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Where would you start?


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I have decided to jump into the wild and crazy world of Light-O-Rama. Total newbie and totally not an electrician! I have perused the forums and am very overwhelmed. Would love some beginner suggestions around what to buy without spending my retirement savings (and then some). I decorate every year (mostly for halloween) and have a bunch of non-led string lights. I would love to slowly transfer to LED's and also have a lot of interest in smart Pixels. So if you were new, where would you start and what are your "must haves"? Also looking for any good YouTube lists and other retailers that sell useful decorating items (that LOR does not sell).  Thank y'all!!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Honestly I would start after Christmas but plan before what you want to do. Reason is that you can buy all your led lights for up to 50 percent off. Also recommend get the starter package with one controller to get use to programming before you go bigger. Go slow or you will get overwhelmed.

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Traditional string lights (those that plug into the wall. plug has just fuses) need to run  on an AC controller like the CTB16.  If some of those strings are LED, you need a Gen 3  or you may need to build a 'snubber' to make the string g full dark.

Gen3 controller also has a ON/OFF light curve, which I found needed for mini-strobe strings or electronic plugs (Be very careful what you sequence for these. Fast changes way harm these)

(dumb) RGB or Smart are DC devices and need different controllers (and power supplies unless you get a ready-to-go package) Smart also requires a Faster network (the RED adapter) Channel counting becomes important to size (also, a PRO license is needed)

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Hi Holidaddict,

Welcome to our addiction! 😁

I would suggest starting mostly the way I did. The best thing probably would be a starter package that the software, at least one controller, cables and connector are included. You'll end up wanting to upgrade later which is easy. Since you are using mostly regular incan lights a starter package is perfect. Once you have this setup all you'll need to do is buy some sequences from the LOR sequence store and you'll be up and running this year. Just remember if you do go this route to make sure you decorate the 4X4 method LOR sequences. This isn't for everyone and I didn't do it that way in the beginning but i do now and it makes pre-bought sequences look great. My first 2 years of having our show I used sequences I bought before i learned how to sequence myself. 

As Euro 92 mentioned it may be late in the year to try and learn sequencing and get several songs/sequences done by this Christmas. But using sequences you bought the first year would be the best way to go. IMHO. One thing I've learned over the years is that you'll be your own worst critic. 

As you learn the software and then get into the pixel world you'll definitely need to upgrade the software and use the red connector.  Have fun and remember what the great Chuck Smith says: "We're making life long memories." 


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Haha! The first thing is forget that part about not spending your retirement savings lol.  Just remember that at one point we were all where you are now. I started several years ago myself. I actually bought my starter package during the summer sale (which is going on now!) and had time to sequence a few songs for my show. Pick a few "must have" songs for your show to sequence this year and purchase or get free sequences here to fill in the gaps.  A good rule of thumb is whatever time frame you think you can get it done in, forget it. You can't. lol  It will pretty much consume every available moment from now until time to decorate, but it can be done. Some people work tirelessly year round on their displays.  Start decorating sooner than you normally would because somewhere, somehow a problem will arise. I only ventured into the world of Pixels last year.  That may be a bit ambitious for this year in my opinion. Start off with LEDs this year and you can add to your show each year.

A few other bits of advice from my past mistakes/successes:

   - Be sure to buy up plenty of extension cords. You probably don't have enough.

   - Think about your exterior electrical outlets. You probably don't have enough.

   - Be sure to buy more lights than you think you'll need. You probably don't have enough (see a pattern here?)

   - Look around for sales on LED lights. I bought mine from Creative Displays and have had no complaints. They're running a 12 week sale currently. If I remember correctly, the mini LEDs go on sale towards the end of the 12 weeks but they have other things on sale each week.       

   - Be sure to pick the brains of the old timers here.  They've helped me with everything from the number of outlets I'd need and size breakers to install, or providing sequences, to troubleshooting issues with networks.

   - Think about the flow of your overall show.  Try to think ahead about what you'd like to include. If you'd like announcements or even a holiday greeting, consider having someone make a voice over for you.  I use Fiverr.com.  You can have someone record voice overs for you for as little as $5. 

Edited by Sctiger
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