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Ok I'm New And Am Now Totally Know Less Than When I Started!

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My wife, daughter, father-in-law and I were out this Christmas looking at all the pretty lights. There is the one display we always go to that is cheesy and has about a million (maybe for real) static lights.  My wife hates these for anything but the gawk factor and is real popular with the kiddies.  This year I was looking online for other displays in our area.  A facebook page came up with a local address with no pictures and about 3 'likes'.  I thought we'd check it out.  We drove down this one way street and saw some pretty lights on peoples homes.  As we reached the end of the street we found a traffic jam as people were slowly circling the cul-de-sac.  At first I thought a Christmas party was letting out.  We were wrong, and boy now I am almost wishing that I saw the lack of facebook traffic on a fan's page as a sign of NOT to go there.  What we saw was what we thought was a fairly simple static display.  However, as we creeped along behind a line of cars (some of which were standing in the cul-de-sac) I saw the once static display come to life.  Because I love to get lost on youtube, I knew what was happening.  My wife and I (even though it was raining) rolled our windows down expecting to hear "hark hear the bells" by Manhiem and .... nothing.  I then saw a small sign that said to tune our radios to 100.1.  We did and were lost in wonderment at the synchronized music.  My seven-year-old wasn't as near as impressed as she was by the gawdy super light display that we always go to.   My wife, however, was mesmerized and so she says "That is what I want on our house next year".  


As my head and wallet started to ache we began researching how to do this.  I have some programming and other computer background and great interest (if only a minute amount of ability) in electronics.  I began looking at LOR controllers.  Then we began looking at lights.  To put in perspective of what we have.  The lights we have fits in one small box in a closet in our garage.  This year I used about 5 strands of lights to make the simple Cross we usually have.  So, we have pretty much nothing.  I thought maybe some after Christmas sales at Lowe's. Day after Christmas, about noon - no dice.  Looking online I found a bit more information.  


Now comes to the crux. I had decided to look for led lights for the low power consumption.  Searching around I found that (at least on ebay) I could grab rgb tape for nearly the same price as outdoor led (~$1-1.50 a foot) which means looking at other controllers which means looking at other software which means going back and looking at incandescent bulbs which means thinking about long term cost and expansion... and now were doing the Hokey-Pokey.


We really are interested in having music synchronized computer controlled lighting on our home but in order to afford it need to begin buying components soon.  Especially with lights we can hopefully catch some clearance sales online.  


First of all ... lights.


If we go with rgb are these kind of light tapes worth the surface they are mounted on. 

If not then are the kinds of led or incandescent lights on 1000lights.com or any online store worth anything.


I think once we decide what kind of lights were going to buy we can decide on a control system.  I would be moderately comfortable with most if not all the software you could throw at me.  I might even be willing to do a bit of soldering.  If we go with led or incandescent we will certainly start with 16 channels and most likely get 32 after all is said in done for the 2013 season.  We want at least a 10' tree (although I'm pulling for a 20' - not sure if she'll notice).


Thank you for all of your ideas and let me know if my approach is crazy or just plain dumb (if neither and you think I'm a genius then thank you and your donation will be in the mail)




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Sheer genius ...


( so when do I get my donation in the mail ?  )



Which ever way you go .. welcome to world of the Blinky Flashy .. 

I do want to warn about the world of Blinky Flashy ... 


Once you get hooked , there's no escape . It only gets worse and worse ( or is that bigger and better  -  :P  :blink:   )

the only chance you stand is get away now ... while you still can  ....   :lol:

Edited by JackFrost
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          I looking into the RGB this year there is a lot of reading to do with it. I do know LOR will support RGB both "Dumb Strips and Smart pixels" the differance is smart RGB allow you to control every light seperate and the dumb strips the whole thing changes colur. I for one like LOR stable platform to grow on, great customer support. you can download a free version of the software on their website it just wont control lights but any thing you do now will be useably when you buy your licence.  


What type of light you use depends on what you want to create. Start looking at what it take to build differant things what do you want. This Hobby can be time consuming and costly but loads of fun. 

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Oh  , yeah .. the software and hardware I know about and my opinions :


LOR - good stuff , kinda pricey , and from what I heard - good customer support ( needs a few more add-on controllers though )

AL - animated lighting - only thing I can say is - ( IMO ) stay clear ---- recently have heard nothing but bad comments on customer support from Paul 

Vixen - also good stuff , but is the hardware is 99.99 per cent DIY items and of course , cheaper than prebuilt items from the above two companies  ( also the software which is free and  is also simple to use - imo )


Do your checking on the above mentioned  ( hope you like reading because there is a LOT to learn  about the pro's and cons of each ) , and make your own decision as to which one(s) you think will make your Blinky Flashy the ultimate in the country and go for it . 


Welcome to the Blinky Flashy World , 

have fun and again ..  




:lol:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:

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Starting out, I would recommend LOR controllers. They're proprietary, along with the controller software, lots of people use them and they have great support. They also have very good re-sale value; not sure about the others.


RGBs, incandescents, minis, C7/C9...explore all the lights -- get your hands on different types and find out how they respond to turning on, off, shimmering, fading, etc. Not all lights look and behave the same when responding to the same effect from the software.


Some upfront work you should do now: figure out what amperage/power load your house supports. Knowing that can make a lot of decisions for you regarding your light choices. If you needed to upgrade your electrical service, well....you wouldn't be the first one to do that. :-)


The real learning curve you'll have starting out is the stuff you can't buy -- sequencing, design, aesthetics, etc. Heck, figuring out what you *don't* want to do. These things come with time, and you gain them only by doing. Design and aesthetics come later, but you can get started now with sequencing. For example, the LOR software is free to download and you can try out their demos.


One word of caution: this hobby is addicting. Time and energy, for many of us, are expelled in great amounts, and often year-round. As others have said, you've been warned.....


Welcome to the Asylum.

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oh ... hey .... almost forgot to mention ... if you think you are gonna stop here with Christmas ....  moooo ha  ha  ha   ...     



Think again .... because there is ALSO 





These controllers not only control lights .,,, but just about anything utilizing 120 ac  ( you can also get ones for DC as well ) 


So , basically ... the sky is the limit   :P

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