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satuthill

Arch building hints and tips

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In my case I needed a center support for the arch as I wound it otherwise it would droop too much. I had a footstool that was the right height and I taped a couple of nails to the top bar to keep the PVC in place. The challenge you run into is

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I thought I had one of the simplest ways to attach a drill to the PVC. Now I see there is simpler way. Great idea.

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Thank you so much for your post. I have been gathering lights to build some arches and just ordered the extra controllers from LOR that I will need to operate them. Now I just have to start building them.

One question I have is how do you deal with the SPT extensions? I am planning on having 8 channels per arch and I think if you run ALL of the cords to one end of the arch, the last section of lights will be wrapping around 7 SPT cords and the PVC pipe. Therefore the diameter will be significantly larger than the first section of lights that will only wrap around the PVC pipe. This larger diameter will reduce the legnth of arch that a 100 count set of lights can cover.

How do you deal with this? I have heard of people running their SPT into the PVC, but that leaves 8 SPT wires coming out of the end of the arch and sliding the end of the arch over some rebar could damage the SPT wires as wind and friction wear between the rebar and the SPT wires.

This is the one issue I don't know how to handle. Any insight would be appreciated.

Thanks,

DrHudd

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ok... my stupid question...

do you start wrapping at the end closest to the drill and work outwards?

OR

do you start wrapping lights at the other end and work towards the drill?

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ok... my stupid question...

do you start wrapping at the end closest to the drill and work outwards?

OR

do you start wrapping lights at the other end and work towards the drill?

When i made my 4 arches i started at the end with the drill.

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It also makes a difference if you use the grey PVC with the female flange on the one end. If I'm making two 10' sections I start at the female end for one and the male for the other so they meet up in the middle properly.

If your using plain PVC with a coupler it may not matter.

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How do you deal with this? I have heard of people running their SPT into the PVC, but that leaves 8 SPT wires coming out of the end of the arch and sliding the end of the arch over some rebar could damage the SPT wires as wind and friction wear between the rebar and the SPT wires.

This is the one issue I don't know how to handle. Any insight would be appreciated.

Thanks,

DrHudd

DrHudd,

When my lights get here, I too will be building my first set of arches. And so I have had time to pounder such things like this. I am thinking that I will get some smaller PVC pipe or some what is called Tygon to cover the rebar. This I hope will be softer than the SPT wire and will not damage it. I suppose time will tell this winter.

Max

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So I built my first arch with the super neat method of putting the SPT under the warps... I ran in too the increasing diameter issue and decided quickly that that was not such a good idea.

I've changed to just running the SPT outside. At night no one will notice it and if I have an issue I can fix it a lot faster. Also now each section is exactly the same length and the arches are 14 inches longer.

Mine ended up 11' 6' with 3 inches not wrapped on each end. They worked great for the 4th. Oh yea they are 8 sections.

That first test arch has become my first random length fire stick. :santasmileyitty:

Larry

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My arches were 20' (2x10) 9 sections of 200 lights each for a total of 1800. Each section was (in strings) 2,2,2,2,1 1,2,2,2,2. This made for 5 lines of SPT down on section and four down the other. I can't say the bulk made that much difference. The nice thing is they are clean with only 4 or 5 plugs at each end.

I also used spt1 so this decreases the bulk.

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Thank you so much for your post. I have been gathering lights to build some arches and just ordered the extra controllers from LOR that I will need to operate them. Now I just have to start building them.

One question I have is how do you deal with the SPT extensions? I am planning on having 8 channels per arch and I think if you run ALL of the cords to one end of the arch, the last section of lights will be wrapping around 7 SPT cords and the PVC pipe. Therefore the diameter will be significantly larger than the first section of lights that will only wrap around the PVC pipe. This larger diameter will reduce the legnth of arch that a 100 count set of lights can cover.

