My First Project

Discussion in 'Community Projects' started by MarcD, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. MarcD

    MarcD Full Time Elf

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2012
    Messages:
    326
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Heathwood Qld
    I've been doing lots of reading since I joined last week. Very little of it made sense. This really is a whole new world. I downloaded and scanned through the Lighting 101 manual which sort of helped me understand some of the principles involved. But if I'm going to get anything happening this year, I going to need some very clear direction. I hope you guys are up for a challenge. My house is located in Heathwood on Brisbane's southside (right near Forest Lake). I have attached an outline of the front of the house. So, here goes:

    Our current lighting includes mainly multi-colour LED strings purchased from Big W. There are also quite a number of frame rope light items (reindeer, stars etc.) and some inflatable items. Most of these were purchased from Deals Direct. My intention at this point in time is to just control the LED light strings which will be placed around the edges of various parts of the house (guttering, pillars, windows etc.). I'm not even concerned about syncing them to music this year. I really just want to be able to control them from one place instead of running around changing the patterns each night from the individual control boxes. Setting up a sequence to allow lights to go on and off in an order of my choosing.

    My plan is to buy lots more light strings from Big W once they come back into stock, assuming they are the same as last years'. I had a look at the plug packs on the weekend and they all say AC - AC Adaptor Output 22V (but you probably knew that already). My understanding is that each string is made up of groups and I can cut and terminate these to suit my needs.

    So to the bottom line, can someone give me a definitive list of everything I need to achieve my goal. By definitive, I mean a list of every item from controllers to dongles to lead wire to software and so on. Also where to buy it including links etc. I've no doubt this will cause some debate about the best options and so on. What I really need is a mentor who can say, based on what you have and what you want to achieve, go here and buy this, go there and buy that and so on.

    I won't say that money is no object, but I don't want to buy a Rolls Royce and I'd rather not buy an old clunker either. In terms of skill level, I have three adult sons who have reasonable skills in soldering and being able to work things out.

    With your assistance, I can make a start this year and improve year on year. Who knows, perhaps one day I'll even be able to offer advice to other newbies. I look forward to any and all advice.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. David_AVD

    David_AVD Good news, everyone!

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    3,338
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    Victoria Point (Brisbane)
    Last year I used stacks of the 200 count Big W LED strings. Here's a wiki page I wrote that explains how they are wired: http://auschristmaslighting.com/wiki/LED_String_Wiring

    I didn't sequence mine to music either. Just having them flash in interesting ways was enough for me.

    They were driven from a couple of my (24 channel) DC24 controller boards. I also make a 48 channel version called the DC48.

    The power supplies were 240W 30V units that were adjusted up to approx 31V.

    I also sell a USB485RJ-ISO dongle that plugs into your PC and spits out the DMX signal that the controllers require.

    You could also use a Ethernet to DMX dongle if you envisage using for than 512 channels. These are available from J1SYS.

    The simplest way in my opinion is to start with a USB dongle, power supply and controller and some PC software. The PC software can be Vixen (free), LOR (paid for) or LSP (paid for).
     
  3. OP
    OP
    MarcD

    MarcD Full Time Elf

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2012
    Messages:
    326
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Heathwood Qld
    That is way beyond the response I expected. Thanks so much. A couple of quick questions:

    What lead wire do I use and do you sell it?

    Will the power supply you listed work with either the 24 or 48 channel controllers and do I need only one?

    Do you have all this stuff in stock?
     
  4. pipersmall

    pipersmall Full Time Elf

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2011
    Messages:
    385
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Melbourne
    Find Me On:
    Marc,
    David was a big help to me last year (along with a few others of course) but last year I found this site in November and with David's gear I had a dozen or so channels doing blinky flashy that I could control in December.
    Just cut of the plug packs and connect straight into the DC24 or DC48. The power supply will work with both.
     
  5. fasteddy

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

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    Messages:
    6,471
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Albion Park NSW
    Find Me On:
    If your wire frames are 240v which i suspect they are then you will also need an mains AC controller. The best choice for that is to use the LOR AC controller.
    The great thing about the LOR controllers is that they can also be run in DMX mode with other DMX devices like the AVD DC board mentioned before. David_AVD also sells the DMX to LOR network cabling adaptor as well

    The LOR controller that would best suit you for the money is the CTB16PC range You would then run these in DMX instead of LOR mode and info on running these in DMX mode can be found here

    No as far as software there are a few choices, you can use LOR S3, LSP 2.5, Vixen, HLS. Picking the right software now can be important as you will learn many of your sequencing skills on that software and if you change in the future then this can be difficult due to having expectation based on the orginal software you learnt with.

    The chat room is also a great place to ask general questions
     
  6. OP
    OP
    MarcD

    MarcD Full Time Elf

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2012
    Messages:
    326
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Heathwood Qld
    Thanks for the extra info. At this stage I think I'll just worry about the string lights around the borders and leave the rope light frames alone. For one thing, my wife's pretty fussy about them and we kind of came to an agreement that I'd leave them alone. While we're both really into doing the lights, we have very different opinions about what looks good. I'm not going to try to push my luck too far. ;)


     
  7. fasteddy

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

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    Messages:
    6,471
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Albion Park NSW
    Find Me On:
    That makes it a lot easier, the AVD DC board and dongle are a great choice for you as there are many here who use them and can give you assistance in setting up (even shellNZ could help)
     
  8. David_AVD

    David_AVD Good news, everyone!

