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christmaslightman

Building a controller.

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I am getting some money for Christmas and have been thinking about going computerized next year. I don't have enough money for LOR, so I have been thinking about making my own controller. I just wanted to know your opinions on the matter. Would It be worth the hassle to make a 32 channel non-dimmable channels, or should I just wait and save, then get a 16 channel LOR controller in the spring?

I plan on using this to control the 110v relays. I could also use it for controlling RGB Leds.

I'm not to sure on what kind of Rrelays to get. IS it possible to get dimmable relays since the controller is dimmable?

Could I use 32 of these?

Advice and comments are suggested.

Edited by christmaslightman

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When I first started, I thought about saving money and building my own boards. However, the amount of money you may save wasn't going to be worth it for me. Besides, the cost of the LOR boards are maybe 30% of the total cost. You still have to buy extension cords, a radio transmitter, and other misc stuff.

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Everything I have from controlers to transmitters is DIY. This is my hobby and building everything from electronics to display is the fun part for me. The actual show is the fun part for everyone else. There is a big savings in DIY. Each channel is less than $4. This includes all parts for the controler and all Solid State Relays. If you are looking for a year round hobby consider DIY. If you are more interested in a show, DIY may not be the way to go. It does take some time.

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IMO - the DIY can save you some money, no question. How much has been highly debated.

However, the one aspect of DIY that you have to take into account is your time and passion. I would venture most DIY's do it because they love it. The research, the parts search, the thrill of building something really cool. So if you love to create, it would be a cool hobby.

However, if your sole motivation is save a buck, it may not be the way to go.

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If you are going to build out more than 32 channels or so you can save about 50% by going DIY. you do not have to figure it all out on your own or work out the bug's, There is a large community of DIY'ers that have really nice equipment some of it rival commercial. You can get the stuff in coop orders as kits with everything you need including the case and we have complete color picture manuals that take you through assembly of the stuff.

It's not for everyone but it is for a good bunch of us.

Check out www.diylightanimation.com for the Lynx DMX stuff and www.doityourselfchristmas.com for the renard based stuff. It's all good stuff.

Once you do that you will be able to make a good decession weither you want to go DIY or just order some commercial stuff.

RJ

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IS it possible to get dimmable relays since the controller is dimmable?

yes , but NOT with that type ( mechanical relays that go CLICKITY CLACK ) .. the kind that are capable of dimming are calles SSR ( solid state relay ( which do not have any moving parts . Some of the ones that are commonly called HOCKEY PUCK style , can dim , but , they are hard to come by and are also expensive . ( each hockey puck style can only handle ONE channel )

The ones us DIY'ers make are four channels per PCB and cost a LOT less per channel .

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You know, I'm just about to the point where I want to purchase 4 more LOR boxes. This year I got 4 and assembled 2 myself. By assembley I mean that I attached the power cords + the 16 individual channel cords to the board. The kit cost like $186. Now I'm considering just purchasing the LOR board + the 16 plugs for the output channels. Total for this is only $159. there would be no case and no heat sink, but it's ok with me. I'll have these in the basement anyway. They will not ever go out side.

Best part is that I don't have to wait for the sale in June from LOR and It will take less than 30 minutes to assemble the units.

http://store.lightorama.com/caasaop.html

http://store.lightorama.com/dacowiquco.html

You would also need to purchase the starter kit with the software. $129 if you only buy components to build the boxes.

http://store.lightorama.com/spk800.html

Also, I would use 2 existing extension cord to power my newly built unit but you could order them for an aditional $8.00

That would bring the cost of just starting out with 16 channels .... $296 + shipping.

each controller after that would cost you only ........................... $160 each

I could add 64 channels for only $640 since I already have the software and USB.

You definitely have options. Lots and lots of them :D I know that Krazylightkid posted the link (that was very informative thanks :D ) that shows a breakdown of the costs. To be honest, I'm not that into building my own controller, especially if the savings is going to be $60. It's all in your personal preference.

