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BillyBob54
04-28-2008, 09:27 AM
After reading the “how to’” on shortening light strands, I have modified a strand icicle lights to permit individual control of each section. The icicle lights I use come in 30 ft sets, each set is two separate15’ lengths with plugs at both ends. Each 15’ length has 3 electrically separate icicle sections. On my installation, it takes 60 feet of icicle lights, so I have 12 sections of lights I can control independently.

Each of the three sections are wired in series and the three sections are wired in parallel with each other. Physically, each strand is wired as per the diagram below (I lifted the basic art work from the “Shorten Mini Lights” thread in the wiki). The method that follows could also be applied to a 100 light string of mini lights to control each 50 light section.

Start with the first drop of lights. You will see one wire coming from the plug end going into the first socket. There will be another wire coming from that same attachment point as the plug end wire. This wire will go back up to the main strand and continue down to the next section of lights. Cut this wire fairly close to the light socket (see below diagram). The third wire you will find at the first drop of lights is the common return wire for all the sections. The wire you just cut actually controls the second section of lights. Slide a piece of heat shrink over the wire and solder on an extension wire. Wrap this wire around the original wire all the way back to the plug.

Follow the main wire run down the string. You will find two drops of lights with only two wires between them. If the male plug is to your left, locate the drop of lights at the right end of the section of two wires. Once again, you will see one wire going into the first light socket with another wire coming out of the same attachment point and continuing on down the main wire run (see diagram). Cut this wire and extend back to the plug just like the first. Your 15’ section of icicle lights is now configured to control each of the three sections independently. Be advised, that if you plug another section of lights into this modified section, all the remaining lights will flash with the last section of lights. You could go to the third section of lights and repeat the above process to control the first section of the next sting of lights. As it takes 4 15’ sections of lights, I am considering cutting the plugs off the end of the next set of lights, soldering the two together and continuing the above process. I would end up with 30 feet of light with 6 independently controllable sections. I thought about doing the whole 60 feet of lights this way, but I would end up thirteen wires at the original plug end. I think that it might be best to do two sections of 30’ and run them from either end of the house.

Next project is to build a housing to contain the SSRs to control each 30’ section. More to follow.