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first year jitters


james campbell
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I would like to know how much time I should allow for first setup and shakedown of my first year? I would like to be going full bore by Thanksgiving. I can set up in about Three weekends,but since this will be my first time I want enough time to make sure i get it right and fix all the bugs (if any). did any of you run into major problems you first setup,or am I just getting overworked:D

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Guest Don Gillespie

james campbell wrote:

I would like to know how much time I should allow for first setup and shakedown of my first year? I would like to be going full bore by Thanksgiving. I can set up in about Three weekends,but since this will be my first time I want enough time to make sure i get it right and fix all the bugs (if any). did any of you run into major problems you first setup,or am I just getting overworked:D

No your not getting overworked, I start setting up in Oct, (sometimes in Sept) I watch the long range forcast for snow, typically my show starts on or close to the last weekend in Nov, however I am done setting everything up by mid Nov and run test sequences every night untill the main event, that burning desire to fire everything on full bore consumes me, my wife just shakes her head, but when the final buzzer sounds to start the show she always has the best seat in the car.
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James,

I know what you mean. Nervous desires for the first show.

I start setting up in phases around the middle to end of October and each weekend till showtime (Thanksgiving).

Each weekend I get something set up, I run my sequences just to get an idea of how things look or work. Example. Roof lights are first. I have eight channels to test. Then under eve lights (16 channels) the next weekend along with snowflakes on the center roof (another 16 channels). Then the mega tree, other decor/lights. Lastly, the mini trees because they are the simplest of items to get set up. As each phase gets hooked up, I run sequences to to make sure all is working well, that and I've waited all year to do this ;)

I get the roof items done first, not know how soon icey/snowy/bitter cold weather might move it. In Oklahoma you never know. :X

I usually hook up the last few things a couple days prior to Thanksgiving and do some testing and palying around the next few nights.

I'm adding another 5ea 16 channel controllers this year (for a total of 14 controllers) so I will give myself a little more time to play around and test thus starting a week or so earlier.

Just give yourself a little time and breathing room and you'll be just fine.

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I start set up mid October. This gives me a month to troubleshoot, finish tweaking, finish sequencing, and decorate the inside of the house. Along with the other domestic chores of winterizing / storing summer items and getting winter items out and in working order.

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I'm right there with you! I just ordered my first controller and downloaded the software to start learning it. DANG! My kids are so excited, and we don't want to disappoint our kids. Good luck to Ya! I'm sure things will be great!

Mark

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WiggyHD wrote:

I'm right there with you! I just ordered my first controller and downloaded the software to start learning it. DANG! My kids are so excited, and we don't want to disappoint our kids. Good luck to Ya! I'm sure things will be great!

Mark

starting something new is exciting,but since you don't know much about it the most simple thing could cause hours of headaches. I am sure it will be ready by Thanksking
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james campbell wrote:

starting something new is exciting,but since you don't know much about it the most simple thing could cause hours of headaches. I am sure it will be ready by Thanksking

James,

The headaches should be going away while you are testing before the big night. Then the big night will go as imagined.

Kinda like a play at a school, you rehearse here and there and over and over so when it's time for the big play, all will fall in place.

You will be just fine as long as you perform some tests as you're setting up.

For me, the funnest time during all this is running the tests because I have been waiting all summer to see my new ideas unfold out in the front yard.
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Hi Yall,
This is my first yr also. I also have the jitters. I was glad to read all the good feedback on here. Last night i was trimming all of my trees so that people could see the lights on my roof. I am glad to see that some of you guys start putting your lights up in October. I am just nervous for what my neighbors may say if i start in October. Who cares right? I have One question, How many incandescent lights can i connect together? and how many LED lights. I am not sure how to test with a meter. :?

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Get a Kill-A -Watt meter, just plug it into the lights and it will tell you how many amps you a drawing. 15 per side on a controller, 30 total, 8 per channel max. The kind of lights you have will determine how many can be plugged end to end.

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spindler88 wrote:

Hi Yall,
This is my first yr also. I also have the jitters. I was glad to read all the good feedback on here. Last night i was trimming all of my trees so that people could see the lights on my roof. I am glad to see that some of you guys start putting your lights up in October. I am just nervous for what my neighbors may say if i start in October. Who cares right? I have One question, How many incandescent lights can i connect together? and how many LED lights. I am not sure how to test with a meter. :?

