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We Did It, Almost All Lasers This Year


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We did it. Here is our house posted on Youtube. http://youtu.be/bQu5UYU2Td0 This is using 7 laser projectors including a 300 mw blue laser motor projector. It is saving tons in electricity, and the projector cost has proven to be less then replacing broken strands of lights. The drawbacks are that I don't run them in inclement weather and the lasers don't like being in weather under 45 degrees, although that is not much of an issue here in Southern California. I created a light tree using an old Halogen utility light. I simply place the projector tree out every night (cabled and locked to a tree) along with a powered speaker to run audio connected to a cheapo mp3 player. A couple other small projectors are placed by hand on the ground facing some empty spots. The projectors all have the capability of being run from a DMX512 controller, but I have chosen to simply have the projectors set to sound trigger. The video here does not show the music triggering the sound as the sound track was added later in the video editing, But you can get the idea. Let me know if you have any questions. This is the first I've seen anybody do anything quite like this. I've seen the use of lasers before, but not quite like this. The video doesn't really do it justice, you have to be there, but I think you can get the idea. Next year I hope to add an animation laser projector.

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What lasers are you using? How much did they cost, and where do you get them?

Jeff,

Here is a list of the equipment, the cost, and where to buy:

I also am using a fog machine I purchased at a Halloween store in October. It's just a little 500 watt fogger and I need to upgrade that as well. I need to do some research and find one that works better outdoors. That was around $39.00.

I found that using very dark blue LED icicles on the house compliment the lasers. Last year I had white twinkling icicles along with a lot of other incandescent lighting that included inflatables and blow up molds and all that washed out the lasers a bit. I scaled all that back this year trying to keep it as dark as possible.

Dino Direct is a company that runs out of China. They require a little patience. Prior to Christmas I found that products take at least 3 weeks to arrive. Around the Christmas season be expecting a wait around 5-6 weeks. However, I haven't found anybody that's reliable that offers the projectors at these prices. Local DJ lighting stores sell projectors at incredibly inflated prices with a fraction of the power. I find that to be a shame. I would much rather give my business locally. However, Dino Direct seems legit. I did have an RMA issue on the Reke 82RGY. When it arrived it would not turn on. It uses a key on/off switch and it seemed like that was not working. After exchanging several e-mails with Dino Direct and some language translation issues they offered me to keep the unit and gave me store credit for the price of the unit. So off to Radio Shack I went, bought a new on/off switch and soldered it in. and.. Boom.. free laser projector minus $3.00 for a new on/off switch. But it took some patience and a few days of e-mails to get that done. I used my store credit to buy the Reke07.

As for setting the lasers up I am very careful (especially with the 300mw blue) that there is no bleed over the house. The star lasers degrade significantly on the edges and the beams wouldn't go more than 50 yards from the edges. What does bleed over goes over to my neighbors house who wanted me to shine my lasers on his house anyway.. As long as I don't let the 300mw laser go up in the sky, air traffic issues shouldn't be an issue. i do monitor my display the entire time I run it. I run it from 6PM to 8PM nightly unless I'm out shopping or something. I only play the music on weekends and use the microphone sound triggers to dance to the music. I'm using a 500w Mackie powered PA speaker with a little 12.00 kmart special mp3 player. The lasers dance to the music quite nicely. No programming.. no fuss.. no muss.. except one scroogy neighbor that doesn't like to hear the music. The police have been called to my house twice, but each time they tell me that they really are enjoying the display and can't believe someone would be so nasty as to call the police on me.. but they have to respond anyway. The music isn't all that loud, you can have normal conversation without any issues directly in front of the PA speaker. I also monitor foot traffic making sure no one walks anywhere near the path of the projectors. I take the projectors in every night and only run them for a couple hours, unless traffic is heavy. The larger projectors are rated for 4 hours of stability. The music always gets shut off at 8:00pm and the projectors are then switched over to "auto" mode. 4 of the projectors are on one tri-pod stand that I built out of an old halogen utility light stand.

Let me know if you would like any other information.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I am headed in the same direction for 2012. I just purchased an American DJ mini Galaxian Red/Green star laser for $99 on Amazon (received in two days with Amazon Prime) and a Chauvet Hurricane 1100 Fog machine which has great reviews ($77 CarAudioCloseout) with Timer Remote ($25 Amazon). I wanted these to compliment my main display which is a wire frame LED nativity scene synced to a Gemmy 6/12 channel Light Controller. But I really like the "lightning bolt" effect of the blue laser (Reke-07). Is that its default pattern did or did you manually select that pattern?

