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Thread: Finally found someone who knows how to do all this stuff...

  1. #1
    Newbie Extraordinaire... scottmcl's Avatar
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    Talking Finally found someone who knows how to do all this stuff...

    Howdy. My name is Scott McLellan. It's Denny's fault I'm here. Saw him in the paper and since I also work at IBM, sent him email through there. No, the paper didn't do this group any justice, but Denny helped point me in the right direction...

    Been "addicted" to lights for a long time. We used to go to the Chick-Fil-A event at the Amphitheater here in Raleigh a couple times a year just to watch in amazement. But once I saw that you could program them to flash and sync to the music, I had to have that. Of course, the only web sites I've been able to find about how they built theirs didn't ever give you enough details and the guys were always writing their own software to sync the music. I'm smart, but don't have that much time on my hands to figure it all out from scratch.

    For me, it also doesn't hurt that I've been a TSO fan since the early 90s and fans of the guys who launched that band since the 80s. (PS - you know you've made it as a band when your music is played at Walt Disney World in their light display... )

    After seeing a street near my parents in Mooresville, NC a couple years ago where the entire cul-de-sac was rigged to the same system, had the FM transmitter, and all flashed in tune to the same music, I decided I had to convince the neighbors to do that. Of course, I had to figure out how to do it for myself first....

    While y'all will probably barf at this, my parents picked up the GE "Mr. Christmas" (I think) set for me last year and I've got that up and running this year and loving it. Video is here:



    I'm know I'm in the amateur league, but you have to start somewhere...

    I don't know what an LOR is. I don't know what a blowmold is. I do know what inflatables are, as I've used a couple different snow globes and carousels in my own previous displays as well. So I'm looking forward to finding the "beginner's guide" here and spending many late nights figuring it out before the group buy ends soon...

    So my ambition is to get something set up that's not horribly complicated, but that I can assist getting all the neighbors to plug into. Should be an awesome display. Like I said, you gotta start somewhere...

    So I'm looking forward to y'all helping me feed my addiction and hopefully I can bring something to the group as well!

    Talk to you more real soon!!!
    - Scott M.
    ______________________________
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    Carpenter Lights: Website; Twitter feed; Facebook page

  2. #2
    Blowmold Elite Brad Caudill's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finally found someone who knows how to do all this stuff...

    well I guess that is better than nothing. lol. Planetchristmas.com has lots of good information. LOR has its own forum too. I am sure we can help you get to where you want to be.

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    Registered User Waxhaw Larry's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finally found someone who knows how to do all this stuff...

    Welcome Scott!
    There certainly are a lot of folks here that will be willing to help. I'll fill you in on some of the basics of what you've asked so far.

    LOR is Light O Rama. It is hardware and software for synchronizing lights and just about anything that can be powered by electricity to music or each other. Its, in my opinion, very user friendly. With perhaps the exception or sequencing the music (filling in little squares in a spreadsheet looking grids that correspond to turning on a particular light at a particular time). Info can be found at lightorama.com you can even download the none functional software program and play around with it and in the event you purchase it all your playing can be turned into a functioning light show program.

    There are other companies that also make light programming software and hardware and an extensive network of DIY (do it yourself) stuff if you prefer building everything yourself.

    Blowmold actually a process called blow molding. The most common example is a milk jug. Christmas (and other holiday) figures made by this process. Not many manufacturers remain making these things and if you start collecting them you risk becoming addicted to them. Search ebay.com for "blowmolds" and see what is available but buying locally is almost always cheaper but takes more patience.

    Hooking neighbors together. Easily done with LOR. You need to determine if you can hard wire or if you must go wireless to "connect" multiply light control boxes. While an entire neighborhood can be controlled by one PC or master control box the control signal must be sent to all satellite control boxes.

    Well I've rambled enough. You've found the right place. I'll let someone else jump in.

  4. #4
    This space for rent. Al in Raleigh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finally found someone who knows how to do all this stuff...

    Hi Scott,

    Welcome to CC. You came to the right place. I live in Raleigh. This forum is primarily for the Carolinas. Furthermore, we have a fairly large and local group that we call TASL for Triangle Area Synchronized Lighting. We are a new group but have officially met several times. We can help you with your display. Our next meeting should be in February. You will learn lots by reading this forum. Lightorama is the most prominent manufacturer of Christmas lighting equipment. Not necessarily the best but...

    The Lightorama (LOR) forum is a good place to learn and Planet Christmas will run you crazy with nonsense. The LOR forum has been full of nonsense posts lately too. . In the coming year, TASL may design and build lighting controllers geared for us. You can help.
    Al

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    Newbie Extraordinaire... scottmcl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finally found someone who knows how to do all this stuff...

    See... Now that's what I'm talking about!!! I've learned more in the last hour than in the last couple years of watching you tube videos occasionally of someone's display. Now I'm learning the keywords to search for and finding local guys who can answer quick questions! Awesome!!!

