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roknjohn
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Hi everyone. This has been in the back of my mind for years and now I believe I’m finally ready to get the ball rolling on a sequenced Christmas display for next year (2011). First a little about me… I’m 45 year old software engineer and I DJ a little on the side. The family business is plumbing and electrical contracting, of which I worked summers from 3rd grade thru college. (Two brothers are licensed electricians that live 3 miles away.) I am a Christmas nut and have the ability to spend lots of money without my wife knowing. I work from home mostly and have 4 young kids. We live in SC, where pre-Christmas snowfalls are about once every 15 years. FYI: SC generates about half of its electricity from nuclear plants and residential service is about 10cent per kWh, if that matters.

I live in a small town where most Christmas displays are southern traditional… white candles in the windows, white mini lights on indoor tree visible from one window, lighted wreath on door (white minis), spot light on front door (or in my case, all sides of house), lighted reindeer in yard. There’s not many colored lights used around these parts, unless it’s a family that moved from up north. (Insert Yankee joke here). So, my thoughts on my display next year would consist of a traditional look during idles times, then fade to dark as the sequence/music begins, with bolder displays/colors during the show and then back up to the traditional static. Maybe with shows every 20-30 minutes or so?

I haven’t found a good primer yet to help me get up to speed on everything. Is there a good source for that info? I hope to spend the next 6 months learning, acquiring, testing, learning, designing, and learning. Any help that you guys would like to offer would be a tremendous help.

BUYING LIGHTS

When to buy, where to buy, what to buy. LED vs. incandescent - mini vs. C7/C9, etc. I suspect that the clearance sales right after Christmas are probably the best deals. I just want to know what I should look for. What are the pros/cons of LED lights versus incandescent lights? Short strings, long strings, custom strings – what is best? Where’s a good source for buying like 500 extension cords?

DISPLAY IDEAS

What displays work well? Icicles on the eaves, window/door frames, shrubs, mini trees, etc. I have a white split-rail fence around my yard that has been begging for lighted garland for years.

From viewing displays on YouTube, here’s what I like… jumping arches, the tree that appears to rotate, a line of mini trees. There was one video by SparkyLights (

), where the same shrub can be red, green, blue or a very intense white. Are those four different strings per bush and how come the whites are so much brighter?

In that same video, he also had a bright light strip over the garage. What was that? He didn’t use a channel for each light in that strip did he? Did that thing have some integrated controller built-in?

My house is two-story with a steep roof on the front (12/12 pitch). The front of the house has a low eave 10’ with no dormers - so a lot of the roof is visible from the front yard. It looks like a blank canvas to me.


OTHER CONCERNS

I usually light my static display from dusk to midnight. Can the LOR controllers handle continuous duty?

Do I need to consider beefing up my electrical entrance?
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Welcome! Merry Christmas!

Your questions are good and they're plentiful. That's a great way to start. There's a lot to learn and quite frankly, if you want to excell, you're going to need to learn what it's all about. I'm not sure how many people will tackle what you're put on the table, because there's volumes to be said and argued back and forth over most of the things you've brought up. My advice is for you to read these forums until you feel like throwing up. Then take an Akla Seltzer and read some more. The warehouse of knowledge here grows almost every day and it's all here for the taking. Good luck and enjoy the ride!

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roknjohn wrote:

Hi everyone. This has been in the back of my mind for years and now I believe I’m finally ready to get the ball rolling on a sequenced Christmas display for next year (2011). First a little about me… I’m 45 year old software engineer and I DJ a little on the side. The family business is plumbing and electrical contracting, of which I worked summers from 3rd grade thru college. (Two brothers are licensed electricians that live 3 miles away.) I am a Christmas nut and have the ability to spend lots of money without my wife knowing. I work from home mostly and have 4 young kids. We live in SC, where pre-Christmas snowfalls are about once every 15 years. FYI: SC generates about half of its electricity from nuclear plants and residential service is about 10cent per kWh, if that matters.

I live in a small town where most Christmas displays are southern traditional… white candles in the windows, white mini lights on indoor tree visible from one window, lighted wreath on door (white minis), spot light on front door (or in my case, all sides of house), lighted reindeer in yard. There’s not many colored lights used around these parts, unless it’s a family that moved from up north. (Insert Yankee joke here). So, my thoughts on my display next year would consist of a traditional look during idles times, then fade to dark as the sequence/music begins, with bolder displays/colors during the show and then back up to the traditional static. Maybe with shows every 20-30 minutes or so?

