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Newbie planning for 2011


Chick Kazienko
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I have been planning on starting this addiction for 2 yrs and finally committed to doing so in 2011. I plan on having 8 mini trees, 2 arches, 3 wrapped trees (top and trunk), bushes, windows and roof peaks. I am guessing at 32 to 64 channels. Am I crazy to bite off that much? The biggest concern I have is with the the computerized sequencing. I am not very efficient whith the computer side of this. I am worried I can get the light part figured out but die with the computer. Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Download the demo and start now!

Sounds like you have a good idea of what your yard will look like...once you start sequencing don't change the layout.

Each channel will need an extension cord (you can make your own to save some money).

Keep an eye on the power consumption, most light have a wattage rating, if you use all LED you can almost forget about this.

Relax, take your time and ask questions.

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Guest Don Gillespie

Did anyone mention to you to start buying extension cords, once you get the hang of sequencing you are going to find it relativly easy have fun with it looking forward to seeing your display next year

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Most of us use spt 1 lamp cord with vampire plugs for the male and female ends. I get mine from Paul at CDI, but almost all the online vendors offer the same. If you're at the right place at the right time you can also get some good buys on the wire and the plugs from big-box stores during the course of the year.

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You can make your own cordsby using spt1 wire and plugs. This my first year, and bought several cords throughput the year and when I built my arches I spliced the strands with spt1 wire and left lots of extra wire at he end of the arch. I started early in the year sequencing. I started with 80 channels and realized quickly I needed more! Take your time and soon you addiction will make it easy to make the lights blink blink and flash flash. And when you have your first child watching and smiling it will be worth it all.

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Menards has been having a great rebate on cords, 20' for $2 after rebate, 40' for $3 w/rebate if it's still going on. Also watch for the 6-15'ers on sale. Buying premade cords at Menards is the cheapest route. The advantage to making your own is custom length and less bulk.

Decide whether you're going with incad's or led's. If going led, which type is best for you and buy in bulk. If you have a strand of this and a strand of that, makes setup a little harder. CDI has a presale in January, you may want to plan on that. I've heard a lot of good about them and I hope to do an order with them this year.

Also think about where you want to have your controllers located. I have mine indoors where it's protected, but requires more wire. I also installed conduit underground to my flower beds and along the house. This spring I have to pull one of them out and replace it with a bigger pipe to load it with more channels. Think about what your ultimate system might look like and plan accordingly.

If you start sequencing with demo software, beware to use only one computer and license that computer first. Your demo sequences are tied to the original computer! If you move your files to another computer, copy and paste functions don't work, which can really suck. One of the other guys may explain this better, just giving you a heads up on this, I ran into this problem.

Also go into your profile and add your location, there maybe someone near you that can help.

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Chick,

Welcome to animated lighting. You have already clued in on your best resource - these forums are a gold mine of information, and people more then ready to help.

It's a learning experience, hang in there - at times I wondered how I was going to get done what I had planned.

Planning is #1 on the list - you mention 32 to 64 channels. Divide your house/lawn display up into the number channels you think you will need. Eight mini-trees, I use 400 lights per mini, one channel color and one channel white (16 channels - 1 controller), 2 arches - I use 7 channels per arch (14 channels - 1 controller), three trees wrapped - I use 4 colors per tree (12 channels, 1 controller), You have what - 6 channels for the rest of the display.

Plan your display and download the software and start creating sequences, that will drive how many channels you'll really use.

On the wiring side of things, just plan on building custom extension cords using SPT-1 and vampire plugs/recepticals. For example - this year I did three 7 channel Mini-arches and decided to save wire by using 7 hot wires and one ground with Molex connectors. I buy my wire at Lowe's for $42 for 250 feet, and my vampire plugs from CDI for $.52 each.

Here is the price/time breakdown of building a custom wiring harness with Molex connectors versus 7 custom extension cords,

Molex solution:

wire - 4 35 foot strands at $.17/foot = $23.80

Molex connectors - $4.29 (4 conductor connector) times 2 = 8.58

Vampire plugs/recepticles = 14 X $.52 = 7.28

Total cost = 39.38

Time to build - 4 hours


Extension cords:


wire - 7 35 foot strands at $.17/foot = $41.65

Vampire plugs/recepticles = 14 X $.52 = 7.28

Total cost = 48.44

Time to build - 50 minutes

I saved 3 hours and spent $9 more - The time element was more important


Steve

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Chick Kazienko wrote:

With all the extension cords and channels am i going to have to get an eletrician to add outlets or will i be alright with spreading them about. Also is ther a difference in using 300 light strands as to (3)100 light strands?

Thanks Again

Depends if you are gong to use LED's or incandescents.

A lot of us use a calculator to determine how much of a load we are using.

You can find one here:

http://www.quartzhillchristmas.com/12.html
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