    Al - Denny did mention TASL. I'm in, man! I've soldered computer parts before and even done stuff on my model trains (yet another addiction - presently on hold due to space constraints and desire to spend more time with my 4 and 8 year old boys..)

    Again - thanks for the links and pointers!!! I'm already starting to plan out next year!!!
    - Scott M.
    ______________________________
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  6. #6
    Burn baby burn.... melwelch's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finally found someone who knows how to do all this stuff...

    Well you have found the "Crack house" for animated lights.... You will find out quickly there are no stupid questions here.... Because we have already been asking them... lol

    Yep you been getting your coke fix from Cokeacola and now you have switch to the hard stuff "Crack"..... Why the crack comparission?? It is the closest thing to compair to ALA (Animated Lights Addiction)...

    Welcome aboard......... toot toot... (I put that in there for Waxhaw Larry)

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    God Bless America victory402's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finally found someone who knows how to do all this stuff...

    Welcome aboad Scott, you found a great place to start here at CC. Come to the TSAL meets, you won't be disappointed. This is a facinating hobby, you can combine your artistic skill with your technical. Look forward to meeting you.
    We have alot of IBMers here. My wife has been with IBM for 29 years now.

    Vic
    RED MOUNTAIN LIGHTS

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    Newbie Extraordinaire... scottmcl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finally found someone who knows how to do all this stuff...

    "ALA" ... Yea, that sounds about right... was up until about 1am this morning reading the PlanetChristmas site. Oh, I need a life... and some sleep...

    FYI, Ace Hardware already has their lights (and most other goods) on sale 50% off (At least the one on Davis here in Cary/Morrisville).
    - Scott M.
    ______________________________
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    Carpenter Lights: Website; Twitter feed; Facebook page

  9. #9
    Carl B Zachary
    Visitor Carl B Zachary's Avatar

    Default Re: Finally found someone who knows how to do all this stuff...

    Welcome Scott.

    If you are interested in building your own equipment you may want to check out Do It Yourself Christmas.

    They are many options to chose from. But you to need to plan early so you can be ready for next year.

  10. #10
    Rebuilding for 2017 :-) kidcole's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finally found someone who knows how to do all this stuff...

    Welcome Scott ! You made it here to the site sooner than you thought. And yes, there are a lot of serious lighting addicts here. My friends have recently told me that I need to sign up for a stay at CLA (Christmas Light Anonymous).

    I am glad you posted your video for the group. Most people don't realize that the Gemmy and/or GE controllers can give a very nice show just by spacing things out and taking the time to figure out the symmetry !

    Also since you like trains, Waxhaw Larry is THE train guy for the group. His videos are posted in the "Showing Off" section.

    It was great meeting you in person tonight. I look forward to sharing ideas eith you. Anything (everything) goes here when it comes to ideas...
    Thanks,

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

    Moving to Xlights for 2017 !

    Falcon - 2 F16V3 & 1 PiCap, Sandevices - 2 E681 & 4 E6804, 256 Channels Lynx Express, 108 Channels DC DMX,
    10' Pixel MegaTree, CoroFlakes w/Pixel Modules, Pixel RBLs, 2 Pixel Matrix 16x25, 10" RGB Ornaments, 7x230 Pixel Icicle Matrix,
    Classic 20' AC Megatree, TIR Destiny RGB Spots, RGB Blowmolds, Wireframes, and Inflatables with External Light Control

  11. #11
    Professional Net Lurker Jack Stevens's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finally found someone who knows how to do all this stuff...

    Scot -

    Welcome! The "Lights and Sounds Of Christmas" are a good test of the neighborhood acceptance. It will let you know if you have to move before you get serious, or get the neighbors to move if they don't like it.

    I ran that test here in Pittsboro the last two years, only had one neighbor complain about it, and she goes to Florida for Christmas. So this year, 64 channels of LOR.

    You might want to check out http://diylightanimation.com/ and http://vixenlights.com/. I'm interested in finding out about the mixed-vendor displays, to hear if they worked ok.

    Al - February, huh? Last I heard it was April. February is fine by me. Heck, Saturday night would be fine by me, too! I should be stocked up on the after-Christmas clearance inventory by then.

    Oh yeah, Scott; go clear the inventory of the 6 foot extension cords at Dollar Tree; you can't make them that cheap. They only seem to have them this time of year. You'll need them.

  12. #12
    Official Lurker aproctor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Finally found someone who knows how to do all this stuff...

    Welcome Scott. Sorry to chime in late on this one. I bolted the day before Christmas and haven't checked in. I'm new this year as well and the guys here will get you the info you need. Don't worry about the Lights and Sounds deal. I have the Gemmy version. I've managed to learn and put together a FM transmitter, acquire 12 blowmolds, and put up
    8K lights this year and get most of it hooked on the Gemmy (my budget isin't quite as much as other here but I still have fun and the neighborhood LOVES it!). By early Dec. I was already planning for next season. Good luck and start shopping now for next season.

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