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Thread: LOR vs. DMX Questions; Recommendations Needed

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    Default LOR vs. DMX Questions; Recommendations Needed

    I'm in the position of not having any LOR, DMX, etc. Everything will be new for me for 2011. I was preparing to go LOR with the hopes of purchasing during the Feb LOR sale. I've heard that DMX has significantly cheaper channel cost. I've had difficulty researching DMX online. I'm not super mechanically inclined so soldering boards isn't for me. Knowing what you know now from each of your own displays, what would you purchase and how would you design your system.

    Thanks!
    Austin

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    Trying to behave here-NOT John's Avatar
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    Default Re: LOR vs. DMX Questions; Recommendations Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by aproctor View Post
    I'm in the position of not having any LOR, DMX, etc. Everything will be new for me for 2011. I was preparing to go LOR with the hopes of purchasing during the Feb LOR sale. I've heard that DMX has significantly cheaper channel cost. I've had difficulty researching DMX online. I'm not super mechanically inclined so soldering boards isn't for me. Knowing what you know now from each of your own displays, what would you purchase and how would you design your system.

    Thanks!
    Austin
    Hi Austin,

    Just my opinions, and I may not be "technically" 100% accurate with my descriptions.

    First of all DMX is just a way to send commands from your lighting control software to your lighting control hardware. You can think of it as a languange. Just like English, Spanish or whatever. For example you typed in English and I typed in English. If you only spoke Spanish and I don't know Spanish, then there would be no way I could understand what you wanted me to do.

    So to use DMX, you still have to have lighting control software that speaks DMX and also hardware that understands DMX so the lights will know what you want them to do.

    A lot of Do It Yourself hardware controllers that you build yourself are designed to only understand commands that are sent to them in DMX. By building the hardware yourself, rather then factory built, results in the cheaper channel cost.

    LOR is a hardware controller as well as they offer the lighting control software. LOR hardware can be controlled by DMX commands, as well as the LOR protocol. Today, to use DMX with LOR software requires the iDMX module from LOR. LOR has a new DMX USB adapter that will be released next year at a much lower cost.

    My opinion and suggestion (and get ready for others to jump in with their opinions and suggestions that will be different from mine) is to start with LOR Hardware and Software, since you stated that you did not want to build your own light control boards. That will give you as a beginner a "matched" set to help you get started and familiar with this whole crazy business of computer controlled lights

    In the future if you want to use different lighting control software and DMX your LOR hardware can still be used, so in my opinion your investment in the lighting control hardware is preserved.

    Mark and Al both have a mixture of LOR and DIY hardware in their displays and have used both the LOR and DMX commands out from their software. (think I'm correct on this - if not they will correct me)

    The following post was made by Dan (LOR owner) on December 23, 2010.

    We have very big plans for next year. This year we started lots of projects (too many) and didn't finish many of them BUT the good news is that many of them are now ready to go and will certainly be available next year.

    With 100% certainty, we will be expanding the Cosmic Color series to include Cosmic Color Bulbs and Cosmic Color Floods. The Cosmic Color Bulbs are individually addressable RGB bulbs and the Cosmic Color Floods are high powered RGB LED floods with high power constant current drivers. They are bright!. We spent a large amount of effort last year getting them ready and they will absolutely be sold in 2011.

    A new, more powerful MP3 director has been under development months. It will have a number of new features and will be the heart of our new Plug-n-Show product that will be released next year.

    We have the new Gen2 controllers being released next year. They have been going through months of testing, and are currently undergoing UL 508 certification. Gen2 will be a major step forward in firmware as well as many new features in the hardware such as, On Card Ghost Loads (which will help with LEDs), they can also optionally have real snubbers which will help in 240v countries where transformers are plugged into the controller. Other new features as well.

    The new Gen2 controller code, is being written so that most of the new firmware based features can be used in our existing controllers as well. Most existing controllers will have a free firmware upgrade that will provide multiple dimming curves. which will help normalize incandescent and LED fades. The fade resolution is being changed from 256 steps to 1024 steps across the ZC. This is important because a device like a LED has such a limited dimming range, that fade step size (with only 256 steps) can be an issue. In addition there are a number of other new features and new lighting effects generated.

    Everything that I have just listed I can actually touch and see operate right now, here at LOR. In some cases we already have stock of parts (such as flood heads and RGB Bulb strings) on the shelves.