I haven’t found a good primer yet to help me get up to speed on everything. Is there a good source for that info? I hope to spend the next 6 months learning, acquiring, testing, learning, designing, and learning. Any help that you guys would like to offer would be a tremendous help.

BUYING LIGHTS

When to buy, where to buy, what to buy. LED vs. incandescent - mini vs. C7/C9, etc. I suspect that the clearance sales right after Christmas are probably the best deals. I just want to know what I should look for. What are the pros/cons of LED lights versus incandescent lights? Short strings, long strings, custom strings – what is best? Where’s a good source for buying like 500 extension cords?

DISPLAY IDEAS

What displays work well? Icicles on the eaves, window/door frames, shrubs, mini trees, etc. I have a white split-rail fence around my yard that has been begging for lighted garland for years.

From viewing displays on YouTube, here’s what I like… jumping arches, the tree that appears to rotate, a line of mini trees. There was one video by SparkyLights (
), where the same shrub can be red, green, blue or a very intense white. Are those four different strings per bush and how come the whites are so much brighter?

In that same video, he also had a bright light strip over the garage. What was that? He didn’t use a channel for each light in that strip did he? Did that thing have some integrated controller built-in?

My house is two-story with a steep roof on the front (12/12 pitch). The front of the house has a low eave 10’ with no dormers - so a lot of the roof is visible from the front yard. It looks like a blank canvas to me.


OTHER CONCERNS

I usually light my static display from dusk to midnight. Can the LOR controllers handle continuous duty?

Do I need to consider beefing up my electrical entrance?

First of all Welcome to Light-O-Rama! You came to the right place to get the answers to your questions. If you ever have ANY question about decorating (not just Light-O-Rama) you can get answers on this site.

LOR is the right choice in hardware not only because it is reliable but because if you do have any problems their support is second to none. Now I can't answer all of your questions but believe me, others will be chiming in soon.

I think the strip you are seeing above the garage in that video may possibly be a CCR or Cosmi Color Ribbon produced by LOR. It does have its own controller so you are not using channels on your other controllers. These thing are really cool, I have two and want more But they are pricey at $250.00 when not on sale.


As far as beefing up your electrical entrance, If you can afford to buy LED lights they will use very little power so it would depend on how big your service is now compared to how big of a display you want to build.

As far as LOR controllers and continuous duty I run mine from 530PM to 10PM every day with no problems.

I will let someone else answer the rest of the questions.

Again Welcome to the Madness. I know you said you have the ability to spend money without your wife knowing it, but one thing you are not going to be able to hide is the amount of time you are going to have to dedicate to this hobby.
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jimswinder wrote:

#1... Don't listen to George...

#2... Don't listen to me... :P


George and Jim always type faster than me, and and don't pay attention to Jim's last post. These two always seem to have the right answers.

Look at their displays, that should tell you they know what they are doing.
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Guest Don Gillespie

shfr26 wrote:

As far as cords, buy SPT wire and vampire plugs, start with about 2,000 feet and then buy more.


And if you didn't understand what Pete is saying it is easy make lots of extension cords you will need them and do not argue with Jim

Welcome aboard
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roknjohn wrote:

Hi everyone. This has been in the back of my mind for years and now I believe I’m finally ready to get the ball rolling on a sequenced Christmas display for next year (2011). Welcome to the maddness! First a little about me… I’m 45 year old software engineer and I DJ a little on the side. The family business is plumbing and electrical contracting, of which I worked summers from 3rd grade thru college. (Two brothers are licensed electricians that live 3 miles away.) I am a Christmas nut and have the ability to spend lots of money without my wife knowing. I work from home mostly and have 4 young kids. We live in SC, where pre-Christmas snowfalls are about once every 15 years. FYI: SC generates about half of its electricity from nuclear plants and residential service is about 10cent per kWh, if that matters.

