1. New to Christmas lighting? Get started with the AusChristmasLighting 101 Manual:

Dumb questions

Discussion in '101 Display Basics' started by Inschy, Dec 16, 2016.

  1. Inschy

    Inschy New Elf

    Dec 14, 2016
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    Hi all,
    I have spent the last few days reading as much as I can on here, including the 101 manual a couple of times. Just a couple of dumb questions :)
    1 My lights are powered on their own circuit we had installed and they are on a timer (on at 6:45 off at 10), will I still be able to computerise things with this happening?
    2 Everyone talks about taking the controller out of the lights, can you use lights without controllers? Single colour, each string coming on at diffrent time?
    3 I am thinking of trying to make some leaping arches, can you use dumb strip or do you need smart strip?

    I thank everyone for the info they provide on here, it is all a little overwhelming at the moment. Don't even know which controller etc to start with yet :eek:
  2. ryanschristmaslights

    ryanschristmaslights Senior Elf Administrator

    Jun 30, 2010
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    Adelaide, Australia
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    Don't be silly - there are no dumb questions :)

    1. What kind of timer are you using? It shouldn't be an issue providing it has a high enough rating for what you intend to do e.g. 10A 2400W (the same as normal outlets, power boards etc are rated to) is _heaps_ for most people.

    2. Sure, if you can find lights without them! I have several 24v DC strings in my display which were bought as steady-on static strings, no multi-function.

    3. You could definitely use dumb strip for a leaping arch. To get the leaping effect, you'll just need to wire up the dumb strip in sections, with each 'leaping' section going to a different group of controller channel outputs. AusChristmasLighting member hcl of Hamilton Christmas Lights built their arches using 12v dumb rgb strip. You can read about it here: http://www.hamiltonchristmaslights.com/bounces.html

    Happy decorating! :)
  3. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

    Jul 5, 2013
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    1. If the circuit itself is on a timer then that's fine. You'll only need separate power for whatever is sending out the data to your controllers so it knows when to start and stop the display. There are battery powered RTC (real time clock) options available for the Raspberry Pi and BeagbeBone black which can run everything without another computer connected.

    2. It would help to know a bit more about the light sets. If they're multicolour light sets then they usuallly have 2 channels with 2 colours each. You can choose which channel to turn on when but each channel still has 2 colours which always come on together. If your light sets are single colour then the two channels are of course going to be the same colour. When removing the 8 function unit, the idea is usually to replace it with a dumb DC controller. Check how many wires run between the 8 function unit and the first LED because this determines the type of DC controller that you'll need.

    3. You could use dumb strip for leaping arches but smart strip (pixels) are really the way to go. If using dumb strips, you'd have to cut them into short sections to control separately and then wire each section back to a DC controller. A single length of pixel strip can 'leap'. Dumb and pixel strips can be used in the same display but they can't share the same controller type.

    It's fine not to know which controller you want yet. I think it's excellent that you're starting with enough time to get everything done. Keep at it!

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