The cost of the controllers and components is nothing compared to the cost of EXTENSION CORDS to power your display. My goal is to cut down on the amount of cable for next year. I don't know how I'm going to do it, but I will. Also, don't forget about your electrical service. Most people are afraid to mess with their electrical panel. I spent $1000 on switching over my electric service from 60amp fuses to a 200 amp breaker panel. Now I can run the display off of a 100amp sub panel that I'll install for next year.

Edited by relxerd

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// That would bring the cost of just starting out with 16 channels .... $296 + shipping. //

But that is not a savings of only $60. It maybe for the link shown but that is not the kind of stuff modern DIY people build. It is what many think we are talking about.

A 128 channel controller DIY cost $73 total including the Enclosure.

The 4 SSR's to make it 16 channels is $56 total includeing enclosures.

My math says then 16 channels cost $129 and about 6 - 8 hours of your time.

I believe thats a 57% discount.

And as far as 16 more channels costing only $160 with the DIY it cost you $14 for each 4 channels to add at that point so 64 channels cost $224 not $640 so then :

80 channels 16 + 64 would cost $353 total. or $57 more than your original 16 channels.

So I just DIY'ed it for 38% of the cost. How is that not a cost savings?

$936 commercial for it / $353 DIY and some work on your part.

If you want internal all in one boxes like the commercial stuff they run $75 for 16 channels including the Case so 80 channels cost $375 to build.

I can buy a lot of extenstion cords for that difference.

I understanad why all of you that say this want to buy commercial prebuilt but telling people they can only save a couple of dollars building their own is not giving them good information to make the same choices with.

RJ

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Guest Lightzilla

Time seems to be the key for the DIY projects. From what I read here if you have the time, passion, willingness, patients and a keen desire to do an musical light show plus if you can start a project and finish it this year and program a few sequences I would say go for it.

I don't have the time and all that other stuff I mentioned to make my own controllers as I have other projects to do and a train is one of them. So I go commercial controllers and by November all my projects are done including light shows, yard work, painting the house etc.. Winter in Alberta last about 7 months, so by mid May ( the last snow fall) I start all the projects 1 at a time.

Well I will do sequences beginning in March.

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RJ, Please don't be offended. I was only explaining my logic. I'm not knocking the DIY non commercial build controllers.

I understanad why all of you that say this want to buy commercial prebuilt but telling people they can only save a couple of dollars building their own is not giving them good information to make the same choices with.

I believe I said this...

You definitely have options. Lots and lots of them I know that Krazylightkid posted the link (that was very informative thanks ) that shows a breakdown of the costs. To be honest, I'm not that into building my own controller, especially if the savings is going to be $60. It's all in your personal preference.

I was only offering the information I have learned of since starting my animated lighting. Christmaslightman asked a question. I was only showing the start-up cost of LOR. That's all.

But, in no way was I saying you COULDN'T save money by building a DIY non commercial controller.

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Actual I was not offended

I read a couple of post here in the PC DIY section and notice a pattern of instead of saying to newer people questioning building their own "It is not worth it to me" or "I'm not sure I could do it" the canned response seems to be that it was a couple dollars difference and so it is not worth my time.

A few post said straight out you can not save any money. Then when I made a post questioning this I was told that they did not think anyone every says you can not save money and your post was the next one to make a comment about not being able to save very much.

I see where you get $60 but it is not typical.

Why have I posted about this lately?

It comes down to this is a DIY section of Planet Christmas. Chuck was nice enough to set it up so "DIY direct control of hardware" could be discussed here.

But it appears when some newer person comes here to ask about building there own they get lots of post by people who do not DIY there controllers. Then they get told how there is no cost savings and it is not worth it when you can buy REAL controllers from (insert who ever they bought theirs from).

