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What are good programs? I'm not looking to spend a fortune. I'm not going to say my price range tho, because I don't want to limit the ideas. So what are some good programs? I'm brand new the computerizing but I would like to try it this year. I would appreciate a lot of help on this ASAP! Thanks everyone!

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What are good programs? I'm not looking to spend a fortune. I'm not going to say my price range tho, because I don't want to limit the ideas. So what are some good programs? I'm brand new the computerizing but I would like to try it this year. I would appreciate a lot of help on this ASAP! Thanks everyone!

That's a really vague question. What sorts of programs are you talking about? If you're talking about light animation, then software is only a small part of the puzzle-- you also need to look at controllers. If you're talking about something else, please elaborate!

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Making the assumption you mean to create a light show. Basically Aurora, LOR (Light-o-Rama), and Lightshow Pro seem to be the top 3 commercial softwares. These run between $50-100 depending on the functions you want.

I personally use Aurora for my lightshow and have been very happy with it. Very easy to learn to sequence with and very computer (resource) friendly. You dont need a super computer to run it. I haven't used the others, so I can personally comment on them.

Just a note......with Christmas less than 3 months away, you may not want to sit on this decision too long. One of the most common beginner mistakes is underestimating the time it takes to sequence these shows.

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LOR S2 is set up so you can download it, use it to do everything but control your lights, and later purchase a license if you wish (you don't even need to re-download anything). So you can "try before you buy". LOR has been around since 2003 and has seen major improvements in the past couple years.

http://www.lightorama.com/S2Today.html

The other products may have a demo as well -- you might want to check into that.

-Tim

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Ok, thanks for the feed back so far! What are some good controllers to look at? And how many would I need?

I went with LOR after looking at several different brands.

How many you need?.................How many lights do you have and how involved do you want it to get?

I bought the LOR controller that you solder together yourself and it is capable of 16 channels with a max of 30A.

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D-light and LOR are the major controller used from what I have seen. I personally use D-light. They are good controllers and have great customer service. You can check out their website at www.d-light.us Being your first year, I would not go over 32 channels. I used just 16 my first year. Depending on your show length, 32 channels will more than likely keep you plenty busy sequencing for the next 2 months.

LOR controllers are very good also. Comparing D-light and LOR is kind of like comparing Ford and Chevy. They both do the same thing just about the same way. You'll be happy either way you go. All the major software mentioned above will control either brand of controller

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H2O, first you need to decide what you want to do and a realistic budget. Then do you want to go commercial (off the shelf products) LOR, Animated Lighting, D-Light, etc, or do you want to go DIY. Also before you make your choice, don't forget about all the little things, that are needed to figure in the budget (extension cords you will use a lot, and operating software) and will be able to expand. There are a lot of people on this site, so you will get a lot of different opinions, and the good and bad with what ever you choose. You also need to look at time. Most people that are going with a computerized display have already started programming their songs.

Last year as a quick fix I almost bought a Mr. Christmas box, although it is not what I wanted. My wife convinced me to wait until this year to go animated so I would not be spending "our" money in something I knew I wasn't going to be happy with.

I am a DIY'er.The operating sofware is free.(check out the link below) I like building my controllers for me its a challenge. My controllers are Renard 24 3.3version.

If you want to go diy here are some links to help you out:

http://www.christmasinshirley.com/wiki/index.php?title=Main_Page Its a link to the christmas wiki explains a lot about DIY

http://doityourselfchristmas.com/forums/index.php Is a forum for the diy'er (most of the people there are on Planet Christmas)

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Thanks for the help so far, this is all a lot to think about! Haha I think i'm going to go with "commercial" because I'm not too into the whole building my own controllers.

So I have another question, what do I need? In a nutshell. Things like software, controllers? I think I'm looking at something like 16 channels? This is what has been recommended to me for starters. So what do i need? And what are good places for me to get these for a good price and good quality as well? Thanks:santasmileyitty::121_reindeer:

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Thanks for the help so far, this is all a lot to think about! Haha I think i'm going to go with "commercial" because I'm not too into the whole building my own controllers.

So I have another question, what do I need? In a nutshell. Things like software, controllers? I think I'm looking at something like 16 channels? This is what has been recommended to me for starters. So what do i need? And what are good places for me to get these for a good price and good quality as well? Thanks:santasmileyitty::121_reindeer:

Assuming you're going to run a music-synced show off of a computer, you'll need:

*One or more controllers (if you go LOR, check out the budget 'PC' series, which offer the best bang for the buck)

*Software

*Interface - must be purchased from controller vendor

*FM Transmitter. Technically optional, but best for neighborhood peace. If you omit this, you'll need speakers.

If you only want animations without music-sync, you still need all of the above (other than the transmitter/speakers), but don't need to dedicate a computer to run the show.

Some folks also use the LOR MP3 Director product as their "dedicated show computer". Basically it's a miniature computer that you can put outside and run your show off of instead of a dedicated computer.