Dennis

Edited by Rigel2601
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I am headed in the same direction for 2012. I just purchased an American DJ mini Galaxian Red/Green star laser for $99 on Amazon (received in two days with Amazon Prime) and a Chauvet Hurricane 1100 Fog machine which has great reviews ($77 CarAudioCloseout) with Timer Remote ($25 Amazon). I wanted these to compliment my main display which is a wire frame LED nativity scene synced to a Gemmy 6/12 channel Light Controller. But I really like the "lightning bolt" effect of the blue laser (Reke-07). Is that its default pattern did or did you manually select that pattern?

Dennis

The Reke-07 was just set to Auto. The sound sensor on it wasn't sensitive enough for a comfortable volume for outside music. It does have a DMX-512 input and perhaps I might figure out a way to control it a little better for next year using a light controller. As for the Fog Machine, I had a wireless remote that I could use to trigger the fog from inside the house. However, the fog machine just wasn't powerful enough and many of the nights were quite breezy this year. I need to look at upgrading. Thanks for the infor on the Hurricane 1100. I'll look into it.

Edited by forte88
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The Reke-07 was just set to Auto. The sound sensor on it wasn't sensitive enough for a comfortable volume for outside music. It does have a DMX-512 input and perhaps I might figure out a way to control it a little better for next year using a light controller. As for the Fog Machine, I had a wireless remote that I could use to trigger the fog from inside the house. However, the fog machine just wasn't powerful enough and many of the nights were quite breezy this year. I need to look at upgrading. Thanks for the info on the Hurricane 1100. I'll look into it.

Chauvet also makes a Hurricane 1300 ($150) and 1800 ($310) if you are willing to spend a little more money for more fog. But I think the 1100 will do the job from the reviews I read. Everyone says to get the timer remote so you aren't babysitting it all night. I also just ordered an American DJ Micro Hypnotic laser for $119. Check out this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6d_7pXF0CA. I'm also looking at this Mini Animation laser for $147. It comes with software for creating your own animations. I talked to one guy over at the LOR forum who loves it. He says there are thousands of free images on the internet that you can load on the SD card. If you really get into animation lasers then you must get the amazing

($595) and an ILDA-compatible laser, but now you are getting into big bucks. $147 sound like a good starting point to me for laser animation.
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Chauvet also makes a Hurricane 1300 ($150) and 1800 ($310) if you are willing to spend a little more money for more fog. But I think the 1100 will do the job from the reviews I read. Everyone says to get the timer remote so you aren't babysitting it all night. I also just ordered an American DJ Micro Hypnotic laser for $119. Check out this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6d_7pXF0CA. I'm also looking at this Mini Animation laser for $147. It comes with software for creating your own animations. I talked to one guy over at the LOR forum who loves it. He says there are thousands of free images on the internet that you can load on the SD card. If you really get into animation lasers then you must get the amazing

($595) and an ILDA-compatible laser, but now you are getting into big bucks. $147 sound like a good starting point to me for laser animation.

I really like the Micro DG Hypnotic laser. I was looking for something like that when I was purchasing projectors last year. I do worry that 80mw Red and 30mw green might not show up outside on a partially lit house very well tho (especially with it being diffused into cloud like images). I wish the laser was a little more powerful say 100mw red and 50mw green. I found that using the LED dark blue icicles complimented the red and green very well without washing them out, but most of my laser projectors are 100mw Red and 50mw green. I used weaker lasers the year prior and they weren't that noticable, although I had white icicle lights on the house that year which washed a lot of the lasers out. I had my eye on the Reke-500RGB for an animation laser. It has the ILDA PC interface to create your own animations. Currently it's showing as $303.00 but I know in the fall it was more around $250.00 $270.00 at Dino Direct. You have to wait until they have their sales. . Compare the Mw power to that of the ones from American DJ. There is a significant differance in the brightness, unless your neighborhood is very very dark, you may find that you need the extra millowatts. Just be careful not to let any of the bright lasers bleed off the side or your house or you may find yourself in a heep of trouble. The edges of the smaller 80mw and 30 mw lasers probably won't be much of a problem They won't travel more than a hundred yards or so off the edges of the projection. Air traffic shouldn't be a problem. My reke-07 laser reflected off one of my windows back to the house across the street. No problem there, that house is foreclosed and empty. I do like the idea of having images stored on an SD card. I wish I could see the Mini animation laser in person somewhere. When you get your stuff, make sure to take some video and send it my way.

