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PlanetChristmas Magazine July 2012

Squeezing More from your Light Controllers What I figured out really works. By Brian ‘Papa Elf’ Rieger D“Computerized Holiday Lighting hard way why it makessense to have a spareLast year I learned theo you wish your light controllershad more channels? Me too. If youhave recently joined the ranks of the Crowd” you've probably figured out it takes a bit of an investment to get a decent display up controller/board on hand and running. Controllers, light strings, exten- at all times sion cords, FM transmitters - it adds up quick. Most reasonable people operate within some quickly in the middle of the Christmas lighting type of budget when planning a light show, so season was going to be tough, but I had to come where do you draw the line (from an investment up with something until a replacement board standpoint) from year to year? materialized. Last year I learned the hard way why it makes We promote our light show through social sense to have a spare controller/board on hand media and have been featured on the local TV at all times (segue harp music into the story): news stations and in the local newspapers, so Like a lot of light enthusiasts out there, I typi- everyone knew our show was supposed to be cally plan on starting our Christmas light show running by Thanksgiving evening. We also host on Thanksgiving evening. Everything went an annual charity event every December called as planned for the most part - a few tweaks “Christmas in the Sky”, which features com- here and there but no major snags...until two mercial-grade fireworks along with our light days later. One of my controllers didn't want show. Over 500 people attended this past year. to work anymore. The fact that I didn't have a Thinking about all this just added to my anxiety. spare started making me a bit “twitchy.” You I didn't want to let anyone down. Sometimes know what I mean - the mental state between necessity can be a mother...um, the Mother of being stressed out and on your way to the edge Invention that is. where you don't care if someone is listening to So - I started “stacking” different display you talking out loud to the controller, and ask- items into the same channels. Sound pretty ing it why it didn't want to work and be part basic? Well, it is. But in some cases, you can of the show like all of the other “cool” control- use one channel to light up two or more display lers. Acting crazy wasn't working and I needed items without the effect looking too obvious or to formulate a “Plan B” strategy quick. I knew redundant. ESPECIALLY if you are in a pinch getting any type of replacement board very or on a tighter budget. 26 PlanetChristmas | July 2012


PlanetChristmas Magazine July 2012
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