For a lot more info (from an LOR-centric view), see:

http://www.lightorama.com/support.html

-Tim

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I've been doing research on controllers and as I was looking through Light-O-Rama I found this 16 channel controller http://store.lightorama.com/ba16chpa.html

It says you can control up to a 9,000 mini lights display, I'm worried this won't be enough. I'm not sure how many lights I have but not all of them are mini lights. I was thinking of starting with this 16 channel controller for my first year and move up from there next year. Can someone elaborate for me on the whole 9,000 lights thing?

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If you're talking LED's, you can essentially control an infinite number of them. The 9000 number is for incandescent minis, and for all on at the same time.

Did you check out this page: http://www.lightorama.com/CTB16PC.html

Lots more bang for the buck there, if you're interested in keeping costs down. And contrary to what might be apparent at first glance, you can buy them fully assembled and tested.

-Tim

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Thanks for that bit of info, that clears things up perfectly!

I found the packages that are already assembled/tested but it doesn't say how many channels it supports. Also, does it come with the chords and enclosure or do I need to order those separately? If so, where could I find those?

And I have another question about one of your earlier posts Tim. You listed some of the things I would need and I'm still unsure of what the "Interface" is? Could you elaborate for me please?

Edited by H2Opolo15
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I'm not really a DIY, so where could I find the controllers assembled and tested?

D-Light has a couple option here. One is fully assembled and ready to plug-n-play. The other you screw the board into the enclosure and plug in the cables. Takes about a hour.

If you go with the gold edition, you can buy the board, buy your own enclosure, and get your own plugs, then put it together yourself.

The either of the platinum editions is the best place to start for a beginner in my opinion.

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I found the packages that are already assembled/tested but it doesn't say how many channels it supports. Also, does it come with the chords and enclosure or do I need to order those separately? If so, where could I find those?

And I have another question about one of your earlier posts Tim. You listed some of the things I would need and I'm still unsure of what the "Interface" is? Could you elaborate for me please?

The PC controllers are 16 channels (that's what the '16' in the name means). The description will tell you if the cords and enclosures are included (they come both ways). Some of us just buy the boards and use cheap extension cords as cord ends, others like the heavy-duty ones that LOR ships.

The 'interface' is what converts your USB or serial port onto the computer to the RS485 input that the LOR controllers take. Note that LOR controllers have ports that look just like ethernet ports on them, but they are NOT ethernet and you don't want to connect them to a router or an ethernet jack on your computer. If you're starting out, the best way to go (assuming you want to use the LOR S2 software) is to buy a starter kit, which includes the interface and the software license: http://store.lightorama.com/spk800.html

Hope that helps,

-Tim

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That starter package looks like what I need. Does it come with everything necessary except the controller?

Pretty much. You might need a longer cable, depending on your setup (you can select longer lengths in the store). The USB485 interface (the standard one) should work fine for you as long as you're not planning on using a wireless link (otherwise you need the USB Booster one for a bit more). As for the software license, you can upgrade it at a later time if necessary, so I'd probably just start with the Basic or Basic+ license (the latter will give you beat detection and audio level wizards, which are nice).

-Tim

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So if I do end up purchasing this starter package, since I only need the controller I can get just a controller for $329.95 (30 amp) or $319.95 (15 amp) which would put my grand totals at $373 or $363 with the starter pack and a separate controller. But I found this starter package ( http://store.lightorama.com/ba16chpa.html ) and it is $377. I'm pretty sure it comes with everything the starter package you showed me comes with plus the controller.

So is there a significant difference between buying the 2 separate controllers/packages or just buying the $377 starter package? Also, what would be a major advantage of 30 amp over 15 amp controller?

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The 30-amp controller has two power input cords that you can plug into two separate 15A outlets (8 channels per outlet). With the 15A controller you can only have 15A across all 16 channels at any one time. With LED's, however, this is unlikely to be an issue.

If it were my money, I'd get the $205.95 PC controller (http://store.lightorama.com/ctascpa.html). All you have to do is plug the wires into the card and install a strain relief -- virtually no skills needed and will take you about 15 minutes. Add the starter kit and you're looking at about $250 out the door for 16 channels.

The showtime series are really nice controllers - you could probably drive a car over them ;) but the PC controllers are perfectly suited to home displays IMHO.

-Tim

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You've got it - the starter package and the controller Tim pointed out will get you up and running. That's a good foundation to add to later.

Do keep in mind you'll be running electrical cords from the controller to each group of lights you want to control. For cords from the LOR controller to the lights, you might want to check out Lowes. They have / had a special on some 16/2 in 100 ft. lengths. I think it was $8 or so. That's about perfect for the longer runs you may encounter.

There are probably millions of ways to get everything setup. For a brief overview of some nice tips and tricks, head over to http://www.holdman.com/christmas/projects.asp and watch the behind the scenes tour. I got into this hobby about 1 week before Halloween last year. Seeing "the man behind the curtain" really helped me picture everything I would need to consider when I started gathering components.

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