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I’m thinking of advancing from Mr. Christmas to L-o- R. I don’t want to tie a computer up for the Christmas period. I’ve been thinking about a LOR1602WG3  with the built in MP3 player. If I were to see a used one for sale. What would be a fair or expected price to pay?

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1 hour ago, Timba said:

I’m thinking of advancing from Mr. Christmas to L-o- R. I don’t want to tie a computer up for the Christmas period. I’ve been thinking about a LOR1602WG3  with the built in MP3 player. If I were to see a used one for sale. What would be a fair or expected price to pay?

Greetings and welcome to the forums! 

I would look at what they sell for at LOR's website and never go higher than 70% of that. But at this point, I'd sign up for their newsletter and buy one new for 30% off during the Summer Sale. Actually, no - I see enough people posting problems with Directors here and being an IT Pro I'd spend $100 on a used/rebfurb windows 10 laptop or PC and run my show off of that and buy a $150 G3 controller used or a $239 controller at the Summer Sale (although I like the commercial ones so much I might be done buying residential controllers). I actually used a desktop for 2019 and moved to a $100 Lenovo ThinkPad T40s for 2020 as I was in the yard or garage for half of setup with it testing things. 

That's me.  If you don't have the ability to bore a hole in the side of your house or garage for the computer wire (they sell mounting boxes at Home Depot for $6) then getting the all-in-one box does make sense. I would still get it from LOR direct since it will be your first and also note you need software and an RS485 adapter. Coming from Mr. Christmas myself (2015-2019) I would suggest you then buy one of the 16 channel starter kits which come with a standard controller+software+RS485 adapter at a discount and also get the all-in-one box as well. That gets you 32 channels to start with which I think is a good place to be in. We went from the 6 with Mr. Christmas to 16 with LOR and thought it was lame so immediately added 16 channels and then 2 weeks later another 16. We bought our sequences last year from LOR so if you're making your own or getting some shared ones your mileage may very.  (We went to 128 channels this year, but my wife and I are a little nuts).

 By the way, I'm about 45 minutes from you so I will warn you some of the folks here will be bellyaching in the fall about it being so hot to setup - and it will be 40 or 50 for us. The weather is also why I am favoring the metal units - I actually got some water in one of my residentials this year.

Good luck!

Matt

 

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There is a Spring sale usually around April in which the prices are the best all year, BUT the quantities are limited, first come, first checkout wins. Sign up your Email for notifications.

I also recommend a PC for shows unless you have a specific reason not to. 

Give some thought to what you might want to do in the future, more AC or perhaps pixels which require a different controller. Many people start with AC strings and move into Pixels sooner or later.

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1 hour ago, LaughsBrightly said:

an IT Pro I'd spend $100 on a used/rebfurb windows 10 laptop or PC and run my show off of that

Agreed 100%! That is EXACTLY what I did before last year's show. I was running off an old laptop that died. Found a refurb desktop for something under $200 at Micro Center. Fortunately I live close to one, but it's probably worth  checking their website. They have refurbs all the time. And since it was a little older, it has 8 USB ports (2 front and 6 rear) so plenty of room for LOR networks! It came with a mouse and key board and I had a monitor sitting around. I actually used it to do all of my sequencing work and then set it up in the garage for the show. LOR and some tools (Audacity, VLC media player, etc) is pretty much all I have on it.

I HIGHLY recommend doing this.

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Don't let folks deter you from a Director.   I used an N4-G4 Director for my 2020-2021 show and I had absolutely NO ISSUES with using a Director running my shows.   A computer will give you more flexibility in doing more complex shows than a Directo can do, but if you don't want to tie up a computer or you don't want to drill holes through your house or run cat5 cables from a computer to outside through a window or under over a door, then a Director is your best option.  I ran cables out a window and under my front door for several years, but that can be a tripping hazard and could cause damage to controllers or your computer {or a person} if someone happened to sbag it, pull it and trip over it.   And I had 3 sets of Cat5 running out under my front door or window.   I would never do that again.

I switched to the N4-G4 Director and I've been happy with it, it ran my shows flawlessly all season long.  I love mine, but the choice is entirely up to you as to what you want to use to run your shows.

This year I ran 2 V2 CTB16PC {Network 1}, 2 CCB100D RGB Controllers on Network 2, 2 LOR Singing Christmas Trees on Network 3 and 3 CCB100D RGB Controllers on Network 4, all ran from my 4 Network G4 Director, again ran perfectly and next year I'm adding 7 more CCB100D Controllers to all this.  They'll be dispersed out over the current 2 Networks I'm using for the CCB100D Controllers.   I'd hate to run cables from my computer in my living room outside to all this!   So a Director worked out perfectly for me and resolved my Cat5 cable runs, actually made them easier and simpler with everything being outside.

