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Couple questions from a newb?


Dcroc
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I took the plunge and order the 64 ch starter package.  I have a couple of questions:

 

1. Where do you guys get your lights?  I found bulk deals of 24 sets of 100 lights for $139, so I picked a couple of them up.  However, I have a feeling I'm gonna need a lot more.

 

2. How do you make custom length lights?  Seems I can only get sets of 35, 50, or 100. Need much shorter lengths to make animated faces.

 

3. I am feeling way overwhelmed by the software.  If I buy sequences, is it pretty much a plug and play thing?  Drop the sequence in the software, plug everything in, and go?

 

4. How do I get the wife to stop being so mad that I spent $1500 on Christmas lights?

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I get all my incan lights from Walmart, Home depot and other retailers after Christmas.  I bought my LED's from CDI and have been completely satisfied with them.

 

You can also get 10 and 20 lights sets from stripping out candy canes and tree toppers.  I think Walmart sells 20 ct sets too.     You have to make the counts available work or close to it.  You can add or subtract one or two bulbs from a string with little effect.

 

This isn't a plug and play hobby.   Just dropping a premade sequence into your setup will rarely look GOOD.  But they will flash to the beat.  To me, quality sequencing is job 1.   I'd rather have 3 songs that look good than 20 that look like crap.

 

Once she sees the house flashing, the angry glares will decrease, if not go away.

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First, you can do this! I suggest LED's but use whatever you bought. As stated already, you can use pre-made sequences but you need to customize them to your home. Start with a plan of lights on your house and what you wish to control. That will dictate the light requirements and channel usage. Arches and MegaTrees consume tons of channels if you go to those. Sort of depends on your house and your wishes. Sorry, but its not a plug and play hobby. But on the bright side, you have total control of everything! Here, my first year, two seasons ago, the lady of the house and her adult kids, neighbors and etc...all thought the yard looked like crap out there, during the day. Till the first night I lit it up! They changed their tunes in a heart-beat. Last year was even better and this year will be better yet!

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I do the same as Brian, I buy my incandecents at Walmart ect after Christmas. This year I picked up some Walmart 50ct LED's, we'll see how those last in my new Olaf singing face. You can do as Brian stated or when I have no choice but to have a bunch behind the prop, I use wire ties and wrap them up nicely and then place them in a black plastic bag.

The software can be overwhelming at first, have to admitt I was looking at it way more complicated then it needed to be in the beginning. John storms has some nice tutorial videos on YouTube, Listentoourlights is his name on YouTube. They are very helpful for even someone that's been doing it a few years.

If you find an answer to the last one let me know lol, mine complains all year then when the lights are on loves it. She's even started doing some sequencing this year

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I am also a newbie i started out last year with a mr. christmas and then i started looking at the videos on line with my wife at how light o rama works and looks and she went crazier than me me she went out and bought me over $3000 worth of equippment. i have a posting under "wow this is harder than it looks" just get her involved let her make decisions and planning and beleive me she will get hooked too. i havent even started my first light o rama display and my wife is constantly looking for lights and equippment on sale. and in garage sales . and if that doesnt work just wait till she sees it for the first time. my wife didnt care for lights either but as soon as i turned on the mr. christmas it was as if the christmas spirit from her childhood had returned. well good luck and keep us all posted and watch the videos

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4. How do I get the wife to stop being so mad that I spent $1500 on Christmas lights?

 

True story: Last year my wife & I drove around to see Christmas light displays. One display featured a 1200-element, 18-foot pixel tree. She said: "It would be nice if you had one of those in your display." I said: "Yes, dear!"

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As a newbie myself, I totally agree with the posts above. Look on eBay Craig's list etc for deals on lights, LED is the way to go, they cost more but last longer and consume much less power. I purchased some and they work great, just be careful on what your purchasing, used is not always the best way to go, However; as mentioned above the best time is right after Christmas.

 

As far as purchasing sequences go, I have purchased some and they work fine, yes you will have to set them to the proper controllers/channels but that's easy enough to do if you utilize the visualizer. Everyone on here has been terrific in answering questions and helping this newbie out.

 

Watching the video tutorials and searching the forums for information is the best way to get started

 

As far as the Wife, my wife said that if your going to do this "DONT EMBARASS ME!" I take that to mean I better do it right. I have a tendency to stick with the phrase "It's sometimes better to ask for forgiveness than permission" :D :D :D :D

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As far as custom length strings go...

 

C9 and C7 strings can be cut down with no problem, these are wired in parallel. 

