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Thread: My 2011 and how/why I failed

  1. #1
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    Default My 2011 and how/why I failed

    First Happy New Year folks!

    Now on top my saga. No pre-planning, started late, new technology and Vixen hated me.

    Last year I started with much less lead time and had a show, 32 channels, and sequenced 7 songs. All my strands other than my tree wraps were single channel, multi color LED's (roof line, each window (PVC frames), 2 Ren24 controllers.

    This year I built plenty of controllers, had many more channels (RGB/Pixels/Floods/Wall washers etc), made some nice north poles, fitted them with RGB spotlights, had some snowflakes that I put in 2 falling 5's. and I got nothing done.

    I had too many channels that i became overwhelmed in trying to sequence so I decided late that i would script (600 or so lines of script later), i had something that did some neat things, but Vixen and scripting is really an art in itself,, and it's really hard to get RGB's to do things cleanly.

    Wireless was a great help but i didn't find out until the last night that what I thought was working, appeared to be misfiring a lot and or just plainly not controlling certain lights.. Running a script, on a schedule I would get .NET MS failures every 3 cycles or so, or it would just stop firing and once I hit stop, the failure would come up and I would restart. Vixen and I didn't get along.

    New Years day with the laptop setup by the front of the house, everything seemed to run well, no failures, no .net errors, no misfires things went nice for "I guess" the first time all season...

    The only video of just a random of the house.. no trees but it was a cool last hoorah for the new year "http://youtu.be/6uvOTf0yWS0"

    I did get to test out the new tech, E681's, XBEE Wireless etc. So i know things work, i know how to setup next year.

    But I let a lot of folks down who were expecting something at least on par of my first year, including the family. Sure they made excuses for me, but I still failed. And that stinks! We still had a great holiday but ya, no!

    So as I was taking things down this year, I started thinking about 2012, and I will be ready. the pillars will have a strand on either side, in order to do fun snowfall type lights and other events. I will get the lights up earlier. I will do a megatree of some sort. I will cut up my LED rope and rebuild the candy canes with these brighter strings of rope light (did one and it's much nicer than the cheap incans inside them now. I'll work on some other aspects and get the house down including windows. I've already started cutting and working my pixels to be the correct lengths for other areas that I failed to get to. I will stop and read a bit more on sequencing tricks and see if I can't get this down, but the pixel game changes things a lot. While I was pissed off with LSP as I was trying to learn and it was fighting back, Vixen crapped on me even more. So I'll spend sometime and figure out which software package will HELP "ME" do what I need to do. I need to work on more reliable technology and will probably need to work on antennae strength or other if I continue with WIFI (although moving everything to Ethernet would be just fine as well).

    Pixels are real neat and being able to seamlessly go from green, blue, red, white etc is awesome and got some very cool affects (no vide or pictures).. so i'll stick with the technology and learn how to get the most from them. i'm not interested in grids, But i am interested in making my house come more alive.

    I've got enough controllers and played with them enough this year to understand much more how they work, weaknesses and strengths.

    I plan to overcome next year, this year while I started early enough I stalled out and failed. As I mentioned my first year was remarkable I got so much done in almost no time., so maybe I relaxed a bit too much as I started earlier and ":had time" HAHAHAHAHA ya right.

    Anyways, hope you all had great shows, made many people smile and laugh. I'll be around more this year so I can post a glowing "I got it" post next year!

    thanks for the help again this year and sorry that I didn't put it to good use!

    Tory

  2. #2
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    Default Re: My 2011 and how/why I failed

    But I let a lot of folks down who were expecting something at least on par of my first year, including the family. Sure they made excuses for me, but I still failed. And that stinks! We still had a great holiday but ya, no!
    Me too. Just got overwhelmed building and working on light strands and structures that time just came and went. But.....Just got a head start for next year. Now I got these darn pixels to deal with now also. I hate CLAP
    2007-2010 Used a dumb blinky machine.
    2011 - overwhelmed with CLAP and did not make it in time for blinky flashy.
    2012 - First full show. 130+ channels using 5@Ren24SS, 2@Ren8SS, 1@Ren16SS, 1@Ren48LSD, and 17k lights
    2013 - 2@E681.5 for GECE roofline, 48 Channel megatree & above RenSS's for 34k+ lights.

    2014 - planned 640+ pixel GECE megatree conversion using 2 E682's, Ws2811 pixels, dumb RGB's, more LEDS and above items.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: My 2011 and how/why I failed

    Guys, lighten up on yourselves!

    Did you have fun building/preparing this year? You bet your kokabonk you did! Were you engaged and animated all summer and into the fall as "crunch time" neared? You bet your wommelwuuber -- sure you did!!!