And I've used a Director for years, started with the original DC-MP3 that was available in 2010 when I first got into this hobby, used it for close to 5 years before it developed an issue, and finally was able to replace it last year in 2020 with the newest and best Director LOR has made to date, the N4-G4.   Sure simplified my displays Cat5 cables runs.   So I'll be using it until it either wears out or falls apart!

I highly recommend a Director if you don't want to dedicate a computer to run a show.  But I also highly recommend you do look at and play around with making computer shows, because one day, if your director fails for some reason, you may have to resort to a computer last minute to run your show.  And if you don't know how to do that on a computer, you might not have a show up for a day or more while you figure it out.

Been there, done it, so have had that experience, but I did manage to get my show up and running just in time.  But at first I thought no show for several days since I had never bothered to learn the show creation part of it on the computer.  Fortunately I didn't find it too difficult to do, but still took me a little time to get it figured out.

 

EDIT & P.S> I started out with a Mr. Christmas too.  A few of us had those and passed then along to a friend or family member after we got into this hobby with LOR. LOL

Edited by Orville
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Personally you could not pay me to use a Director - WAY to limiting.  When using a computer to run my show, I can watch the computer and see exactly what is happening.  I can edit a song while the show is running.  For example, you watch a song and see an error.  Edit the song, compress it, and the next time it plays, it will be corrected.  I can edit a show or show schedule.  And I can do any of that from anywhere in the world that has Internet access.  My show can send me status messages (E-Mail or text) that a show is starting, ending, or even that some song is playing.  I can run up to 16 LOR networks.  I can use E1.31 networking (which is what most of my show uses).  I can run MIIP which allows my viewers to request some particular song plays next (or later).  None of those can be done from a Director.

And I can do pretty much all that from a computer that costs less than ANY director.

 

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Just be aware that IF you go the Director route: It is very fussy about SD Cards (brands/types)

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Director units do work. From 2008 - 2012 I used the mini director unit. In 2008 it ran 48 reg. Lor channels, in 2009 it ran 160 reg Lor channels, in 2009 it ran 192 reg Lor channels, and from in 2010-2012 in ran 272 reg lor channels. All ran smoothly. Also all the AC controllers worked in -20,-30, & -40 degree weather. The mini director was in the house. However in 2013 I decided to make a 12 CCR Matrix & 4 (you can say) mini arches. They took only 1 CCP controller with 2 smart pixel strings. 25 nodes in each arch. I didn't need to drill holes because the stuff I used was for lawn edging and it had slits in it & the nodes fit nicely . However to give it brightness I had to use white duct tape (It was bright (red , Green Blue etc)but you didn't get that glow like you do with tubing.) Anyhow I used the Generation 3 MP3 Director unit. It ran my 272 channels (2013), on Net 1 at reg. speed, it ran the 12 ccrs & the arches at 500 speed Aux A. It ran from 2013 to 2017....with no problems. 2014-2017 I used only 64 regular as I sold most everything.  In 2016 I made a vertical 16 smart Pixel string Matrix, & used the same smart pixel arches  Here is why a computer comes in handy(used/refurbished). Even the fancy G3MP3 Director unit did stop working in 2018, so I had to use my 1 & only 5 yr old laptop. In 2019 I bought the N4-G4 MP3 Director unit. I ran my 2019 show 64 AC channels, a 24 x 50 pixel Matrix, & 2 - 50 count pixel arches (used tubing) where I drilled out the holes. Ran no problem. 2020 it ran no problem. Less the Matrix, but increased to 4 pixel arches (used tubing), & a smart pixel node spiral tree <<--<< a 4 port Pixie controller with folded strings to make 8 25 pixel count strings was used. Ran it all at reg speed. I am staying with a smaller display these days as I am getting older & time is limited now. I can sequence 16 or more sequences for AC Controllers before December 1st. than I can when I sequence a 24 x 50 or what I did this year but never used a 32 x 50 Matrix. So I did all those hours & never used them. I still got 11 sequences fixed up for this year. The only thing I am adding this year (I think it is the only thing) is a 6.6ft geometric tree that will be unique. It will house 16 - 50 count smart pixel notes. I will be using my never before used 16 port Pixie controller.  Again I will be using the N4-G4 MP3 Director unit to run the show. This time I have a back up laptop.

If you stay with only 16 channel AC controllers & never use smart or dumb Pixels notes then the mini MP3 director will work .

