1. New to Christmas lighting? Get started with the AusChristmasLighting 101 Manual:
    auschristmaslighting.com/wiki/AusChristmasLighting-101

HI Quick Hello

Discussion in 'New Members Say Hello' started by MIchael271, Oct 10, 2015.

  1. MIchael271

    MIchael271 Bigger is Better :)

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    Hi All,
    Just introducing myself. I found this forum after becoming completely and utterly obsessed by Christmas light shows. I think everyone around me thinks I'm a bit nuts!
    A bit about me, I started with this Christmas light thing about 6 years ago mainly cause I had young kids and it was great to see their reaction to even simple Christmas lights at night. Now I am not an electrician, engineer or anything that would have a clue about this stuff just someone who likes lights. My first few years were as basic as buying what ever Bunnings, Kmart and Big W had on offer ie rope lights, led fairy lights (with 8 function controllers etc). It was a matter of just putting them all up, plugging them in and away they'd go. I was satisfied for a while......or until i started watching You Tube and seeing what people were doing at home. I knew then that I had to step it up. Only one problem is that i haven't a clue about this stuff.
    My first attempt to step it up was last year when I bought 2 16 channel LOR (AC) controllers and a cosmic colour ribbon to play with. I certainly bit off more than i could chew with this lot but in my frustration i just plugged all the led strings I already had in to the controllers and programmed in very simple pattern, put it on a continuous loop (and had trouble with the interfering 8 function controllers already part of the strings!)and decided that was enough vowing that i would study up for this year to build bigger and get better. Well time has got away from me and now I need your help to get organised. So I have lots of questions. I don't think this is right forum location to be asking them so just wanted to say hi and hope that you all don't get sick of me in the coming weeks asking what I will assume to be dumb questions. I have already read through the 101 manual so understand a little but what I'd like to do is throw out there what equipment I've already got, what equipment i want to purchase, what type of show i want to produce....and of course get your ideas on how to get there.


    Great to now be part of this forum and look forward to learning lots from you all.


    Michael
     
  2. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    Hi MIchael271

    Welcome to ACL

    An obsession with Christmas lights is normal here and it is all you need to get started.

    Reading the 101 manual is a good start but you'll have to HURRY to get anything new set up for this year. Next year will be much easier regardless of whether you get anything new running this year.

    The AC controllers will sort of work but they're usually not the best controller type for low voltage light sets with plugpacks; they'll work well for 240V ropelights though. You can disable the 8 function controllers but some types of low voltage plugpacks break if they're dimmed (not ON or OFF) or flashed too quickly. DC controllers are commonly used for store-bought lights. Just be aware if you're buying store-bought lights that they need to have at least three wires between the 8 function controller and the lights or they're incompatible with DC controllers. This does not matter if the light set has no 8 function controller.

    Pixel lights are this forum's alternative to cosmic colour ribbons and they'll save you a fortune.

    I suggest posting your next controller/pixel etc shopping list on the forum to get suggestions and feedback before buyng.

    There are plenty of options you'll be able to consider and I look forward to answering your questions; ask away!
     
  3. gerry

    gerry Senior Elf

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    Hi Michael,


    Welcome to ACL. Where abouts in Victoria are you ?


    The ACL manual has a comparison of controllers , and there is a spreadsheet link as well.
     
  4. Habbosrus

    Habbosrus New house (again) 2017

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    G'day Michael, welcome to ACL mate. I reckon you'll fit right in around here if everybody thinks you're a little nuts with your passion for lights :eek: . Be warned, now that you have found ACL, it's only going to get worse. This is a great place for information and inspiration. Don't be afraid to ask questions. As many here will tell you, the only dumb questions are the ones you don't ask. There are plenty of friendly people here ready to help.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    MIchael271

    MIchael271 Bigger is Better :)

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    Hi All,


    Thanks for welcoming me. Now I guess the work begins. I have started unpacking all my old stuff (like i said i know im starting very late this year) and will post a very detailed current setup with lots of questions :)


    Thanks i13 for the advice re the string lights as i have now sorted my piles of lights into ones which have 3 wires coming from the controller and those that only have 2 (hopefully i can still bridge those ones as i do have a few - and FYI Big W seem to have reverted to the 2 wire from controller lights this year :mad: [SIZE=78%])[/SIZE]


    Gerry i live in Narre Warren at the moment as im building a new house out this way. Thats why this years lights is just a mear rehersal for the big bang of 2016 in the new place :D


    Thanks Habbosurs im sure if there is a dumb question ill be asking it lol


    Now for a really dumb question ... where should i start my post about my setup?
     
  6. AAH

    AAH I love blinky lights :) Community Project Designer

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    Welcome to ACL Michael. Great to see yet another Victorian joining up even if it's down in the big smoke. There's actually a number of ACL members pretty close to you ( http://auschristmaslighting.com/forums/index.php?action=googlemap ). You should probably post in the "Family Room" section of the forum with questions about your setup or general posts.
     
