will go outline the house. Pixels are more costly upfront but more saving in the long run... 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieo3queGJC4  (#1 VLOG)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kk0hj_GXT1Y (2017 light display) 

Good luck and keep 'em lit! 

rousefamily5

willing to share this sequence?

 

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