    There's an art to knowning how to bite off more than you can chew and turning that into a bigger mouth with more teeth. The first years are the hardest because you're building infrastructure, and you're learning how stuff works. What went wrong with Vixen? Ahhh... who knows??? My bet it was in the configuration of the PC and possible conflicts with other apps. LSP? I won't even go there!

    Tory, don't punish yourself by saying you "let people down." No you didn't. Your family saw you working away at things, and they were just as hopeful as you were. They enjoyed the ride, too because you were happy. And that makes them happy. Their disappointment was only a reflection of your disappointment because they know how hard you worked on things -- they wanted YOU to succeed but not for them, for YOU.

    And you did. Look what you learned! Look at all the new toys you have! Look at the plans you already have for next year. Awesome.

    This is a great hobby. You both just proved it! Happy New Year!!!
    Last edited by dirknerkle; 01-03-2012 at 11:06 PM. Reason: typos
    www.diychristmas.org

  4. #4
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    Default Re: My 2011 and how/why I failed

    I could write a similar tale every year, but I don't see it that way. I start a project far enough to decide if I like it and if it'll work for me. Then I stock up as I find really good deals. Then I pick a project I'm stocked for and build it. I have more projects in the wing than in the yard. But I still don't have as many different things going on as Tory did. Take it easy on your self, work on one thing to the end including running with Vixen. Then when you sequence you'll know what to expect. And have less problems (maybe less in the yard too, but what's out will work.)

    Brian
    2009 - 48 channel MegaTree 4800 lights
    plus 3200 lights static display.
    2010 - 6 Snowflakes on heavy equipment stored in front yard :-(
    2011 - 72 channel Megatree 7520 lights,
    120 channel total about 10k lights total

  5. #5
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    Default Re: My 2011 and how/why I failed

    I agree with Dirk. Don't be so hard on yourself.

    Having said that, there is a lesson to be learned and I'm sure everyone who reads this will take something from it. As for me, as I was reading it all I could think about about was no matter how many channels you have it all comes down to sequencing...one of the most time consuming things and probably the one thing most people seem to forget. It's always good to get a reminder of that.

    And...I'd bet people enjoyed the lights even if you were disappointed. We tend to be our own worst critics.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: My 2011 and how/why I failed

    This was my first year. It was a different show every night, adding a string here, moving a sting there. I tweaked at least 1 and usually more songs every night. Testing the changes in the twilight before the scheduled start time, STOPPING the test and scrambling to start the program when a car stopped. It was all fun.

    I got a Canon M40 camera and have been trying to better the Auto recording, my lights are not coming down until I do that, (and I fix the Hippo song).

    You live in paradise, leave the lights up and play, who says they have to come down? Figure out the pixel thing for the rest of us that got swept up by the GECE sales.

    Perfect, no, but my whole family got involved and it was fun/stressful/engaging. My son told me he was disappointed with Christmas, why? "Because Santa did not bring me my own controller to build, Dad"

    Edit:

    And I just ordered 3 wireless boards, my Mighty Mini's are not coming in, and I will play with them,and the sequences all year.
    Last edited by buymyemu; 01-03-2012 at 11:48 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: My 2011 and how/why I failed

    Man, my story sounds a lot like Tory's, too, minus the RGB stuff, thank goodness (mine was just a bunch of experimental stuff that took much longer than expected).

    Setup didn't get finished here until Dec. 30, and I was also very disappointed. I knew if I kept at it until I finished it, though, things would be in much better shape for next year -- I'm pretty pleased about that aspect of it. The GECE temptation was too great at Lowes yesterday, so I have another potential time sink that I'm promising to have working in AUGUST or else I'll not use them.

    Anyway, I'm with you in spirit, Tory... we'll make up for it in 2012!

    Cheers,
    Jon

  8. #8
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    Default Re: My 2011 and how/why I failed

    Lets get on thing straight, This is not a hobby.

    When people ask if this is a hobby, I say it was for the first 6 months.
    The four and a half years after that have been pure OBSESSION.

    All your waking hours and some during which you should be sleeping will be spent working on the lights.
    This year I even canceled the Halloween show.
    There was nothing new and it was a complete redo of last years show, so I just decided to not do it at all.

    For Christmas I had already added the 8 ACL strobe sticks I did not finish last year.
    The two new MiniRose fireworks.
    The coro RGB star
    and 16 FAST LEDancer sticks.
    The other 16 will get finished next year, but nobody except me and the wife know they are missing.

    No new music this year either. The same 6 songs that I have done the last two years.
    just fit the new pieces into the existing show and make them look like they belong.
    When someone asks how long it takes to choreograph one song
    I say 8 - 12 hours per minute of audio, that's 40 hours for one three minute song.
    Do not underestimate how long it takes to produce a good sequence.

    And now I have been bitten by the GECE bug and have 400(8*50) pixels on the way.
    Scratch one mega tree, let the rebuilding commence.

