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vkjohnson

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Posts posted by vkjohnson

  1. PC Controllers with the plastic enclosures have a limit of 8 amps/channel and 15 amps/power feed cord (one feed does channels 1-8, the other 9-16)

    Consider also that and individual home circuit can only handle 15-20 amps, with a 75% or 80% max usage being ideal as stated above.  Depending on your usage you may be able to put both controller feeds on the same circuit.  If you use a lot of amps, you may have to separate the feeds to different circuits.  I highly suggest the Kil-A-Watt meter as well.

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  2. I'll give a creative solution... Embrace it as a design element. It lights up your driveway pretty well with a warm white or even yellow glow. Flood the walls of your house in that same color with outlines of cool white around the edges of the house, windows, and driveway. The warm-cool mix actually looks pretty good when put together as a theme. As a static display I think that would look pretty cool. Animation would be more difficult if you want total darkness at any time.

  3. Check I used 5 gal bucket enclosures with spt 1 wire and female plugs.  Mine were the commercial ones, not the PCs but same principle.  Only difference is you would have to use quick-connects instead of the screw clamps on the wires.  I soldered mine too. It is a good money saver.  No experience previously, but once you do the first one it gets a lot faster and easier.

  4. I admire those of you who can pull down your stuff in two days.  I wish more of mine was a simple unplug and throw in a container.  Those darn tree wraps and megas take forever!

    I'm calling it now... I bet I have at least something still up when March comes around.

  5. I think our synchronized Christmas shows are put out to remind people of the joy and meaning of Christmas, but also to entertain those who watch.  That's why I and I think many use a mix of songs, both with a Christmas meaning and those without.  Most of the dubstep displays I have seen do have some sort of Christmas connection, even if it is more to the secular side, it's still a reflection of the holidays.  It would be great if we could all play Away in a Manger and Silent Night the whole time, but then our displays would have little entertainment value to compliment the Christmas message.  Use the big flashy songs to get them there, then give them the Christmas message before they leave.

  6. I have many of the 6.5 foot Walmart trees outside in their 3rd year.  Virtually no rust and no problems with failing needles or branches, or lights.  I mount them by pounding 1/2 EMT conduit in the ground and simply slipping them over that.  This year my Walmarts shipped out the 6.5 footers before 75% came, otherwise I would've bought quite a few more.

  7. Here is my goal:

    I want it to be like walking in to a winter wonderland. Not with a bunch of wood cutouts, or blowmolds or inflatables. But will all lights. And just lights... 30' mega trees on each side of the property. One huge Bethlehem star 50' up in the air behind the display in the backyard behind the house. The house completely covered in lights. Just all around walking in to a different world. Not having the yard cluttered at the same time.

    I'm with you on those goals.  Everyone has a theme, and I've seen people pull off the cutout theme pretty well, but for me it's just lights.  I also like to keep things clean.  I don't throw stuff in the yard just to put lights on it, it has to have a purpose and look like part of the landscape.  Christmas decorating to me is about accentuating the features of your house and landscape.  I think megas work great in doing that as they do look like trees, but I don't much care for the big matrix hanging on someone's wall or giant fan in a front yard. My canvas is getting pretty full, so my goal would be to find a new and creative way of adding to the display without it looking like too much.

  8. The WGN broadcast picked it up here too!  That's great Bill.  I saw your son must've done an AMA on Reddit as well about your display.  Lots of interest on how you can find the energy to do all of that.  Congrats!  It was a great story the did about you.

  9. I was looking at the strobe bulbs from CDI, but how do you mount them?   Do you use a strand of C-9 and replace every Xth bulb with a strobe?

     

    Or is there a special wire with very wide spacing just for this purpose?

     

    You guys have me intrigued...

     

    -r

    You will probably want to buy SPT-1 zip cord and then these.  This is how I did all of my strobes.  You can place them wherever you want.  Sometimes they are a bit finicky to clamp on, but a pair of channel-lock pliers work really well if you're careful not to crush the sockets.

  10. My first year getting into animation I soldered 6 of the CTB 16 40-amp boards.  No previous soldering experience and not a single problem came up in the process.  First board took me almost 4 hours, but by #6 I had it down under an hour. If you are willing to put in the time it's a great way to save money.  (I believe the only solder kits LOR now offers is the PC series)

    Also, just a tip on your first year... take the time you estimate to complete each one of your tasks, THEN DOUBLE IT.  The time it took to make so many custom zip cords is what I really underestimated.

  11. I don't do anything to them other than get them up off the ground.  If you want to get really involved you can use the plastic caps, but don't use tape.  Tape can actually trap moisture inside.  

     

    You have to remember that in addition to the plugs, each individual bulb socket has a small opening where the wires must enter.  There is just enough gap for moisture to enter there too.  Keep everything off the ground and you'll be as good as it gets.  No one will prevent a GFI trip in heavy rain.

  12. The color of the cord does not always correspond to the gauge or amp rating.  If you look really hard, the insulation around the cord should be engraved with the AWG (American wire gauge) of the wire.  This is true of all cords.  Rule of thumb I go by on my display is under 100 feet 12 AWG-20 amps, 14 AWG-15 amps, 16 AWG-13 amps, 18 AWG (spt 1)-8 amps.  Also, if you pick up a cord and it feels really hot, it's over loaded.  12 AWG will feel a little warm with 15 amps, so I'm talking more than just a bit warm to the touch.  Beyond that you are risking an electrical fire.

     

    Also another tip I've learned....Unless you used a Kill-o-watt or other amp meter to measure your current draw precisely, you are probably over estimating your power usage.  Most of those amp ratings on tags of light strings are about 120% of what they actually pull.  It's still nice to have that built-in safety net though. 

  13. IMO, keep it to 10, maybe 15 on your mega tree and use the rest on the yard and house.  Space them out so you can fill up the entire space you normally use for lights.  I think it's a really amazing look when you can make the whole display sparkle by way of strobes.  You can even put them on 2 separate channels if you wanted to, so you can turn just the mega tree strobes on for a different effect.

  14. Similar to Langford Dave, I use the colored electrical tape.  All my display items have W/R/G lights, so 3 zip cords get zip tied together with both female and male ends marked with white, red, and green electrical tape wrapped around the wire.  I then use yellow tape around the whole bundle and label with black sharpie what element it goes too.  My channel-count spreadsheet tells me what channels all the labels go to when it comes time to put controllers out.

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