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CTB16PC User Feedback


Bob VandenBoom
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Bob VandenBoom

Hello All,

After a season under your belt, is there anybody that used the PC line of controllers that wants to share their experience. Pros, cons, comparisons to the CTB16K series. I'm not concerned about the different configurations, but rather the performance in the field. How did they work out for you? Share your success stories, horror stories, and anything else you learned.

I would also be interested in hearing from users of the DCMP3 card as well, but that's probably another thread.

Thanks,

Bob

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I had zero issues with the five I was running, and similarly zero issues with the 13 that were used on a project.

In both cases, once we were set up and running, our issues were GFCI related, and the different models will make zero difference here..

In the minor issues list, I would say that I'm not a fan of the screw that holds the box closed, and having it screwed completely shut is important to maximize the water resistant nature of the case. They also do not indicate any recommended mounting configurations. After some thought, I elected to drill 3/8" holes through the strain relief mounting bracket and the back of the case, located between the bundles of cords. From here, I marked the brick on the side of the house, and permanently installed 1/4" wedge anchors into the brick. This way the controller and the aluminum bracket are under the washers and 1/4 inch nuts holding the box to the wall. If any water does make it down the back of the box and in through the holes, it is already below anything that would be bothered by moisture.

I do hope to locate some of the F connector locks that the case is intended to be used with, and the tools to install/remove them. This should give decent security for use at home.

All in all, unless you are looking for standalone animation sequences, I think the different cases are the biggest difference, and for the price difference, I am extremely happy with the PC cases.

- Kevin

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klb, just curious as to you have connected 5 ctb16pc controlers. is that correct? this is what I've read about the ctb16pc.

This controller is ready to plug in. This unit does not have the Unit ID switches found on the deluxe units so you must connect this it to your PC or Laptop to set the Unit ID. Once the Unit ID is set, this controller is ready to go.

how hard was it to give each units ids.

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Brian Mitchell

I have 2 PC controllers and they worked flawlessly. Assigning their ID's is a piece of cake in the Hardware utility.

On the other side of the coin I have an 8 channel showtime box that needs to be reset a couple times a season due to randomly flashing lights.

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I've never had any issues setting the unit ID..

Make sure you have the correct RS-485 adapter drivers installed, and the adapter installed.

Use Cat5 cable to connect the RS-485 adapter to one of the RJ-45 jacks on the controller.

Apply power to the left half of the controller. The LED should start blinking

Launch the hardware utility. If the correct COM port is configured, the LED should stop blinking. If not, attempt to autoconfigure the com port.

Once the LED is solid, locate the input field and button to do the initial unit ID set command. The unit ID should remain set until you change it.

- Kevin

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last year I had 2 lor1602w controlers and wanted to jump to 64channels. but when i read about no unit ids switches installed, got a little nervous combining the four together

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-klb- wrote:

I do hope to locate some of the F connector locks that the case is intended to be used with, and the tools to install/remove them. This should give decent security for use at home.

I bought a bag of F-connectors like this: 101.jpg at Fry's Electronics or Radio Shack.
I also found a wrench like this one: 1003.jpg
You can get that here if it's not at your local store.

I attached my boxes with screws to a 1x4 board, but I put some silicon caulking between the board and the case. Another box I screwed directly to a tree, driving the screws right through the plastic case. I had no water damage.
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I used one CTB16PC in conjunction with my other 2 CTB16D boards. It worked great. All are connected to a pc to run the show. Setting the ID is very easy via the hardware utility.

The pc board is smaller and it uses the spade connectors rather than the screw connectors as Jeff mentioned. I had a hard time disconnecting the spade connectors with power cords purchased from LOR. They were really tight and somewhat difficult to pull off.

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Steven wrote:

-klb- wrote:
I do hope to locate some of the F connector locks that the case is intended to be used with, and the tools to install/remove them. This should give decent security for use at home.

I bought a bag of F-connectors like this: 101.jpg at Fry's Electronics or Radio Shack.

I used some RG-6 compression connectors this year, with a similar tool to install them. Between the long body, and how well it swivels, they are unlikely to be removed with pliers, but a deep well socket has zero problem removing them. Unfortunately there is more of the F connector thread exposed, than the depth of most connectors, so you still have to use the screw to hold the box closed...

What I found a vendor for too late last year, but have lost the link is basically a cable TV anti theft cap.. I think they were about 1 inch long, and the entire outside shell turns freely. A special tool inserts through the open end to install or remove them.. I think the tool was around $25, with the "locks" being about $1.25 each...
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Bob VandenBoom

Thanks for all the great feedback. I'm currently running eight KTB16D boards and am looking at 16 controllers for a new project. It looked like the PC card would be just fine, but hearing from people that used them gives me that added warm and fuzzy I like before a major purchase.

Now, off to decide if the DC-MP3 director/MP3 card is all it looks like it is. The ability to direct the PC controllers, play the music, and schedule/launch the shows is pretty appealing.

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Bob VandenBoom

terrypowerz wrote:

Just don't use Cat5 for the channel output cables though! ;)

But Terry, there is outdoor CAT5 cable with stranded conductors and gel filled around the conductors inside the cable jacket - 20 mil insulation to boot;) Different topic - different forum. Interesting responses:?
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I used four of these controllers this year.
- Set up was pretty easy, unit ID was fast with Hardware Utility.
- I will get the screw & tool noted above for the enclosure.
- Cat5 cables w/ boots are a little bit of a challenge to add with the power cords. (All were linked together)
- They were easy to hide in the yard.
- I liked saving a little on the budget!
I only had one issue with one controller, and it was probably as much my fault as the controllers. I had one channel short open when a fuse blew after a rain storm, so I unplugged it and moved on.