How do you deal with this? I have heard of people running their SPT into the PVC, but that leaves 8 SPT wires coming out of the end of the arch and sliding the end of the arch over some rebar could damage the SPT wires as wind and friction wear between the rebar and the SPT wires.

This is the one issue I don't know how to handle. Any insight would be appreciated.

Thanks,

DrHudd

I really didn't notice any effect from this "increasing diameter" effect. I pre-marked the PVC with lines where I wanted each section to end. Yes, by the time I got to the far end I was winding over 6 runs of SPT1. But, it really is not as much as you might think and I cannot tell any difference in the light spacing as a result. I would think that trying to run the SPT inside the PVC is going to be a lot of work for not much return. I would say -- just start winding and don't worry about winding over SPT as you go.

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ok... my stupid question...

do you start wrapping at the end closest to the drill and work outwards?

OR

do you start wrapping lights at the other end and work towards the drill?

I started at the end near the drill and worked to the other end. I am not sure it makes any difference. Just make sure you leave space to manage the extension cord ends. The trick is to keep the extra length past the end of the lights as short as you can. You have to keep if wrapped up so it doesn't get caught in the PVC support. Originally I was going to run long extensions that could go all the way to the LOR box -- since this would save having to make an extension cord. Then I realized all that extra cord would get in the way as I turned the PVC. Have fun making your arches.

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6. Everyone seems to have his or her own favorite way of building a winder and attaching it to the PVC. I used a old variable speed electric drill controlled by a footswitch. (See Pics 1 thru 5).I found a huge advantage to having a footswitch setup as the person doing the winding can control the turning of the PVC. I can’t imagine having one person doing the winding and another controlling the winder -- too much coordination. I built a very simple winding jig setup around the drill. I drilled a couple of holes in a cedar fence board and attached the drill to it with hose clamps. I then used another hose clamp around the drill trigger and tightened it to the create rotation speed I wanted when I pushed on the foot switch. I could then very easily adjust the height of the drill by sliding the board up and down in a Workmate. To attach the PVC to the drill I used a double female PVC coupler. I clamped a eye-bolt into the drill socket then ran a bolt through the PVC coupler and through the eye-bolt in the drill. Thus when the drill turned it would turn the bolt which turned the coupler which turned the PVC. All I had to do was pressure fit the PVC arch into the open end of the coupler attached to the drill and it was a tight enough fit to turn. I never had any slipping. This setup also has some “play” in it which is helpful in alignment and made it act a bit like a universal joint. I have seen some other postings that actually suggest building a universal joint for the winder to pipe connection but I found that much complexity unneeded.

I see all this about motorizing the winding. You did a gread job, and looks like a great setup, but, here comes the but, it looks like it took you longer to build and set up the motor and winder than it did me to wind my arches by hand.

I just set 10' PVC across two saw horses with a couple quick clamps to keep it from falling off, used a zip tie to secure the start of the first section. I twisted the PVC with my left hand and guided the wire with my right. I built 4 10' 8 section arches in about 90 minutes.

As for wire. I cut the plug off the end and spliced in some 22 gauge hookup wire. (same stuff the lights are made of) Four solder joints and four shrink tubes and they are done. I put about 15 feet on longer than my arch tubes. Should be enough to reach the controller without extension cord.

In fact this is what I am doing with most of my lights this year. Adding 22 gauge hookup wire and spliceing the factory plug with fuse back in. I figure on going from 380 extension cords last year to about 40 this year.

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I see all this about motorizing the winding. You did a gread job, and looks like a great setup, but, here comes the but, it looks like it took you longer to build and set up the motor and winder than it did me to wind my arches by hand.

I just set 10' PVC across two saw horses with a couple quick clamps to keep it from falling off, used a zip tie to secure the start of the first section. I twisted the PVC with my left hand and guided the wire with my right. I built 4 10' 8 section arches in about 90 minutes.

As for wire. I cut the plug off the end and spliced in some 22 gauge hookup wire. (same stuff the lights are made of) Four solder joints and four shrink tubes and they are done. I put about 15 feet on longer than my arch tubes. Should be enough to reach the controller without extension cord.