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11 hours ago, k6ccc said:

Personally you could not pay me to use a Director - WAY to limiting.  When using a computer to run my show, I can watch the computer and see exactly what is happening.  I can edit a song while the show is running.  For example, you watch a song and see an error.  Edit the song, compress it, and the next time it plays, it will be corrected.  I can edit a show or show schedule.  And I can do any of that from anywhere in the world that has Internet access.  My show can send me status messages (E-Mail or text) that a show is starting, ending, or even that some song is playing.  I can run up to 16 LOR networks.  I can use E1.31 networking (which is what most of my show uses).  I can run MIIP which allows my viewers to request some particular song plays next (or later).  None of those can be done from a Director.

And I can do pretty much all that from a computer that costs less than ANY director.

 

I agree the Directors compared to a computer are very limited.  However, there are those of us that may not want to drill holes through walls, ceilings or floors to be able to make access runs for Cat5 cables to be run from inside to outside.   For those folks wanting everything outside and not have to try and find some way to make a box to weatherproof and lock up a computer outside so someone couldn't steal it, a Director IS the only way to go.

Also some people that may do these displays MAY NOT OWN their home, and therefore can not make such changes to the structure or might even live in an apartment and do a small display on a balcony, back porch area or yard area if on the ground level, a Director, in these scenarios ARE the only way to go in such circumstances.

Or one just prefers the ease of use of a Director and don't want to buy a new system, just to run a show.   There are various reasons and why a person may prefer a Director over a computer, but no matter, it all comes down to personal preference.

Honestly I'd rather use a computer myself because of the ability to do everything you stated, but my current situation the Director is my best option.

And if LOR ever gets the Hubs EDIT feature to edit a show that already exists on an SD Card, {I always have 2 Show SD Cards}, that would make fixing any errors easier than having to redo it from ground zero to set up a show for every change made. 

Sadly the SD Card Edit feature currently is still being looked at to get fixed and usable.  No you still couldn't do it as quickly as on a computer, but that SD Card Edit would sure speed things up using a Director and just swap out the updated SD Card for the one in the Director.  Only bad part is, when doing that the show has to restart from the beginning, where that doesn't usually happen when you add/change a sequence using the computer, it just picks it up on the next run through.  

However, if you use LOAD ALL SEQUENCES before show is played, mine never picked up the changes or the added sequences using that option.  When I used that option, I still had to stop and restart the show {just like the Director when doing a card swap for updates/additions}.   But if I used the Play Sequences when needed option, it DID pick up the changed sequence and the newly added sequences.   So on some aspects, depending on the options chosen to run the show using a computer, the computer may also have some limitations.   At least that was my experience when running shows from a computer, which I did do for several years.

 

Edited by Orville
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There is discussion during this conversion about drilling holes in walls.  Don't forget the wireless kit LOR sells.  2/3rds of my display runs off the little antenna sitting inside on my windowsill.  

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Here is a VERY old ham radio trick for getting antenna cables outside the house - works fine for other purposes.  Open a window.  Insert a 2x2 or 2x4 that is the correct length to completely fill the window gap.  Close window onto the 2x4.  You how have a piece of wood that you can drill through to your hearts content.  If your window is 24 inches wide and you used a 2x4, you now have an area 24 inches wide by about 3 inches high.  When you move out, remove the piece of wood.  If you are inspired, paint it and add weather stripping.  If you really are inspired you can add a lock so the window can't be opened.  Done.

 

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Just my two cents, but I got into this hobby in 2014 and have only run off Directors and would recommend them.  I agree with everyone above, in that many people have had problems using Directors, but I would argue the problems were not with the Directors, and once you learn the tricks life is pretty easy.  For one, they are VERY sensitive to mp3 files being sampled at a constant bit rate of 128 whereas computers seem to not care.  I use audacity to resample everything before I start programming new sequences.  I have not encountered the SD card issues mentioned, but I believe sometimes that is because people are using cards larger than what the Director allows or the wrong type of card.  Using a Director would also depend on the size and complexity of your show.  I moved up to a G3-MP3 (now an old model) a few years ago as I made the jump to pixels and needed an "Aux A" high speed network.  This year my show was 17,200 LED lights with about 2,300 being pixels, which if I go any higher on that count it appears I will have to upgrade my Director to a newer model which allows for higher counts, speeds and more complexity.  On the low speed network I have 9 CTB16PC 16 channel AC controllers with an ELL pair in the middle .  On the high speed Aux A I have a CMB24D, Pixies 4, 8 and 16, a PIXCON 16, 2 50W floods and an iDMX1000 bridge.  Yes I have to create a new SD card every time I make changes, and if I want to update it during the show I just swap it out at the top/beginning of the next iteration of the show (it may not matter to the audience but it matters to me).  There are people out here who will help you no matter which direction you decide to go in.

