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First Year LOR Newbie - Need suggestions on basics


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Happy pre-holiday lighting everyone!

 

Im brand new to using a controller, RGB/LED etc., and although I’ve watched tons of videos, im a little confused on which items I need to get started. I DO completely understand its late to be starting, so i am not looking for a fully animated setup this year, but it would be nice to get a strong foundation on my “equipment” this year and tinker with sequencing next. This year perhaps just some blinking, ramp up/down etc. i may just buy a few premade sequences.

 

I do work in IT for a living so picking up software comes naturally to me. So for a long story short, what exactly do I need? 
 

from what ive gathered so far:

 

at least a 16 channel residential controller

Software

speakers (have these)

cabling, of which i have TONS...

lights - this is my main confusion. Do i want LED bulbs? Smart pixels? Not sure which ones work with the controller and if i should only buy lights from LOR or if there are big box stores that sell comparable items?

 

any suggestions would be amazing!

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Your question requires more questions sort of. If you have purchased a CTB16PC residential controller like i think you stated, then Standard LED or Incandescent light strings is what you need to use.

 

Smart Pixels require a completely different controller and power supply. Pixie or Pixcon I think are the RGB controllers, but I do not use those so I don't want to advise there.

 

Cabling like you state is SPT or standard extension cords I hope you mean.

26 minutes ago, ClarkWGriswold06 said:

Happy pre-holiday lighting everyone!

 

Im brand new to using a controller, RGB/LED etc., and although I’ve watched tons of videos, im a little confused on which items I need to get started. I DO completely understand its late to be starting, so i am not looking for a fully animated setup this year, but it would be nice to get a strong foundation on my “equipment” this year and tinker with sequencing next. This year perhaps just some blinking, ramp up/down etc. i may just buy a few premade sequences.

 

I do work in IT for a living so picking up software comes naturally to me. So for a long story short, what exactly do I need? 
 

from what ive gathered so far:

 

at least a 16 channel residential controller

Software

speakers (have these)

cabling, of which i have TONS...

lights - this is my main confusion. Do i want LED bulbs? Smart pixels? Not sure which ones work with the controller and if i should only buy lights from LOR or if there are big box stores that sell comparable items?

 

any suggestions would be amazing!

 

Hope this helps, everyone is very busy with setup so hang in there, more help will be around, Keith 

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Hi Keith!

 

thanks for the reply, and that REALLY helps! I haven’t purchased my controller yet, so that does help me make decisions. 
 

May i ask, since you use LED/Incandescent, what sorts of animations are you able to accomplish with that? It seems that things like chasing lights on arches for example, wouldnt be possible without pixel based lights, is that accurate?

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The residential controller you are referring to is for LED/incandescent lights only. RGB lights, aka CCR's and bullet/bulb pixels, do require in entirely different controller and are not interchangeable.

Software will be necessary for programming and editing. Strongly suggest upgrading to the PRO version with either of the S4 or S5 LOR software.

If you want to use speakers, that's OK, outdoor speakers are best for the weather that you live in. Consider getting FM transmitter to broadcast to car radios. Helps keep neighbors happy if you are playing music outside too loud.

Cabling, includes lots of extension cords in addition to CAT5 cables. Extension cords to power controllers and extension cords from controller to actual light strings is needed if more than a couple of feet from the controller which is almost always the case. Suggest SPT wire (zip cord) and vampire plugs for extension cords between controller and light strings.

Lights... many use big box store lights just avoid Martha Stewart brand lights. They're not rated as dimmable and have been reported to catch fire if they are dimmed. LED's are better than incans. There are numerous vendors that sell reputable LED's. Bulbs versus bullet style lights is all personal preference. Although maybe a bit more expensive, I got all of mine from Creative Displays. Best time to buy from them is after the holidays during their big sale. If you go RGB lights and controllers, there are several vendors selling them too, LOR is one of them with excellent customer service and quality products. Avoid mixing where you get RGB lights from as not all manufactures wire the light strings the same and can cause issues..

