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Thread: LOR - to assemble or not to assemble

  1. #1
    Newbie Extraordinaire... scottmcl's Avatar
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    Default LOR - to assemble or not to assemble

    I'm in trouble. I started drawing tonight. I just started by laying out the items that I had this year in my store bought, 6 channel, melody playing box. I quickly realized that those items alone could easily be 13 channels in no time... (Yea, this IS an addicting hobby... ). Then when I add the simplest mini trees that I'm considering, that's another 16 channels.

    So I started looking at LOR real quick to figure out where to even start. Sounds like the best bet is to get the CTB16PC box in your choice of flavors. Their options (that would be reasonable to me based on my available time) are:

    Fully assembled - $250
    Minimal assembly - $205
    Some soldering required - $180

    I'm handy around the house so I could even go for the other options, but not sure I want to spend my time renewing my soldering skills from years past. (And they weren't that great then, either...) So I'm deciding between the minimal assembly and the fully assembled options.

    Anyone have any experience with either one? Is the Minimal assembly one really minimal assembly? And when is the Feb sale so I can make sure that I get them at a few bucks off?

    Thanks in advance for your opinions and help!

    Back to PC now to figure out how to do mini trees...
    - Scott M.
    ______________________________
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  2. #2
    This space for rent. Al in Raleigh's Avatar
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    Default Re: LOR - to assemble or not to assemble

    I went with the version where the controller is soldered but not assembled for a couple reasons. First, the presoldered electronics is wave soldered. Wave soldering minimizes the possibility of a cold solder joint. Diagnosing a cold solder joint is a real pain. Taking apart a controller to fix a cold solder joint is a time consuming process. Second, the difference in cost between the fully assembled controller and the partially assembled controller is substantial. It took me about 30 minutes to assemble a controller. The difference in cost will buy me some other stuff.

    The LOR summer sale occurs in June/July. The cost of the controllers drop about 10% if I remember correctly. A word of wisdom though. I didn't get my order until the end of October. If you are planning on buying several controllers and assembling them in time for Christmas may cause you to have some very late nights.
    Al

  3. #3
    Professional Net Lurker Jack Stevens's Avatar
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    Default Re: LOR - to assemble or not to assemble

    Scott -

    If you are considering soldering, you might consider adding some DIY controllers that are run with DMX protocol. Total cost is supposed to be less than $100 for 16 channels. Some of the effects are not done by the hardware, and have to be done in software, such as shimmer/twinkle. If you are planning for a number of controllers, the cost difference may pay for an iDMX1000, which ocnverts the LOR protocols to DMX, and on about 1/4 of the channels will hadnle the shimmer/twinkle on the DMX controllers for you. I'm sure it will come up in the upcoming TASL meeting on Feb 20.

    Otherwise, I'd go with the alredy soldered board and put it in the case myself; I did that with 4 units. You don't have to buy the cord set or enclosure from LOR. I bought the enclosures and cut extension cords for the channels. Next time I'll buy the cangle cord sets. I got grounded 3 foot cords from Monoprice for about $20 per controller (including shipping) but paid another $4 in getting the 1/4" connectors. To me, it's worth the extra $6 or so to avoid the blisters trying to cut/strip/put connectors on those cables.

  4. #4
    Registered User mschell's Avatar
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    Default Re: LOR - to assemble or not to assemble

    Scott,

    Depends on how handy you are with a soldering iron. As Al mentioned, the pre-soldered ones have been tested. However, I've had great experience with building my own, doing all the soldering myself. I'm not an expert, but I've done a fair amount of soldering in my time, and most of the DIY boards are fairly friendly to doing it yourself. Never built an LOR board, but I'm sure it's not any different.

    In any case, remember that building and putting up the hardware and lights is the easy part. The sequencing is the "magic" that makes it all look that much better, and you might want to spend more time with that than necessarily soldering boards and saving you a little money. But if you've got lots of time and start early, you can do both.

    Hope to see you at the TASL meeting this month!
    Mark

    New location - new display. Looking forward to 2015 season!

  5. #5
    xLights or BUST in 2018 kidcole's Avatar
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    Default Re: LOR - to assemble or not to assemble

    I am not yet convinced we have good alternatives to mix with my existing LOR controllers. I am going to move the Light Show Pro (LSP) software, so I am easily ready to mix DMX and LOR (without having to buy LOR's DMX controller interface). It would be great if we had something that we knew was a bulletproof as the LOR controllers. They are not idea but they work reliably and consistently.

    Also for 2009 the first LOR discount was in March of 2009 and it was an awesome discount. My budget for 64 channels was able to buy 96 channels ! The sold the fully assembled boards, with the upgraded heatsinks already installed. The outdoor case was included and so were all the power pigtails. All we had to do was plug in all the wires and secure the strain reliefs. The price was $160 per 16 channels and no soldering required. That was quite a deal and my fingers are crossed that this same deal will pop up again this year. I seem to recall it was around 2 weeks and my 6 controllers to arrive.

