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Multiple networks for the newbie


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Hi folks, and I hope that you are all staying well in these times.  I have had a large Christmas light display for years and this year I am hoping to use some of my "spare" time from the COVID issues to move on into a LOR display.  For now I plan on staying with traditional LED bulbs and use the LOR 16 channel controllers for control.  I might add some of the 10 w floods as well.

As I intend on incorporating some of this equipment into landscape lighting and other seasonal holiday lighting, I would like to be able to have multiple Cat5/RS485 outlets on three different sides of my house as well as on my detached garage.  This is to permit more flexibility as the display changes between seasons, as well as minimizing the about of fragile cat5 cable that I have to rollup during my minus 40 teardowns.

From my research so far, it looks like multiple networks are in order?  If I am correct and this is the case, do multiple networks make programming harder?  Can multiple networks be connected via a usb hub or do/should they be connected to separate usb ports on the computer?  Finally for now anyhow, is there a limit on how many networks a computer can handle?  And yes, I will be using either advanced or pro level software.

Thanks in a advance for your help.

 

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Multiple networks are only required when you get into the  high channel counts of smart pixels. Having said that multiple networks is the only way to run parallel lines to different parts of the yard with hardwired outlets with high speed adaptors. (the red one) 

You should plan on the high speed red adaptor for futureproofing.

Many folks use a self powered hub to provide multiple USB ports.

The number of networks in no way affects programming, except in the sense that more channels means more work.

I don't use LOR for my pixels, but one enhanced network will support many hundreds of channels, and many people have a lot of networks on a computer, with one or more hubs.

I have 32 AC channels and about 90 DC channels on one low speed LOR network, then about 10000 E1.31, DMX over ethernet channels on the non LOR side.

 

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RS485 can do 4000'

If you are wiring these perm jacks, make 2 runs to each place for (patch-ability) flexibility from the control point. IN from the source, out to the next. Just patch the OUT to the next location IN

As your needs grow 🤣, you just break the patched network into 2 or more.

(While LOR can run on 4 wires, I suggest a full CAT6 wired jacks in case you want to do e1.31 at some time later  CAT6 is cheap when bought in 500/1000' boxes )

Edited by TheDucks
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I'm transitioning back to a LOR Director unit, a G4 with 4 network capacity.  This way I don't need any adapters and no connections to my computer to run my shows any longer.

My set up for Christmas is my CTB16PC Controllers {2 of them, G2 version} will run on the G4 Director Network 1, which would be a Regular Network, 11.5K speed, NON-Enhanced, my 5 CCB100D 5V Smart RGB Controllers{original RGB controllers} will be on Network 2, which will be Aux A, 500K and Enhanced, my LOR Singing Trees {Pixie2D Controllers} will run on Network 3, which will be Aux B, 1,000K and Enhanced.  Network 4 will not be used at this time.

But this allows me to just keep everything outdoors and not have to move my controllers with the exception of the Singing Trees as their controllers are mounted to their corresponding designated Tree, which will be the only cat 5 disconnected after the season is done for the Holidays.   The CTB16PC's will be changed to landscape lighting after the Holiday season and the 5 CCB100D's and their RGB lights will stay where they are with one exception, the RGB Dual Trellis Arches will be taken down and disconnected from RGB CCB100D Controller #04.  The roof lights will stay in place so they can be used any time of year for other occasions.

But it's not any harder to program for multiple networks as a single network.   But if you use a computer and the Red USB adapters be sure to MARK THEM for what COMM Port and NETWORK is assigned to them, as you will need to keep each USB RS485 Adapter with the same settings you have in your sequences to their prospective controller{s}.  For example I ran my show last year from my computer, so I have one red HS adapter, it is labeled as COMM4/Aux A for my CCB100D Controllers.  If I were using my computer this year, I'd have a 2nd red HS Adapter and that would be marked COMM5/Aux B for my new additions, the LOR Singing Trees I'll incorporate this year.    So it's very important you know what each adapter has been set for, so when you plug in your cat5 {make sure they are marked with some type of system as well} cables, you know exactly which adapter to plug them into.

Otherwise you'll go crazy trying to figure out why things aren't working.

That's why I went to the G4 Director for my shows, I know my display will probably never need that 4th port, but it's there if my display would ever get large enough to need it.   That and I got tired or running multiple cat5 cables out through a window, along with speaker wiring from my computer to the outside world.   Plus this way to go from Holiday to Landscape Lighting just requires a change out of the SD Card in the Director.   Will make it much simpler and easier for me this way.

Of course how you do it, is entirely up to you.   Just giving my thoughts and how I do it to make it the easiest set up and take down for my set up throughout the year.

Welcome to the madness.