    To support displays with the 1000s of channels required for individually addressable RGB bulbs, we will be making major improvements to our network capabilities and providing high speed Ethernet interfaces that will provide multiple LOR/DMX networks and universes. For those who want to run their show from the PC a lower cost DMX dongle will be available.

    The LOR software will be enhanced to support easier sequencing when many 1000s of channels are involved.

    For the last year a new visualizer has been under construction. This visualizer will be released early next year. The visualizer allows you to create multi channel objects such as arches, trees, etc. drag them around, layer them so that one appears in front of another, etc... Supports macros, sub sequence activity, etc…

    ------------

    So Austin, while LOR may have been considered as too basic in the past (especially by some very technically minded and savy users) I really feel that at least for a beginner that does not want to solder their own hardware boards, that LOR is a very safe starting point with the hardware being able to still be used for many advanced applications in the future.

    Just my opinions.
    John (The Mascot)
    www.tennholidays.com

    480 LOR Channels + 2 CCR + 8 Mighty Minis + 10 Rainbow Floods+ 1 vdrive and vflood, Lynx Express and over 40,000 LEDs

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    This space for rent. Al in Raleigh's Avatar
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    Default Re: LOR vs. DMX Questions; Recommendations Needed

    Austin,

    I own several DIY controllers, commerical controllers, and LOR controllers. The answer to your question depends on several factors. First, how much do you want to spend? Second, do you want Christmas Lights or do you want what is known as LED nodes? Third, do you want to spend large quantities of time making this crap work?

    The DIY controllers can be cheaper total cost but require some fiddling with occasionally.But once you get over the curve it isn't so bad. Walter can assemble the things for you if you don't want to. I'm not sure if you met Walter, but he is a main stay in TASL and will help you with stuff like this. You and he can talk about money. DIY controllers don't have a phone number to call when a problem crops up but you can generally ask one of us and we can answer it. Since you live near me you can call my cell for answers. LOR controllers are more user friendly and have a human to answer questions. Again, I made all this multiplatform crap work and it ain't that hard.

    LED nodes are not for the beginner. They require tons of time to fiddle with and program, and will cost you an arm and leg. But they are pretty and neat. If you want to walk first, then go with regular incandescent or LED strings and not nodes. We will be playing with nodes in the future and may incorporate them. They are expensive.

    You should talk to Jack about DIY stuff. He has some DIY controllers and will give you a straight opinion on them. I have some and will likely get more in future. The DIY community has controllers that LOR doesn't. My wreath and leaping arch controllers are DIY. I may design my own in the future. I like the form factor and convenience.

    We have fun making the stuff work together. We should talk about this in person. There are many reasons for going in each direction.
    Al
    Al

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    Got Nose ? davetv102's Avatar
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    Default Re: LOR vs. DMX Questions; Recommendations Needed

    Hum, not an easy question. I had this very question several years ago. I searched out several in the area for advise and I did alot of research. I ended up with DMX on the DIY side. I also went with Vixen since the DIY crowd uses it as well. From what you stated I would follow John's advice since your not comfortable building your controllers. (not everybody is) The good thing is you can later get one of the DIY DMX controllers and try your hand at building it and use it in your LOR system like Al does. I really like the DMX route as I can build or buy any device that uses the DMX standard and hook it into my system, being that said I've yet to buy my first item to add to my display. John and I were plannng a trip to Al's, Ive heard he has some new commerical DMX lighting that John and I are very interested in.
    And on the 8th day, God created Christmas lights.

    240 Channels of DMX

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    This space for rent. Al in Raleigh's Avatar
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    Default Re: LOR vs. DMX Questions; Recommendations Needed

    DMX rocks. DMX through iDMX (iDMX is a "translator" for LOR software to DMX) is confusing but not too confusing if you carry around a cheat sheet like I made. I plan to expand my display with more commercial fixtures in the future.
    Al

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    Default Re: LOR vs. DMX Questions; Recommendations Needed

    Thanks guys. I failed to mention that I've been mapping my channel plans / needs for 2011 following Denny's advice and I figure I need minimum 96 channels but would really like to have 112 for 2011. Money wise, I don't have tons, but could start around $1500 for the current discussion, not including any lights.

    I'm continuing to read and research after looking at each persons comments. I'm considering the LOR Software and accessories, 1 LOR Controller, and a iDMX interface. Then I'd continue on with DMX dimmers.

