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First year here's what I'm working with


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So I've asked and recieved a lot of answer to my questions thanks to all. I got a 48 channel showtime series on the way here's what I'll be working with this year. I know the dang line tress are obstructive and need to be trimmed I'm guessing post-14622-141323856723_thumb.jpg

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You have a very nice house. I will be a great show house.  

The trees will work as props! A little sculpting is needed. If you do add lights to them, be sure to keep in mind how close they are to your viewers. Things closer to the viewers need special consideration as they may end up too busy, too flashy and too bright. 


Last year I came up with a list of things I have learned that you may find useful.  Some of it has changed for me, but most is still something I wished I had in the beginning. 

For what is is worth:  


Below I have listed some bulleted items that I found through either trial and error or stumbled upon them looking for answers. I know I would have like to have them all in one place. I am sure that others may do it different and perhaps have better ways. I am always open to correction and learning.
The items are not in any particular order.

  1. Look at the LOR suggested layout for your channels. Don't think lights at first. Think in terms of channels and how you would like your lights to flow. The LOR suggestion, based on one controller (but supports up to 4 controllers/48 channels), is 4 groups of 4. The roof or gutter line of your house may be the first 4 channels then just below that is your windows, then perhaps you have columns or other features (mine is an arbor, front porch, 4ft high bush and garage door and then 4 white mini-trees. This arrangement will allow an orderly flow from top to bottom - left to right - bottom to top and right to left. All LOR sequences in their sequence store are based on this layout. Here is a a link to a PDF LOR published with this layout and what to do with additional controllers LOR Layout .   Of course you can make any channel flow with any other, but take it from me if it isn't in the pattern suggested by LOR it get really challenging during sequence creation. This gives you an opportunity to purchase from LOR complete sequences (which support up to 4 controllers with no mods required) and have a show ready this year should you want to and the budget allows it. It is also easier to remember as you sequence or modify donated or purchased sequences. 
  2. Watch lots of the videos - YouTuble, LOR, Planet Christmas, etc.
  3. Get real familiar with the software and learn the keyboard shortcuts. I knew that learning the software would be the most challenging part of this hobby (other than budget), so I paid for the advance version up front full price. I am so glad I did. Watch the tutorial videos on the software- super valuable to me. Learn the visualizer. Learn how to play only part of sequence.
  4. Take a good picture of your house from the show viewer's vantage point. Tip - Take the photo during the day. The visualizer allows you to darken so you will be able to see a simulation of your lights without a problem.
  5. Decide on the hardware you want now. Do not wait until the spring sale. Somethings go really quickly. You will be prepared. Search the forum for sale info. Summer sale has lower prices, but fewer quantities.
  6. Measure your house and decide on the type and number of lights per string and how many strings you need. Gage the length to use based on the display (I can expand on this if you PM me). Make sure you have planned how your strings will attached to the house, etc. Do not wait until setup day!  You will regret it. 
  7. Use LEDs. Only purchase quality lights sealed bulbs that are fully rectified (these are almost impossible to find at local stores.  I ordered from Holiday-Light Express (Very pleased with HLE). Order your lights during the January and February sales. The vendor will usually require a downpayment and you pay balance after they notify you that they have received the lights from China. You can get prepaid discounts if you choose. You get your lights in the summer.
  8. Not all LEDs work well with controllers; this applies mainly to store bought, unsealed/un-rectified  lights. I have run into this with one of my existing strings, but others on the forum have stories to tell especially with Martha Stuart lights. 
  9. Download and install Audacity. It is an open source audio editing program that is awesome. You can shorten songs, change to bit rate to constant (main use for me) as LOR software will throw an error with variable bit rate MP3 files. Here is a link to help with that Preparing MP3 Files for Sequencing
  10. Unless you are somehow gifted, and I hope you are, take serious the time that others say it takes to sequence a song. It does take hours and hours. But the result is so worth it. I am a rookie and I know there are others that run rings around my ability. I will get there one day.
  11. SPT1 wire and vampire plugs/receptacles. Must haves. Create your own custom length extension cords. Wire weighs a lot, so I purchased mine at Lowes to save on shipping ($42 for 250 feet - I bought two). They don't have white and green, but I can deal with black. Shop around for the vampire plugs. I found mine for .49 each at Christmas LIght Emporium. 
  12. Oh yea, this can get to where it seems over-whelming. Keep in mind why you want to do it. For me it is a chance to witness. Celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. During and after Christmas I was told that what I did was so cool or some other adjectives to describe the show. That is not my purpose; don't get me wrong, I like to hear the good words people say that sort of acknowledges the work or dedication, but I truly want the focus off of me and on to the reason.

UPDATE: Item #9 - Wire... 2 rolls of 250 feet did not come close to covering my setup. I have only 32 channels and ended up purchasing 8 rolls of 250 feet and about 45 15 foot extension cords (these were due to a change in layout at the last minute).  I ended up with more than 1900 feet of extension cord. 

​Also be sure to buy high quality and enough vampire taps. Buy the correct ones: SPT1 and SPT2 are not interchangeable. The gage of the wire is usually the same, but the insulation is thicker on SPT2.  If you think you have enough wire, buy an extra roll same goes for the taps. 


Also in relation to item 10 - Have fun.
I hope this helps at least a little bit.

Edited by zeighty
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Thanks a lot for the info. I appreciate it. I have already measures the house out and planning on purchasing lights tonmorow. Also the layout I stand outside a lot and just look and try to plan where I want the Channels to be. Thinking roof line first four then four windows then the four Columns then the door and garage and two stars above garage. Second controller I'm thinking about 4 bushes. The two pine tress with two colors each, 4 Christmas trees and 4 lighted deer. Then the third controller. Four on the yard border possibly 4 for a yard grid and maybe two four channel arches

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I know this is probably useless to you but maybe take this into consideration for future years. ( I had some spare time on my hands :) ) I tried to work with the space not blocked by trees.



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Trees are being trimmed tommorow gonna be 18' of bare trunk with the top of the trees thinned out and shaped. Should be able to see all of roof line and windows

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That's nice victor thank you. I'll work with that definetly. The mega tree may be too much for this year. I do plan on adding 32-48 more channels next year to accomadate a mega tree and arches

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You can wrap the trunks like a firestick now if desired. Get a bucket truck and put leds all over the tree tops or use RGB floods on them.

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I plan on wrapping the trunks didn't think about the fire stick though. also I gonna rent a boom lift from Home Depot and wrap the branches. Will a rgb flood work with the showtime controllers or so they require a different one.

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