I live in a small town where most Christmas displays are southern traditional… white candles in the windows, white mini lights on indoor tree visible from one window, lighted wreath on door (white minis), spot light on front door (or in my case, all sides of house), lighted reindeer in yard. There’s not many colored lights used around these parts, unless it’s a family that moved from up north. (Insert Yankee joke here). So, my thoughts on my display next year would consist of a traditional look during idles times, then fade to dark as the sequence/music begins, with bolder displays/colors during the show and then back up to the traditional static. Maybe with shows every 20-30 minutes or so?

I haven’t found a good primer yet to help me get up to speed on everything. Is there a good source for that info? I hope to spend the next 6 months learning, acquiring, testing, learning, designing, and learning. Any help that you guys would like to offer would be a tremendous help. Start by picturing in your mind what you want your yard to look like in 2011 then download the software and start learning how to sequence. It takes a bit of time to learn how to do everything, I am in my 3rd year and still learning.

BUYING LIGHTS

When to buy, where to buy, what to buy. LED vs. incandescent - mini vs. C7/C9, etc. I suspect that the clearance sales right after Christmas are probably the best deals. I just want to know what I should look for. What are the pros/cons of LED lights versus incandescent lights? Short strings, long strings, custom strings – what is best? Where’s a good source for buying like 500 extension cords? I would go with LED because of the power saving and dependablity and durablity

DISPLAY IDEAS

What displays work well? Icicles on the eaves, window/door frames, shrubs, mini trees, etc. I have a white split-rail fence around my yard that has been begging for lighted garland for years.

From viewing displays on YouTube, here’s what I like… jumping arches, the tree that appears to rotate, a line of mini trees. There was one video by SparkyLights (
), where the same shrub can be red, green, blue or a very intense white. Are those four different strings per bush and how come the whites are so much brighter?

In that same video, he also had a bright light strip over the garage. What was that? He didn’t use a channel for each light in that strip did he? Did that thing have some integrated controller built-in?

My house is two-story with a steep roof on the front (12/12 pitch). The front of the house has a low eave 10’ with no dormers - so a lot of the roof is visible from the front yard. It looks like a blank canvas to me.


OTHER CONCERNS

I usually light my static display from dusk to midnight. Can the LOR controllers handle continuous duty? I run mine from 4:45 to 10:00 Musical 10:00 to 2:00 and 6:00 am to 7:30 am Animated only everyday with no issues.

Do I need to consider beefing up my electrical entrance? Depends on the number and types of lights
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Jeff Millard wrote:

jimswinder wrote:
#1... Don't listen to George...

#2... Don't listen to me... :D


#3 Listen to me... :cool:

I agree with Jeff on this one...especially when he talks about disdain of incandescent lights...
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Guest Don Gillespie

Jeff Millard wrote:

jimswinder wrote:
#1... Don't listen to George...

#2... Don't listen to me... :P


#3 Listen to me... :cool:

Jeff

Now thats funny :D
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Suppose I should chime in here. Welcome to the sickness. I would download the software now and plan to spend more time then you ever thought would be possible on Christmas lights. Its free to download and use, but won't control the lights till you buy it. Do what you like. That's what is cool about this hobby, all the different things people do. Then design a plan for your layout. This will help you with your power requirements. Read as much as you can here, there is a wealth of info.Plan, plan, plan.

The bushes are covered in 4 colors of lights. One channel per color x 10 bushes. The light bar above the garage is 16 mini lights warped around nails on a board and 16 channels. Simple, although its a channel hog, but it works.

Good luck and most of all........have fun, Sparkylights

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Thanks for the warm welcome guys. After many hours of reading this forum, and watching everyone's videos, and sketching out some rough ideas, and pluging a few things into Excel...I have just one question. Do the LOR controllers ever go on sale?

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Well let's see.... hmmm... it looks like all the right people have already baffleed you with their .... ok dazzeled you with their ...... er told you all the right things.

I think some of the most important things in taking on such a quest is also picking the right tunes and sort of planning your attack or what you like from what you seen, then finding the right people on here that are willing to give up thier secrets. good luck with that !

I have found that the easy part seems to be putting up the display parts. Heres a lil secret. dont' do it!

But hell what do I know I only use 16 channels

Just kidding.

Ohh

I can answer a couple questions. Right o rama has a "after the madness is over" sale in feb and then a summer sale in about late june or july to buy all the controller stuff. this will really save you some bucks.

