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msiebri66

Need Some Advice On A Mega-Tree

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Hello everyone. I have had a steadily-growing static light display for the last several years. I would like to step up to something more interesting, so I started looking at mega-trees. I have done quite a bit of reading on this site and others. This is what I have come up with so far as a plan, but I need some advice.

I started looking at what lights were readily available. I can get 70-count 4-inch spacing LED strings in white, red, green and blue. These have a length of 23 feet. From that I calculated that I need a tree about 21 feet high with a 10.5 foot diameter. If I get 24 strings of each color, that would space them a little over 4 inches apart at the bottom. Do these seem like reasonable numbers?

As for the frame, I have an old 10-foot diameter trampoline frame I was thinking about using for the outer ring. We get a lot of snow here some years, so I like to keep things up off the ground a couple of feet. I also have some 2-inch square steel tubing that I could use for the center pole. I was going to stake the trampoline frame to the ground and then use some light steel cable to guy-wire the center pole to the trampoline frame in 4 spots or so. I haven’t read about anybody doing it this way, am I not thinking about it right?

Then I thought I should look at what controllers are available. I came across the Light-O-Rama site and liked what they had available. I downloaded the demo version of their software. Then I downloaded some shared sequences that had mega-trees in them. It looks feasible to program the sequences, although it looks like it will be pretty time consuming. Is Light-O-Rama a good choice for controllers? If I get the numbers of strings mentioned above, and tie every 2 strings of the same color together, then I would need 48 channels, or 3 of the 16-channel controllers. Is this right?

That’s as far as I have thought it through so far. But I would like to get a sanity-check before I start buying anything. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

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I think you are on the right track. I'm just not sure about the steel tubing as your main pole as I have not heard of that being done before so I'm not sure about the strength of it.

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Lots of ways to do things, your ideas sound solid, I think you could get away with 16 strands of each color, but more would look better!

If your just thinking about starting I would recommend LOR, that's what I started with about this time 2 years ago, I started with 64 channels, in my experience you will be busy enough without trying to build controllers and fighting free software, plus the LOR community is good about helping out the newbies.

Welcome to the hobby, let me know if I can help you in any way.

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I can get 70-count 4-inch spacing LED strings in white, red, green and blue. These have a length of 23 feet. From that I calculated that I need a tree about 21 feet high with a 10.5 foot diameter. If I get 24 strings of each color, that would space them a little over 4 inches apart at the bottom. Do these seem like reasonable numbers?

My Tree is 20'Tall w/10'Dia. and the light spacing at the skirt is 4 1/4". I used 100ct light sets (the length is approx 30') cuz with a 10'dia you could bring the lights around the skirt and back to the center pole saving tons of extention cords and have your controllers right at the center pole and it also makes a nice looking effect with the lights looping around the skirt and going back to the pole.

As for the frame, I have an old 10-foot diameter trampoline frame I was thinking about using for the outer ring. We get a lot of snow here some years, so I like to keep things up off the ground a couple of feet. I also have some 2-inch square steel tubing that I could use for the center pole. I was going to stake the trampoline frame to the ground and then use some light steel cable to guy-wire the center pole to the trampoline frame in 4 spots or so. I haven’t read about anybody doing it this way, am I not thinking about it right?

You might want to reconsider using the Trampoline frame for the skirt and having the bottom of the tree up 2-2.5' could make it look quite squatty (Unless thats the look your going for)....You could get grey electrical pvc and a few tees and keep it off the ground approx 10- 12" for a few bucks from Lowes or HD. I would run the guy wires (4) directly to the ground with there own stakes ......If you think about it say each string of lights weighs approx 1-1 1/2lbs your looking at 75-100 lbs of lights at the top of that pole and when the wind starts blowing that's lot of pressure on that frame and it and the pole "WILL" buckle. I also would consider say 1 1/4-1 1/2 black or galv. round pipe, believe it or not Round is more sturdy than square.

Then I thought I should look at what controllers are available. I came across the Light-O-Rama site and liked what they had available. I downloaded the demo version of their software. Then I downloaded some shared sequences that had mega-trees in them. It looks feasible to program the sequences, although it looks like it will be pretty time consuming. Is Light-O-Rama a good choice for controllers? If I get the numbers of strings mentioned above, and tie every 2 strings of the same color together, then I would need 48 channels, or 3 of the 16-channel controllers. Is this right?

LOR controllers are a very good choice they really have fantastic support for there products...Yes seqencing is quite time consuming but worth it when you see the looks and smiles on people watching your display...If you don't have time to sequence you can download free sequences and even have some one do custom sequences for you. FYI... I only use 18 channels on my mega tree, I grouped 4 strings together but you can do as much as you imagination wants thats the beauty of it.

That’s as far as I have thought it through so far. But I would like to get a sanity-check before I start buying anything. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

Sounds like you have allready given it some good thought. I hope I offered you some good suggestions....But what I said is how mine is setup and It's worked great for 3 seasons.

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I would use ether 1 1/4" or 1 1/2" black pipe for the center pole it would be a lot easier to get hardware for it like a hook head and such.

Also I would run the guy wires all the to the ground and use some type of ground anchor system. I use the anchors from www.christmaslightshow.com

Had over 60 mile an hour winds and a lot of rain last year and my 25' 9600 light mega tree stayed up with problem.

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I made a JUMP pole 2 years ago and it works great! It is made with 2" rigid conduit with a 1 1/2" rigid conduit inside to make it telescoping. The height is about 19' + 2' star.

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Thank you all very much for the input! This gives me quite a bit to think about before starting to buy/build.

I do have another question that I forgot in my first post, that is individual strands vs. bundled or mega-strands. I have read most of the mega-tree section of the forums and watched a number of videos, but I can’t tell if most people do this one way or the other.

My first thought was to run individual strands, I thought that would look better if multiple colors were on at the same time during a sequence.

It seems like the mega-strand approach would make it much easier to assemble and disassemble the tree, although it would be more difficult to replace a strand that dies.

Has anyone tried both methods or switched from one to the other that could shed some light on this for me?

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Welcome to animated decorating. It can be tough but it's worth it at the end.

I bundle my strings. Most of the time, I have only one color on at a time so I bundle them to make it look like the lights themselves are changing color when I switch between colors.

I have a 14' mega. If you're going to use that many strings, be sure that you have a solid plan for raising it. I have 24 strings of 100 count plus a star plus two strings of strobes and we can "Iwo-Jima" it up into place. Any more would make it too heavy.

I don't hang my base ring. I use 1/2" PVC in a circle. I have it staked about a foot above the ground with re-bar. I just electrical tape it to the rebar at the correct height. It looks ugly during the day but I don't care. I'm going to raise it this year so I don't have to bend over as much.

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Greetings and welcome to the madness.

I put in my mega-tree last year, I obtained the kit from www.christtmaslightshow.com - then I purchased a 10 foot high pvc pipe to make the trunk

Last year I had just green, 16 strands, this year I am adding 3 more colors, using the lights in groups, so 4 stands of green would come on with channel one, etc.. so channels 1 - 4 handle green and 5- 8 do red, and so forth.

I am going to bundle the colors together to help keep the pole under control, you will find as you add all those lights that it gets heavier and keeping the lights under control make bundles a tempting goal.

Will learn more this year once I have them setup. Good luck with yours.

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