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LOR controller


Ralph Priest
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Sorry for reposting this; but I originally posted elsewhere and received no replies, so I thought I would try here. This past season I was running a brand new, Gen.3 Showtime controller using only pro quality LEDs. One channel was pushing only 600 lights, yet it refused to dim smoothly. Now this is a problem I would expect from a Gen.1 controller, certainly not from a Gen.3. LOR says to incorporate a snubber. However, isn't this problem supposed to be a thing of the past with the new controllers?

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I've been following this topic closely for many months now.  From what I've been reading, the GEN3 controllers were indeed designed to specifically reduce this problem, and for many, it appears to have solved the problem while others see improved, but not fully resolved ,results.    The problem may indeed still arise out of the inconsistent design and parts that LED strings are made of.  From most of the reports, the problem is rarely seen with the better grade full-wave rectified strings.   

 

Bottom line, if LOR recommends a snubber which is inexpensive and easy, I'd certainly go with their advice.   

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Just for the full picture, please define "Pro quality" lights. Who makes them, or where did you get them?  I can go to Home Depot or Lowes or even Walmart and get a box or reel that says Pro Quality. But I wouldn't put them in the same group as ones I would buy from a few of the known on-line vendor. So, lets establish what is meant by Pro Quality.

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Generally, a fixed amount of phantom load will be good for up to a certain amount of stray capacitance. Length of extension cord, type of lights, number of strands, how they are installed, bundling with other strands, can all increase the stray capacitance. Plasmadrive had this issue this year where the built in phantom load was not enough, and he had to add external phantom load.

That said, 600 seems rather low. Are you sure they are dimmable?

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i added a couple/few strings of incans at the beginning or end of some of the channels.  most of the fades seemed to fade smoothly... at least to the untrained eye of myself, my family and my audience

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MikeERWNC, you crack me up. I'd really enjoy a cold beer with you just listening to you go on.

You're right Max-Paul. I should have been more specific. I certainly agree with your assessment of commonly available lights. While many types will certainly suit an enthusiast's needs, the strings are often built cheaply to hit a low end residential use price point. The lights I referred to are the ones with larger gauge wire, full wave rectified, and better workmanship versions. Others may disagree, but you can't hardly go wrong if you ensure you check the labeling for "Full Wave Rectified". There are two schools of thought on the "Molded" version which means that the lens and socket are molded in over the LED during the assembly process making it waterproof. I've heard that the removable ones often present a corrosion/water leakage risk. Some vendors even advertise their lights to be unbreakable, and there's a video out there showing an SUV driving over them that appears pretty impressive. The video is a sales attempt to highlight the higher quality materials and workmanship.

There are a number of very good vendors on this site. The ones I have personally had a good or better experience with buying LED strings from are:

http://www.holiday-light-express.com

http://http://www.creativedisplays.com/Home

There are a number of threads which discuss good vendors. You may want to look at these:

http://forums.lightorama.com/index.php?/topic/30255-high-failure-rate-of-leds-what-do-you-think/

http://forums.lightorama.com/index.php?/topic/30312-lights-pre-sale/?hl=%2Bled+%2Bsale

http://forums.lightorama.com/index.php?/topic/30217-led-light-prices/

Many will start having group sales soon.

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Pro quality is any amount of LEDs which can be placed into an orange homer bucket and removed from the HD store without alarms going off.

My home depot LEG lights have been doing just fine for 6 years now, no problems with fades or any other  mode. 

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The snubber issue always has amused me because I don't use them and I've been using cheap-@ssed department store LED's for going over 8+ years now, only going on 4 with LOR as of 2014.   I added the automotive dielectric grease in my LED sockets and on the LED leads, all are still operating fine with the exception of a few strings I didn't do this too, and yes, those rusted out and had issues.  Lot of extra work, perhaps, but what I save on my LED strands can get me more later, and I prefer "replaceables" as opposed to having to cut out a socket, splice and try to solder another in its stead.   Just would not look very appealing having a bunch of splices in a non-replaceable type strand and why I don't use them.    I got a couple to test and was not at all pleased with the quality or the results, not when I had one during testing go half dark, and the other went half dark in less than 6 months of my testing them.  Plus each has far too many LED's burned out on the strand, leaving large, dark, empty gaps.  With the replaceables, I just grease up a new LED in its holder, slip it in and good to go.

 

And I use and buy all my cheapo LED strands from: Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot{NO Martha Stewart!}, Lowes, K-Mart, Walgreen's, CVS, Michael's Craft Stores and Big Lots.

 

Many are only HALF-WAVE and they dim just fine on my V2 controllers WITHOUT snubbers!  But I make sure all my extension cords follow a specific path, are tied together and connections mounted off the ground.  And I also make sure any and all CAT5e cables follow a different path at least 2' or more away from the extension/power cords except where they enter the LOR Controllers.   Been doing it this way for the past 3 years and no issues with fading or any other LOR effects, again, no snubbers on any of my LED strands, but I do try and keep each channel to not more than 5 LED strands, but preferably 3 LED strands.  I have gone up to 7 strands per channel on my V2 board controllers  {GEN2?} and not required a snubber to fade/dim my LED strands.

 

The only issue I had with one was it was wired in reverse, I swapped the strands male plug around, that is,unplugged it from the controller, rotated it over, plugged it back in and it worked fine after that.   And that can happen even with the "sealed" versions that others here swear by, but I'll stick too and swear by my cheap brands, they've worked for me for well over 8+ years, so I see no reason to change now, not with my own personal experience with sealed ones that was far from stellar.   But that's just MY opinion.

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5 strands of 100, bundled with 15 other strands, and tightly wound on a 36 inch mini tree is where I first saw the effects of stray capacitance. Since then, we have seen where 3 strands of 70, each bundled with 3 other colors, and stretched out on the grass is fine, but when it gets wet enough, builds up enough stray capacitance to be an issue. Four color bundling, tight wrapping, and wet earth all increase the quantity of grounded conductor parallel to the strands, effectively increasing the plate area, and stray capacitance. I'm not sure if you just have fewer of these factors stacked up, or shorter strands, or a combination of factors in your favor, but it does sound like you have less total wire (light strands included) on each circuit, minimizing the issue.

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I had a small video up on VIMEO last year showing a mini tree with this problem, it has since been taken down. The problem occurs

most when you use very slow fades, both up and down. Years ago (about 3) I had this very same problem and ask the very same questions, at that time an "oldtimer" told me that it never happened to him and to watch his videos to porove it. I went to VIMEO and watched 4-5 of his videos and low and behold there was flicked in everyone of them. So the moral to the story is not everyone sees things the same way or knows what the problem really is. I came across the snubber thread and made a few, put them on the problem props and it solved everything. I also found out that EVEN I CAN make a BAD subber, one problem prop still flicked after I placed a snubber on it, I checked everything for days, then checked the snubber, replaced it and all was well. Here is a video that shows the problem (#2 mini tree from the left). The trees have 3 - 70 cnt strings of m6 lights per color. The fades are 4 seconds up and 4 seconds down.

 

Edited by EARLE W. TALLEY
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One thing to note here,  cameras WILL pick up things the human eye WILL NEVER SEE or discern!   I have seen displays that looked great in person, but looking at a video taken of the same display, whether I shot some footage or the owner did or had someone do it for them, I've seen that same "flicker effect", and I know they weren't using the same type LED strands I used!.

 

So  too me, videos of a display truly don't really prove anything on flicker issues any longer, as, again, cameras can, and will capture effects and things that we may never even see or even notice visually with the human eye while were standing right there watching it.

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