 

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Welcome to LOR lighting.  I also run year round landscape lighting in addition to Christmas and a little for Halloween.  I have five LOR controllers that are used year round on one network and an InputPup on a second network.  For Christmas, more gets added.

Although you likely could do what you want on a single network as thu ducks suggested (there is easily enough network capacity for it), it does sound like it may be easier to use several networks.  Adding additional networks does not make ANY difference in sequencing.  When you set up your channel assignments in Preview Editor, you tell it that you are using something other than your Regular network for that particular prop.  For example, here is my pixel star on my Mega-Tree:

Mega-tree_Star_preview_config_in_5.4.2.p

In this case, the Pixel 4 controller will live on my AuxA network.  Selecting AuxA is entire change at the channel setup level that is required to run multiple networks.  Later on, you also have to define which USB adapter is used for each network.  That only takes a few seconds and generally you only need to do it once.

 

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4 minutes ago, TheDucks said:

RS485 can do 4000'

If you are wiring these perm jacks, make 2 runs to each place for (patch-ability) flexibility from the control point. IN from the source, out to the next. Just patch the OUT to the next location IN

As your needs grow 🤣, you just break the patched network into 2 or more.

(While LOR can run on 4 wires, I suggest a full CAT6 wired jacks in case you want to do e1.31 at some time later  CAT6 is cheap when bought in 500/1000' boxes )

I've been using 8 wire cat5 in my display for years.  Ever since I got into this hobby back in 2010.   What's the difference between cat5 and cat6 wiring?   I've seen cat6, but never really paid much attention to it, since cat5 has always worked reliably for me.

Just wondering what, if any, advantages there are to using cat6?

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12 minutes ago, Orville said:

I've been using 8 wire cat5 in my display for years.  Ever since I got into this hobby back in 2010.   What's the difference between cat5 and cat6 wiring?   I've seen cat6, but never really paid much attention to it, since cat5 has always worked reliably for me.

Just wondering what, if any, advantages there are to using cat6?

For our purposes, absolutely no advantage to Cat-6.  Cat-6 has better ability to handle high speed networks than Cat-5.  And we are NO WHERE NEAR fast enough to make any difference at all.  If you are building your own cable connections, Cat-6 is harder to work with because the wire twist is far tighter.  It is generally stiffer, so it does not bend as easily.  This can be an issue with some controllers when the door is closed.  Someone on this forum posted a couple years ago that because the Cat-6 was stiffer, he found that closing the door on the controller put strain on the connector on the PC board (resulting in damage to several).

 

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2 hours ago, k6ccc said:

For our purposes, absolutely no advantage to Cat-6.  Cat-6 has better ability to handle high speed networks than Cat-5.  And we are NO WHERE NEAR fast enough to make any difference at all.  If you are building your own cable connections, Cat-6 is harder to work with because the wire twist is far tighter.  It is generally stiffer, so it does not bend as easily.  This can be an issue with some controllers when the door is closed.  Someone on this forum posted a couple years ago that because the Cat-6 was stiffer, he found that closing the door on the controller put strain on the connector on the PC board (resulting in damage to several).

 

Thank you Jim!   Definitely tells me to "stay away" from cat6 cables and keep on using what I've been using cat5.   Sometimes it's bad enough with cat5 when they have booted or longer connectors on them.  Sometimes I have difficulty getting the longer cat5 connectors into the jack in the controller, especially the RGB Controllers.  I'm always afraid I'm going to break the solder connections or damage the jacks in the controllers.  

I prefer the really short connectors, they snap in and are a lot easier to deal within getting them in.   But most of the cables I've purchased recently, including the ones I just got from LOR are still a bit trying to get into the RGB units.  I like the connectors to be about half the size of what they are, and on a lot of the cables I ones I bought back in 2010 have very short connectors, half the size of what's on any of the cables I purchased a couple of years later and to date.  

Those half size connectors made it a little easier to get into the jacks, but a little more difficult to press down the tab to get them out.   So I guess it's a tit for tat type situation. LOL

 

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3 hours ago, k6ccc said:

For our purposes, absolutely no advantage to Cat-6.  Cat-6 has better ability to handle high speed networks than Cat-5.  And we are NO WHERE NEAR fast enough to make any difference at all.  If you are building your own cable connections, Cat-6 is harder to work with because the wire twist is far tighter.  It is generally stiffer, so it does not bend as easily.  This can be an issue with some controllers when the door is closed.  Someone on this forum posted a couple years ago that because the Cat-6 was stiffer, he found that closing the door on the controller put strain on the connector on the PC board (resulting in damage to several).

 

I was thinking Infrastructure wiring (to jacks). By all means, use CAT5 patch cords (they are stranded) to the controllers.

CAT 6 require a bit thicker conductors (better for POE applications), as Jim mentioned: a higher twist. I have had good luck running Stereo Audio over a couple of pairs without any special electronics.