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And how do you make these lasers 'dance' to the music? From what I've seen, the laser 'action' seems to be independent of the music. That is NOT the effect that I am going for. Having 'control' of where the laser is moving so that is stays in 'step' with the music would get my attention. --Greg--

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And how do you make these lasers 'dance' to the music? From what I've seen, the laser 'action' seems to be independent of the music. That is NOT the effect that I am going for. Having 'control' of where the laser is moving so that is stays in 'step' with the music would get my attention. --Greg--

Greg, The video doesn't show it because the music was added afterward for video editing. The filming was done with only 1 camera and it was decided that it was much more interesting to watch the lasers on the house from differant angles instead of just placing it on a tripod and filming from one spot. We only have 1 camera and getting the lasers to show in a low light situation was difficult enough. The video above really doesn't do it justice... 4 of the laser projectors have sound sensors and they make the lasers dance or blink to the music beat. There was outside music playing through a small PA system which triggered the sound sensors on the lasers. 3 other projectors were just set to go at random on this setup. It would be possible to set the DMX interface capable projectors with a light board and have it controlled from a computer, but this was much less complicated, less expensive, and seemed to work just fine without all the trouble.

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Greg,

The sound sensor on my ADJ Micro Galaxian does not work very well (confirmed by reviews I've read) and most of us are doing FM transmitters and don't want external music anyway to sync the lasers to music. I read on one forum that someone broke open their laser and and replace the sound sensor with a mini audio jack to connect the music directly like you do to a FM transmitter. That might be one solution. You can find low end lasers with DMX interface, so that may be the way to go if you already have an LOR system. Animation lasers have an ILDA interface which I believe you can sync to music.

By the way Greg, your display this year is what motivated me to do a lightshow for 2012. I live in Colorado Springs but my son lives a block or two from you on Woodrose Ln. However at 58, with a bad hip and with no sons still living at home I did not want to spend a lot of time on ladders hanging lights. So I'm doing a wireframe nativity scene on the lawn synced to music with a Gemmy Controller and using 3 lasers to provide some additional WOW on the side of the house. In addition to my ADJ mini Galaxian and ADJ mini Hypnotic I just ordered a 7 color mini anime laser ($147) and am excited about the possibility of customizing my show a little more with scrolling text or animation. Check out this video of the animation laser by Rodman1369 at the LOR forum showing some of the canned animations that come with the laser on the back of his house.

So thanks for the great work and inspiration in Highlands Ranch CO!

I may graduate to an LOR system some day, but I think I have enough on my plate for 2012 to keep me busy. One challenge with using lasers in Colorado is that most are built for indoor use and start fading below 40 deg F. I will do some outdoor testing soon with my three lasers and post my finding here. I am also working on a little temperature controlled environment to house my lasers, just in case.

Edited by Rigel2601
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i'm in the same boat as Rigel; bad back, bad knees, and creeky joints. It took me less than an hour to set up the LED icicles on the house, and I am able to set the projectors up and tear them down every night in about 10 minutes time. In the past it would take me days to setup all the lights we used to use, and that was with help from young whipper snappers. WIth this setup, i'm still turning heads, having cars stop and watch the display without all the physical effort, and I might add; without the elevated electrical bills. I haven't found anybody else around or near my city that is doing anything like this, and I have had nothing but positive comments from onlookers. Like I said, the video really doesn't do it justice. Yeah,, it's kinda like cheating.. but hey.. it works :) One other thing is that we have experienced vandalism in the past leaving the stuff out at night. I have had inflatables slashed, blowmolds kicked and bent, and strands of lights cut. Probably just bored teenagers, but it was starting to add up. Since I'm able to bring in my setup every night, there is nothing there for them to vandalize unless they wanted to just cut extension cords.