I have also found tutorial videos from some of these people building all sorts of stuff on youtube

as for the different colored bushes the few displays i have seen are using strings and or nets for each color.

Also note that some of these guys are also using low voltage lighting and contolling them with the LOR controllers too..

Ok I know how yall have short attention spans so i will cut it short.

Hehe

Welcome aboard our lil boat in the sea. and please don't push anyone in the water. It gets cold this time of year.

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My advice ... start very small for the first year. There is so much to learn about characteristics of lights which you never knew existed, the wide variety of effects which are possible, and the amount of time/energy required to "get it right."

I started with 2 16-channel controllers and have added 2 more each year so my display continues to grow as does my knowledge and interests.

When you get your controllers, set up some arrangement of physical lights so you can see then in operation. The software's Visualization tool is very helpful with your design, but there is nothing like actually seeing the lights in action.

As the others have said, this is an incredible community with a very deep well of knowledge. Healthy debates occur occasionally which always enlighten me. Although I've been using LOR since 2004 my experience pales to the others whom you will see regularly.

Welcome. This is an exceptional hobby. Each night when I watch my display I am astounded at what can be done. And then I talk with others who are watching and it's quite a humbling experience. The satisfaction carries me through the entire year.

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MarkV wrote:

I bought my first CTB16PC last year and I think it was just under $250 shipped to the house.

yikes!!...the kit (no enclosure, no dongles) is just $99 on the LOR website...

which in my opinion is the way to go if you plan on putting more than one board in an enclosure...and use SPT-2 for the dongles

http://store.lightorama.com/ctkitaop.html
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The sale is worth waiting for, unless you plan on using LOR for lanscaping lights year round or doing shows for other Holidays. Also purchase the software during the sale too. I ordered software and 32 channels during the sale. I then earned some extra money and bought a third controller. Since you are planning this early for next year, 48 channels won't be overwelming for you and gives you enough channels to be happy with. The hardest part is deciding on what to do and sticking to it. Making revisions after starting to sequence kinda sucks. You're gonna be surprised on how many extension cords you're gonna need! When buying lights, by a bunch of the same thing. A string of this and a string of that will create more headaches for you, you may not be able to get additional later when you need them.

Also consider starting with one color only. This allows you to have more elements to your display so if you do a sweep across the display it will look much nicer than a few elements and a mix of color unless you can afford to do everything in two color. I have some elements that are four color and some that are 2-3 color and not consistant made it a little tougher to get what I wanted. Hope this makes sense, I'm home sick today.

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Welcome to the addiction. you can check out anytime but you will never leave. as far as WOW factor in your display a mega tree is probably number 1 and arches1A. This is my first year and bought 80 channels during the spring sale. The fun started then. setting up props all year,sequencing several hours and seeing a tear in my wifes eye when I went live was a blast.

80 channels was not all that tough to do. watch the forums ask questions and amuse the regulars here by letting the give you advice. really there is no silly questions you can ask. and if anyone tells you "newbies" only get so many questions to ask get creative when asking. these guys are easily manipulated. Have fun

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I appreciate everyone's input, especially given the time of year. I just want to make sure I soak up enough information to take full advantage of the after-Christmas sales next week. I remember last year in Walmart you could get 100ct minis for 70 cents or something crazy like that just a few days after Christmas. I remember laughing, thinking that's a good deal but Christmas is over, dude. My attitude will be much different this year. :D

A mega-tree is definately in the plan. I like Mike's light bar, too. As this is going to be my first year and I'm not 100% sure of the wife's reaction, I'm going to have to be very conscious of the daylight appearance. My elements will have to blend in nicely with our landscape until she is hooked.

Since I have this long white spit rail fence around my property, I'm going to be looking for a creative effect for it. Maybe I could incorporate some arches with it, we'll see.

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roknjohn.

I have 3 enclosed Boxes that are big enough to house my controllers and make the cords less visible. They are brightly painted and my wife put large bows on the top of them. Plus some large wood cutouts cut like tree ornaments that are brightly painted too. It was something she enjoyed doing in making the daytime look better. Just a thought. Also If you can stay away from to many incandescent lights. Power draw on the LOR boxes and electrical cost. LEDS are more durable and in the long run cheaper. This will be something you can enjoy for years.

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