  7. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    I don't know if it is possible to disable the multi-function controllers on the light sets that only have 2 wires coming from the multi-function controller. If they don't match the pictures on the wiki, you could try pulling them apart and posting pictures of the circuit board for others here to suggest how to disable them (no guarantee that this can be done for the 2 wire light sets and you may not be able to put them back together). Remember to include both sides of the board and say whether the plugpack is AC or DC.
    http://auschristmaslighting.com/wiki/Bypassing_Multi_Function_Controllers

    What I do know is that there is currently no controller available that allows you to control the two channels within the 2 wire light sets. You can use a DC controller to control the channels within the 3 wire light sets but it can be a lot of work to set up for the first time. Do you have a multimeter?

    Another option you have is to sort your light sets into those that have AC low voltage plugpacks and those that have DC ones. It is possible to use 8 channels of your AC controllers at a low AC voltage, cut those AC plugpacks out and disable the multi-function controllers. It may even be possible to use all 16 channels this way but I don't know how to. Having said that, I suspect the plugpacks with AC outputs tolerate being turned on and off less badly than those with DC outputs.

    Once you have your store-bought lights sorted out things will get easier. You'll probably start ordering RGB lights (pixels or dumb RGB) which always run at the stated DC voltage.

    If you're unsure where to post something then I suggest asking in chat. If someone with a blue username (moderator) or red username (administrator) answers then you'll know for sure. The worst thing that can happen is your post just gets moved though. I highly recommend logging into chat if you haven't already; it gives you a chance to meet the members of this forum and they can also answer questions on the spot.
     
  8. Bird

    Bird Proud LOR user

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  9. dale82

    dale82 Senior Elf

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    Welcome to ACL
     
  10. OP
    OP
    MIchael271

    MIchael271 Bigger is Better :)

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    Thanks all i really appreciate the initial advice.


    i13 - Yes i have a multimeter (bit of a novice at using it but could get by lol). What i find confusing between the 2 and three wire versions are that on the 2 wire versions out of the multifunction controller at the first pixel the 2 wires go in and then turn into 3 coming out leading to the next pixel (i use pixel but might not be the right terminology)....so what happens at that first pixel to go from 2 wires to 3?
    20151013_221931_resized.jpg

    The Big W lights I just bought as previously stated are now the 2 wire version with the board as follows
    20151010_130636.jpg 20151011_132302_resized.jpg
    This appears to be different from anything posted on the "by passing" section


    It appears that i really have a lot of work to do and not much time to do it....but up for a challange :eek:
     
  11. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    I'm only familiar with the wiring for the 3 wire light sets but the reason the LEDs sometimes have extra wires is that one wire goes in and then back out. In the three wire light sets the initial three wires continue nearly the entire length of the set. They are just spliced into at the LEDs.

    For a more detailed description specifically for the 2 wire light sets, see reply 21 here http://auschristmaslighting.com/forums/index.php/topic,6367.0.html

    The term pixel is used to describe lights where you have individual control of the colour and brightness of each light (or three lights for most 12V pixel strips). The CCR is a type of pixel but it usually isn't what we mean on ACL when we use the term pixel.

    I don't have the knowledge to tell you how to bypass the original controllers but I have not seen a case where there hasn't been an answer. You might need to ask in a separate thread.

    One thing I should have said is to first check whether the controller has a memory. If you set it to steady on and then turn it off for more than a few minutes, does it stay steady on when you turn it back on again?

    Edit: I want to add that from a safety perspective I don't really like the idea of pulling apart the controllers that have the 240V input; sorry for not saying that earlier.
     
  12. OP
    OP
    MIchael271

    MIchael271 Bigger is Better :)

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    Hi All,


    i13 I totally agree about the 240v mucking around thing. I think I need to get my head around the DC controllers and just use the LOR AC units for ropes and maybe a couple of other things like floods etc


    Thanks for taking the time to research it though. My time in the chat room last night was very helpful and I picked up a few ideas, suppliers and tips.....so much so that i placed an order for some rgb pixels and strips with a whole bunch of other stuff....i'm a bit impulsive that way lol


    I'm going to post in the family area what i have and hopefully can get some more input
     
  13. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    The 240V thing is partly why I suggested using 24V AC instead. As far as I know (check with others here before trying it because you DON'T want to get it wrong) you can just get a 24V AC power supply and use it to supply the power for 8 of the 16 channels (I can't remember which 8 it works for). Many light sets have 24V AC between their plugpack and controller and you could check if any of yours do. That way the LOR AC controller with a 24V AC power supply would just replace the original plugpack that came with your light sets.

    DC control is still what I use because it is cheaper and the end result lets you control the channels within the 3 wire light sets.

    I wouldn't recommend buying ropelights for the AC controllers but they'd work if you already have them. Unlike strips, you can't repair ropelights or cut them to size. Some of them are low voltage too.

    Chat has helped me a lot too; I really only have the more experienced ACL members to thank as they were (and still are) very welcoming and helpful for me.

    It's a bit late but I do recommend posting your first shopping list before actually ordering because there are little things to add to the order that make setting up much easier. There are also other things to consider such as which lights can share a controller.

    I'll see you in the family area soon :).
     
  14. kel

    kel Dedicated Elf

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    [​IMG]
     

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