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Starting from scratch - How do you plan?

Discussion in 'How is my display put together...' started by grungle25, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. grungle25

    grungle25 New Elf

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    Hi All

    After reading what seems to be every post on this site I feel I have a good (ish) understanding of controllers, power supplies, lights etc. The depth of information provided by everyone is amazing and I hope down the track to be able to offer advice to others.

    Just wondering how you guys and girls planned your display when you first started? Did you just buy some light strings, a controller and some software and have a crack or was it more methodical?

    Cheers

    Glenn
     
  2. oldmanfathertime1000

    oldmanfathertime1000 Computers, music, audio, video, electronics

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    grungle25,

    It is all the above (ha ha). I don't think any one way is the golden bullet. I think it should be done in a certain order & someone else thinks it should be done in a different order. You must have a least some idea of what you want to do, before you start putting out money. Then you can decide what you want to do it with. Then It just follows from there. They are so many ways in which to do the same thing. Once you have some idea of how your display is going look, start asking these guys for their ideas of what they think is the best way. Be careful when asking because you are gonna get 4,000 answers from the 3,000 questions you ask...(LOL)
     
  3. ecbailey

    ecbailey Full Time Elf

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    I have started from scratch this year in terms of going from a static light show to animated with music. I can't comment on most of the products I have bought, as they are still in the post, however I started by buying lights from Big W on boxing day (get there at opening time!) - They seem to be easy to chop up into smaller sections to animate. Remember that you need to consider there is only so much power you can drain from each power circuit around you home.


    I then spent between January and last week researching and thinking about where different elements would fit into my front yard. I spent some time going up and down each relevant bunnings isle to see the different things I could use in my show in terms of supports, cabling etc.


    I then make an order from Light O Rama for all the stuff I need (controllers, software etc) I ended up ordering 1 AC controller and 4 DC ones, as adding extra DC controllers didn't send the shipping up in price, but would be expensive to ship on their own later. I finised the spending spree by ordering one 27v power supply from Ray Wu (at 13A it should power about 13,000 Big W led globes) and an FM transmitter from ebay. (I plan to block its signal enough so it only broadcasts in the desired area.


    I then went on google street view and printed off a picture of my front yard and have draw a rough plan of where I want to hang lights and have special features. However, knowing me I will change this as it is put up!


    Now all I have to do is make some space in the house to store all the new stuff!
     
  4. ShellNZ

    ShellNZ Senior Elf

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    I also started this year from a static light display last year (my first light display ever).

    This year I have gone beserk and bought controllers, more lights, conduit, corflute etc etc etc lol.

    I took a pic of my house and turned it into a sketch in photoshop then did the layout of my existing lights, changing some around. I then built from there figuring out where to put controllers/enclosures etc.

    Huge learning curve this is for me as up till a few weeks ago I hadnt even really soldered before :)
     
  5. fasteddy

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

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    I spend the first 1/2 of the year getting ideas and working on a budget and creating the right music mix i will use for the show. I wait until after the mid year minis as some great ideas can come out of those. Then after that i finalise my plan and buy up what is needed. I then build my elements and then sequence.

    This is just the way i do it, there is no real correct or wrong way to do it, the correct way is what will work for you.
     
  6. OP
    OP
    grungle25

    grungle25 New Elf

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    Thanks for all the replies! I think I will have a go at doing a sketch of the front yard and go from there. I have some DMX hardware on the way from AVD (David was very helpful!) and the only thing I HAVE TO achieve this year (my wife only had one "request" before funds were approved for expenditure) is some sort of animatronic Santa head. Three months should be heaps of time.... :p hahahah

    Glenn
     
  7. anon

    anon Apprentice Elf

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    I think you can only be methodical...


    I'm in a similar position, I bought some Big W lights last year but my few strings from the stock random controller. I was proud....until Xmas eve walking around some nearby streets which have a reputation of having some half decent lights. And thats how the LED war of '12 started.


    To impart some of my thinking, I begun with the end in mind. I looked at my street facade and had some general concept of a crazy grand plan. I knew it wasn't all going to happen in a year so set a design for 2013 that would work towards the big plan. This would form the base from where the design could extend.


    I researched controllers, RGB strip etc and decided on some standards (12VDC for RGB, 30VDC for Big W strips, E1.31 as far as can be, LSP sequencing etc, no 240VAC apart from the one input). From here I came plan with a general architecture for power distribution and comms. CLAP also set in with the world now being viewed with an eye of how it can be used for lighting and came up with ideas on how to mount everything.
    All ideas and details are also recorded in a spreadsheet; wall heights, gutter lengths, mounting methods, power budgets etc.


    I'm now starting to ramp back up in preparation for a mid November roll out. The design is sketched locating each string and strip in Visio showing where it is and how it will be connected. I'm finalizing my choice of hardware and will purchase all my RGB strip, controllers, cable, power supplies, connectors in a week or two. With the hardware I'll then be doing some sanity checking against controllers and hardware to make sure it works in part, then start sequencing and building. I'll then test each segment prior to hanging to make sure individual elements work. I'll then install everything and all being equal, it should work first go apart form expected small bugs.


    Looking back on it, it's more or less gone from concept/requirements -> system design -> detailed design -> procurement -> integration -> bench test -> installation.
     
  8. fasteddy

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

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    I think you sum it up very well on the basic process that most follow in creating their display
     
  9. Bird

    Bird Proud LOR user

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    The only thing I see missing is
    -> well that won't work -> back to step one
    .... and of course the ever popular
    -> I don't like the way that looks -> tear it all apart and start over :D

    But they are right .. for the first year just come up with any concept that you think may look good and then follow the steps above.
     
  10. toodle_pipsky

    toodle_pipsky Minister of Silly Walks

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    There's heaps of great tips in there, my 10c worth from experience is:
    Your first year is going to be a big learning curve. Not only on a hardware/light side (which you're already embarking on) but you'll learn a lot once you get your show physically running. You'll see what works, what doesn't, what could be improved. You'll learn about how much of a pain it can be to set up a take down too! So don't worry too much about planning the right or wrong way.
    Spreadsheets are excellent in tracking channel counts, power requirements, etc. For the past 2 years I've been using a ss to organise my show and I don't know how I survived without it.
    The big thing, and it's not so much a planning tip as it is advice - if it stops being fun, walk away and take a break. If you get stressed by the planning and building, it's not worth it. If there's no enjoyment, leave it. After my second year I had to do this. It stopped being a fun hobby and became a chore and boring, so now at the start of the year after the previous show is done I just take a break so come mid year I'm ready to think about it again. Other's may be different, but I've seen some around the place come in too keen and end up disapearing.
    Hope this helps and good luck with your first year! Hope there's many more to come! :)

    PS - Add an extra week to what ever set up date you choose. I always say 1 November start set up and then wish I had started a week earlier. :) hehehehehe
     

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