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LED's the big questions


medusa_dave

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This was my first year using LOR and I seem to be behind in a few areas where I would like some help.

I did use a number of LED snowflakes along with C9's and different trees floods and one mega tree with string lights.

Next year I would love to switch all of my lighting to LED but I was wondering about what pitfalls besides price am I going to run into.

One thing I did notice about the LED snowflakes I used this year was that they do not dim well. I did read something about a "snubber" but I am wondering if someone can expand on that and if it works on any kind of LED load.

Searching for a pile of LED string lights, most manufacturers are saying that their strings are not dimmable and will not work in LOR display. Is this true? or can snubbers combat this issue.

Thanks in advance.

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  • SteveMaris

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My snubber was made using:

1 cut up string of C9 lights

1 male plug (left over from building LOR controllers)

I solder the male plug to the strings of the c9 bulb... then plug it into the end of the "trouble" LED sets in the display.

I ran maybe 400 strings of LED's this year and used maybe 15 of them. The dimming issues were rectified as well as the "stuck on" sets. All of my sets were pruchased from Walmart, Walgreens, and a local grocery store. I don't know if they were supposed to be "dimmable" but they worked just fine. You can check out my 2012 videos on YouTube if you want to see them. The only lights I couldn't convert was the Green... I couldn't find enough last year during the after Christmas clearence. So, I mixed them with the LED's. Still look good to me.

I'm no expert in long term LED minis, but my experience has been this: Take care of your light strings, and they will last. I had 1 string go out on me (after 4 years) and I fixed it with the LED keeper. I didn't pay more than $4.00 / box so I got the cheepest I could find. I can't aford $10/string even during the "pre-sales". Way out of my cost range.

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Here's a better way to make snubbers: http://forums.lightorama.com/index.php?/topic/24477-tips-tricks-and-what-to-do-with-leftovers/page__hl__%22make+snubbers%22

Walmart, Menards, shopko led lights work fine fading with snubbers. I believe the Martha Stewart lights at Home Dopey don't fade.

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Here's a better way to make snubbers: http://forums.lighto..."make snubbers"

Walmart, Menards, shopko led lights work fine fading with snubbers. I believe the Martha Stewart lights at Home Dopey don't fade.

:) Ah Hem, I use a similar method but used what I had. I didn't order anything ;) Same method, my resistor is the C9 bulb. Totally Free!

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Before you mess with snubbers, realize that led's do not dim the same way as incans.

You need to experiment with different settings to find the "sweet spot" for your lights.

50% on for led's is not the same as 50% on for incans.

I have strings that look full on at 50%

You need to adjust accordingly when programming.

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:) Ah Hem, I use a similar method but used what I had. I didn't order anything ;) Same method, my resistor is the C9 bulb. Totally Free!

I've done that too, but I had to block the light from it. Wrapping them with electrical tape wasn't a good idea, some would stick them in a box. Using a resister is much easier IMO.

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Steve is hitting on a very important thing to keep in mind. I run a curve of 5 - 50. Which is about the same as 0 - 100 for icans. There is a small increase in brightness for LEDs over 50, but its only like maybe 5% increase in brightness. And the above numbers might need to be tweeked. Drag out on of your controllers this summer and different strings and test them. Take notes and then apply this to your program.

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Steve is hitting on a very important thing to keep in mind. I run a curve of 5 - 50. Which is about the same as 0 - 100 for icans. There is a small increase in brightness for LEDs over 50, but its only like maybe 5% increase in brightness. And the above numbers might need to be tweeked. Drag out on of your controllers this summer and different strings and test them. Take notes and then apply this to your program.

Exactly.

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Great info guys. So is what your saying is above say 55% intensity you gain no additional brightness on LED strings? I'm assuming this would chop power usage?

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Steve is hitting on a very important thing to keep in mind. I run a curve of 5 - 50. Which is about the same as 0 - 100 for icans. There is a small increase in brightness for LEDs over 50, but its only like maybe 5% increase in brightness. And the above numbers might need to be tweeked. Drag out on of your controllers this summer and different strings and test them. Take notes and then apply this to your program.

Do you find it common that different manufacturer's LED strings dim at different levels? In other words, should i try to group similiar strings together and determine what works best for them or are they all pretty consistent?

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Do you find it common that different manufacturer's LED strings dim at different levels? In other words, should i try to group similiar strings together and determine what works best for them or are they all pretty consistent?

They are all pretty consistent. Like Max stated, 5-50 are good numbers to go by. There is a difference between 50-100 it's just not as dramatic as it would be with incan bulbs.

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Great info guys. So is what your saying is above say 55% intensity you gain no additional brightness on LED strings? I'm assuming this would chop power usage?

Not exactly. What I am trying to say is that between 50 and 100% will only give you like a 5 to 10% increase in brightness for LEDs. First year I just slapped some sequencing together out of ignorance. My fades between color looked terrible. Then when I started to use fades with the 5 - 50 things smoothed out quite a bit.

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LEDs when dimmed will dim in a linear fashion, meaning that they dim equally over a set range. The issue is that our eyes dont see this as linear, instead we see most of the dimming done below the 50% mark, this is because our eyes have difficulties seeing at higher intensities but are far more sensative to lower intensity changes. Different strings will have different fading abilaties because of the resitor values, LED construction and the current being applied through the LED. But generally with LEDS any changes over 85% are hardly noticeable to the human eye, but is noticable if measuring with a light meter.

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Martha Stewart LED's from Home Depot don't dim? Great.... There's 250 bucks in after Christmas buys this Newbie just wasted before ever setting up his first show. I guess it's back to rolling pennies for lights for me.

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Martha Stewart LED's from Home Depot don't dim? Great.... There's 250 bucks in after Christmas buys this Newbie just wasted before ever setting up his first show. I guess it's back to rolling pennies for lights for me.

Check the wires on the strings.

Are there 2 wires or three going into each bulb socket?

If 2 they will dim.

If three, time to sell them on Ebay.

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Heading home shortly to tear open some boxes with much anticipation. For the love of God, please let them have 2 wires. The Honey Badger is already a little testy over the funds I'm pouring into this little adventure.

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SparkDr, do you walk over to Light-O-Rama and pick up your controllers? Hudson Falls can't be to far from Dan.

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LOR's world headquarters is less than 3 miles from my home. I had never heard of Light-O-Rama until hearing the name casually mentioned on a Christmas lights TV show special. Ironically, I bought my 1st controller from an enthusiast online, but I did pick up my software & USB adapter kit in person. I'm amazed that there is no one within a 20 mile radius of LOR HQ running a setup that I am aware of. I should give Dan some lessons in marketing, I guess. On the same note, I am glad to be one of the first in the area to jump on board with musical sequences. My sequencing is done & the show is loaded and ready to go for it's maiden voyage next year. I tested it through the Visualizer and tweaked it to my satisfaction. The props are all set (trees, wreath, star, etc.), the FM transmitter has been purchased, and the lights were all bought until I ran into this thread (I'll have to re-buy about 3000 red and green C3 LED lights that dim). Thankfully, the rest of my LED's dim correctly. I've had a great time playing with the S3 software in the limited time I've had it (about 2 weeks), and I've found the learning curve to be much smoother than originally anticipated. I think I'm going to bite the bullet and invest the extra $$ for the instant sequencing next. Tapper just doesn't work for me & I have an awful lot of trouble getting the ball rolling otherwise. I'm pretty sure I'll be knocking on HQ's door before too long trying to bribe them with lunch and beer money in exchange for some one on one tutoring time.

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