This update is just to let everybody know that four new DC-powered light controllers have been ordered from America.
Light-O-Rama, the business which manufactures and sells these boards, is bringing out a newer, cheaper, DC board called the CMB16D-QC. There is little difference to the more expensive CMB16D controller other than the different cable connection method.
Anybody whom is looking at starting out with computer control and LED lights (or anyone wishing to expand the size of their computerised display) ought to look at the CTB16PC for controlling AC lights (incandescent lights, regular rope lights) or the CMB16D-QC (requires a large power supply) for controlling DC lights (LEDs).
There hasn’t been an update since New Years Day, so I figured it is time for an some news.
Regarding the 2010 display, there will be changes but most of it will be behind the scenes. The biggest change is the introduction of DC controllers which is safer and more reliable for syncronising LED lights to music than the 240v AC alternative. The controllers operate under the same proprietary Light-O-Rama protocol as the CTB16PC controllers used during 2008 and 2009, so I’m hoping there won’t be too many bugs to squash when I receive them.
A few new additions will be added though! Three new rope light shapes were bought during the after-Christmas sales, and soon I shall be ordering new LED lights for the verge tree, putting an end to the unreliable incandescent fairy lights in that section of the yard.
Yesterday was the launch of this year’s Christmas display. It went off mostly as intended, although the ‘sticking’ issue returned on one section of the mega tree once again. I’m hoping it will be corrected for tonight.
A video from the launch is now available on the video page. Pictures and videos of individual songs are not available just yet, but they will be soon.
Well tonight the lights were set to turn on at 8:30 pm for a few minutes to find out whether the digital timers were set up properly. Whilst some of them were a little too slow, this was nothing compared to the problems the mega tree suffered.
The ‘sticking’ problem has returned. This is where certain strands of LEDs on the mega tree turn on and ‘stick’ in the on state until the power is physically cut off by switching off power to the controllers.
So the fast fix… another trip to the shops, another $50-$60 to be spent. I guess this is to be expected, but on the eve of opening night and less than 24 hours to go, I’m feeling a bit frustrated. I’m sure the smiles of little (and big!) kids tomorrow night will make this all worth it though.
As expected, the the half completed mega tree brought the light sticking issue with it from 2008. The cause in simple terms is that the LED light strings on the tree draw so little power that the light controllers have difficulty ‘seeing’ the light sets, so fail to switch them off.
The solution is to raise the power use for each affected channel.. making up a DIY light fitting that plugs in to a regular powerpoint would cost $6 or more for the parts plus time which is at an absolute premium, so the next best thing is a whole bunch of budget mini rope light shapes for around $7 each.
Last night, the lights which were up so far were turned on just before dusk to do the first full on computer control test.
Results were better than expected, although not perfect. With two different types of controllers being used this year, (Light-O-Rama CTB16PC’s and DIY Olsen 595 Switches) there appears to be a very slight delay with the former, of only a fraction of a second. This is fixable by adjusting the light patterns in the sequencer (Vixen 184.108.40.206) so that all the channels of light that use the LOR controllers send out the message a fraction before messages are sent to the Olsen 595 controllers. This, I hope, will correct the problem. Testing will continue leading up to opening night, which this year is Tuesday December 1st from 8:00 pm (lights on from 8:30 pm).
Set up over the past week has been slow due to record breaking heatwave conditions, but while there’s a break in the very hot temperatures I shall get to work setting more decorations up.
The new green LED lights arrived sooner than expected just last week. I was not expecting to get the lights until mid September, however they have now been labelled and put away for a few months. I did take a few photographs of them though!
Initial tests of running the ‘Light-O-Rama’ branded controllers with DMX seem to work reasonably well, though I did experience some technical difficulties with ‘access’ errors a couple of times. What I concluded was that the software must be trying to control the lights more than once (think of it like two or more people trying to drive the same car).
Regarding the webcam, I’m expecting that it should be functioning again around early to mid October. By then the ‘show’ computer that drives the lights and music will be in place in a new spot that should hopefully make managing the webcam possible as well as running the show.
This is just an update to say that I have submitted my order for new lights this year. Most of them will be green LEDs, although I also will be adding a small amount of additional blue and white LEDs as well. Cost of new lights will be around $850 AU.
I expect expenditure for the year will be in the low to mid $1000’s with the possible addition of a DMX controller and necessary extension cords.
Until recently, the display was not running correctly due to various problems such as power loads and miscellaneous computer issues. I was starting to become disappointed with this year’s display.
However, the display has now been operating for two days without the gremlins from earlier in the month, so I believe the issues are sorted at last.
I hope to get video footage captured and uploaded within the next couple of days. Pictures have been uploaded and more will follow soon.
Season Greetings to all.