These people have legit reasons that it was not for them and I don't want to make people think I am in anyway saying they are wrong, untruthful, etc. It is normal from the human point of view for all of us to think what we did was "The Right Way!" because if it was not we would not have done it. I am as guilty of this as anyone.

The difference is, I do not believe I see a bunch of DIY'ers on the LOR board telling every new person interested in buying LOR (or others) that they are not worth it go build your own. You can save tons by DIY, ETC.

They came to that place to learn about LOR,etc. Not to be told they are making a mistake.

For the most part we all stay down here on the DIY section reading about what people are up to in DIY.

But let people get the real information on the topic not what the rumors from other non DIY people think it is.

relxerd, please understand none of this is direct at you I already was posting on this before you posted your message. Sorry that I used your post as an example.

Rant Off! LOL

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Cool, just seemed like a hot topic. Funny how I didn't realize that I had posted to your other thread. I never even noticed that this forum was here. I always just click "new posts" when I come to the forum to catch up on what's, well, new :) My appologies for posting in the wrong forum.

By the way, I was curious if anyone has successfully linked up thier existing LOR controlers to a set of SSR's? Dose that even work??? I may be interested in going DIY if what I have could be used as well :)

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What most LOR users do that want to use DIY stuff. They either use an LOR IDMX to hook up the DMX diy controllers to their setup or they put the DMX firmware in the LOR and use the DIY hardware and software and use the DMX LORS as add on controllers.

RJ

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RJ,

You have to keep in mind that SOME of us HAVE done DIY control in one form or another and are simply trying to make certain that people just getting into animation make decisions based on their own end goals also.

When someone posts that they want to know if they can build an LOR control by buying the parts they see on the boards and breadboarding it up to save money, the answer is going to be "no you can't" and that is a reality, not a bias.

The fact the person mentions LOR is what gets LOR "people" responses.

My personal opinion is (and if I post, I try make certain to stress it is just my own personal opinion) that if saving money is your main primary goal, THAT is not necessarily the best reason to go DIY.

I know this because I tried it...

A certain level of skill is helpful, although I am an EE and have been designing circuits, pc board layouts, and systems (control systems mainly) for several years... and DIY still did not appeal to me, so it is not just a matter of having someone show you or help if you are not a little skilled in electronics, there is more to it than that.

For me it came down to a frustration level, time issue.

I have a great deal of respect for those that DIY their light show controls and systems. Those folks are dedicated enough to the hobby to put time and effort in and deal with things that might not come up when using an off the shelf solution. I respect it because I understand it. I don't look down on DIY at all, but I know the feeling is not always that way the other way around with some people. ;)

I have built a parallel port logic gate control, I have built the so called "clones" (and no they are not exact copies), and all of this was before the Renard's were even on the DIY scene.

I can save money by doing my own heatsinks, creative enclosure selection, power cords, etc. and using the PC series kits (which were not available when I started) and so on. I won't nitpick over amounts, but the differences moneywise are not all that huge from the figures I keep seeing.

I don't feel bad about popping in here because this is where I "started' (in DIY)... Folks like Ernie Horning are names I have seen for years and admire the passion and attention they put into what they do, and when given the chance to chat I find we are all working towards a similar end goal and have quite a bit of common ground discussion-wise once we get beyond the exact way we make the lights do what we want.

DIY takes a little more effort... the rewards are a tad greater in some cases (personal satisfaction) as well as the frustration (that can get you no matter which way you go!) :P

I think we ALL just want to see the new people succeed and not shy away from the whole hobby no matter which way they choose! ;)

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Terry,

I do not disagree with the majority of what you are saying but your post is a perfect example of the issue IMHO. You talk about having tired DIY but then say

"I have built a parallel port logic gate control, I have built the so called "clones" (and no they are not exact copies), and all of this was before the Renard's were even on the DIY scene."

This means you are telling people about your experience years ago when DIY was a not what it is today. Most at that time built stuff on breadboards etc as you speak.