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2010
    Messages:
    3,338
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    Victoria Point (Brisbane)
    For my Big W strings, I used a custom wiring harness for some areas and standard (14/020) 4 core security cable for other areas. You can get it on eBay cheaper than I can supply it.

    I wired my strings as two channel so I could alternate the lights as well as simply flash them. This uses two channels per string, but makes for much more flexible programming.

    You're not limited to one controller on each power supply. The main determining factor is the current drawn by the lights. The 200 count Big W strings draw approx 200mA each. You can use 30 or so sets on just one 240W 30V power supply.

    I usually have DC24 and DC48 in stock but levels vary according to demand. More can be made within a week. The USB dongles are in stock and the power supplies are only a few days lead time usually.

    Here's a dodgy video of part of my 2011 display:

    Trees lit with Big W strings
     
  9. fasteddy

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

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    Messages:
    6,471
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Albion Park NSW
    Find Me On:
  10. kane

    kane Dedicated Elf

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2010
    Messages:
    1,019
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Trigg (Northern suburbs of Perth)
    Find Me On:
    Those topiary style trees are just made for lighting up!

    Whenever driving around, I spot gardens that would be brilliant for christmas lighting - you feel like knocking on their door and encouraging them to get into it.
     
  11. OP
    OP
    MarcD

    MarcD Full Time Elf

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2012
    Messages:
    326
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Heathwood Qld
    Forgive my ignorance, but what do you mean by alternating and flashing?

     
  12. MY03VY

    MY03VY New Elf

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2012
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    I suppose I should introduce myself here.

    I'm Rob, Marc's eldest son who is tasked with the messy tricky bits like clambering around on the roof and so on.

    In terms of the wiring side of things, I've got a pretty good handle on it now courtesy of the wiki pages, and years of playing with 12v car audio and even back to early days of running PA systems.

    In terms of software, is there one package that offers more than another? or better bang for your buck?

    One of the issues we had with last years static display was a severe lack of anything on the garage door. It was a vast expanse of nothing that really could have benefitted from some lighting effect. My searching around has come up with an LED Light Emotion Photon2 from Lightsounds which offers DMX control that I'd love to add in there and have control over. Will all these software packages offer reasonable ability to do something like that?

    One last question (I'll restrict them to the really technical stuff from now on)... how are people going about attaching string lights on ridge capping or ridges of colorbond roof sheeting? Our current method of cloth tape is very agricultural and messy to clean up. And whilst on that topic, how are people attaching string lighting to rendered block walls without being permanent?
     
  13. AAH

    AAH I love blinky lights :) Community Project Designer

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2010
    Messages:
    2,507
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Eaglehawk
    Find Me On:
    When it comes to bang for your buck I guess you'd have to say the vixen gives you the most because it's free. It offers plenty of plugins (which you have to configure/add) to allow you to control lots of different boards. The sequencing tools it has are currently a bit limited but with time you can get good results. Light show pro is the top of the range product and it does pretty well everything but it's an exceptionally complicated bit of software that takes a big commitment to learn. Light-o-rama is in between. It will run a bunch of different controllers, is quite easy to configure, there's thousands of sequences that you can download as a starting point and it's pretty rock solid for stability. The 2 downsides to LOR are that you need to get the Advanced level to be able to use E1.31 and dmx outputs and also it doesn't have the tools for pixel displays that LSP does.
    If you want to play you can use Vixen all you like as it's freeware, LOR demo doesn't expire and any sequences that you save as demo software can be converted to fully operational if you buy the sotware. LSP also has a demo which runs either 7 days or 30 days (I can't remember which) and from memory I think that you can ouput maybe 16 channels of lights during the demo period.
    LOR also has an auto sequencing feature built into the superstar addon if you purchase that. There's a vid of the auto sequencer at Autosequencing without CCRs
     
  14. fasteddy

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

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2010
    Messages:
    6,471
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Albion Park NSW
    Find Me On:
    Welcome to ACL Guys and welcome to the addiction

    A good way to mount strings to a colourbond roof is to use magnets. these are tempory and easy to install and remove. Now as far as the strings another way to mount them is on electrical conduit, this way you ensure nice straight lines, easy install and pull down and storage.

    As far as mounting to a renderd wall, well i dont because its too hard, instead i use flood lights back onto the rendered wall to colour the surface with light. this effect has worked very well for me

    Now as far as software, I use Light Show Pro 2.5 but it will cost you, its a very good program for sequencing especially RGB lighting, but maybe an overkill for you this year but could work well for you going forward depending on your plans

    LOR S3 again will cost you and is limited in some ways when it comes to running other hardware and its sequencing abaility, but otherwise for you it would work well. If not using any LOR hardware then i dont think this is the better choice compared to LSP 2.5

    Vixen is free and is a great piece of software if sequencing under 100 channels, this actually may be worth a look at, but it is very limited if you have plans for going down the high channel RGB pixel path in the future.

    HLS i think is more aimed at the RGB world as well but its free
     
  15. Beacy

    Beacy It's so much better on the dark side

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2010
    Messages:
    466
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Beaconsfield
    Ive got a Colourbond roof and good old gaffer tape works wonders on the ridges and is strong enough that it will peel off at the end


    I have a heap of Big W lights that I use on David's AVD 48's however with the cost of pixels coming down I can get far more bang for my buck with pixels even if you dont use the digital ones and go "Dumb" pixels youve 1 strings that can change to any colur you want and they can still run out of the AVD48's
     

Share This Page