In fact this is what I am doing with most of my lights this year. Adding 22 gauge hookup wire and spliceing the factory plug with fuse back in. I figure on going from 380 extension cords last year to about 40 this year.

I thought about the twist by hand approach but figured my wrists and forearms would not take it. The actual amount of time to build my winding setup was less than an hour and to me worth the effort. As they say "your mileage may vary".

If you made all 4 arches in 90 minutes that is very impressive. 4 arches X 8 segment x 4 solder splices each = 128 solder splices. Getting those alone done in 90 minutes is amazing not counting the winding of the 32 segments, etc. Well done I would say.

Scott

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Hey guys - I've been reading your posts and trying to build four of these myself - I really appreciate the great input so far.

How many channels do you need to leave open per arch?

and I see some arches are 11' some are 20' - what's the difference - personal preference?

I appreciate the help as these would be a great affect to our display.

Bill

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I use 3/4 PVC but you could use grey electrical conduit; it is a little more flexible. My arches are 14 feet plus one foot at each end. It is about 7 feet long and maybe 5 feet high when in the ground. I bought 2 pieces of 10' pipe and tried different lengths to see what I liked the best based upon the space that I have. Anything approaching the 20

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Hey guys - I've been reading your posts and trying to build four of these myself - I really appreciate the great input so far.

How many channels do you need to leave open per arch?

and I see some arches are 11' some are 20' - what's the difference - personal preference?

I appreciate the help as these would be a great affect to our display.

Bill

Couple questions here:

Regarding the size of the arch I had a set space along the walk to the front of my house I wanted to fill with three arches. So that set the span for each arch. As for the length of PVC to use I started with the guidelines from Lauderdale Christmas and built a prototype without lights. It was too high for what I wanted so I cut it shorter to get a lower height for the same span. I really recommend building a prototype and see how it looks. PVC is pretty cheap.

Regarding the segments per arch -- again Lauderdale Christmas has some recommendations on the length of each segment. I ended up going with 7 an odd number. This gives you a segment at the top of the arch. Others like even number of segments so there is a segment seam at the top. That way they can do a "clapping" kind of display. The choice is up to your creativity.

Scott

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When you built these - what size PVC did you use - 3/4"?

Did you use 200 mini's per section?

Thanks, Bill

Yes I used 3/4" Schedule 40 white PVC. Used 100 mini's per section. Lauderdale Christmas has some good notes and guidelines in this area. I highly recommend their site.

Scott

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You folks that can build arches in 90 minutes ( or 4 in 90 minutes! ) must be machines! :) I have now completed 3 of 4 and they have been taking me about 4 hours each. I am by no means old and slow and this ain't my first time to use a soldering gun. Just a little insight on what I am building, I am using 3/4 grey 10' PVC (some new kind from Lowes) and running 22ga wire underneath to BOTH ends so I can re-attach the female plugs on one end and the original male plugs on the other with about 3 feet of total lead to get to the controller. This means that I have 64 connections to solder and shrink wrap per arch. I built a winder using an electric drill and use the foot controller from another tool to run it. I found a deep well 3/8 drive socket that fit the female end of the PVC and used this to attach it to the drill. To prevent sag I put a piece of 1/2 emt inside and wrapped one end of the emt with duct tape so it would fit tight in the socket. On the opposite end I put a 12" long bolt though a piece of 2x4 and put the bolt in the emt so it rotates on the length of bolt. Runs almost as smooth as a lathe! As stated earlier in this thread, the wrapping is the easy part. 2-3 minutes per section with 8 sections. I pre-run the wires underneath and that takes about 30 minutes or so. All my joints are exposed, so if I need to make a repair it should be fairly easy. I am a bit of a perfectionist, so I am taking great care to make sure they are all four exactly the same, but that's just me. :)

Chris

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