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CTB16PC Controllers - Lengthen channel cords


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First a little background.  This will be my second year using LOR controllers.  I started with 16 channels last year.  The wife liked what I did with one controller and decided to budget for 3 additional controllers this year.  Yes, she loves me.  HaHaHaHa

 

Primary problem I'm facing is with the extension cords.  Last year it was no problem to run 16 cords under the garage door.  That's not happening this year with 64 cords.  Although we live a pretty safe neighborhood, I still don't feel comfortable putting the controllers outside. 

 

So I'm in the planning stages of building a "cabinet" in the garage for my controllers(4).  I want to run the channel cords through the wall to a plug in an outside cabinet.  (I see it clearly in my mind and in the garage but having difficulty explaining it here)  I'm an average DIY'er.  I feel like this should be relatively straight forward if I can just get some questions answered.

 

In order to do this, the channel cords must be longer than 18 inches.  I'm looking to do a bulk wire purchase.  What kind of wire would I need to run between the controller and the plug?

 

Any help, guidance and advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

 

 

Hoping the pictures can help....

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I assume you are not planning to replace the pigtails from the controllers, but plug extension cords into them.  I would say 18/2 would be minimum but I usually use 16/2.  You don't mention the length of the runs or what you will be controlling, so this recommendation would be based on strings of lights.  To minimize the length of the cords, I would suggest that you just put the controllers in proximity to the elements you are controlling.  Not to say it hasn't happened, but in the 8 years or so that I have been doing this, I don't recall ever reading anything on the forum where controllers have been stolen.

 

You might also keep your eyes open for sales on those orange type extension cords, I use quite a few of those.

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Actually, I am looking to replace and extend the dongles(pigtails) and thinking the length of the replacements could be as little as 3-4 feet or as long as 6-10 feet.

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As Denny indicated, it depends on what kind of load you'll be drawing.

 

I use almost entirely LEDs and my home-made dongles are 18 ga.  If you're running incandescents, depending on the load on each channel, you might want something heavier.

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Although we live a pretty safe neighborhood, I still don't feel comfortable putting the controllers outside.

Eventually, you'll get over that. :)  I, like many others, was also concerned my first year, when I bought some locks to fasten the doors closed so the controllers couldn't be unscrewed. Then, after a while I realized that any vandal/bad kid/etc. would first take the flashy props and other lights before something that looked like an old sprinkler valve timer. Also, the extensive runs of extension cords can end up costing as much as a controller (when you multiply them by 16), and extension cords are much easier to sell in flea markets than controllers.

 

But, as to the original question: As Denny and others said, it depends on what you are plugging into the controllers. As I run mainly LEDs and a small amount of minis, I built my own dongles with SPT1.

IMG_1615.JPG

 

In other places, I wired the controller with a harness:

IMG_1612.JPG

The visible 4-pin plug goes to 3-channel LED super-strings. The 12-pin plug goes to 4-channel C-7 candlestick strings.

 

In other cases, I got really creative with my Rubbermaid case:

IMG_1621.JPG

 

The dongles from LOR are good quality, but overkill for LEDs and most minis. And the ground (3rd wire) pin is useless with Christmas lights and plastic cases.

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Before I learned the value of vampire plugs I bought a ton of very short 16AWG extension cables in bulk from monoprice.com for $1-$2 a pop.   They offer promotions and free shipping at times that might also save you a few bucks.

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Before I learned the value of vampire plugs I bought a ton of very short 16AWG extension cables in bulk ...

I did the same thing for the first few years I made my own dongles. (Back then you could get 6' ordinary ext cords for 60 cents on sale.) I'd cut the cord about 24 inches from the receptacle and use that piece for a dongle. I like having that three-way tap for a dongle on some controllers. The piece with the plug I'd use as a power cord for short strips of rope lights.

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I'm not saying you won't have issues with theft or vandles , but its unlikely. Out or the thousands of lor users I have only heard of a few that have had problems. I would put your controllers as close to the props as you can. You will find out fast that extension cords get really expensive and take up lots of space

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I live in a neighborhood where there has been numerous break ins and theft, my controllers are mounted outside 365/24/7.  Been here going on 4 years now, never had a controller stolen.   Would be a bit difficult since I bolt them to my stairs or handicap ramp, and lock them with a good padlock.    

 

Not saying if someone really wanted them, they could break/cut the lock, but they'll need 4 different tools to remove the inside bolts that hold it to it's mounting location.  Not to mention having to unscrew a lot of small "c" screw down cable clamps that hold the power cords, cat5 and other wiring in place and run along the bottom side of the ramp and over, around support boards.  So they'd have to crawl under the ramp to take all that down,  I made it very difficult, just not impossible. If they cut the power cords off, feasible too, but then they'd have to replace them before they could attempt to sell them as a working item.  If someone did steal them, they'd probably try to sell them as scrap somewhere.  I also have them marked with visible and UV {invisible} markings.

 

The majority of folks have no clue what they are or what they actually do, so they're usually left alone and fairly safe outside.

 

The issue most folks have is vandalism of their display, light strands cut/stolen, blow molds and other props stolen or destroyed, airblowns cut and damaged, even neighborhood animals {cats/dogs/rabbits/squirrels/deer for example} chewing/playing with cords and wires causing damage, those are what you really need to be concerned with, more so than someone taking the controllers.

 

Fortunately, "knock on wood", I haven't had any of those issues, but some folks here have.

Edited by Orville
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I buy locks keyed alike, steel cable by the 250 role, clamps by the bag and a swagging tool like this one.  Each controller gets locked to something.  It's also known in town that I have security like Fort Knox.

 

http://www.lowes.com/pd_348539-258-ST18BK_0__?productId=3462290

 

The older you get and the more channels you acquire you get sick and tired and wrangling heavy extension cords.

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Hi, excited to hear about your large controller upgrade, gonna be a great year for your show!

I actually live in a not so perfect neighborhood, theft and vandalism is very common here. I mount my LOR under the over hand of my house, I can place them where I need, it saves on extention cords, and of course they are not possible to reach without a ladder. Controllers walking away, as a few have stated, is not really common. A motion sensor that buzzes when passed and mounted on a tree or something near the controller, plus a motion activated spot light is enough to deter most thugs away from your lawn. Even though these are additional costs, I think in the long run it will be more cost effective than 10'+ of extra cord for each channel...

Than again there is nothing like having the peace of mind that everything is out of reach.

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I put gangs of 8 duplex outlets on the outside of my basement wall. I mount my controllers in the basement then run 12 or 14 gauge stranded wire through conduit out to a box with the duplex outlets in it. 8 duplex gives me 16 very heavy duty connection points for extension cords on out to light/led sets all over the yard. I have 16 on both ends of my porch for left and right channels to left and right sides of yard. This has worked well for me and keeps my controllers safe and dry!

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