View Full Version : Christmas Light Computer Control Newbie

02-20-2008, 10:15 PM
Newbie isn't even accurate. Stumbling around numerous sites and finally found the one I think is the right one!
I want to do this thing - help me.
I did a preliminary plan and need 128 channels - minimum. But since this is my first year, I will start there.
So I need 128 channels, lookslike Vixen is the way to go for me, and I need to be able to expand it later.

Please help. I know which end of a soldering iron to hold - numerous DIY and home improvement projects over the years. Some (VERY simple) original things.

So I need a board - Olsen 595?
I have downloaded and learning (enough) Vixen to be dangerous.
Parts list and place to order.

02-21-2008, 12:30 AM
Hey Mikey....

The Oleson is a good board to start with. It's only 64 channels, so you'd need two of them. If you are strapped for cash, you might want to look at a Grinch. It's a lot cheaper and easier to build and is also 64-channels. And circuit boards are available from wjohn. Both the Oleson and Grinch boards provide on-off only controll, but can be made to dim using a Ren-C converter for each 64-chanel board.

Just my 2-cents worth.

Welcome aboard!


02-21-2008, 12:42 AM
You may want to have a look at this: 7 Steps to Selecting a Controller (http://doityourselfchristmas.com/wiki/index.php?title=7_Steps_to_Selecting_a_Controller)

02-21-2008, 02:57 AM
You may want to have a look at this: 7 Steps to Selecting a Controller (http://doityourselfchristmas.com/wiki/index.php?title=7_Steps_to_Selecting_a_Controller)

Excellent suggestion.

Here's some pics Mikey in case your interested.

This one uses parallel port for PC communication (Olsen)
You may have more difficulty getting this one. http://doityourselfchristmas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1694
The Grinch also uses parallel port for communication but is readily available. Just PM wjohn.

This one uses a serial port for communication (Renard64)
Readily available. Again just PM wjohn.

The REN64, GRINCH, LEDTRICKs, SSROZ, DC SSR, and RENC are available without a COOP.

Just email me and I make up the order from ex-stock, or from boards soon to arrive. This year we have gone thru 2700 SSROZ boards alone without a COOP.


This one, DMX (Lynx)
This one like the Ren16 has onboard SSR's

More info from wjohn.

02-21-2008, 08:24 AM
Since I recently went thru this same process, I just want to point out that while the Gricnh uses a parallel port, it must be a "real" parallel port and not a USB-to-parallel port. I don't know the technical reasons why that won't work, but I have been told it won't. So if you have a new computer that doesn't have a true parallel port, you may want to consider going with something else... or using the Ren-C and Ren-T with the Grinch to connect to a serial port (with can be either a real serial port or USB-to-Serial port).

P. Short
02-21-2008, 11:15 AM
Maybe at some point that project that Active_House is working on for the LEDtriks might be modified to handle this scenario.



02-21-2008, 11:38 AM
Well lets start off by advising Mikey to hold the cold end of the soldering iron, he will get burned severely if he holds the HOT side. :D

The grinch is a simpler board to solder up only because it has less parts. There is nothing technically advanced about the Olsen. The coop Olsen does have it advantages over a grinch. Remember the grinch was designed as a cheap no frills version of the Olsen. Some of the benefits of the Olsen is the channel LEDs, power input options, the ability to run other than 5v relays and mix and match them on the same controller, I think the Olsen has a higher current rating per channel so you can run some things right off the board without a relay. Also all the options on the Olsen 595 are not required to be populated for it to work. The assembly instructions are in the Christmas Wiki (http://www.doityourselfchristmas.com/wiki/index.php?title=64_Channel_Olsen_595_Controller_As sembly_Instructions) and will advise of what is required and what is not.

02-21-2008, 06:02 PM
Take a little more time and look at your options. I am also new and gearing up for 2008. I went the grinch route. But then decided I wanted dimming. I'm pretty good with electronics and electrical circuts. So I kept the grinch scheme and just added the ren c and ren t to the eqation. John and Wayne do have the boards and you have alot of people here to help you on your way. Look for diy., posts that Dave (xmus) has done. Maybe someone can post a address for it. Just one thing is to make a plan. I've built some of the bigest sound and light systems back in the late 70s and early 80s, and this is going to be a challange to get my 128 channells dimming on time. In a good way of course. Have fun and good luck. You'll be hearing from me. Parts are starting to arive. HAHA!


02-24-2008, 06:36 PM
Look for diy., posts that Dave (xmus) has done. Maybe someone can post a address for it.

Like this?