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How many channels....?


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Remember this is the newbie section, so go easy on me.....

I've only done static displays before and I want to do a sequenced display in 2012.

I understand the concept that every channel represents an individual set of lights or group of lights that can be controlled individually. And I understand that all your channels can be sequenced to music.

But when I am preparing for next year and planning my purchases and show layout I have counted my individual bushes, windows, doors, arches, mini trees, mega trees, etc. and all the channels I think I need but I think I am doing it wrong. I have come up with 250 channels and I think that is WAY TOO MUCH, especially when I see other people's shows that use 64 or 128 channels and they seem to have A LOT more lights than I plan to have.

What am I doing wrong? I plan a mega tree with 8 channels per color and 4 colors (32 channels), and 4 eight channel arches (32 channels), 16 bush channels, 16 mini tree channels, etc. Is there a trick or tip to reduce the number of channels needed? And before you answer, I know I can put more than one bush on a chanel and so on. I want to know if there are tricks with grouping DIS-SIMILAR items together or something like that.

Any suggestions for this newbie????

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Consider grouping similar items:

1. multiple arch segments on a channel, across several arches, meaning, your first segment of several arches is on the same channel. Your 4 arches are now 8 channels, they mirror each other.

2. mega tree...do the "up and over" approach...would cut your channels in half. Limits some sequencing things you can do, but if you're trying to reduce channels..opposite segments on the tree are the same channel.

3. mini trees...are you assuming one channel per tree?

4. bushes..16 channels..seems like a lot...

Also, consider grouping by location...bushes/windows/doors in the same general area of your display are on the same channel.

A lot of this is what you are thinking, which is grouping similar items. I think you'll have more success doing it that way, as opposed to trying to group dissimilar items and manage the sequencing.

Also keep in mind the more you group to save channels, the more you need to pay attention to power requirements, especially if you are using incandescents. Going to LED to save channels and stay under the power limits per channel may end up costing you more money in the long run compared to the cost of just buying more controllers. Its a personal preference/design decision based on budget, what you like, etc.

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You could hook unsimilar items together that you want on (always) at the same time but i sounds to me that that is not your idea. I have not seen any displays 64-128 that have multiple color full displays. Making multiple color items or full displays really multiple channel count. I only do RED/WHITE or WHITE/MULTI on most of my display (right now both colors are on at the same time). I'll will be at 96 channels next year to seperate the colors.

My 2 cents. post a picture of what you have. you will find that building or andding any elements eat up alot of time. I had a static display of just outline, deer, and trees. The only things I had time to finish was a mega tree, candy cane fence, and FM radio sign. I don't know how much time you have but nights and weekends go by fast. Sequence time is the biggest thing you need to plan and start early. It takes me about 1hr per 20sec to program (4-6hr per min when i first started). You get faster as you go.

Read and ask question is the best you can do.

Good Luck and welcome to the maddness.

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Guest Don Gillespie

Welcome aboard, next year I am grouping all of my trees so instaed of using 16 channels I will be down to 4 channels leaving 12 extra channels for more elements, I am also duplicating display items as I have a large corner lot I am going to have the display cloned so the veiwing area is greater and allowing more people to see the show, I am running 160 channels start with what you feel comfortable with, its the sequencing that takes the longest, so plan for that and don't forget extension cords weather you make your own or buy them (of course making your own is cheaper) there is a ton of info on the forum try the search button and see what you come up with, if you can't find your answer in there then ask away there are a lot of fantastic people that are always willing to help :P

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Hi dustin, Sorry going to cut that name down a bit. it is a mouth full for sure.

I know what you mean, but Don's idea with the arches is ok, but just does not cut it if you want a long snake work its way across all 4 arches. Or just one arch lit up and do what I call the MC Hammer in the baggy pants dance back and forth. I dont know your finance or how much time you can put into this hobby. So if you got the money and time, then do all of those channels. If you dont have both. Then I suggest you get say 32 channels (2 controllers) and forget the arches an mega tree the first year and just do what you would want to do with 32 channels. Maybe one controller and 2 arches, take the second controller and do your house. Then each year add more controllers and more elements and work this all into last years songs and add just one new song, or maybe 2 songs if you work hard enough.

Good on you for waiting one year so you can get a running start now for next year. To many people waited till October or November to start. To much to learn and build to make it work in only a few months.

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Absolutely....good for you for starting to plan. I did the same thing last year.
I planned on 32 channels and ended up with 64 and 2 CCRs. Santa is bringing me 3 more controllers for next year.

Try and figure out how many new lights you're going to need and get in on the pre sales that are currently going on. You'll save a boatload of money.

Also keep an eye on the forum here and on PC. Watch for a bulk purchase on SPT wire. You're going to need at least one spool, maybe 2.

and start sequencing. Watch Bob's videos....


and most importantly, read the manuals. If you're a typical guy, you won't read them. Believe me, you'll learn a lot just by reading through them. Can't stress that enough.

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