Wish Lizt:
- I would like to see a 40 amp option.

I am sure I will be adding more!

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Just about the same sentiments as everyone else.
I used 2 of the PC models and 2 of the CTB16D boards.

My experience:
- Set up was very easy
- I also liked saving a little on the display budget!

My only issues were GCFI related and I was able to take care of those.

I'm going to add 2 or 3 more this year.

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Well, let me add my name to the happy band of users (PC users that is :) ). I did not even jump on this crazy train until the week before Thanksgiving last year. I ordered 2 CTB16PCs on that Saturday and by Monday, I figured out I needed two more. Had all 4 by the Friday after Thanksgiving. I had a 6400 light mega tree, 8 mini trees w/ 600 lights each, as well as about 5000 addl lights to put up. I was sequencing two songs like crazy at night. By 12/4, I had everything up and running. I had no problems setting the ID on the 4 controllers. I do agree with the other posters about the screw mechanism for closing the box and I would like to see recommendations on the best way to run the cat5 cable in and out of the box. I would also like to see recommendations on attaching the box to a solid surface. The only issue I had is it stopped running in mid show twice. I simply disabled the program and then enabled it again and it started right up. I saw there was a download to fix that problem but I did not use it because the problem did not pop up until the season was almost over so I decided to leave well enough alone. I absolutely love the results that I was able to obtain with the controlers and plan on adding more this year. My mantra is GO BIG OR GO HOME :P

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Ditto everything said before. I started slow with the 1602W show director with MP3 Player the first year because I didn't want to be teathered to a computer. Worked perfectly.

Then last year added 4 of the CTB16PC controllers, and again had no problem with them. Hung them on the tri-mega tree with a box covering them in an effort to keep them semi-hidden. I did connect them together with phone wire instead of CAT5, so it was easy to get the phone line into the boxes.

Set-up is easy using the hardware utility to identify the units. So I'm going to buy another 4 CTB16PC controllers this year.

Tim

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Bob VandenBoom

Steven wrote:

-klb- wrote:
I do hope to locate some of the F connector locks that the case is intended to be used with, and the tools to install/remove them. This should give decent security for use at home.

1003.jpg
You can get that here if it's not at your local store.

I attached my boxes with screws to a 1x4 board, but I put some silicon caulking between the board and the case. Another box I screwed directly to a tree, driving the screws right through the plastic case. I had no water damage.

Another place to get this tool is http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=360-089 they have it for $5.20. Also a decent place to get CAT5 patch cords.
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The locks that you are looking for are called security terminators or locking terminators. They are removed with a tool like the one below. Search for CATV tools, the most popular is the gilbert variety.

Helps to have 100's of them floating around the truck, and the benifit of your employeer supplying the tools to put them on... ;) Just promise to only use them on your dispay and dont' get in trouble using them on your CATV service...

no endorsement of the following links, just what I found with a quick google search

Tool

http://www.customtoolsupply.com/product_info.php?products_id=175

http://mccartenco.net/product.php?productid=1289

Termiator

http://www.appliedtel.com/Site/Shop/ProductView.aspx?prdID=664&asctgID=43

http://www.yourbroadbandstore.com/product.php?pid=073674&r=CPC01

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I have two PC kits. Easy to assemble. Easy to set the unit ID's. They both worked perfectly the first time I plugged them in. I never had an issue with the controllers in any way. Every show worked every night. I had a couple of nights with GFI's tripping due to substantial rain. Never a problem with the controllers. I am planning on buying two more this year. When I first got the bug to do LOR, I knew I couldn't afford more than one Deluxe type controller. But Dan has sure helped me squeeze the most out of my budget with the PC kits! Thanks Dan!

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Has anyone used them in extreme cold. -20 or colder? We have had some really cold nights that dipped down to -29 below zero and was wondering how they hold up.

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-20, Sorry, not here in Sacramento, CA. Maybe the Utah guys could shed some light for you. With the snow and wind chill I am sure it gets to be like conditions.
Rick

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LightORamaDan

terryj529 wrote:

Has anyone used them in extreme cold. -20 or colder? We have had some really cold nights that dipped down to -29 below zero and was wondering how they hold up.

All of the componets are rated down to -40.
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terryj529 wrote:

Has anyone used them in extreme cold. -20 or colder? We have had some really cold nights that dipped down to -29 below zero and was wondering how they hold up.

I don't believe that we got temps below -20 but it was in the teens below zero and the units in my display worked flawlessly.

Like others have said earlier, my only (minor) gripe would be the screw holding the enclosure closed and getting the CAT5 threaded to the connections.
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Rick Caulk wrote:

-20, Sorry, not here in Sacramento, CA. Maybe the Utah guys could shed some light for you. With the snow and wind chill I am sure it gets to be like conditions.
Rick

It gets cold here in Utah, but not that cold. It's not uncommon for us to go days or even weeks at a time with our high temperatures below freezing. But it's uncommon for us to dip below 0 degrees farenheit.

I can't give any feedback though on how well the controllers perform in cold temperatures, 2008 will be my first year with an animated display.
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