 

Mini light strings are wired in series, so you can't cut them down.  It will burn out the bulbs.  If you have an area where you have too many lights you can use blackout caps on the extra bulbs.  If you are using rope light, just wrap black electrical tape around the extra.

 

Christmas-LEDs ( www.Christmas-leds.com ) has white dimmable LED strings with as little as 10 bulbs per string.  They also sell color and blackout caps.  The color caps appear to be for wireframes, but will probably work for other applications.

 

Jerry

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I took the plunge and order the 64 ch starter package.  I have a couple of questions:

 

1. Where do you guys get your lights?  I found bulk deals of 24 sets of 100 lights for $139, so I picked a couple of them up.  However, I have a feeling I'm gonna need a lot more.

On line, after Christmas sales and yes you will need a lot more because you can never have too many lights! And if something in your display doesn't look right, throw some more light on it!

 

2. How do you make custom length lights?  Seems I can only get sets of 35, 50, or 100. Need much shorter lengths to make animated faces.

Don't know I make do with what I have.

 

3. I am feeling way overwhelmed by the software.  If I buy sequences, is it pretty much a plug and play thing?  Drop the sequence in the software, plug everything in, and go?

It can be plug and play but you might not like it (people watching will be amazed).

You need to start playing with the software. There are lots of free squences out there. Try to get them from the same place so you can make chages easier.

 

4. How do I get the wife to stop being so mad that I spent $1500 on Christmas lights?

Flowers, dinner, buy her stuff. If you are lucky she will help you spend next year.

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2. How do you make custom length lights?  Seems I can only get sets of 35, 50, or 100. Need much shorter lengths to make animated faces.

You can get 10-bulb strings at 1000bulbs.com. Be careful not to mix bulbs with longer strings, because those use 12-volt bulbs.

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Thanks guys. I can see that this site, and you guys are going to be invaluable.  I am a musician, and run a home studio. I use multi-track recording (I've used up to 64) with midi sequences. This makes me think I will get the hang of the software. It's just a bit overwhelming the first time you open it. I loaded a couple sequences I bought with the starter package, and it actually helped me understand a couple things a lot better. Now I'm thinking there is no way I'm going to be ready by Christmas!  So much work to do. I figure I'm not going to stress too much this first season. Will simply do what I can, and try to learn a little more every day. Was going to start with a smaller starter kit (32 channels), but it seemed like I really wouldn't be able to do much with so few. However, after getting a little more into it, I'm thinking that I may not start out with all 64 channels. Might be better to start smaller. Maybe start with one singing face for Halloween just to get my feet wet.

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Got the package today.  After spending about an hour with it all, which included testing one controller, and running a couple pre-made sequences, I feel much better about it, and not so overwhelmed. Creating sequences is the only part that I worry about now.  Shouldn't be too hard, though, once I get rolling on it. I have to admit that I had to pop onto these forums once or twice before I got the software talking to the hardware while playing a sequence,, but the connectivity is pretty much straight forward.  I'm already starting to plan my layout, and start making arches, and mega tree parts. Actually starting to wonder if I have enough time left this year to do both Halloween, and Christmas this year.  May have to keep Halloween simple, and lower key. Might be a good baby step before a larger Christmas display.

Edited by Dcroc
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For question 1, I bought all mine from http://www.holiday-light-express.com/. Hit their Spring sale.

 

Much like everyone else, I work with what I got for the lights though the black caps are something I should order. You'll also see people using black electrical tape over rope lighting. As long as it works. :)

 

I always like seeing what others have done and customizing that to your own show. Sequence sharing is a wonderful thing.

 

Have you figured out item # 4 yet? LOL! Surprise here and sequence one of her favorite songs and insert it into your show. Her expression should be priceless.

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Got the package today.  After spending about an hour with it all, which included testing one controller, and running a couple pre-made sequences, I feel much better about it, and not so overwhelmed. Creating sequences is the only part that I worry about now.  Shouldn't be too hard, though, once I get rolling on it. I have to admit that I had to pop onto these forums once or twice before I got the software talking to the hardware while playing a sequence,, but the connectivity is pretty much straight forward.  I'm already starting to plan my layout, and start making arches, and mega tree parts. Actually starting to wonder if I have enough time left this year to do both Halloween, and Christmas this year.  May have to keep Halloween simple, and lower key. Might be a good baby step before a larger Christmas display.

Creating sequences is time consumming! It takes me about 8 hour to sequence each minute of a song..

Do something real simple for Halloween. See if you can use the same things for Christmas so you can get a head start on Christmas.

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