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3 hours ago, hasslerk said:

Just my two cents, but I got into this hobby in 2014 and have only run off Directors and would recommend them.  I agree with everyone above, in that many people have had problems using Directors, but I would argue the problems were not with the Directors, and once you learn the tricks life is pretty easy.  For one, they are VERY sensitive to mp3 files being sampled at a constant bit rate of 128 whereas computers seem to not care.  I use audacity to resample everything before I start programming new sequences.  I have not encountered the SD card issues mentioned, but I believe sometimes that is because people are using cards larger than what the Director allows or the wrong type of card.  Using a Director would also depend on the size and complexity of your show.  I moved up to a G3-MP3 (now an old model) a few years ago as I made the jump to pixels and needed an "Aux A" high speed network.  This year my show was 17,200 LED lights with about 2,300 being pixels, which if I go any higher on that count it appears I will have to upgrade my Director to a newer model which allows for higher counts, speeds and more complexity.  On the low speed network I have 9 CTB16PC 16 channel AC controllers with an ELL pair in the middle .  On the high speed Aux A I have a CMB24D, Pixies 4, 8 and 16, a PIXCON 16, 2 50W floods and an iDMX1000 bridge.  Yes I have to create a new SD card every time I make changes, and if I want to update it during the show I just swap it out at the top/beginning of the next iteration of the show (it may not matter to the audience but it matters to me).  There are people out here who will help you no matter which direction you decide to go in.

The N4-G4, although LOR Recommends 128K CBR, all my sequences for 2020 I used I neglected to  scale down the bit rate {I normally use 192K and have been with Directors since 2010} and what bit rate were my MP3 files for my 2020 Christmas Show, they were all 320K HQ CBR files.  All ran perfectly in the N4-G4 using a 32GB Kingston SD Card.   So I don't think that 128K limitation may no longer be a factor, but it still MUST BE in CBR format. 

I tried others I had {SD Cards from an assortment of manufacturers} and none of them worked, 1GB, 2GB, 4GB, 8GB, 16GB and 32GB SD Cards, the 1, 2 and 4GB worked in my older Director and were NOT Kingston, but the newer Directors, at least the N4-G4 I have will not run anything on any SD Cards other than Kingston SD Cards. 

But even then it has to be the correct type {rating, speed} the Director wants or it won't work, not even a Kingston if it's not what the Director expects, it'll just sit there and "wait", but never do a thing when the time comes for the show to run.

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3 hours ago, k6ccc said:

Here is a VERY old ham radio trick for getting antenna cables outside the house - works fine for other purposes.  Open a window.  Insert a 2x2 or 2x4 that is the correct length to completely fill the window gap.  Close window onto the 2x4.  You how have a piece of wood that you can drill through to your hearts content.  If your window is 24 inches wide and you used a 2x4, you now have an area 24 inches wide by about 3 inches high.  When you move out, remove the piece of wood.  If you are inspired, paint it and add weather stripping.  If you really are inspired you can add a lock so the window can't be opened.  Done.

 

Not in my case, I'd have to leave the windows unlocked, something I AM NOT willing to do.  Mobile/Manufactured Home windows seem to have a different frame and I have yet to find ANY window lock that will work with them.  I've tried several and none worked because the lip is too small for the lock to grab and use the thumbscrew to hold in place.  Every one I have tried has just turned sideways or leaned forward or backward and fallen off the window because it can not get a good hold to stay in place.  

A regular brick and mortar homes windows are totally different from those installed in these "glorified trailer homes".   It's why contractors you find in these home do it yourself stores like Home Depot or Lowes won't work on them.   Tried to get my windows replaced several times, but as soon as they hear manufactured or mobile home, deals off, they won't touch them.

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52 minutes ago, Orville said:

Not in my case, I'd have to leave the windows unlocked, something I AM NOT willing to do.  Mobile/Manufactured Home windows seem to have a different frame and I have yet to find ANY window lock that will work with them.  I've tried several and none worked because the lip is too small for the lock to grab and use the thumbscrew to hold in place.  Every one I have tried has just turned sideways or leaned forward or backward and fallen off the window because it can not get a good hold to stay in place.  

