Light automation

How do you control the lights and make them turn on and off?

The lights are controlled by circuit boards, made by a company called Light-O-Rama, which are connected together with computer network cable.  Computer software is used to control the lights to make them turn on, off, twinkle, fade, and shimmer.  You do not need to be a computer wizard or programmer.

Each section of lights is connected via a power cord to one channel on the Light-O-Rama controller. I have several controllers consisting of 16 channels each. In 2007 I had 48 channels total.  You can have hundreds of channels, even thousands if you can afford it.  My controllers were pre-made.  All I had to do was install them in a weatherproof enclosure and hook up the power inputs/outputs.  See pictures below.  Controllers can be purchased as a kit where you can solder the pieces together or as a complete package ready to be plugged in.

 

Now I needed to connect the light strands to the power outputs.  I decided to install the controllers as close to the lights as possible to avoid purchasing large quantities of extension cords.  You still need a lot of extension cords anyhow but could you imagine the quantity needed to run them back into a garage or something!

Here is a picture of one slightly behind a tree.  It can be seen during the day but at night its not noticed by the viewers.

This one below is hidden behind a tree so it is not visible from the street.

I purchased my enclosures from Home Depot for $30 each. My new enclosures which are not pictured are plastic and purchased from Skycraft Parts & Surplus for $10 each. I searched around for the power cord outputs but was unable to find anything affordable with a three prong grounded end. So I ended up purchasing both the input and output power cord pigtails from Light-O-Rama too. These can be found on the accessories page.

Software is used to control the lights to make them turn on or off.  I purchased a starter kit with my first LOR board which included the software and an adapter for the computer.  The LOR sequence editor is the tool used to create a sequence which tells the circuit boards how to apply power to each channel.  You can create sequences with or without music.  The editor looks like a grid with your channels on the left and your timing events across the top. You can see an example here.  There are additional tools included which allow you to set a schedule, and a hardware utility.

Sequences take many hours to create.  You can download the demo version of the software and begin creating sequences today which can be used in your show once you purchase the equipment.  One option is to modify a sequence that someone else created.  I have used sequences from LORSequences.com.   Some members of the PlanetChristmas forum share their sequences as well. You must purchase a licensed copy of the music to be legit.

Please visit the Light-O-Rama site for more information

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