    Vixen has not been without problems this year either.
    At 4500 channels on a 5 year old PC I think I have found its limits.
    That was before the motherboard blew its caps and I had to revert to and even older backup show PC.

    Oh and with Vixen 3 it sounds like all sequencing will be a start over from scratch.

    Only you know what your display is supposed to look like.
    99% of your viewers will be wowed by anything you put up.
    Only you know the the fourth bulb from the top on the third string from the left is not working.
    Your public does not look long enough or close enough to see any imperfections.
    They just know it is way beyond anything they can do. And it is Beautiful.

    Joel
    If I no longer count channels... but instead say I have over 12 universes... Is that too many

  9. #9
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    Default Re: My 2011 and how/why I failed

    Quote Originally Posted by jrock64 View Post
    Lets get on thing straight, This is not a hobby.

    When people ask if this is a hobby, I say it was for the first 6 months.
    The four and a half years after that have been pure OBSESSION.

    All your waking hours and some during which you should be sleeping will be spent working on the lights.
    This year I even canceled the Halloween show.
    There was nothing new and it was a complete redo of last years show, so I just decided to not do it at all.

    For Christmas I had already added the 8 ACL strobe sticks I did not finish last year.
    The two new MiniRose fireworks.
    The coro RGB star
    and 16 FAST LEDancer sticks.
    The other 16 will get finished next year, but nobody except me and the wife know they are missing.

    No new music this year either. The same 6 songs that I have done the last two years.
    just fit the new pieces into the existing show and make them look like they belong.
    When someone asks how long it takes to choreograph one song
    I say 8 - 12 hours per minute of audio, that's 40 hours for one three minute song.
    Do not underestimate how long it takes to produce a good sequence.

    And now I have been bitten by the GECE bug and have 400(8*50) pixels on the way.
    Scratch one mega tree, let the rebuilding commence.

    Vixen has not been without problems this year either.
    At 4500 channels on a 5 year old PC I think I have found its limits.
    That was before the motherboard blew its caps and I had to revert to and even older backup show PC.

    Oh and with Vixen 3 it sounds like all sequencing will be a start over from scratch.

    Only you know what your display is supposed to look like.
    99% of your viewers will be wowed by anything you put up.
    Only you know the the fourth bulb from the top on the third string from the left is not working.
    Your public does not look long enough or close enough to see any imperfections.
    They just know it is way beyond anything they can do. And it is Beautiful.

    Joel
    So true Joel, so true. Especially the last paragraph.
    James Family Christmas - 1144 channels of SS Renard channels
    Website - http://jamesfamilychristmas.com/
    Facebook - James Family Christmas


  10. #10
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    Default Re: My 2011 and how/why I failed

    Tory

    A great post in many ways, with some lessons for people planning to jump into the RGB/Pixel arena. Certainly introducing multiple new things in the same year can be a recipe for pain as you experienced.
    You seem to have quite a few positives out of it though with the lessons learned and the planning already underway for 2012.

    I personally think that everyone looking at using 500+ channels should before they even start on hardware actually fire up the sequencer of choice and see just how hard it is to play with very large channel counts. I've found that 600-1000 is about all i really like playing with in Vixen even though i have used around 8,000 in Vixen for the last two years. LSP was a joy to use to sequence the Pixels/RGB till it got slow and failed to output for me

    I actually learnt this lesson in 2010 but fortunately had a backup plan to be able to deal with 8k channels in Vixen and then had it reinforced to the max in 2011 when on the night prior to opening night LSP failed to actually drive the display despite being able to sequence it.

    Vixen was again pushed into service and I managed to convert 13 tracks from the 2010 show to the 2011 layout on the Saturday (yes one day ) and then sequenced 5 new tracks on the Sunday to give some variety.

    Knowing just what your chosen sequencing software can do is absolutely essential to having a great show.

    My thought on wireless is; only do it if you can't physically cable to the controller from the PC, ie on the other side of a road. I've had wireless boards since RJ first released it but never built any as i've had no requirement.

    As for software, LSP conitnues to show promise and i again look forward to it being upgraded, Vixen3 has me excited and suspect this will be my choice for 2012, Madrix remains firmly out of my price range with 2012 channel requirements (planned) way past the "affordable" 16 universe license and no doubt Vixen2.5 will remain my backup if all else fails as i know it will output at least 12k channels and I will test it soon for 16k channels just to be sure.

    Joel: So true, had a number of RGB strings being probmatic this year but generally only I noticed it .... btw "only 5 universes" not enough mate (had 26 this year)

    Cheers
    Phil
    Last edited by aussiephil; 01-04-2012 at 01:17 AM.
    2012:
    Software: LightFactory Personal
    Hardware: J1Sys Pixel controllers . [url]Http://www.j1sys.com[/url]
    Lights: 6000+ Pixels and 20k+ LEDs
    Channels: around 20,000 channels

    You know where to find me....

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