A regular brick and mortar homes windows are totally different from those installed in these "glorified trailer homes".   It's why contractors you find in these home do it yourself stores like Home Depot or Lowes won't work on them.   Tried to get my windows replaced several times, but as soon as they hear manufactured or mobile home, deals off, they won't touch them.

You are absolutely correct by nobody wanting to work on mobile home. Even in a mostly mobile home community. I ended up ripping up the floor in my moms and you want to talk about a pain. Metal studs and metal nails holding everything down. Her home if about 40 years old and top of the line back in those days.

However if you wanted to run a cable and have a young person there are some ways. I noted and ran cables in my moms.

The weak spots in mobile homes are in their floor vents, drain lines (all), tub/ shower enclosure and the furnace / ac room. (not sure in FL). 

The drains all have a metal collar if they even have one at all. Some just have foam.

Most mobile homes have underpinning with some sort of insulation. Since you have cats that may be null and void. However if it is not all tore up that same person that will go under the home can feel a cable in the underpinning. If that is the case a peace of metal like a wash or nut and a strong magnet would be a tool to help route that cable across the underpinning up to one of the staples where it can be easily pulled through without damage.

For me it cost me because I ran the cable using the method above only to have to rip the floor up a few months later due to storm damage to the roof causing the floor to buckle. That would have been an opportune time for me to pull cables. When I reran the cables I used a cat5 wall jack. in the new plywood floor. (originally osb)

Just adding that little bit in case you ever wanted to run that cable.

JR

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8 minutes ago, dibblejr said:

You are absolutely correct by nobody wanting to work on mobile home. Even in a mostly mobile home community. I ended up ripping up the floor in my moms and you want to talk about a pain. Metal studs and metal nails holding everything down. Her home if about 40 years old and top of the line back in those days.

However if you wanted to run a cable and have a young person there are some ways. I noted and ran cables in my moms.

The weak spots in mobile homes are in their floor vents, drain lines (all), tub/ shower enclosure and the furnace / ac room. (not sure in FL). 

The drains all have a metal collar if they even have one at all. Some just have foam.

Most mobile homes have underpinning with some sort of insulation. Since you have cats that may be null and void. However if it is not all tore up that same person that will go under the home can feel a cable in the underpinning. If that is the case a peace of metal like a wash or nut and a strong magnet would be a tool to help route that cable across the underpinning up to one of the staples where it can be easily pulled through without damage.

For me it cost me because I ran the cable using the method above only to have to rip the floor up a few months later due to storm damage to the roof causing the floor to buckle. That would have been an opportune time for me to pull cables. When I reran the cables I used a cat5 wall jack. in the new plywood floor. (originally osb)

Just adding that little bit in case you ever wanted to run that cable.

JR

Yes, Mobile Homes are a REALLY BIG pain.  If I knew what I know now about these things, I'd have run as fast and as far as I could AWAY from buying one!  But I'm stuck with it.

There is already one hole in my floor in what i supposed to be a "dining room area", but it's way too small to even be called that.   And that';s where my original computer was until the roof sprung a leak and soaked eveything.  Still have a hole in the roof on the inside, and this was from some idiots that removed a satellite dish that was mounted there before I moved in.   Instead of leaving it alone, they took it out, but whomever installed it drilled 4 large holes in the roof that I didn't know existed, not until the rainy season.   I just filled them in with some type of runner caulking, so far that has held up under several hurricanes and rainstorms over the past 6 years.  I now have some flex seal if I need to redo it and make it even longer lasting if it ever wears out.

What I'd really like to do it mount a 4 network Cat4 plate inside and a covered one outside fro running cables.  But due to my medical issues and vision, that is now beyond what I can do.   I have to go the easiest and simplest route for me to get a display up now.  I had planned on covering over  some of the inside outlets and converting them to an outside GFCI one in a few of the rooms for my controllers to put them on separate circuits and have an option for moving things around a bit. n Again, my medical issues preclude me from doing that kind of work now.   If it weren't for my vision, the main problem with doing any type of work like this now, I'd have already had it done myself.   And being on a fixed income, I normally do not have funds to pay someone to do this.

These are some of the main reasons I bought the N4-G4 Director and went back to using one to run my shows.

I can't drill a straight hole, nor can I cut a board down a straight line, it's always angled in both cases.  Again, mainly due to my vision on those aspects.  But due to medical issues, sometimes I just can't contort like I used ro, so I can't conform to the small spaces that may need to be worked in.    Ah, getting ancient is such fun. LOL

 

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For about 150.00 you can pick up a used Dell Latitude e6530 i7. With a decent SSD, your show will be plenty fast.

I have been running my show on one for a few years. 

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