My rule of thumb is 3 sets of incans (more runs the risk of popping the fuse in the string). I have connected 40 sets of LEDs with no problem, but I think you can do up to 50 or so.
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james campbell wrote:

I would like to know how much time I should allow for first setup and shakedown of my first year? did any of you run into major problems you first setup,or am I just getting overworked:D

Since going a musical display I start to set up in late Sept. /early Oct.. My fans take time to string and so now I start stringing them by mid September. It can snow here at any given time and with the snow comes some cold. It snowed here (where I live) in mid Sept. last year then milted.

Christmas lights mixed with cold make for a poor spiral tree. So that is why set up is so important for us up this way to start early. Putting lights in bushes, trees and on the house now is a good thing for us up here despite the looks & sometimes laughter. I left my lights up this time and so that will save time.

I had no issues at start time between 2007-2009 but in 2010 I could not figure out why all the display items did not come on when they were suppose to and after going through the plugs etc I checked the cat5 cables and there was the problem. I was short 1 cat 5 cable, but I had no spare cat5 cable and so I used phone line and the show began.
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Mwhite7097 wrote:

spindler88 wrote:
Hi Yall,
This is my first yr also. I also have the jitters. I was glad to read all the good feedback on here. Last night i was trimming all of my trees so that people could see the lights on my roof. I am glad to see that some of you guys start putting your lights up in October. I am just nervous for what my neighbors may say if i start in October. Who cares right? I have One question, How many incandescent lights can i connect together? and how many LED lights. I am not sure how to test with a meter. :?

My rule of thumb is 3 sets of incans (more runs the risk of popping the fuse in the string). I have connected 40 sets of LEDs with no problem, but I think you can do up to 50 or so.
So how can i add more lights to the same channel. I have 2 big trees on my side yard that i would like to fill up with lights. But keep it on the same channel. Well 1 tree 1 channel. I was thinking each tree will hold 1000 lights i am guessing. Man if i only could string 3 sets of lights to 1 tree i am in trouble. I will have to redo my whole show. I wish i had enough money in my budget to buy more leds but i don't. I still have to buy 2 more sets for my mini tree's. Any suggestions will be great. Thank You for the reply.
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spindler88 wrote:

Mwhite7097 wrote:
spindler88 wrote:
Hi Yall,
This is my first yr also. I also have the jitters. I was glad to read all the good feedback on here. Last night i was trimming all of my trees so that people could see the lights on my roof. I am glad to see that some of you guys start putting your lights up in October. I am just nervous for what my neighbors may say if i start in October. Who cares right? I have One question, How many incandescent lights can i connect together? and how many LED lights. I am not sure how to test with a meter. :?

My rule of thumb is 3 sets of incans (more runs the risk of popping the fuse in the string). I have connected 40 sets of LEDs with no problem, but I think you can do up to 50 or so.
So how can i add more lights to the same channel. I have 2 big trees on my side yard that i would like to fill up with lights. But keep it on the same channel. Well 1 tree 1 channel. I was thinking each tree will hold 1000 lights i am guessing. Man if i only could string 3 sets of lights to 1 tree i am in trouble. I will have to redo my whole show. I wish i had enough money in my budget to buy more leds but i don't. I still have to buy 2 more sets for my mini tree's. Any suggestions will be great. Thank You for the reply.

To clarify, good rule of thumb is 3 in a series (end to end). Doesn't mean you can't piggy back the male plugs, or use a 3 way splitter off your extension cords to run the lights in parallel.
You can have up to 8amps on each channel, but no more than 15 amps on 1 bank of channels (bank one is ch1-8, bank 2 is ch9-12). Since an average 100ct sting of incandescent minis uses about 0.33A, roughly 24 strings can go on 1 channel (though you will only have about 7 amps left for the remainder 7 channels on that bank). LEDs use about 1/10th of that, so you can use tons of them on a single channel.

Here is a good summary chart of estimates of power needed for various lights:
http://planetchristmas.com/FigurePower.htm

Agree that a Kill-A-Watt meter is a must. Just plug the entire channels lights into the meter and it will tell you exactly how much they are using.

http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-202196386/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053
799f7097-3452-41c9-ad50-00251dfde029_300.jpg
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Surfing4Dough wrote:

spindler88 wrote:
Mwhite7097 wrote:
spindler88 wrote:
Hi Yall,
This is my first yr also. I also have the jitters. I was glad to read all the good feedback on here. Last night i was trimming all of my trees so that people could see the lights on my roof. I am glad to see that some of you guys start putting your lights up in October. I am just nervous for what my neighbors may say if i start in October. Who cares right? I have One question, How many incandescent lights can i connect together? and how many LED lights. I am not sure how to test with a meter. :?