    Are you buying DMX dimmers locally (at Guitar Center, etc) ? Do you recommend other sources?

    Thanks for ALL the very detailed responses.
    Austin

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    This space for rent. Al in Raleigh's Avatar
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    Default Re: LOR vs. DMX Questions; Recommendations Needed

    DMX dimmers are pricey but industry standard. You can get them from China fairly reasonably. I don't use them, but I know someone that does. The LOR controllers (if bought new or recent controllers with correct firmware) and DIY controllers all work on DMX.

    $1500 should do for the electronics and software. The cost of extension cords can be just as expensive if not more. I use regular extension cords and a wire called SPT that you can make your own cords to a specific length. The power requirements (electrical outlets) may surprise you, but you have a large display now and likely have ran into that problem already.
    Al

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    Registered User mschell's Avatar
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    Default Re: LOR vs. DMX Questions; Recommendations Needed

    I'll add one more piece of advice to anyone who cares to listen.

    First decision you should make is: What software do you want to use to program your display?

    Don't make that decision based on what hardware you are buying, but what you think will be the easiest or best programming choice for you.

    Once you have decided on the software, then you can chose the hardware.

    Just because you want to buy or use LOR hardware doesn't mean you HAVE TO use the LOR software. Since LOR controllers understand and will talk DMX, you can buy the LOR hardware, but use LightShowPro (LSP) or Vixen (free) or Madrix (lots of $) or even LOR software..

    I have a mix of DIY, LOR and AL hardware. Some of it was purchased long ago, but I was able to use LSP to drive all of it and keep some of my HW investment.

    To be honest, you can use any of the HW that Al mentioned, including the RGB pixels with LOR or LSP or Vixen. However, it will be easier to program lots of lights with some software more than others.

    I would suggest trying out the demo versions of any of the software mentioned to determine your choice, and then decide what hardware to buy.

    To do Christmas lighting, you'll want to buy DIY or LOR controllers, not the DMX dimmers at GuitarCenter. Unless you're looking to buy a DMX light fixture that does special effects, but you'll have to find a way to weatherproof it.
    Mark

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

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    Professional Net Lurker Jack Stevens's Avatar
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    Default Re: LOR vs. DMX Questions; Recommendations Needed

    OK, I'll add my $.02 worth.

    Austin -

    Play with the software; you can download free/evaluation versions of it all and get used to it. I'm most used to the LOR software, but can use Vixen and LSP. See which one you're the most comfortable with, as you'll be using it quite a bit. Taht may influence your hardware purchases.

    My comments will be made from individual light string dimming, not pixel mode. I have no experience with pixel mode or servo controls. I'm planning to remedy that, but as of right now, no experience.

    LOR is rock-solid technology, for the most part. You will pay money for it being that rock solid. The company h as a very good reputation for standing behind their products, shipping repair parts quickly, or doing the repairs for you. I'm using this technology myself, did not have to solder anything, but I did assemble the boards and cords into the enclosures myself to save some money. All the current firmware versions for LOR support running in DMX mode, so if you change from LOR proprietary to DMX later, there's no loss in investment. Power rating: 8 amps maximum per channel, 15 amps maximum per 8-channel bank, 30 amps maximum per controller. Some mods available to push this up a bit. Software and hardware are closed-source and proprietary.

    No experience with the Animated Lighting (AL) products.

    You just missed out on the first co-op on RJ's Lynx Express (http://diylightanimation.com/index.php?topic=4024.0) Anticipated cost for a 16 channel controller is $67 plus shipping plus cost of case. That last part may be a stickler, as the primary source for cases closed their doors a couple of weeks ago, but there are alternate sites. I'd say add $33 for shipping + case + power cords, to make it an even $100 for 16 channels. Keep in mind this is a closed-source controller, dependent on one person to support it, who is not making a living at it. There is "after-market" support for it, so it's a safe choice, but probably not for a non-techie newbie. It also requires board-level assembly, so if you don't know how to solder, if you decide to go this way, check with Walter and whoever else on here is willing for assembly prices. Again, 8 amps maximum per channel, 15 amps maximum per 8-channel bank, 30 amps max per controller; can be pushed a bit higher with heat sink modification.