Diy today is more like ordering a LOR kit. You order the stuff you open a nice manual with pictures and you solder it together step by step AKA the old heathkits of days gone by.

Just as you would a LOR kit. The PCB's are manufactored in the same manner as the commercial stuff with the silk screen printing for each part to aid assembly. The stuff fits in nice enclosures not tupperware bowls.

The frustrations are no more than building a commercial product and getting it all to work. So it is fair for you to tell of your experenice but it shows that the information my not be of value since that is not the case now a days.

It would be like me saying that Dans (LOR) stuff is all made on his kitchen table and was all designed DIY by him for himself with little support or documentation. It was true back when he was DIY, it would not be fair for me to tell someone that today to talk them out of buying LOR.

It all starts DIY folks, the difference is what the people do with it afterwards. They make a bussiness out of it or just keep it a hobby.

That is the only point I am trying to make, let the people find out current correct information and then make the choice. If they are never interested in DIY that is fine if they look into it and do not do it well we all understand, but if they look into and decide to give it a go then great! We love to help people make blinky!

RJ

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Terry,

The frustrations are no more than building a commercial product and getting it all to work. So it is fair for you to tell of your experenice but it shows that the information my not be of value since that is not the case now a days.

Point taken... since I am not currently using DIY (even though Ernie H. and Greg Jones where nice enough to spend a little time and show me the latest including Lynx at the minis this past summer) I will leave this area to you RJ.

I do hate wasting time spreading information that has no value... us older guys do that sometimes ya know. :P

That is the only point I am trying to make, let the people find out current correct information and then make the choice.

Again sorry for spreading incorrect information... I simply used the figures you quoted and compared it to current prices and what I had spent doing similar channel counts. (Using Nema4 rated enclosures) I would not use tupperware myself. (apologies to Tim F.) :D

Ernie, the fact you don't do things like anyone else does is what makes ya invaluable!

RJ

It is quite apparent that my posts here are not really welcomed any longer so I will stay positive and follow your wishes... It is all yours RJ! ;)

To all others... feel free to PM me! :)

Terry

Edited by terrypowerz

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"It is quite apparent that my posts here are not really welcomed any longer so I will stay positive and follow your wishes... It is all yours RJ!

To all others... feel free to PM me!

Terry"

I am truely sorry you took it that way. It was not at all the intention. Everyone has value to add most more than I. My comments were not to be taken critical of you at all.

RJ

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You two are too funny. I just don't know where I fit, after all I am running LOR controllers and RJs Lynx Freestyle. I guess I should just stand here on the fence and watch the show......

Greg

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Is it possible to add wireless communication to the lynx set up? I will be running it via DMX. Also, I went to Mouser to price the parts on the lynx list and found that the RS485 COMM CHIP 8 PIN, the LED DRIVER DIP28 CHIP, and the TO220AB MOSFET 18AMPS were either obsolete or not found. What are the replacement parts, or what are the digi key part #'s. While searching, they ask for a lot of extra information I do not know how to answer.

Thanks.

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Is it possible to add wireless communication to the lynx set up? I will be running it via DMX. Also, I went to Mouser to price the parts on the lynx list and found that the RS485 COMM CHIP 8 PIN, the LED DRIVER DIP28 CHIP, and the TO220AB MOSFET 18AMPS were either obsolete or not found. What are the replacement parts, or what are the digi key part #'s. While searching, they ask for a lot of extra information I do not know how to answer.

Thanks.

Do you have an Lynx controller to build as it was replaced a while ago with the "Lynx Express" which is cheaper to build and has some advanced features added to it.

If not you will want to look at it. Since The Lynx was always done as a Kit I assume you do not or you would have the parts. The PCB's for the original Lynx are not avaliable any longer.

I have attached a picture of it for you and there is a wireless module in the works for it. The PCB's already have the connections for it.

RJ

post-6384-129571102035_thumb.jpg

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