My rule of thumb is 3 sets of incans (more runs the risk of popping the fuse in the string). I have connected 40 sets of LEDs with no problem, but I think you can do up to 50 or so.
So how can i add more lights to the same channel. I have 2 big trees on my side yard that i would like to fill up with lights. But keep it on the same channel. Well 1 tree 1 channel. I was thinking each tree will hold 1000 lights i am guessing. Man if i only could string 3 sets of lights to 1 tree i am in trouble. I will have to redo my whole show. I wish i had enough money in my budget to buy more leds but i don't. I still have to buy 2 more sets for my mini tree's. Any suggestions will be great. Thank You for the reply.

To clarify, good rule of thumb is 3 in a series (end to end). Doesn't mean you can't piggy back the male plugs, or use a 3 way splitter off your extension cords to run the lights in parallel.
You can have up to 8amps on each channel, but no more than 15 amps on 1 bank of channels (bank one is ch1-8, bank 2 is ch9-12). Since an average 100ct sting of incandescent minis uses about 0.33A, roughly 24 strings can go on 1 channel (though you will only have about 7 amps left for the remainder 7 channels on that bank). LEDs use about 1/10th of that, so you can use tons of them on a single channel.

Here is a good summary chart of estimates of power needed for various lights:
http://planetchristmas.com/FigurePower.htm

Agree that a Kill-A-Watt meter is a must. Just plug the entire channels lights into the meter and it will tell you exactly how much they are using.

http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-202196386/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053
799f7097-3452-41c9-ad50-00251dfde029_300.jpg
Thank You, I didn't know i could get a 3 way splitter at the end of the extension cord. So if i use the splitter how many lights can i connect to that channel 6 sets?. I will have a mix of led on channel 1-8 also with channels 9-16 will be a mixture. Thank You so much for your help. I was getting worried.
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spindler88 wrote:

Surfing4Dough wrote:
spindler88 wrote:
Mwhite7097 wrote:
spindler88 wrote:
Hi Yall,
This is my first yr also. I also have the jitters. I was glad to read all the good feedback on here. Last night i was trimming all of my trees so that people could see the lights on my roof. I am glad to see that some of you guys start putting your lights up in October. I am just nervous for what my neighbors may say if i start in October. Who cares right? I have One question, How many incandescent lights can i connect together? and how many LED lights. I am not sure how to test with a meter. :?

My rule of thumb is 3 sets of incans (more runs the risk of popping the fuse in the string). I have connected 40 sets of LEDs with no problem, but I think you can do up to 50 or so.
So how can i add more lights to the same channel. I have 2 big trees on my side yard that i would like to fill up with lights. But keep it on the same channel. Well 1 tree 1 channel. I was thinking each tree will hold 1000 lights i am guessing. Man if i only could string 3 sets of lights to 1 tree i am in trouble. I will have to redo my whole show. I wish i had enough money in my budget to buy more leds but i don't. I still have to buy 2 more sets for my mini tree's. Any suggestions will be great. Thank You for the reply.

To clarify, good rule of thumb is 3 in a series (end to end). Doesn't mean you can't piggy back the male plugs, or use a 3 way splitter off your extension cords to run the lights in parallel.
You can have up to 8amps on each channel, but no more than 15 amps on 1 bank of channels (bank one is ch1-8, bank 2 is ch9-12). Since an average 100ct sting of incandescent minis uses about 0.33A, roughly 24 strings can go on 1 channel (though you will only have about 7 amps left for the remainder 7 channels on that bank). LEDs use about 1/10th of that, so you can use tons of them on a single channel.

Here is a good summary chart of estimates of power needed for various lights:
http://planetchristmas.com/FigurePower.htm

Agree that a Kill-A-Watt meter is a must. Just plug the entire channels lights into the meter and it will tell you exactly how much they are using.

http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-202196386/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053
799f7097-3452-41c9-ad50-00251dfde029_300.jpg
Thank You, I didn't know i could get a 3 way splitter at the end of the extension cord. So if i use the splitter how many lights can i connect to that channel. I will have a mix of led on channel 1-8 also with channels 9-16 will be a mixture. Thank You so much for your help. I was getting worried.


