Feeling confused.

Discussion in 'New Members Say Hello' started by AndiK, Nov 3, 2015.

  1. AndiK

    AndiK New Elf

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    Hi all. Im new at all of this and have read the amazing 101 manual. Im now a lot overwhelmed. . Where on earth do i start.. what do i buy? I have some lights. Ie. Big w type of lights that id like to still use.. but wow... where too now? I did get a link to a shop, but i have no idea what to buy... help please...
     
  2. AAH

    AAH I love blinky lights :) Community Project Designer

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    A pertinent question is whether the Big W lights are the older "3 wire" style or the newer "2 wire" style. If they are from this year or last year then it's a pretty fair chance that you are in trouble as there isn't really an easy way to control them. If they are the older ones then they are dead easy to control. All you need is a DC dimmer or 2, a power supply or to suit (typically 27V-31V) and a usb dongle then work out which software to use. Xlights 4, Vixen 2 or Vixen 3 would be my recommendations for software. LOR and LSP could be used but why spend the money when the above software will do the job just as well for free.
    Theoretically if you grabbed a dongle and DMX36 from my website you could be flashing lights on Thursday evening :)
     
  3. kel

    kel Dedicated Elf

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    Be patient, Andi ... there are many members in Victoria that can assist. Then if you need to talk to some other, they are always helpful in Chat

    I see that Alan has responded ... trust what he tells you ...
     
  4. mborg10

    mborg10 Michael Borg

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    Firstly welcome to ACL.
    If your wanting to do an animated display this year just start with something basic to wet your feet. I would suggest getting out to other peoples displays and just have a chat. Majority are really helpful. Don't be overwhelmed as it takes years to get to the stage that some are at. It doesn't just happen overnight.
     
  5. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    If you have no idea where to start then this is probably too soon to buy hardware. Other people can make suggestions but only you can decide whether they're right for you because there are so many options.

    You really need to tell us whether your light sets with 8-function controllers have 2 or 3 wires between the controller and lights.

    You could do what AAH suggested but you will only be able to run identical (colour, length, brand and year) light sets together until you test them and add diodes so everything runs at the same voltage. There are other tricks you can do to supply multiple voltages but IMO they're no simpler. This is a property of the light sets, not the controller or power supply. That said, a supply with some level of voltage adjustment is a good idea.

    The controllers I have for store-bought lights are DMX512 DC controllers. There are several to choose from so you can select whether you want something easy to use or cheap to buy. You can start with easy ones and move toward cheaper ones as you add lights. You can continue to use DMX512 controllers in an E1.31 setup with pixels too; you just need an E1.31 controller with a DMX512 output. This is more reliable than using a USB dongle but it takes more knowledge to set up.
    Your main alternative to DMX controllers are the 2811 and 2801 DC controllers that AAH also sells. These run in line with pixels and I think they're a great idea although I don't have any myself.

    Pixels typically allow you to individually control the colour and brightness of every light. You need an E1.31 controller to use them.

    Keep reading the forums, visiting the chat and asking questions. Post your first shopping list on the forums too and get feedback. Be prepared to completely change plans though.

    Good luck
     
  6. fasteddy

    fasteddy I have C.L.A.P Global Moderator Generous Elf

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    There is a lot of information to take in, this is a 12 month a year hobby for many and many of the larger shows have been in the making for a few years, so start small with just controlling some of your existing lights.
    Most have to learn the fundamentals of electricity and networks to start to get an understanding of designing a full scale digital light show.