    http://doityourselfchristmas.com/for...ad.php?t=14388 is about to start a group buy on the Renard SS line - 8, 16, and 24 channel boards. It's not going yet, and probably won't start until February. In another thread, they were talking board and component prices totally about $64 for a 24 channel board (< $3 per channel) but were going to see if they can hit the price breaks to bring it down to about $45 per board and components (<$2 per channel) I have two of these boards bought in a co-op last year; I had some problems assembling them, but that's me and the blind spots in my eyes. One works fine (except I blew one triac during the season) and I have to troubleshoot the other. Natively, this runs the Renard protocol, but I'm running the DMX code on mine. You do have to know how to solder or arrange for assembly via Walter or someone. Current ratings: 2 amps max per channel (4 strings of 100 light mini incandescent), limited by fuses (15 amps per 12 channel bank) and copper trace size. This one is open source with schematics and source code.

    All the above require a "dongle" - generally a USB adapter that converts everything to RS485 serial information. I highly recommend getting the LOR one for the LOR hardware, and an Entec-compatible one for the DMX hardware, or an iDMX for the DMX hardware if you're running LOR software. The Renard stuff you can run from an RS-232 serial port, but other than for education purposes, I would not recommend it.

    There are other boards available, such as the DC boards - all 3 sources above have them, to handle things such as LED flood lamps, etc.

    I have to recommend two things, though; if you're not comfortable with soldering, and it sounds like you aren't, going with LOR starting with the inventory clearance sale is a good way to get started. Known working technology will give you the confidence that if something's not working, it's most likely an operator error and not a hardware fault. That's hard on the pride, but valuable as to where to look to fix it.

    The second thing is that you learn how to solder your own boards. Not everything may be available from the commercial sources at the price you're willing to pay, or you may have to do a repair to a commercial board that got shorted out and don't have time to send it off to get fixed. That said, Al said something important in another thread; get everything assembled by August that you're going to use for the following Christmas. I wish I had for 2010; I think there are a number of others that wish they had as well.

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    Default Re: LOR vs. DMX Questions; Recommendations Needed

    Thanks again to everyone and the awesome advice and recommendations. I've closely read each response, am continuing to do my homework and look forward to working with everyone going forward. Hope to see you all at The Convention!

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    Newbie Extraordinaire... scottmcl's Avatar
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    Default Re: LOR vs. DMX Questions; Recommendations Needed

    Austin,

    I started with just the LOR this year. If I decide to do DIY or DMX, I will mostly consider the time I will have to commit to it as opposed to the money I'd be saving. Pixels look like fun, but not sure I'm ready or have the time to be on the bleeding edge of technology...
    - Scott M.
    ______________________________
    Newbie extraordinaire...
    LOR user with 108 channels.
    Carpenter Lights: Website; Twitter feed; Facebook page

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    Havin fun ! kidcole's Avatar
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    Default Re: LOR vs. DMX Questions; Recommendations Needed

    The largest support base in TASL is going to be with LOR products. And it's the simplest way to get started. We'll hold some software training classes which will be LOR based. If you learn to solder, then you could buy your LOR controllers fairly cheap and make them yourself. The LOR Spring Sale (which has been more like Winter Sale) prices have been very good. Around $180 for an assembled controller - you add the power cords and pigtails - no soldering required. The fully assembled LOR controllers sell in the range of $210 to $220 on eBay .. so you'll not lose any of your investment.

    Once you've gone through your first year with this stuff, then you can decide if you want to add DMX. I don't recommend DMX for a first year unless you have a close buddy who's running the same stuff as you. There's also talk about LOR software supporting native DMX without the screwy iDMX interfaces. But I'm not holding my breath.

    A bunch of us have discussed taking the "plunge" into LightShow Pro <LSP> software. If we do it as a group there would be a good support base for others to follow. We all know the future of this lighting stuff is going to be RGB Pixels instead of fixed color bulbs .. and LOR software is currently a kluge for RGB. LSP is significantly more capable and can essentially drive almost any type of controller (with DMX dongles). But also significantly more complex to operate too ..

    LOR is the best choice and you can sell it off for a profit if you decide to change it out later ..
    Thanks,

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

    Back to Work <unretired> so I went Static in 2017. Planning xLights when I retire <again>. Maybe 2019 ?

    Falcon - 3 F16V3 & 1 PiCap, Sandevices - 2 E681 & 4 E6804, 288 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

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