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Extension Chords and Waterproofing

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Hello,

I have 2 Questions:

  • Do you make your own extension chords? While doing research I found you can get a spool of wire and connectors
  • How do you waterproof your plugs? most of mine will probably under a layer of snow

Thanks,

AJ

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I've been making my own cords for years using the spooled wire and vampire plugs.

I've never messed with waterproofing the plugs and we get snow and rain pretty much each season. Although standing water could be an issue whether you try to waterproof or not. But snow hasn't been an issue with me.

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36 minutes ago, Santas Helper said:

I've been making my own cords for years using the spooled wire and vampire plugs.

I've never messed with waterproofing the plugs and we get snow and rain pretty much each season. Although standing water could be an issue whether you try to waterproof or not. But snow hasn't been an issue with me.

I’m with Tom. Only gfci popping issues from using vampires and spt are when the connection is setting in a puddle, not once from snow.

Worst part about vampires is that with some brands the plastic pieces are cut a hair too tight. So during take down I need a flathead screwdriver to separate the male and females. BE SURE POWER IS OFF! 

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Hi Aj,

Yes, I too make my own cords. I have been using SPT1 for several years and will never buy extension cords again other than as needed to power controllers. Not sure which SPT you are looking at but considering each channel of a LOR controller has a max amp of 8, I feel there's no need for SPT2 that has an amp rating of 10. The SPT1 usually has a amp rating of 7 or 8 I believe. If you are using LED lights you should be well under 7 or 8 amps per channel/cord. Unless of course you have a TON of LED's on it! LOL

I have a great, but unsightly way of waterproofing the connections. I learned years ago from other member on here about using food storage containers. Any type/brand of plastic container that has a removable lid will work. Since you will be destroying them I'd suggest the cheapest you can find. Take a Dremel type of rotary cutting tool and make two "incisions" on one side. On the other side across from those make two more incisions. You can now bend the middle section between the two cuts down. This is where you'll run the cords through. Have the connection in the middle then snap the lid on the container. If you don't cut too deep the cords will be suspended above the bottom of the container. This way air can flow into and out of the container so no condensation will build up and if by chance a little water will get in the container the cords are suspended above the water. I usually secure the cords to the ground on both sides of it just to prevent it from blowing around or upside down during windy days. I also paint them flat black so at night they are not visible at all. Obviously during the day you'll see them but as long as that doesn't bother you this has worked for me for years.

Hope this helps.

Al

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I use 5 gallon buckets over the large outdoor receptacles' and on some of my singing props for the extra light bulbs. Works great. Lowes, HD, Walmart all have the buckets for next to nothing.

As far as aesthetics most of our light shows probably don't look like much in the daytime anyway , I use inflatables . so having a bucket here or there in the yard, not really a big deal. You may have to watch out for your city rubbage person, yes they took my "Slow Down Turtle" flag, Army PT belt and everything the day after last Halloween. Not realizing I had video security (huge sign on my mailbox) the driver told his supervisor it was destroyed that's why he took it. The video shows otherwise.

JR

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On 1/7/2019 at 5:16 AM, Santas Helper said:

I've been making my own cords for years using the spooled wire and vampire plugs.

I've never messed with waterproofing the plugs and we get snow and rain pretty much each season. Although standing water could be an issue whether you try to waterproof or not. But snow hasn't been an issue with me.

Same thing here, almost.  Since the beginning I've used spooled wire and vampire plugs to make my own.  I did not shield them for the first 2 years until I noticed water getting in the plug and rusting out the wire where the teeth were digging in.  Thus, 3rd year some of them didn't make good connection.   Then I started putting a sandwich bag over the top of the plugs to prevent water getting in.  Been using the same wire and plugs for over 12 years now and never a problem rusting out.  Also never had a problem with any GFCIs tripping.

 

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On 1/7/2019 at 8:57 AM, Mega Arch said:

I’m with Tom. Only gfci popping issues from using vampires and spt are when the connection is setting in a puddle, not once from snow.

Worst part about vampires is that with some brands the plastic pieces are cut a hair too tight. So during take down I need a flathead screwdriver to separate the male and females. BE SURE POWER IS OFF! 

This year I have had probably the worst time separating the vampire connections and I also used and flat head screwdriver to get them separated, a few were so hard that one of the male plugs came out of the socket. I was wondering if dipping the male ends in die electric grease or Vaseline before connecting the would make them easier to separate them........Any thoughts on that?   