Arches and light chasing IS possible with regular AC controllers and lights. You just break up the arches into sections (channels) to create the chase when sequencing. You can even do chases on roof lines and other such areas if you them break up into multiple sections. The more sections you have the smoother the chase looks but I have done some using just three sections.

I was going to attach a video but its too large for uploading.

I can refer you to my youtube channel if you  wish, I just haven't been to it in awhile so I dont know if it's still there

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9 hours ago, ClarkWGriswold06 said:

Hi Keith!

 

thanks for the reply, and that REALLY helps! I haven’t purchased my controller yet, so that does help me make decisions. 
 

May i ask, since you use LED/Incandescent, what sorts of animations are you able to accomplish with that? It seems that things like chasing lights on arches for example, wouldnt be possible without pixel based lights, is that accurate?

Clark, lots of different animation is possible with LED and Incandescent lights as Brian said, look at his website and watch a couple of his videos. You can do almost as much as RGB but it just may take a few more channels to do. My main animation is our singing xmas trees, the majority of the sequencing is for them and the viewers really like them singing to the music.

 

Before I get outside to continue setup I wanted to recommend trying to decorate with mainly LED, incandescent is cheaper to buy but with LED you just don't have to think much about power, just plug them in and it will work, incandescent you have to plan and watch how many lights are on each circuit or SPT cord. I still have some bins of incandescent strings but mainly as backups for neighbors displays when they may run out, I  buy only LED now.

 

Keith

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31 minutes ago, Kapkirk said:

 

 

Before I get outside to continue setup I wanted to recommend trying to decorate with mainly LED, incandescent is cheaper to buy but with LED you just don't have to think much about power, just plug them in and it will work, incandescent you have to plan and watch how many lights are on each circuit or SPT cord. I still have some bins of incandescent strings but mainly as backups for neighbors displays when they may run out, I  buy only LED now.

Very very true Keith.

I am running 75 sets of 100 blue leds in a grid pattern across my yard so total 7,500 leds on one ac channel and it works GREAT!

OP, Imagine this, Most incans say plug no more than 3-5 sets in a row... Well most leds allow anywhere from 25-40 (of the same type) sets back to back without popping the strands fuses. You can't go wrong with the power bill for led either. We have over 50,000 lights and our bill only goes up $40-50 a month. With incans we went up hundreds! Some prefer the look of incans but leds are the future and I said that back in 2012. Now look they have pretty much taken over. I replaced every light in my house with led and we cut our electric bill in half with the upgrade.

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Thanks to everyone for the suggestions! 
 

correct me if i am wrong, but lets say i wanted chasing arches or chasing “sets” of led bulbs across my house. I would need one channel per set to configure the software to run in a chasing pattern, correct? So if it took 16 strands, then one RGB controller alone would need to be dedicated to just that?

Also, i now understand the difference with pixel vs led and the controllers required for each setup. However, im curious, is it possible to do a blended setup? My house is rather long, so im wondering if id be best to do pixels for chasing effects and then RGB for anything i want to perform basic on/off and fade effects.

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After ALOT of reading, (kudos to all of you for learning all of this! Haha), I believe i am going with the following for my first year

 

1x pixie16 controller

8x 100 pixel RGB bulb (white string)

1x pack of RGB connectors 

Software S5 in Pro mode

 

i just wanted to see what everyone’s thoughts were. I know that this is advanced and probably too late this year for anything extravagant, however, id rather have the advanced capabilities of RGB now than have to rebuy later.

i did read in the manual that pixie16 does support old CCB styles. Does that infer i could use the remaining 8 ports with generic LEDs just for basic blinking and possible fade effects?

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Most of those "plug only' are due to the WIRE size and fuse (do not over fuse) limits for END TO END. You can stack the First plug, Use an outlet strip, you just don't want to go over 8A per port.