 

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  • 1 month later...

Ok good info on wiring, now lets turn to the software for just a few moments. I just got my 4 channel (4 Network)G4-MP3  Director and want to get ahead of the late curve that we all get into closer to Xmas. Do you know of a simple paper that would walk me thru the steps in setting this up, I have the G3 Director so I'm up to speed on the basics but only ran it as a single Network. I did run 2 Cat5 leads one from each Network port 1 &2 without declaring any props to the Network 2, I think it ended up running as 2 parallel lines however it help my problem so OK.

Any help would be nice to have,

Jack

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On 6/13/2020 at 11:14 PM, Jack said:

Ok good info on wiring, now lets turn to the software for just a few moments. I just got my 4 channel (4 Network)G4-MP3  Director and want to get ahead of the late curve that we all get into closer to Xmas. Do you know of a simple paper that would walk me thru the steps in setting this up, I have the G3 Director so I'm up to speed on the basics but only ran it as a single Network. I did run 2 Cat5 leads one from each Network port 1 &2 without declaring any props to the Network 2, I think it ended up running as 2 parallel lines however it help my problem so OK.

Any help would be nice to have,

Jack

N4 Directors are essentially the same unit as the G3 with the exception of the 2 new additional Networks.  You set these networks up in your sequence and you need to really use "The HUB" to set up a show.  As the HUB allows you to set the network speed and other aspects so the sequence runs correctly on the network you defined it to in the sequencer.  I use S4, so I'm not sure on how S5 handles the channel assignments. 

But in SE in S4, I set the network and controller info in the  SE.   For example on my N4 Director that I'll be using for my shows starting this year,  my CTB16PC V2 Controllers will be on Network 1, Regular, 115K, Non-Enhanced, then Network 2 is set as: Aux A, 500K, Enhanced for my original CCB100D 5V RGB Controllers, Network 3 is set at: Aux B, 1000{1K}, Enhanced for my Singing LOR Christmas Trees, which are Pixie2D 12V RGB controllers.    And I'm not using Network 4, so that one is open for other/future expanision.

Now I could have ran the Pixie2D's on Aux A and at the same speed as the original CCB100D Controllers and only used 2 Networks, but I wanted to  keep each type controller separate from each other.  As I would think this would be a bit more helpful if I ran into any problems with tracking down any issues that might arise.

Hopefully someone with S5 can give you better instruction on how to set this up in it. 

But hopefully this little bit of info might help you understand the Network connections on the N4 Director and how to use them. 

 

Edited by Orville
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Orville, Thank you for your reply, I am planning the same basic strategy as your set up. Going thru the Help doc's I found the "Advanced SD Card Wizard"  section, I printed it out at 10 pages, something that you will need, along with that I went into the "NP" program Network Preferences, this is where the Aux Networks speeds can be set, nice little section in the help section.

I still have a few questions and waiting on help from LOR but I'll look in the SE section also.

Thanks again,

Jack 

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Just to fill on some information on Cat5e (enhanced) versus Cat6.  The max speed of cat5e is 1Gbps where the max speed of cat6 ethernet cable is 10Gbps. Like K6ccc said, LOR doesn't come close to touching the upper limits of Cat5e wire so Cat6 is overkill.

 

That being said, when I had my house built late last year, I had the entire house wired with Cat6 Ethernet cable.  If you starting now, and a slightly higher price isn't a problem, you can "futureproof" your design a bit by using cat6 Ethernet cable with the knowledge that the wire is thicker and a bit harder to work with.  You can get Cat6 Ethernet cable with a 90 degree connector on the end for the connections inside of the waterproof boxes.

 

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1 hour ago, BluMan said:

Just to fill on some information on Cat5e (enhanced) versus Cat6.  The max speed of cat5e is 1Gbps where the max speed of cat6 ethernet cable is 10Gbps. Like K6ccc said, LOR doesn't come close to touching the upper limits of Cat5e wire so Cat6 is overkill.

 

That being said, when I had my house built late last year, I had the entire house wired with Cat6 Ethernet cable.  If you starting now, and a slightly higher price isn't a problem, you can "futureproof" your design a bit by using cat6 Ethernet cable with the knowledge that the wire is thicker and a bit harder to work with.  You can get Cat6 Ethernet cable with a 90 degree connector on the end for the connections inside of the waterproof boxes.

 

I don't think those cat6 cables with 90 degree connectors will work out too well in the LOR Pixie2D or older CCB100D boxes.  Seems to be a rather tight fit in there already.  So I'm not sure a 90 degree connector would work very well in them.

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3 hours ago, Jack said:

Orville, Thank you for your reply, I am planning the same basic strategy as your set up. Going thru the Help doc's I found the "Advanced SD Card Wizard"  section, I printed it out at 10 pages, something that you will need, along with that I went into the "NP" program Network Preferences, this is where the Aux Networks speeds can be set, nice little section in the help section.

