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Lost but interested.


Skizoke
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I am having a lot of trouble determining what is the basic things I would need to start.

 

My family was out driving during the Christmas Holidays and ran across a couple homes that was displaying lights in sync with music and they were amazed. I've seen it before and I was amazed then as well but I didn't really get the interest in trying to learn it until I saw the reaction of my kids.

 

I'm not wanting to do anything big at first. I think I would just like to start out with a 7-10' tall tree at first and I would like to be able to program the lights. I have researched what I would need to create the actual tree, but it is all of the lights and all other equipment that I do not have a clue about.

 

What is the minimum setup I would need? Needing a computer is not a problem since I have several but I am remotely located and have very poor internet service (if that matters)

 

Thank you!

 

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The advanced Showtime Suite III is the highest license and will include everything including some useful wizards. I also understand if I were to purchase the Showtime Central Starter Package it already comes with the basic plus and if I were to want the advanced it would make more sense to upgrade to that later.

 

Would that package allow me to do something such as a tree or would that require more channels? I still don't understand exactly what 16 channel means. Would something else besides the Showtime Central be more suited for me since I have a computer?

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If you are going to run the show from your computer, and not the mini-director, then the Showtime Central isn't something you would want to worry about.

 

The Starter Kit would get you everything you need to get started. The software, a controller, and the USB adapter. 

 

As for what 16 channels means, think of it as 16 plugs or light switches, that your lights plug into. If you have 16 light switches on a wall, imagine flipping them on and off, and having the lights in your house respond. That's one way to look at it.

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Each Channel allows you to turn something ON separately.  So for an example 1 channel could be for all the red light strings plug into that channel on your tree.  Another channel maybe green strings of light.  So you could make your tree all red or all green or both with those two channels.  The more channels you have the more choices you have to turn different things ON and OFF.  

Controller come in 15 amps and 30 amps so your total load on that controller must nit exceed what you bought.  If you use LED lights you can use ALOT lights before you even come close.  

Now go watch a video of someones display and each time you see a bush or tree or element turn ON and OFF seperaterly it means they used that many channels to program that song.  

You can plug multiple things into a channel but then they both go on and off together. 

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Here is a great little article that may answer your questions, shows basic layout and what you can do... http://www.planetchristmas.com/Magazine/November2012/index.html#/24/

 

I was in your shoes exactly 1 year ago, not sure what to do or what to buy, I received a TON, and I do mean a TON of help here in the forums. You have time to worry about buying things like the starter pack and controllers, If I were you ( and I was ) I would do the following:

1.) either print a large picture of the house/yard you want o decorate and draw in pencil where and what kind of lights you plan on using ( icicles, trees, bushes, eaves , windows, etc.. )

2.) download the free demo software, and then move your drawing into VISUALIZER and the SEQUENCER

3.) Begin programming ( sequencing ) and try it out BEFORE youmake any purchases.

4.) Go back to the houses that the kids liked, introduce yourself and ask the people there for help and quidance, they were all first time newbies once themselves and am sure would be happy to show you the ropes.

5.) Watch the video tutorials

6.) Download a free sequence or two, or have one of us email you a couple so you can see how its done, how different effects are created, etc..

6.) Have fun!

 

 

Oh, and say goodbye to the wife and kids... If you get hooked on this ( and you most likely will ) you will be seeing a lot less of them and a lot more of your computer.

 

 

And yes...at the end of the year, when the temperature drops, and lights go up, and then you see them blink in synch with the music, turn and watch the expression on your kids faces...It will all be worth it.

 

And you are always welcome back in here to ask more questions,,,no one minds a bit, even if we have heard the same questions over and over.

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I understand what you are saying about the channels I think, but now I have to figure out what type of lights will be best suited for me. I will research them before asking too many more questions on it.

 

Thank you all. I won't purchase anything until I have had a chance to do as you suggested Premier. My wife has given me the go ahead to purchase some things so if (when) I get hooked I can remind her that she said it was okay.

 

I am glad you all feel that way because I am sure I will have many more questions.

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I started out like premier suggested. I started using the demo software. I was hooked immediately. once you see how you can make you display blink in tune with the music, well you just have to take the next step. One word if advice start small. You will be surprised about how much extra stuff it takes to get a display like this off and running. Extension cords. Nuff said

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2012 was my first year and I sort of jumped in with both feet at 96 channels. 2013, I was doing 112 channels. 2014 I'm currently ordering for RGB and pixels so I'm going to be learning it all the way. Back to the channels though on the LOR controllers, its important to know that on those individual channels, you can dim, fade, twinkle, shimmer as well as the on/off commands. Incandecsent lights will consume a lot of power but they are cheap. LED's, there are cheap ones that sort or work or not and others that are expensive and usually work well. Then there are some really cheap that work really well too! The trick is to figure out which are which. As already stated though, with LED's, they look great and draw very little power.

 

Also as stated, take a picture of your house, print multiple copies, then start drawing lights, props or fixtures on it, based upon what you wish to do. Then, depending on how you wish to control those, will determine how many channels you'll need to start. Also as stated, sequencing can be done in either or both of two ways...create your own, which most of us do or buy them already done and modify to work for your display. Its easier to do than you think but yes, it takes time...a lot of it but as mentioned, once you see it light up for the first time in a show, the smiles of kids and everyone will make all the work, worth it! 2012, the lady of the house didn't like the mess in the front yard...extension cords everywhere, props and so on...its a mess in the day but when she saw it light up for the first time, her tune changed instantly.

 

Oh yes, extension cords!!!!!!! You'll need at least one for every channel you use. A lot of us use SPT1 or 2 lamp cord with vampire plugs. If you use it, buy twice as much as you think you'll need. Shop for prices on it too...it varies widely. Lowes sells it for like $0.37/foot which is outrageously high whereas I buy it online for $0.13/foot but have to pay shipping of course.

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