You have to figure out how many amps each strings pulls, and start adding it up. If you have your light boxes, it usually lists how many amps that string pulls. Just have to stay within the limits of capacity for a channel/bank.




Attached files 264990=14690-controller capacity.JPG
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spindler88 wrote:

Ok Thank You.I am sorry if i sound like a bonehead. Just not familiar with amps and watts. Wish i was an electrician:D Thank You for the chart that will help a lot.


That is why you need a Kill-a-watt. You just plug the lights into the device and it tells you exact how many amps it is using (or watts if you prefer). That way once you have your whole tree strung up, you can plug the tree extension cord into the Kill-a-watt and make sure it doesn't exceed what the channel can handle (or else you will blow a fuse in your controller, and/or damage your controller).

If you can't find the amps listed on the box for the lights, but it lists the watts, you can convert it by dividing the watts by the volts used (110V in USA) to get the amps.
For example to find the amps of a 60W light bulb, you divide 60W by 110V to get 0.54 amps (60/110=0.545454).
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Surfing4Dough wrote:

spindler88 wrote:
Ok Thank You.I am sorry if i sound like a bonehead. Just not familiar with amps and watts. Wish i was an electrician:D Thank You for the chart that will help a lot.


That is why you need a Kill-a-watt. You just plug the lights into the device and it tells you exact how many amps it is using (or watts if you prefer). That way once you have your whole tree strung up, you can plug the tree extension cord into the Kill-a-watt and make sure it doesn't exceed what the channel can handle (or else you will blow a fuse in your controller, and/or damage your controller).

If you can't find the amps listed on the box for the lights, but it lists the watts, you can convert it by dividing the watts by the volts used (110V in USA) to get the amps.
For example to find the amps of a 60W light bulb, you divide 60W by 110V to get 0.54 amps (60/110=0.545454).
Thank You. I am going to get a meter today. Thanks again for all your help
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This is my 4th year of doing LOR animated displays, controller kits 9 & 10 were delivered today. The cool thing about this "hobby" is that as you start putting together your first show - you have this forum as a resource. My experience is that the members here will do their best to help you out when you run into issues.

Santas Helper hit on an important point, DO NOT try to hook everything up - and turn it on expecting it to work as designed - it won't (been there done that). Pick a part of your display, install everything - and run your show, when that is working move on to the next part of your show. I use the LOR Hardware Utility to validate that my show computer can talk to the controller - and control the lights connected to the channels.

Take things in small chunks - build, test, build, test build, test.

When everything is said & done - remember that the people that watch your show will be in AWE.

Enjoy your first show build!

sjmiller

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Mwhite7097 wrote:

spindler88 wrote:
Hi Yall,
This is my first yr also. I also have the jitters. I was glad to read all the good feedback on here. Last night i was trimming all of my trees so that people could see the lights on my roof. I am glad to see that some of you guys start putting your lights up in October. I am just nervous for what my neighbors may say if i start in October. Who cares right? I have One question, How many incandescent lights can i connect together? and how many LED lights. I am not sure how to test with a meter. :?

Use the Killawatt Meter...on incandescents, I would string 6 or 8 together without a problem, but when I started doing that for too many channels...kabloom! Bought the Killawattmeter for 18 bucks, last 2 years, no issues!
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Test your lights "BEFORE" hanging them!
I have already started hanging lights on my house.
This weekend I will be doing the windows and painting some blow molds.

I have wireless and a laptop so I can test and make sure each channel turns on the correct item (the first year I had eight channels wrong).

I try to have everything ready at least a week before I plan to go live, then I watch the show make any tweaks and watch again.

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sjmiller wrote:

This is my 4th year of doing LOR animated displays, controller kits 9 & 10 were delivered today. The cool thing about this "hobby" is that as you start putting together your first show - you have this forum as a resource. My experience is that the members here will do their best to help you out when you run into issues.

Santas Helper hit on an important point, DO NOT try to hook everything up - and turn it on expecting it to work as designed - it won't (been there done that). Pick a part of your display, install everything - and run your show, when that is working move on to the next part of your show. I use the LOR Hardware Utility to validate that my show computer can talk to the controller - and control the lights connected to the channels.

Take things in small chunks - build, test, build, test build, test.

When everything is said & done - remember that the people that watch your show will be in AWE.

Enjoy your first show build!

sjmiller




Thank You Sjmiller, I hope you have a great yr also. I will take a step at a time.
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