Now, this is not a GOAL as you can only do that with 2 Ports before you hit the 15A BANK limit. In the old days of C9 incans, 8A was real easy to hit, so care was needed (and lots of individual breakers powering your show).

Mini-lights reduced this power hungry monster. LEDs make it almost hard to overload a circuit breaker (I converted all my AC controllers to single cord configuration (it is in the manual) a few years back.

If you don't have a clamp-on Ammeter, get a Kill-a-watt. Then you will KNOW what the draw is on each controller.  12A is the (80% rule) limit for always on (4hrs +) loads on a common 5-15 (also the plug LOR ships)

Since most of your lights will NOT  be full on, 15A is your limit. Just remember: This is also per wall OUTLET if one of the holes is not T shaped (that is a 20A rated outlet)

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9 hours ago, Daryl said:

If you want to use speakers, that's OK, outdoor speakers are best for the weather that you live in. Consider getting FM transmitter to broadcast to car radios. Helps keep neighbors happy if you are playing music outside too loud.

Do NOT depend only on speakers.  Even here in southern California almost everyone watching the show is doing so from their car.  Unless you are blasting speakers, they will not be heard inside cars.  An FM transmitter is a requirement as far as I am concerned.  Several years ago I visited a show that was speakers only, and parked across the street directly in front of the house, it was barely audible.  As for blasting speakers - you don't want to do that either.  Your neighbors won't be real happy with it, and even you and your family will get tired of hearing the same songs over and over and over and over...

There are a couple exceptions to the FM requirement BTW.  For example if you are doing a walk through show, then speakers are of course a requirement and the FM likely is not.

I have permanently installed speakers in my yard with 300 watts of amplifier in a closet.  For my show, I have the speakers on from an hour before the show starts (playing music from the Demented Elf Radio Network), until 9:00 PM when the amplifiers are powered off (via a timer).  With the exception of opening night when I run a little louder (when I do have a lot of people on foot), the speakers are just barely detectable on the sidewalk across the street.

 

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15 minutes ago, ClarkWGriswold06 said:

After ALOT of reading, (kudos to all of you for learning all of this! Haha), I believe i am going with the following for my first year

 

1x pixie16 controller

8x 100 pixel RGB bulb (white string)

1x pack of RGB connectors 

Software S5 in Pro mode

 

i just wanted to see what everyone’s thoughts were. I know that this is advanced and probably too late this year for anything extravagant, however, id rather have the advanced capabilities of RGB now than have to rebuy later.

i did read in the manual that pixie16 does support old CCB styles. Does that infer i could use the remaining 8 ports with generic LEDs just for basic blinking and possible fade effects?

The Pixies come with the connectors that fit the board. 

BUT

You said  'across the house'

Big (port count) Pixies really should not be used for a Wide area: Signal and voltage loss.  While newer pixie do support longer cables. I would stick to 25' max cable runs (that gets gobbled up fast just getting from the controller to the strings. Learn to think other than just L > R. I have my controller in the corner between the Garage and the main House: The Garage 100 node string feed is on the Right, and the controller is set to Reverse mode for that port, The house (100) string runs fro the far edge to the corner, and I fill the corner gap with a 32 node string. All 3 feeds are  within 15' CABLE of controller ) and 12V models

BTW Generic LEDS are NOT either the AC type (used with a CTB16) nor the DUMB RGB type (used with a CMB-24). Neither of those have smart chips (the data wire send commands to these chips).

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1 hour ago, ClarkWGriswold06 said:

 

Also, i now understand the difference with pixel vs led and the controllers required for each setup. However, im curious, is it possible to do a blended setup? My house is rather long, so im wondering if id be best to do pixels for chasing effects and then RGB for anything i want to perform basic on/off and fade effects.

Don't confuse yourself....pixels and RGB's refer to the same thing. I think you meant to say RGB pixels for chasing effects and LED's with a residential AC controller to perform basic on/off and fade effects.

But yes, a blended setup is absolutely possible. I believe that is how most are gradually converted to RGB's. You just need to make sure your configurations are correct.

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