I still have a few questions and waiting on help from LOR but I'll look in the SE section also.

Thanks again,

Jack 

No problem.    I've already created a test show on a 32GB Kingston SD Card and ran a test show with mine.  Worked perfectly.  Can't wait until I can start setting up everything for Christmas, but still have a lot of sequencing work to do yet, especially with the Singing Trees that I added this year.

 

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10 hours ago, BluMan said:

Just to fill on some information on Cat5e (enhanced) versus Cat6.  The max speed of cat5e is 1Gbps where the max speed of cat6 ethernet cable is 10Gbps. Like K6ccc said, LOR doesn't come close to touching the upper limits of Cat5e wire so Cat6 is overkill.

 

That being said, when I had my house built late last year, I had the entire house wired with Cat6 Ethernet cable.  If you starting now, and a slightly higher price isn't a problem, you can "futureproof" your design a bit by using cat6 Ethernet cable with the knowledge that the wire is thicker and a bit harder to work with.  You can get Cat6 Ethernet cable with a 90 degree connector on the end for the connections inside of the waterproof boxes.

 

The better part of using CAT6 vs CAT5 is the wire supports higher power (POE) devices, but this is also a good thing for LOR folk powering cards/ELL from remote. longer distances

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I only use cable I made for my shows just because I do not use strain relief. A cat 6 cable will easily snap then data port if it gets compressed against the door. Something to consider.

JR

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I don't think I saw anyone mentioning this very important fact, so just in case, I will. LOR uses two different types of communication protocols and both use Cat5/6 cables. They are NOT compatible!!! LOT's standard protocol is RS485 BUT, to save us money, they are using CAT5/6 connectors instead of a formal RS485 connector. LOR also uses TCPIP or ethernet for pixel controllers both made by LOR and other manufacturers. It is CRITICAL that you do not mix them up. For this year, you mentioned that you are just going to use some AC controllers with a standard network, therefore RS485. Each device has its own network ID# and you can daisy-chain in any order. But, if in the years to come, if you plan on adding pixel based controllers, most of us have a TCPIP network or E1.31 which use Cat5/6 cables too. 

 

I strongly suggest you mark your cables so that in the future, you'll know which is for what. If you elect to add a E1.31/TCPIP network in the future, DO NOT plug a LOR/RS485 Cat5/6 cable into a TCPIP/E1.31 port. To clarify or make things more complicated, its critical that you never connect any devices, computer, controllers, routers and etc, to the wrong network type. You will cause a failure of either or both devices on either end of that cable. Commonly referred to as letting out the magic blue smoke! It can cost you dearly if you mix them up....label, label, label

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OP- it is not that difficult or confusing.

You do not have to have any e1.31 controllers to run pixels.

You can get simple pixel controllers for smart pixels which will plug in to any LOR HS network as long as you have the licensing and the RS485HS  adapters - the pixie series and if you for some reason want to use dump nodes you can get the cmb24.

When you need  an additional network and if you don’t have an extra USB port you add a usb hub and plug an additional RS485 in to the usb hub and add your controllers.

Just remember - never connect your LOR non e1.31 controller directly to a comm port without one of the LOR adapters and you will be fine.

I have 14 networks, plus e1.31 controllers on a nw hub switch and don’t get confused and the only part of my cables that are marked are the RS485HS adapters. My cables are not marked because I tend to move props around.

I also set up and test my props one at a time and not just rerun my cables all at once and then test.

JR

Edited by dibblejr
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15 hours ago, dgrant said:

I strongly suggest you mark your cables so that in the future, you'll know which is for what. If you elect to add a E1.31/TCPIP network in the future, DO NOT plug a LOR/RS485 Cat5/6 cable into a TCPIP/E1.31 port. To clarify or make things more complicated, its critical that you never connect any devices, computer, controllers, routers and etc, to the wrong network type. You will cause a failure of either or both devices on either end of that cable. Commonly referred to as letting out the magic blue smoke! It can cost you dearly if you mix them up....label, label, label

My solution to that is to use different color Cat-5 cable.  In my case, LOR networking is Purple cable, and my E1.31 (Ethernet) is Green.

 

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SEE there was a good reason to stay away from them silly  rascal's, the E1.31 that is. (whatever those are???)

Not me, I'm out of here, just LOR all the way baby.....

Happy Trails,

Jack

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I was only trying to insure the OP understood there are two different kinds of networks and just because they both use Cat5/6 cables, does not mean they are the same. Different controllers have either one or both, depending on the manufacturer. Such as the LOR Pixcon16, it has both E1.31 and RS485. So should he ever venture into the other realm, he should become aware of things.

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