Jump to content

If you were to start over from scratch what would you do differently?


mgrant8163
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm new and this is my first post.

In putting up my typical holiday display this year and watching my kids dance around in the yard with excitement I realized that my lights and displays are getting old and it's time to replace most of them. Enter LOR

If you were to start from scratch. What would you do differently? What kind of lights would be buy- LEDs vs incandecent?, controllers, PC, cords, props, etc. I figure that after Christmas sales would be the best.

I have the opportunity to start buying equipment over the next year and I'd love to come out the other side with a first rate show.

Thanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

wbottomley wrote:

LED's. The only way to go.


Agree. I was a cheap and bought all incandescents. I have had power problems after power problems. I bet I have enough $$$ in running 20amp circuits, etc than the cost of just buying LEDs.

I wish I had 2011 all over again.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Last year was a learning year so I wouldn't do much different, thought a rope light mega tree would be cool but the rope light wasn't particularly bright and ended up having burnout spots. But needed that live and learn to pull off this year. My only issue for this year is that I should have stopped playing with props around August and focused completely on Halloween/Christmas sequencing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

seems like all us newbies are in close to the same boat but i got some real good advice from the guys with christmas carolina i went all led edm fm transmitter i just gotta learn to close the hook ends of my mega tree guy wires tree lasted 3 days before the wind blew it down.(ever tryed to restring a webber in the dark thank goodness those leds are tuff did not lose one)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Incans use more power - but i like them better. To me the LEDs just feel cold and lacking soul...

But than again I also prefer vinyl records to MP3's and CD's...

To each their own...

As for power, i use the 20k watt generator i got in case of emergencies / power outages for my xmas display so i can run another 200,000 incan lights without batting an eye

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At the moment I'm glad I have cheap led and minis in my display. I have a rabbit that's done quite a bit of chewing. I would really be PO'ed if I had really nice led strings. If I could start over and money were no object, I would like all berry or C6 led lights.

Paul at CDI just announced he has RGB strings. That would be great for my bushes. Four sets of strings weighs down the branches.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All LEDs for sure. 2 nights of rain so far this year. Both nights, the GFCIs tripped with all controllers that are running incans. I have one that is running only LEDs and it runs rock solid even in the rain and even though those lights and plugs are more exposed than some of the others. I'll be replacing my in cans with LEDs next year.

No guarantees this will help, but keeping my fingers crossed that a lower power draw really helps the cause.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All LEDs for sure. I started with icans three years ago and have gradually replaced them with LEDs. Buy lots of SPT wire and vampire plugs to make cords, buy the advanced software right off the bat, and start early (January!) to sequence. And make every fixture/prop easy to put up and take down each year. Also, order LEDs online early.

Great hobby, but can be very time and money consuming.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would start putting the lights up earlier. Especially here in the Pacific Northwest where the weather doesn't always cooperate. I refuse to climb on a wet roof. I didn't have my show running until Dec 1st. My goal was Thanksgiving weekend.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a great question!

To start with - you're in the right place to get a lot of information and advice. I don't know how much time you have spent here in the forums reading posts.

When I was first considering an animated display I spent a couple of months on these forums and kept seeing: Welcome to the hobby, obsession, addiction - which didn't make sense at first. I was going to buy a controller animate my display - and be happy! HA! Four years later I'm up to 10 controllers, and I add new features and controllers to my display every year - as well as now doing a Halloween display.

The first thing you should do is view the LOR tutorials on sequencing a song, then download the LOR S3 Demo software. Pick a Christmas song you can stand to listen to a couple of hundred times (download Audacity and convert the song to .wav), build an animation in LOR that represents your display - and sequence the song. In my case the planned 1 controller didn't give me the visual effects I wanted - so year 1 I started out with 3 controllers... and I found that it took a lot longer to sequence then I thought it would. I plan on 30 to 60 hours per song for sequencing.

Now that you have sequenced a song for YOUR display you'll know how many controllers you want to start with - and how many lights you "used".

Figure out what you're budget will be for the next year, and plan, plan, then plan some more...

What % of your budget will be for controllers - will you buy fully assembled or kit?

You'll need an FM Transmitter to broadcast the music - EDM is the leader in quality product.

How are you going to have the music playing for your display - I put a boombox
outside, or you could put stereo speakers.


Depending on your preference, ican or LED - power may be an issue, I used the spreadsheet that http://www.Quarzthillchristmas.com has available to plan my power consumption per controller when I was using primarily mini-lights. I happen to like how LED lights have that brightness that pops out of the display - and have converted most lighting to LED.

