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"Must Have" spares?


SparkDr
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First year with LOR.  All set up, tested, and ready to go.  Running about 2500 (approx 85% LED) lights with one 16 channel controller.  Individual colored Par38 lamps (R/G/B/W).  CZH-05B transmitter.  40+ extension cords in 25' & 40' lengths.  Twelve 3-way splitters.  Mostly string and/or icicle elements with 7 spiral trees.  I thought far enough ahead to buy at least one spare string of lights from HLE in every length & color needed for my display, but now I've begun to think about other must have spares.  It seems pretty easy (and expensive) to overdo it with backup pieces for everything else in a smaller display like mine.  FYI - LOR is 2 miles from my house.  A trip down the hill for another controller or USB485 is no big deal.  Any advice?

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Welcome to the fantastic group of lighting display nuts! I have been running 184 channels and 44,000 light (incandescent)lights. Yes spares are a must whether it is a smaller display or larger one. You should get a spare controller. I just had one channel on one of my 16 channels triac short. I buy the CTB-16KV6 DIY kits. I love building these kits. I bought my first units in 2007. It was a CTB-16-PC unit that had the failure. It was one of my 2007 units. All my later units I built and enclosed on NEMA 3R enclosures. They have been running great for that long! They are robust systems.

I keep at least 8000 lights per color available. That is based on my display of course! I have a spare USB485B also. I just bought 2 more CTB-16KV6 kits. So I keep 3 spares. 1 spare should be good though. I live 23 miles west of Chicago, so we get some nasty weather here and all my controllers are outside. My computer and FM Xmitter are in the garage. I use the Ramsey FM25B xmitter and just built the Ramsey FM30B , which is a little better. It is nice you live near LOR. I would be in controller heaven if I was that close to LOR! They make excellent products and their service is top notch!

Continued success on your lighting project! Happy Holidays! Marty

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I keep a spare mini tree pre wrapped with 20 strings of CDI equivalent LED. (Yes, they can be used as flood lights) and have the 32 strings on hand for a spare belagio pole, just have not wrapped it yet. Same for a spare half arch. And this time around, I ordered 2 spare wall washers when we replaced the ones we have used the last 7 years. I still have a spare iDMX, since we still use one.

For your case, spare cords and network cables seem to be the first thing after a backup copy of all files. Then maybe find someone with a spare FM transmitter who will also allow you to have sparing rights to their spare? Or eventually upgrade to an EDM, and keep the current one as spare.

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I have a spare RS485 dongle, my spare controller is on the way now.

For spare lights I put up with the original. For my icicle lights I do 3 strands tied together to make one strand. That way if one goes out no one notices. Same thing on my firesticks there are 2 strings for each segment in case one goes out. Also have the lights tripled up on the trees, etc.

 

Still need to get the backup radio. Thinking I'll get an EDM for this.

 

Also, I have a backup computer in case my show computer goes down. I use a little netbook computer for the show then have my main laptop that I do my sequencing on. I keep a full copy of everything on both.

 

Then if something goes, like a snowflake, I tend to slap a new one on top of the bad one then deal with it when I pull everything down.

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Today's shopping list for spares:  USB485 & fuses (& who am I kidding - probably a spur of the moment controller as well), spiral trees, extension cords.  Also to do:  Shop online for a transmitter, load LOR onto the spare laptop, & double check the backup I made previously to make sure it is actually correct & complete.  Thanks for the help. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

If anyone is interested, I started running my FM30B I just built from Ramsey. It is much nicer then my 25B. I can just run through all modes from power adjust , volume, stereo balance and signal modulation strength. If it mods too high it tells me to cut back on power, if too low it tells me to crank it up. Iy you would like more info you can go to Ramseykits.com.

 

Happy Holidays!

Marty

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For many years I ran with little or no backup hardware.  Sure I had extra light strings, but for probably my first 5 years with LOR I was using every controller and usually every channel I owned.  I went through many mental scenarios about what I would do if a channel would fail, much less a controller.  But I couldn't bring myself to spend hundreds of dollars on equipment that was, in the hoped-for scenario, going to just sit on the shelf unused.  As my show matured I was able to come up with areas that would have been scrapped or turned static if there were failures, but fortunately that was never needed.

These days due to some show reconfiguration I do have a few spare LOR controllers (although I have some longer-term plans on how to deploy them), but I don't have a backup transmitter, nor backup pixel controllers.  If I ever replace my trusty, 11-year-old Ramsey FM25B, I'll hang onto it for a backup.  If it died tonight, I'd be scrambling amongst the local stores and local lighting community to try to find a backup, or perhaps having one overnighted.

My advice would be to invest in the things that are relatively cheap and fail regularly (comm cables, light strings, etc).  If you have the budget and can't stand the thought of any of your show going down for any length of time, then you'll have to invest in at least one backup copy of every piece of hardware in your display, including LOR dongles, controllers, transmitters, etc. 

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I keep one other spare thing that I did not see mentioned.. and they just came in handy yesterday..

 

I keep RJ45 three way adapters and a few short Cat 5 cables (<1'). 

 

If you have a bad jack on a controller you can use this setup to bypass that back jack and keep your show running.  Usually you won't have two back data jacks at a time on one controller.. so this could save your bacon...

 

I however did just have one controller with two bad jacks and one with one bad jack, all at the same time!  Had to replace the first controller board but used this setup to trouble shoot.  I wound up just putting one of the three ways inside the second controller and it will sit there until Jan.  Works great!  Network is rock solid again. 

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I keep one other spare thing that I did not see mentioned.. and they just came in handy yesterday..

 

I keep RJ45 three way adapters and a few short Cat 5 cables (<1').

That's a good idea.  I've thought about doing that myself just for safety. 

Hopefully I'll never need it because I"m pretty religious about using zip-ties as a strain relief on the comm jacks.

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