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Display channel assignments.

I wanted to share a method of my hardware and channel layouts used to help alleviate some confusion for your first setup.


Step 1: Make a Layout and Stick to it

I start out by drawing my entire display on a sheet of paper, down to every set of lights. Do nothing else until you have finalized this layout. Once you decide on the final layout, change nothing, keep it written in stone. Do not deviate from it at all. Once you have every piece of the display in its final location on paper make a few photo copies and keep the original someplace safe.

Step 2: Make SSR Groupings

Now go through the entire display setup and mark each component that uses a channel from your controller. Do this in a logical manner starting from left to right. Now go back and start to group each of the channel utilizations into groups of 4 keeping the groups as tight as possible based on proximity. If you do not use a 4 channel SSR setup then group the channels into groups with the same number of channels as your SSR boards. Do this until you have grouped all the channel allocations you made before.

Step 3: Label SSRs to correspond to Controllers

Now go back and label each ssr grouping, in a logical manner such as left to right. I label my ssr groupings as A1 through P1 and A2 through P2 to match my 595 coop controllers. A1 is the A ouptut on controller 1, and A2 is the A output on controller 2.

Step 4: Assign Individual Channel Numbers

Now that you have the SSR groups labeled to match your controller setup, go back and assign a channel number to each channel in the SSR group. In my setup the A1 output is channels 1, 2, 3 and 4. The A2 output is channel 65, 66, 67 and 68. Make copies.

Step 5: Make a Spreadsheet and Power Map

Now that you have your channel assignments on paper make a spreadsheet and input the SSR groups, channel assignments(numbers) and channel descriptions. Take a second copy of the display layout and that has the SSR groups and layout all your extension cords to power up the display. Be sure to indicate connection points and electrical circuits utilized. Now you can follow the spreadsheet list and enter the information into Vixen or whatever program you use for controlling your display.

Using Your Hookup Sheets

Once this is done you now have a display bible. Everything you need to trouble shoot your display as available to you for reference. Only now after all that is done can you start to sequence. Say you have a reindeer that is not lighting and you have over 100 channels. This could be a nightmare. Just whip out you bible and take a look at which extension cord connect power to it, which SSR assembly it is assigned to, which channel it is in the group. Nothing else is needed except you papers and a tester. Take the copies outside, not the originals. I hope this will help someone out in troubleshooting a display. It came in very handy for me. I had a couple problems last year, my first year. I took the papers outside and was able to narrow down the problem to a receptacle in an SSR assembly that I did not split. It would have take forever with 32 SSR assemblies, 108 channels and hundreds of cords and cat 5 cables.

Final Remarks

One last note, you do not need to make SSR groupings utilizing every channel in the group. Leave a spare here and there in case you need to move a display piece to another channel due to a controller problem or broken conductor in a cat 5 control cable. If you do the math I used 32 SSR assemblies at 4 channels each, this gave me 128 channels. I only used 108 channels leaving me with plenty of room to make an adjustment if needed or if I added a display piece mid season.

Pictures to follow.