Welcome to Lightsville

Welcome to Lightsville!

So you want to enter the world of computer-controlled Christmas lights?

There are several steps and choices that may or may not apply to you depending on what you want to do.

This page is out of date. Resources like Controllers and 101 Manual will be more helpful.


First Steps: Do It Yourself or Plug And Play


The first choice you'll need to make is whether you want to go down the Do It Yourself controller route, or run with a commercial Plug And Play product. Although it is possible to have both DIY and commercial controllers running in a hybrid system, it is easier to start with just one kind of system.

Do It Yourself


The DIY route offers the following advantages:
  • Cheaper
  • Can usually customise something enough to meet your needs

However it also leads to these disadvantages:
  • Time consuming
  • Soldering and electrical knowledge required

Commercial (Plug And Play)


Compared to DIY, commercial systems offers these advantages:
  • Know that software exists that can run the boards
  • Warranties and support

The flipside is the cons which come with it:
  • Expensive
  • Not always going to find the exact product you need
  • Some setup still required (not completely plug and play)

Second Step: What lights do you want to control?


What sorts of lights you want to control will change the sorts of controllers you require. This applies to both DIY and commercial products.

Lights generally fall into two controller categories, 240v AC and low voltage DC.

240v AC includes:
  • Rope lights
  • Rope light motifs
  • Incandescent flood lights
  • Some indoor-rated incandescent lights
  • MyTBright LED lights and some cheap eBay LED strings.
  • Low voltage AC incandescents with adapter [avoid dimming or run risk of burning out the adapter]
  • Low voltage DC LEDs with adapter [avoid dimming or run risk of burning out the adapter]

Low voltage DC includes:
  • Most LEDs
  • Low voltage incandescents [supplied with AC adapters but incandescents will run on DC, albeit with a shortened life]
This page is out of date. Resources like Controllers and 101 Manual will be more helpful.

Commercial range

BrandControllerChannelsCost (US$)$ per ChOptionsNotes
Light-O-RamaCTB16PC (240v AC)16$141.90$8.87High Power Heatsink
  • Max 8 Amps Per Channel
  • Max 15 Amps Total Per Bank
  • Max 30 Amps Total Per Board
  • Controller ID set by Hardware Utility software
  • Cannot be operated in standalone mode
Light-O-RamaCTB16D (240v AC)16$219.95$13.75With Heatsink
  • Max 8 Amps Per Channel
  • Max 20 Amps Total Per Bank
  • Max 40 Amps Total Per Board
  • Controller ID set from rotary switch
  • Can operate in standalone mode

DIY range

ControllerChannelsCost (US$)$ per ChNotes
Renard24 (240v)24$Unknown$Unknown
  • Can be flashed to DMX
  • Parts purchased through Co-Op
Renard64 (240v)64$149.80$2.34
  • Can be flashed to DMX
  • Uses External SSR boards for DC an AC use
  • Parts purchased through Co-Op
Lynx Express (240v)16$102.11$6.38
  • Based on DMX
  • Parts purchased through Co-Op
Lynx Freestyle (240v)128$Unknown$Unknown
  • Based on DMX
  • Parts purchased through Co-Op
This page is out of date. Resources like Controllers and 101 Manual will be more helpful.

Commercial range

BrandControllerChannelsCost (US$)$ per ChNotes
Light-O-RamaCMB16D (5-60v DC)16$119.95$7.49
  • Screw-type connection
  • Max 4 amps per channel
  • Max 20 amps per bank
  • Max 40 amps per board
Light-O-RamaCMB16D-QC (5-60v DC)16$99.95$6.24
  • Quick-connect connection
  • Max 4 amps per channel
  • Max 20 amps per bank
  • Max 40 amps per board
AVDDC48 (12-36v DC)48$199.00$4.15
  • Screw Type connection
  • Max 2 amps per channel
  • Max 20 amps per bank
  • Max 40 amps per board
  • Shared V+ per 3 channels (ideal for RGB)
AVDDC24 (12-36v DC)24$129.00$5.38
  • Screw Type connection
  • Max 2 amps per channel
  • Max 15 amps per bank
  • Max 30 amps per board
  • Shared V+ per 3 channels (ideal for RGB)

DIY range

BrandControllerChannelsCost (US$)$ per ChNotes
Ren48LSDRen48Lsd (5-30v DC)48$44.67$0.93c
  • RJ45 Socket connection
  • Max 600 ma per channel
  • Avg 400 ma per channel
  • Max 20 amps per Board
  • Can be flashed for DMX
  • Parts purchased through Co-Op
Ren64XCRenard64 (5-40v DC)64$149.80$2.34
  • Can be flashed to DMX
  • Uses External SSR boards for DC an AC use
  • Parts purchased through Co-Op

Third Step: What Else You Need

Light-O-Rama

  • At least 1 or more AC or DC LOR controllers.
  • CAT5/CAT5e cabling long enough to run from your show computer to the first LOR controller. You will also need additional cabling for to addition controllers, daisychained
  • One of Light-O-Rama's USB to RS485 serial adaptors
  • A Microsoft(R) Windows(R) computer with a serial port or USB port (depending on the chosen adapter above)
  • A lights sequencer - Light-O-Rama Software Suite plays best with LOR hardware, but most hardware supports DMX where xLights, Vixen or LightShow Pro can talk to it.

DMX (Ray Wu, Hanson Electronics, etc)

  • At least 1 or more AC or DC DMX dimmer controllers.
  • A suitable USB to DMX adapter, such as the Enttec USB DMX Pro, or a Lynx DMX dongle (or an E1.31 pixel controller with a built in E1.31 to DMX bridge)
  • A Microsoft(R) Windows(R) computer with a USB port
  • A lights sequencer - xLights or Vixen are good free options. Other (paid) software includes Light-O-Rama Software Suite and LightShow Pro.

More Information

See Also

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