    So start small and build up from there, next year with some commitment then you will have an awesome display that will be the envy of your neighbourhood
     
  7. gerry

    gerry Senior Elf

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    Hi Andi,

    Another approach is to pick 2 -3 items that you want to have first e.g a strip outline and something else and then look towards what you need for that .. as it is easier to focus on those elements rather than on everything on the forum and the manual all at once.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    AndiK

    AndiK New Elf

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    HI AAH,
    I've had a look and i have a lot of different lights, ie: solar, 2 wire, and 3 wire, also some of the rope lights too! it's amazing to see so many things out there, I was just thinking that there was only the plug and play stuff like LOR, but there's so many more, which i didn't know, and things to you can make yourself. Just amazing, I think i've confused myself, thinking it would be as easy as to plug a heap of light in to a controller, and make up some sequencing and bamm you have a light show with music... so much more to learn and research.
     
  9. livetoride

    livetoride Full Time Elf

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    Thats what makes it so rewarding when you see you first show running after all the hard work. To be honest I think im pretty switched on with electronic things, but this hobby took me 12 months of reading, about 10 months of practice,sequencing, asking a million questions, more reading and this year im finally going for my first show, so for me it was no where near a plug and play sort of thing, LOR will be the closest thing to that if that's what you are after
     
  10. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    I can't help you much further until I know whether your light sets with 8-function controllers have two or three wires going to the lights. The ones with three wires should work but solar lights can be a little bit trickier to use.

    There are many types of ropelights too. Are yours low voltage and if they have 8-function controllers then how many wires?

    The LOR 240V controllers are unsuitable for the majority of Australian lights because Australian lights have low voltage plugpacks which can cause problems. LOR sells DC controllers but they're not going to be any simpler to set up than the cheaper ones available here.

    It took me more than 6 months from when I started researching to getting computer control actually working in 2013; even then I only had DC DMX controllers with a USB dongle but it was hugely satisfying when it all worked.
     
  11. dale82

    dale82 Senior Elf

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    Wow really Daniel? When I started I just brought LOR as pixels where in there infancy at that stage, and I just brought a LOR controller and lights and winged it, I am in no way at all switched on with electronics, but with a bit of help from some of the experts and I learnt as I went. And I managed to do a 11500 channel show last year. This forum can help you learn and guide even the newest of new people.
     
  12. Gilrock

    Gilrock Full Time Elf

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    Yeah you don't need to start out big. I like to show this video below from my first song I ever sequenced. We got the idea to animate the lights on Dec 20th and I ordered a 16 channel LOR box and software. I spent the week sequencing 3 songs while the hardware shipped. The UPS truck arrived on Dec 27th and I had all the cables lying in one spot ready to hook up the box. I ran my 7 minute show 90 minutes after the controller arrived. This was only 16 channels and 7 of them were used for the incandescent arch. People were still impressed even with how simple it looked compared to what I have today.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kEHv-vrJM4
     
  13. livetoride

    livetoride Full Time Elf

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    Well i looked into it for 12 months before i decided to get into it, so when i did decided it was January last year lol. Just dont rush for this Christmas, wait for some early group buys on good controllers and by next year you will be 100% confident and right!
     
  14. OP
    OP
    AndiK

    AndiK New Elf

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    Hi i13.
    One set of string lights don't have a controller at all.. just the turn on and off at the switch.. and another set has the 8 function controller.. not sure how many wires it has thou.. ;).
    At this stage I'm just looking at something for next year, start off small then grow u guess.. just having a look on line with all the different types of things out there... And trying to get a good idea of what to use and get. It's making more sense to me now than it did a week off... [emoji6] [emoji1]
     
  15. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    I know you're not aiming for computer control this year and that's a very smart move. I think you're right on track; keep reading and it will gradually come together. Just watch out for the number of wires if you do buy lights; the reason I mentioned this is that it will determine whether they can be controlled or not.

    It was a bit hard to answer your original post because there's no single shop that sells everything you'll need and nor can I write a post that'll explain everything you'll need to know. Once you have a better picture of how you want the display to look I could make suggestions but they're still only suggestions. There will be other options you'd want to consider too. Keep asking questions.

    I think you have a very good chance of getting computer control working for 2016. You're reading, posting and realising the amount of time it will take while you still have that time available.
     

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