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I ran my first cold test on the ADJ lasers last night. Here is Test 1 with the Micro Galaxian and Micro Hypnotic running at 6:30pm, 39 deg F on the back of my house (window with blinds in the middle). If you watch carefully you can catch a glimse of Mitt giving his victory speech in Florida on the right side of the screen near the end!

Here is Test 2 taken 2.5 hours later at 9pm, 35 deg F. There does not appear to be any fading or degrading in performance. I will have to do another test when it gets below 20 deg F.

To protect my lasers from the moisture and temperature I'm planning to put them in a Rubbermaid Roughneck container on its side projecting the image out the open top and I will use some sort of heating pad. I'm thinking at this point since the ADJ projectors seems to run fine at 35 deg F, that wrapping the projector in a $20 17 watt root heating pad may do the trick even down to 10-20 deg F. If not, there are digital controlled thermostats and engine heating pads from 100 to 500 watts that should be able to keep the box at 68 deg F.

The ADJ lasers seem bright enough for my needs, but I will not have any other lights on the house (except an angel and Bethlehem star from the nativity scene on the fascia) and I live on a dark street with no street lights. However, I will have my LED nativity scene synced to music on the lawn about 10-15' in front of the house (including five 10' vertical shafts of LED flex neon blue rope light), so I will have to wait and see if that impacts the visibility of the lasers. One thing that I did notice in my test was that projecting the Galaxian star burst on a bare stick bush gave it a 3D effect as the lights appeared to twinkle on every branch, so I might trying bringing some of my shrubs and trees into the act.

I've sent an email to a friend in city planning to see if there are any restrictions on using lasers out doors on private property since I have read that some cities prohibit it. He didn't think it would be a problem, but he is going to research it some more. I pointed him to Forte's video above to give him an example of what I have in mind.

Edited by Rigel2601
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Looks good Rigel! That's good news about the cold temperatures. I really like the hypnotic laser. I think I'm going to put it on my wish list. I'd love to see it perform on a wider area, say an entire garage door. During Halloween I shined the star lasers up in large trees and it gave the effect of like thousands of fireflies. A couple of my smaller projectors have controls that can slow the motor down which really enhanced the look of fireflies.. or as we called them back in Ohio.. Lightening Bugs. Watch out.. this laser thing can get kind of addicting..

As you can see, video taping really doesn't do the look of the lasers justice. It took several attempts to get a decent video of my house and I ended up using a very high end camera that a friend of my owned. However, that camera was only standard definition but it was prosumer grade. It gave me the best results, but I sure would have loved to had a good HD prosumer camera film it.

Edited by forte88
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Greg,

The sound sensor on my ADJ Micro Galaxian does not work very well (confirmed by reviews I've read) and most of us are doing FM transmitters and don't want external music anyway to sync the lasers to music. I read on one forum that someone broke open their laser and and replace the sound sensor with a mini audio jack to connect the music directly like you do to a FM transmitter. That might be one solution. You can find low end lasers with DMX interface, so that may be the way to go if you already have an LOR system. Animation lasers have an ILDA interface which I believe you can sync to music.

By the way Greg, your display this year is what motivated me to do a lightshow for 2012. I live in Colorado Springs but my son lives a block or two from you on Woodrose Ln. However at 58, with a bad hip and with no sons still living at home I did not want to spend a lot of time on ladders hanging lights. So I'm doing a wireframe nativity scene on the lawn synced to music with a Gemmy Controller and using 3 lasers to provide some additional WOW on the side of the house. In addition to my ADJ mini Galaxian and ADJ mini Hypnotic I just ordered a 7 color mini anime laser ($147) and am excited about the possibility of customizing my show a little more with scrolling text or animation. Check out this video of the animation laser by Rodman1369 at the LOR forum showing some of the canned animations that come with the laser on the back of his house.

So thanks for the great work and inspiration in Highlands Ranch CO!

I may graduate to an LOR system some day, but I think I have enough on my plate for 2012 to keep me busy. One challenge with using lasers in Colorado is that most are built for indoor use and start fading below 40 deg F. I will do some outdoor testing soon with my three lasers and post my finding here. I am also working on a little temperature controlled environment to house my lasers, just in case.