    I also noticed that these exact same units were selling consistently on eBay between $200 and $220 in the fall. So what a great investment when there's not risk. If things get tight you can get all your money back and a little more. As of today I am planning to buy 4 more LOR controllers for 2010, but I will reserve final judgement for after our meeting on the 20th.
    Thanks,

    Denny Cole
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/Cole...ristmasLights/

    I Went Static in 2017. FINALLY Moving to Xlights for 2018 !

    Falcon - 3 F16V3 & 1 PiCap, Sandevices - 2 E681 & 4 E6804, 288 Channels Lynx Express, 108 Channels DC DMX,
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  6. #6
    wbottomley
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    Default Re: LOR - to assemble or not to assemble

    Here's an old link to the last February sale that had limited quantities....

    http://store.lightorama.com/secretsale.html

  7. #7
    This space for rent. Al in Raleigh's Avatar
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    Default Re: LOR - to assemble or not to assemble

    I am confused as to whether we have viable candidates for replacing LOR. Mark should help me make the decision. I must admit buying the controllers fully soldered is a major plus to me. I no longer enjoy building PC boards. The time spent do so is better spent doing other things. If I do go the DIY way then I would explore having the boards stuffed somewhere. I'm sure I could get a coop going on that. One thing about the Lynx Express which really and truly bothers me is RJ's lack of furnishing schematics and source code for the PIC. Another problem is that RJ modifies the PC board between builds which by itself bothers me. This last build had problems that required modification and he didn't inform anybody until he did it. But LOR doesn't give out PIC code or schematics too. However, LOR has a repair department that is very reasonable in cost and is fast.

  8. #8
    Registered User mschell's Avatar
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    Default Re: LOR - to assemble or not to assemble

    I'm beginning to believe there are several good alternatives to LOR in the DIY space. As Al mentions, RJ's Lynx designs are OK, but he doesn't believe in sharing designs/firmware. The folks at DIYC (doityourselfchristmas.com) are much more open and readily publish their schematics, board designs and firmware. It appears that RJ may have been involved over there several years ago, but since he decided to go closed source, he started DLA (diylightanimation.com) and has lots of fans (and fanboys, too!) RJ does have a following, in that there were over 500 kits in the latest coop he did for his Lynx Express V5 just after Christmas.

    RPM @ DIYC as well as some folks down under have some great simple DMX boards that are easily built, and could be modified to add features that this group may want.

    Then there's the whole Renard/Grinch/Freestyle crowd @ DIYC that would require using something other than LOR S2 as the software. LSP and Vixen support Renard which uses a different protocol than DMX.

    I'll be bringing a DC DMX8 controller from DIYC to the meeting. I can bring my Lynx Express if necessary, but I think folks have seen that already.
    Mark

    New location - new display. Looking forward to 2015 season!

  9. #9
    Newbie Extraordinaire... scottmcl's Avatar
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    Default Re: LOR - to assemble or not to assemble

    Thanks for everyone's help!!!

    Ok, so it sounds like the minimal assembly models are pretty good. I don't know about all this Lynx and other stuff y'all are talking about (yet). Are there already some good threads out there that describe the differences between all the vendors? I haven't come across anything that I recall...

    More questions to come in other threads...
    - Scott M.
    ______________________________
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  10. #10
    This space for rent. Al in Raleigh's Avatar
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    Default Re: LOR - to assemble or not to assemble

    Quote Originally Posted by mschell View Post

    I'll be bringing a DC DMX8 controller from DIYC to the meeting. I can bring my Lynx Express if necessary, but I think folks have seen that already.
    Oh goody, goody. Thank you Mark. I have a Lynx Express that I will bring or Walter could. His are in enclosures.

    Scott, come to the meetings. You will learn from the presenters and from the attendees. I like LOR but I am not a fanboy (thanks for giving me a new word Mark). There are more ways to skin a cat than what are easily given to us. That is where our group helps each other.

  11. #11
    The Christmas Nutt walter's Avatar
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    Default Re: LOR - to assemble or not to assemble

    yea I will bring my express boards, dongle and wireless and the star with the controler.
    Walter


  12. #12
    Professional Net Lurker Jack Stevens's Avatar
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    Default Re: LOR - to assemble or not to assemble

    Walter -

    Thanks! I've been wanting to see that star.

    For what it's worth, LOR announced an upgrade to the iDMX1000; it now supports 512 channels of DMX, with 128 of them being smart channels - meaning this unit will simulate the twinkle;shimmer on the DMX controllers that is in the firmware of the LOR boards. Or you can use Light Show Pro to use both LOR and DMX; or run the LOR boards in DMX mode.

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