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1 hour ago, gmac said:

This year I have had probably the worst time separating the vampire connections and I also used and flat head screwdriver to get them separated, a few were so hard that one of the male plugs came out of the socket. I was wondering if dipping the male ends in die electric grease or Vaseline before connecting the would make them easier to separate them........Any thoughts on that?   

Nope. It’s that some of the brands have the plastic molding just cut too tight. After several years, you’ll get so good at separating with a screwdriver - you’ll forget what a pain it is. 

😎

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My local ACE Hardware has 2 15ft cords for 9.99 . I have about 4500 ft of  cords. My setup changes a little every year so my cord needs change a little every year. I looked at the vampire plugs this seem to be the better way for me.

HVACR

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On 1/7/2019 at 7:56 AM, aja1216 said:

Hello,

I have 2 Questions:

  • Do you make your own extension chords? While doing research I found you can get a spool of wire and connectors
  • How do you waterproof your plugs? most of mine will probably under a layer of snow

Thanks,

AJ

Yes, we make our own cords.  This year alone I made 1500 feet of new cords.  It's really easy and so much cheaper than buying from your local big box.

This is the first year we were not super diligent about waterproofing.  Despite tons of rain, we did not have any breakers trip during the season, unlike years past.  Well we did have one breaker trip, but it was on a spotlight timer that sits outside our house 24/7/365 and that we've had for at least 5-6 years.  Completely unrelated to the show itself.

That's not to say that waterproofing shouldn't be done - I think it can be important.  But this year we just never got around to it and our show was fine (and our area had the 8th rainiest December on record this year).

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Last year our show was killed by big rain storm it took two days to figure out what was wet, dugh every thing. This year I got some Mortite, it is weather proofing that stays pliable , clay like . It comes on a roll. you can mush around the plugs as it is non conductive  I put a bead around each plug joint ,made it water proof even after a big storm which we get here in Florida.  At  take down I just scraped it off and wiped the plugs clean. 

David

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21 hours ago, DLH lites said:

Last year our show was killed by big rain storm it took two days to figure out what was wet, dugh every thing. This year I got some Mortite, it is weather proofing that stays pliable , clay like . It comes on a roll. you can mush around the plugs as it is non conductive  I put a bead around each plug joint ,made it water proof even after a big storm which we get here in Florida.  At  take down I just scraped it off and wiped the plugs clean. 

David

That might be a good option for smaller displays but for some of us that have well over 300 plugs, covering each one just isn't practical IMO.

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WOW 300   gezzo,  we are already planning next year and will be doubling just about every thing and adding the side of the house which was static this year so there will be more plugs for me to mush mortite into , but by then I will be retired and have plenty of time , ya know what they say , idle hands are the devils work shop, hehehe By the way you were big help with my question about a bubble machine, it worked great, thanks again !

David

ps: did you look at my display this year???

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I use spikes $1 ea at Lowe’s and zip tie the connectors to them. Because of flooding this year I also got some 5 gallon buckets and notched the bases where cables ran through and spiked them in the ground. 

On my 2 newest singing snowmen I made a door in the side of buckets to tuck excess lights in. I had drilled 1/2 in holes in the bottom for any water that may get in and put the top on.

Those lights stayed bone dry throughout the monsoon rains we had here the entire month and a half.

JR

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3 hours ago, DLH lites said:

WOW 300   gezzo,  we are already planning next year and will be doubling just about every thing and adding the side of the house which was static this year so there will be more plugs for me to mush mortite into , but by then I will be retired and have plenty of time , ya know what they say , idle hands are the devils work shop, hehehe By the way you were big help with my question about a bubble machine, it worked great, thanks again !

David

ps: did you look at my display this year???

Being retired is a game changer for the time to do things that otherwise can't be accomplished. I'll be there in a couple years. :)

Glad to hear I was able to be helpful with the bubble machine.

I'm sure I checked out your display but if you have a link, I wouldn't mind checking it out again to be sure.

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Hey Santa, here ya go this one is a close up , the music is coming from the bushes. I am in the high end audio bizz just couldnt help putting some good speakers outside. The bay window frames,the sides of the garage and the big snowflakes are new this year, I have no idea where we are going to put it all,  Let me know if you can see these .   the one on  My Christmas Display is=https://vimeo/312224097 you can see it there

David

 

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Thanks David. Awe yes I remember seeing your display now. I like the use of multi-color strands. Gives it a nice classic Christmas feeling. And I like the choice of music too.

Those speakers sounded awesome for being recorded outside.

