AusChristmasLighting 101

Manual cover

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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Preface

The AusChristmasLighting 101 manual, herein referred to as "the manual", is written by fasteddy, herein referred to as "the owner". (c) Copyright 2012.

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.

Introduction

Definitions


Low-voltage
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
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

Incandescents

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: ACL Wiki: List of LED String pages

RGB, Pixels and Strips

Categories: Contents

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