Let me know your experience with the laser. I'm looking into trying to suppliment my show with a laser. --Greg--

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As you can see, video taping really doesn't do the look of the lasers justice. It took several attempts to get a decent video of my house and I ended up using a very high end camera that a friend of my owned. However, that camera was only standard definition but it was prosumer grade. It gave me the best results, but I sure would have loved to had a good HD prosumer camera film it.

I actually video'd mine with an iPhone4, so no high end camera here. I'll run my next test on my garage door which is dark green so the laser should show nice there. How far away from your house were your lasers set? How far off the ground? I know it depends on the projection angle and how big of an area you are trying to cover. (I had the star at 6' and the hypnotic at 8'). BTW there is a speed control on both. I had the hypnotic set pretty slow as I thought it was more interesting that way.

Edited by Rigel2601
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The projector tree that housed 4 projectors was set about 30 feet from the front of the house. The other smaller projectors were closer with one being about 5 feet, another being around 10 feet, and a third one about 8 feet. They were just placed on a piece of wood on the ground, although one was sitting on top of the roof my truck in the RV parking driveway. The projector tree holds the projectors up about 4 feet from the ground. I would have liked it a little higher to so as not to catch a shadow from the eavesment of the house. But that was the highest I could set my make shift light tree from the utility light creation I made.

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I just ordered the Star Laser Projector at Spencer's ($129 + 4.99 shipping). There are a few cheaper offerings at Amazon but with $25 shipping about the same price. Some reviewers talk about early failure of the green laser, so I wanted to buy from a brick and mortar vendor I could take it back to if I have problems. (I ordered it online, but we have a local store in the mall--they did not stock it at the local store). The reviews all rave about it, some talk about using it outdoors (but no temp specs). I think its really the effect I'm looking for behind my wireframe LED nativity scene. Kinda of a deep space night sky. Check out this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=io3S7Vs8wMs. I'll use my ADJ lasers on the bushes and trees and other areas of the house. I'll post some outdoor tests videos and do some temperature tests when it arrives.

Forte has set the bar with 7 lasers. I'm up to 4 now :P

Edited by Rigel2601
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I just found the Reke-07 Blue laser at YourLaser that Forte uses above for $85 plus 10% off with coupon code "yourlaser2012" and free shipping. So I had to add it to my collection. They carry a lot of Reke lasers at good prices. They also accept PayPal which I prefer for international orders. I'm closing in on you Forte with 5 lasers now.

I also heard from my contact in the City that outdoor use of lasers on private property for a Christmas display is not prohibited in Colorado Springs (assuming you follow FAA and FDA guidance and don't shine in the air or scan neighbors or onlookers).

Edited by Rigel2601
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I know your going to enjoy your Reke-07. But Fog is almost a must to get it's full effect. It's extremely bright! Make sure not to let that one bleed off the sides of the house because it will travel. Also don't look into this one.. it will hit you like a ton of bricks. When I bought mine, it was rated at 300mw. That is also what it says in the manual that I got with mine. Depending on where you go, some say now 250mw, and others say as low as 150mw. Let me know what your manual says when you get it. When you fire it up, it takes a few seconds to warm up before it starts to shine. You will hear the motor start up before the laser turns on. I think the Reke-07 and the Kolo Cross Star laser are my favorite two projectors that I own. But as soon as I get an animation laser, that will probably change.

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I discovered there are some industrial strength versions of the Star Laser Projector called the Bliss 15 ($399) and the Bliss 50 ($1,300) with more powerful laser beams and the BlissLight LS20G ($550) that uses the same green laser optics as the Bliss 15 (no blue cloud) but is rated to work down to -15 deg F. The specs look great but a little pricey for my budget. I'm going to try my luck with the Star Laser Projector in a temp. controlled enclosure. (The link provides a brief comparison of the various Bliss projectors with the Star Laser).

Edited by Rigel2601
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My Star Laser Projector arrived today and I gave it a quick outdoor test at 6pm and 35 deg F. The live view is much brighter than the video. You can see hundreds of green stars. Only the brightest show on the video. The Blue Cloud moves around like smoke and the the stars move slowly in semi-random patterns (some stars moving in one direction and other stars moving in other directions.). I sent the manufacturer an email asking about the official operating temps, but it seemed to work fine at 35 deg F. for one hour. The Blue Cloud can be turned on or off and dimmed. As a backdrop for my wireframe LED nativity scene I think it will work great providing a night sky effect.

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