 

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Some die electric grease will help but is not 100%. After the initial GFCI shutoff I went to as many vampire plugs and started using. Big thing is keep them off the ground. Also wire frames act as a ground to earth so insulating that is going to be a bear. I plan to spray my metal wire with Plasti dip for next year. 

Edited by ~DOC~
Grammar
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Thanks, the speakers are KEF outdoor speakers the big ones and a 200 watt per  channel stereo power amp, this summer I am putting in a in ground sub woofer,  think I should tell the neighbors or just let then find out.  I am planning a sequence with chorus and pipe organ.

David

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14 minutes ago, DLH lites said:

Thanks, the speakers are KEF outdoor speakers the big ones and a 200 watt per  channel stereo power amp, this summer I am putting in a in ground sub woofer,  think I should tell the neighbors or just let then find out.  I am planning a sequence with chorus and pipe organ.

David,

I also have permanently installed speakers in the yard.  There are four speakers and each is fed from one channel of a 75 watt amplifier (two of them) that are mounted on a shelf just below the ceiling in my bedroom closet.  The speaker wiring is all 12 AWG THHN in conduit until the last couple feet.  The speakers have about a 10 foot direct bury cable that I have running into a 4x4x4 PVC junction box near each speaker where that connect to the THHN.  The 300 watts total is more than enough for the levels that I am shooting for in my yard.  I am not shooting for it to be loud.  The speakers are marked in red on the satellite view.  There are three brick tree rings and each has a speaker.  The forth is in a planter next to the house.  The green arrow is the location of the amplifiers.  When standing across the street at the yellow arrow, the sound can be heard - barely.  Not loud enough to be useful.  The neighbor to the north on the other side of the white block wall can hear it fairly well in his back yard, but not at all in his house.  BTW, he got to see my show for the first time a couple weeks ago when I ran it a week after the last night for my sister.  He works as a Santa Claus during the season and is always out of the house when the show plays.

Satellite_view_showing_yard_speaker_loca

Yea, I needed to pull weeds on the day that I took the speaker photo.  Those have been in the ground since around 2010 and are working great.  On the amplifier shelf, the little box to the right of the amps is a digital timer that powers them on from 4:00 PM until 9:00 PM during show season.

The speakers:  https://www.amazon.com/TIC-Outdoor-Weather-Resistant-Omnidirectional-Ground/dp/B0007RSZX0

The amps:  https://www.pyleaudio.com/sku/PTA3/Mini-2x75w-Stereo-Power-Amplifier

Yard_Speaker-1.jpg

Amplifier_shelf-1_original.jpg

 

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Jim,

Thanks so much , for the info and pics. Being a audiophile has it's draw backs. I am always looking for the best performance, inside or out.  I want the  music out side to be as full range as I can get it with out being loud enough to raise the dead which means some sort of DSP ,  so that the music emotes the lights for the viewer and draws them in . This year the KEF's did a great job, but the audiophile in me wanted more. So goes my search for added dynamic range which calls for more low frequency. The folks that listen in their car get  "IT" from the fm transmitter,  but for passers by not so much, we had a lot of folks stop and get out of their car.. I will keep everyone posted as to my results.  My whole idea is to give goose bumps and smiles, and generate what is the spirit  of the season with colored lites and music.

Best Regards

David L Hardin  DLH LITES

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22 hours ago, k6ccc said:

I also have permanently installed speakers in the yard

These speakers are awesome I bought mine after reading your article on another thread. For outdoors I was amazed at the sound from the GS5 version. Now I want to add a GS50 8” sub and maybe two more GS5’s. Mine went through being covered in snow and poured on by ice and rain. For the price wow awesome speaker. Now for an audiophile their view point may be different. 

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LOR has a pretty decent price on SPT1 wire. I am sure if you look hard enough you may find it cheaper. I think most use SPT1 here. The only difference is the thickness of the shielding. I am sure someone will chime in if there is more. Oh if you are just starting out. I found that 500 ft wasn’t enough for one controller and my props were fairly close. IMO don’t buy the big box store stuff. It’s heavy and over sized. 

http://store.lightorama.com/sptwire.html

Edited by ~DOC~
Grammer
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On 1/7/2019 at 7:56 AM, aja1216 said:

Hello,

I have 2 Questions:

  • Do you make your own extension chords? While doing research I found you can get a spool of wire and connectors
  • How do you waterproof your plugs? most of mine will probably under a layer of snow

Thanks,

AJ

See above answer forgot to hit quote....

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