AusChristmasLighting 101

This article is just a summary of the information available in the downloadable PDF version of the AusChristmasLighting 101 manual, a guide for getting started (or stepping up a level) in Christmas lighting.

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PDF Contents

  • Preface
  • Definitions
  • Typical System Components Required
  • Lights
    • Christmas Lights
    • IP Rating of Lights
    • Christmas Light Types
      • Incandescent Lights
      • LED Lights
    • RGB Lights
      • RGB LED Types
      • RGB LED Packages
      • RGB Flood Lights & Spot Lights
      • RGB Light Strings
      • RGB Modules
  • RGB Light Control
    • Dumb RGB Light Control
    • Intelligent RGB Light Control
    • Intelligent RGB Light IC Types
  • RGB Light Choices
    • Dumb RGB Lights (no IC)
      • 3 Channel Dumb RGB Strip Lights
      • 3 Channel Dumb RGB Strings
      • 3 Channel Dumb RGB Modules
    • Intelligent RGB Lights (with IC)
      • Intelligent RGB Strip Lights
      • Intelligent RGB Strings
      • Intelligent RGB Modules
    • RGB Flood and Spot Lights
  • Sequencing Software
  • Test Software
  • Communications Interfaces
    • Light-O-Rama
      • Light-O-Rama Layout
    • DMX512
      • DMX512 Layout
    • E1.31
      • E1.31 Considerations
      • E1.31 Layout
  • Power Supplies
    • Electrical Safety
    • Electrical Safety Tips
    • Power Supply Types
      • AC Mains Power
      • Low Voltage AC Power
      • Low Voltage DC Power
    • Selecting the Correct Sized Power Supply
    • DC Power Supply Choices
  • Cables
    • Cable Characteristics
    • Selecting the Correct Sized Cable
    • Overcoming Voltage Drop
    • Cable Choices
    • Plug Choices
    • Pixel Power Injection Cable
    • Injecting Power
      • Single Power Supply
      • Multiple Power Supplies
  • Light Controllers
    • AC Controllers
    • Low Voltage DC Controllers
      • Low Voltage DC Controller Choices
    • Pixel Controllers
      • Pixel Controller Connections and Layout
      • Extending Pixel Data
      • Pixel Types and Configurations
      • Pixel Controller Choices
        • DMX Pixel Controller Choices
        • LOR Pixel Controller Choices
        • E1.31 Pixel Controller Choices
  • Protocol Bridges
    • Pixel Controllers with built-in Protocol Bridges
    • Protocol Bridge Choices
  • Servo Controllers
    • Servo Controller Choices
  • Basic Layout Examples
    • The Light-O-Rama Network
    • The DMX512 Network
    • The E1.31 Network
  • LED Panels
    • LED Panel Types
    • LED Panel Controllers
      • Synchronous Controllers
      • Standalone Controllers
    • LED Panel Wiring
      • Cables and Connectors
  • Sequence Playback Device
    • Falcon (Pi) Player (FPP)
    • Supported Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone computers
    • Expansion Boards (capes)
    • USB Devices
    • FPP Layout Example
  • Radio Transmitters & Speakers
    • Getting Sound to Your Audience
    • FM Radio Anternnas
    • Broadcasting Considerations
    • FM Radio Antennas
    • FM Radio Transmitter Choices
  • Ordering From Overseas
    • Importing Goods
    • Ordering From China
    • Ordering From The USA
  • General Tools and Equipment
    • General Tools
    • Equipment
    • Consumables
  • Supplement Layout Diagram
  • Setup and Initial Testing
    • E1.31 Device Setup
    • DMX Device Setup
    • Pixel Testing and Setup
      • Pixel Testers
    • Pixel Fault Finding
  • References and Links
  • Credits


Copyright 2018 Fasteddy

The AusChristmasLighting 101 manual, herein referred to as "the manual", is written by Fasteddy, herein referred to as "the owner".

Use of the information and/or drawings within the manual, must have permission by the owner before using. The full PDF version may only be downloaded from AusChristmasLighting and must not be uploaded to any other site without permission from the owner.

The Wiki adaption of the manual is a short summary only. The full manual is available in PDF format for registered AusChristmasLighting members.

Important Notice

It is the sole responsibility of the reader to ensure that all safety precautions are taken. The author of this document and/or any involved parties relinquishes any responsibility and liabilities for any content within this manual that may cause the reader any injury or loss of property. By reading this manual you take sole responsibility for all actions taken. This manual is a guide only and is to be used to help understand the fundamentals of creating a computer controlled light display. It is by no means an instruction or user manual for any of the equipment shown.



Most outdoor Christmas lights are labelled as low-voltage and for the purposes of our hobby lighting is typically between 0-50v, AC or DC. Officially speaking, this is all well within the ''Exta-low voltage'' (ELV) range. In most Australian states, a "competent person" can work with Extra-low-voltage without holding any electrical licencing.
See also: Wikipedia: Extra low voltage

Light Emitting Diode (LED)
An LED is a semiconducter light source that only conduct electricity one way. This means an LED emits light only 50% of the time when wired into an AC power source.​

Ohms Law
Ohms Law is used to work out one of Volts, Amps (current) or Watts (power) where the other two figures (Volts + Amps, Volts + Watts, Amps + Watts) are known.
See also: ACL Wiki: Ohms Law

RGB, which stands for Red Green Blue, is a type of light where a red, green and blue LED are positioned in close proximity enabling the mixing of the red green and blue colours to produce an array of secondary colours. Some RGB lights are only good for wall washing while others are good for direct viewing and wall washing.​

Dumb RGB
Dumb RGB is a type of RGB light where it is powered like a standard LED, except due to the closely positioned red, green and blue LED secondary colours are able to be created. An entire set of Dumb RGB does the same thing as each other from end to end. Other than the colour mixing characteristics, all other properties are alike to regular LED lighting. Dumb RGB may also be referred to as "Legacy RGB" and "3-channel RGB".
See also: ACL Wiki: RGB and Pixels - Why they are not the same

Intelligent RGB
Intelligent RGB is a form of Dumb RGB with additional components which enables each node (group of LEDs) to be controlled separately from one another. Other common terms used to describe Intelligent RGB includes "Pixel", "Digital RGB" and "Smart RGB". Product listings may also refer to this with "IC" in the title.
See also: ACL Wiki: RGB and Pixels - Why they are not the same

Types of Lights


The original and more power-hungry type of Christmas lights that is not very common in stores anymore. You many still find ropelights with incandescent lights, so be sure to check the product information to see whether it is an LED ropelight.

LED strings

LED light sets manufactured for AC power often include a rectifier to make the set full-wave. In recent times, extra-low-voltage shop-bought light strings are designed to be powered by a bundled DC plugpack which means the LED light sets only need to be half wave.
See also: LED-String-pages

RGB, Pixels and Strips

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