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Absolute super newbie, but ambitious


concertchristal
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Hi...I'm Christal. I bought a GE music to lights sequence box at Garden Ridge about 6 years ago for $50. I started with a couple hundred lights and am now pushing 8,000. Every year we change the look of our lights, add more stuff and just plug in until we trip breakers. Yes, yes...I know how unsafe it is. I sit with numbers of volts and watts and adding and *trying* to make sure what's going in will work and not trip. Anywho...it's sale time and I'm a beginner. I see the Show Time Central and really like that and want to start with a 16 channel due to budget and getting to understand it. All of my lights are the old school incandescent mini, C-7 and C-9 lights.  And I have some questions....

1. Is there a paper with directions showing the beat of the song will play on these channels and the piano will play on these channels, etc. or is it a crap shoot you have to figure out on your own?

2. On the 16/30...do these plug into standard outlets or are you folks having special outlets made? I mean, doesn't a standard breaker hold 15 Watts? How are you putting 30 in one single outlet without tripping the breaker?

3. For a beginner I see the simplicity of the royalty free 5 song package but I want 'real' music. How difficult is it to buy the pre sequenced songs, upload them and make the music and channels work the way you want?

I know I will get a lot of eye rolls and dear god did she read anything? And the answer is yes! I've read hours of the forums and descriptions of items and FAQs but I want to get your advice from those that have used the products and honest answers to these questions if I'm gonna be shelling out hundreds of dollars. THANK YOU SO MUCH in advance!

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Looks like I get to be first to answer some questions.  First off, Welcome aboard!

Really bad idea to try to max out a channel when you get your controller(s)!  You need to do the math and get a meter that can read your current draw.

For the sixteen/30, there are two plugs that plug into two separate circuits to get 30A.

Not familiar with 1 and 3 of your questions, but sounds like you need to work with the tutorials for the software.

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Welcome to our hobby and addiction! Be forewarned, once you start down the path, forever will you be controlled...by lights  :)

 

This is not a plug and play hobby so understand that up front. I'll try to answer some of your questions and more but understand this is my 3rd year out, coming shortly. Its way late in the year to start this for this year but it can be done. To address your question about power, the controllers have two power plugs on them so you can break them up to different circuits from your house. Being they are outside, its strongly suggested everything is connected via GFCI controlled outlets. Hoping I don't get this wrong, someone correct me please if I do, you get a maximum of 15 amps, across 8 channels on one side of the controller and the same on the other side...another 15 amps on the other 8 channels. Now understand this is, if all 16 channels were turned on at %100 power at the same time, you can't draw more than 30 amps total or 15 amps total per side. Seldom are we turning on all channels at the same instant to full power or we try not too.

 

Personally, I started off with LED's which draw next to nothing in power. My whole power bill went up last year, I think it was $12, but I'm at about %90 LED and I can and do, run thousands of LEDs and it all runs off two circuits from the house. The only time to buy LED's unless you're rich, at the after christmas sales. We can give you lots of ideas on places to purchase them online if you wish.

 

Timing: Sequencing is a time-consuming thing to do and there's no quick way around it. The SuperStar software has the capability of self-generating a sequence from your music but its a struggle for me to get it to look right. I tend to just do it manually and it works out better by far. In the SE, there are two different beat wizards in there. One that will seek out the beat on its own and another called a "Tapper" which you sit there and happily tap to the beat you hear. It turns on a channel or fake channel if you wish, so then you have something to work with. 

 

The best advice I can give you is to watch the LOR tutorials...they are a wealth of information. If you are wanting to do a show this year, start with a picture of your house, now...draw the strings on it you wish to control and how, then you'll know your controller requirements. Download the software and start sequencing right away...

Edited by dgrant
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As far as power goes, here's a simple rule of thumb.  A standard 100ct incandescent sting of mini lights draws about 1/3 of an amp.  So that's 3 strings for every amp.  That will let you put 24 strings on each side of the controller for 15 amps.

 

Like others have already said, watch the tutorials on the LOR website.

 

Good luck.

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