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Thread: Computer controling...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Isle of Wight, England
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    Default Computer controling...

    Hi there all, I'm new to theses boards ( have been lerking for ages but never signed up!!)

    I live on the Isle of Wight in the UK and have been decorating the outside of my house big style for about 4 years now and its got to the stage where I can not fit much more in so I am looking for other areas to cover and computer controlled lights are something I have been thinking about for about 2 years now but I have not got a clue where to start and I am no good at electronics... I did it at school for a year about 7 years ago now but Ive forgotern it all now.... I can just solder stuff together.

    I have looked at buy systems from websites but I don;t have that sort of money I'm sorry to say to buy them.

    I don't want a large system just to control a few sets of lights really (20/25 maybe) can any tell me if I can buy bits that I can just "click" together or even do the guys that have made the systems I have read about on the forum sell full systems?

    Thanks alot for any new you can give me, I have already started work on my lights, so if I was going to do this I would have to do it quickly!!!

    Cheers
    Andrew :D

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Long Island, NY
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    Default

    Andrew,
    Let me start of by giving you a big Welcome! You have come to the right place. Here you can find the knowledge and hardware to make you lights dance to the music. There are a few systems around here currently. You would need to decide what it is you want. Do you want the lights to shine at different brightness levels, Dimming, or just simple on/off control. If you want dimming you should go the route of the Renard system, you can read about it in the Renard forum. If you want simple on/off control then I would suggest you go with either a 595 setup or the Grinch system. Both systems work off the same principles and can be read about in the Olsen 595 forum. The circuit boards can be purchased from our members. Check out the Coop forum for the pcb's you will need. The members here get together and do a large order of hundreds of boards to get a lower cost per board, we all save money that way. There may be a ready built 595 for sale in the DIY store forum. The SSRs can also be acquired this way. All the parts required are listed for each on the respective forums and on the Christmas Wiki. So we have the solution for you, we tell you what to get and you solder it together.

    Good Luck and visit often!
    Thanks,
    Brian, your friendly site Admin.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Alexandria, VA
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    Default

    Andrew,
    Welcome to DIYChristmas. This is my first year doing this stuff. Christmas 2007 will be my first display. I too had no experience in electronics. I just wanted to do computer controlled lights. The people on this board are very helpful and can get you over any hurdles if you run into any. I had never soldered anything in my life, never built a circuit board, I couldn't even read a schematic. Everyone one the forum helped me in spite of my serious limitations.

    If you want to control your lights to enhance your Christmas decorations, don't let your perceived lack of skills stop you from doing it. Pick the controller you want, get in touch with the right guy(s), and start learning. You'll have fun, save a bundle (over commercial products), and if you are not careful, you might start understanding some of this stuff!

    We are all looking forward to seeing pictures of your first computer controlled Christmas.

    Steve

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Default

    The quickest, but not least expensive, way is with DMX. While not as expensive as the commercial systems there is cost involved to purchase the DMX dongle and dimmers.

    You may want to read the following wiki entry:
    http://doityourselfchristmas.com/wik....php?title=DMX

    If your priority is cost and not time then it is less expensive to build a controller from scratch or get in on a group buy. Be sure to factor in the learning curve, you will most likely need to do some soldering and electronics work.
    DMX, RDM, ArtNet, sACN, and RDMnet...the future of DIY Christmas.
    Designer of the PropController an open source single-board hardware platform designed for lighting and prop control.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Isle of Wight, England
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    Hey, thanks for the walm welcomes.

    I want to be able to dim the lights in and out.
    Really its both time and cost but time more than anything as the show starts in 2 months!! LOL

    The other problem well it might not be a problem is I believe that US power is 110v or something like that (mains) and in the UK is 240 mains.... no idea if that matters etc but thought I would bring it up.

    I will look at the DMX system and see if it would fit what I need.

    cheers
    Andrew
    "Wighting up the Island" - [url]http://christmas.astro-space.net[/url]

  6. #6
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    So I have done a search on ebay and found

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/DMX-Controller...QQcmdZViewItem

    1. is that what I am looking for
    2. what do I need to plug the lights into that box?

    Andrew
    "Wighting up the Island" - [url]http://christmas.astro-space.net[/url]

  7. #7
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    Thats not what you want, that a DMX controller you are looking for a DMX dimmer.

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Transcension-M...QQcmdZViewItem

    The above will actually dim your lights, the OpenDMX device is connected to your computer and will control the dimmer via Vixen.
    DMX, RDM, ArtNet, sACN, and RDMnet...the future of DIY Christmas.
    Designer of the PropController an open source single-board hardware platform designed for lighting and prop control.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Default

    ohh ok brilliant another stupid questions!!! How do the lights plug into it !! lol?

  9. #9
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    This is a better example:

    http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Transcension-D...QQcmdZViewItem

    These dimmers use an IEC style connector. So you would need to locate an IEC to whatever style connector you are going to be using on your lights. Here in the US its edison; for the life of me I can't remember what your style connector is called.
    DMX, RDM, ArtNet, sACN, and RDMnet...the future of DIY Christmas.
    Designer of the PropController an open source single-board hardware platform designed for lighting and prop control.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Ok i think i'm getting the idea of this now!!

    What if the lights have a transformer? because I am getting the feeling I need male IEC's to connect to the system.

    cheers
    Andrew
    "Wighting up the Island" - [url]http://christmas.astro-space.net[/url]

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