My note on LED strings from the box stores, I no longer buy them. It's a gamble whether they will fade, twinkle or shimmer. Most of the box store lights have replaceable bulbs, the conductors in the socket are copper and the leads on the LED are solder tinned - dissimilar metals corrode when exposed to moisture. I tossed 10 strings this year, all bought last year - and I'm still not done putting up my display.

Buy your lights during the pre-season sales, I happen to be a fan of Creative Displays - 30% discount and excellent service/support. Sale is going on now.

Part of your planning needs to include the next biggest $ expense, extension cords. Most buy SPT-1 bulk wire and use vampire plugs and receptacles. Label both ends of your extension cords - next year when you put up your display you can sort the cords by feature and quickly assemble the display.

Last but not least - time management.

Even after reading the forums for a few months, I didn't really comprehend what it took to do an animated display.

It's not what I would do differently, it's that I didn't know what to plan for.



Steve

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Champion Sound Entertainment wrote:

The Incans use more power - but i like them better. To me the LEDs just feel cold and lacking soul...

But than again I also prefer vinyl records to MP3's and CD's...

To each their own...

As for power, i use the 20k watt generator i got in case of emergencies / power outages for my xmas display so i can run another 200,000 incan lights without batting an eye
there are load limitations per channel (maximum amps) so with incans you may easily exceed that, hard to do with LED's plus now they have a "warm white" one that IMO matches the soft glow of incans. I also hate paying the power company more than I have to so LED's gives me more lights, bright lights, without making the power company smile.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

wmilkie wrote:

Start planning display and sequencing in January instead of waiting till October:)
that was my lesson learned from this year, kept thinking I would get to it and it would take no time but was wrong.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am happy with my decision to NOT use LED's yet. I buy medium quality Phillips brand incon's and have been happy so far. This has allowed me to grow my display and channel count. If I would have gone all LED's I would have about 1/4 the size. Looks like in about 2 years I will start to make the switch.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MikeA wrote:

I am happy with my decision to NOT use LED's yet. I buy medium quality Phillips brand incon's and have been happy so far. This has allowed me to grow my display and channel count. If I would have gone all LED's I would have about 1/4 the size. Looks like in about 2 years I will start to make the switch.
safe assumption you have ample power and keep the load on the controllers to a minimum?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

caniac wrote:

MikeA wrote:
I am happy with my decision to NOT use LED's yet. I buy medium quality Phillips brand incon's and have been happy so far. This has allowed me to grow my display and channel count. If I would have gone all LED's I would have about 1/4 the size. Looks like in about 2 years I will start to make the switch.
safe assumption you have ample power and keep the load on the controllers to a minimum?

next year I will have 30,000 lights. That's 300 strings at .16 amps per string. That's only 48 amps spread fairly evenly over 10 controllers. I have not even come close to pushing the limit.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

MikeA wrote:

I am happy with my decision to NOT use LED's yet. I buy medium quality Phillips brand incon's and have been happy so far. This has allowed me to grow my display and channel count. If I would have gone all LED's I would have about 1/4 the size. Looks like in about 2 years I will start to make the switch.


I like the old school look of incandescents. I buy the cheap $2 ones from lowes and then recycle them every two years. Now I wish I would have walked around my neighborhood and studied the different types of LEDs before I purchased the white ones and put them on my tree. I have them dimmed down to 20%.

I only use about 3000 lights, but I try to give the illusion of large.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is my first year and the Forums lead me in the right direction. I have to say if I had to backup and do it over again all I would add is more channels.

I used SPT cord and vampires, I built and sequenced months ago, the controllers I assembled myself months ago and tested them. I have to say the forum made it a perfect start.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Might sound like bragging, but there is not much I would have done differently. I made the decision to go to LOR in early January 2009, spent 6 months studying and reading threads here. Before I spent a nickel on lights or controllers, I upgraded to a dedicated 100 amp load center for the controllers, and placed it close to where I was going to put the controllers. Started first year with 80 channels and upgraded a few each year to 128. Glad I didn’t spend a lot on LED’s the first year as I feel the quality and colors have improved quite a bit in just 3 years. I spent hours looking at videos on-line to get ideas that would fit on my house (Thanks Richard H.) Reviewed each song with the family to get opinions, and begged as many sequences from people as I could get my hands on, even if it was just for a snippet of something I liked; arches or mini trees for example. In many cases I only used the beat track and timings some of the old-timers here are just great at timings. I kept the publicity to an absolute minimum. I am not saying this is mandatory, but felt it was best for my neighbor situation. Word traveled quickly enough.



I guess the one thing I should have done earlier was to come up with a good substitute for the crappy Hobby Lobby Luminarias is had been suing for years to line my driveway. Now if I can find a good substitute for the mini lights in my two large trees, I will be set. I have all the controllers I need and have spare channels for some expansion. Now if my knees will hold out a few more years I am set.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...