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Did you know?
  • The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on that day.
  • Santa Claus's sleigh is led by eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder (variously spelled Donder and Donner), and Blixem (variously spelled Blixen and Blitzen), with Rudolph being a 20th-century inclusion.
  • Outdoor Christmas lights on homes evolved from decorating the traditional Christmas tree and house with candles during the Christmas season. Lighting the tree with small candles dates back to the 17th century and originated in Germany before spreading to Eastern Europe.
  • That big, jolly man in the red suit with a white beard didn’t always look that way. Prior to 1931, Santa was depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to a spooky-looking elf. He has donned a bishop's robe and a Norse huntsman's animal skin. When Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly in 1862, Santa was a small elflike figure who supported the Union. Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years, changing the color of his coat from tan to the red he’s known for today.
  • Christmas 2018 countdown has already begun. Will you be ready???
  • Why do we love Christmas? It's all about the traditions. In this chaotic world we can miss the "good old days." Christmas reminds us of that time.



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About pjones

  • Rank
    Senior Member

Profile Information

  • My favorite Christmas story
    This one year it snowed!
  • Location
    Vancouver Canada BC
  • Biography
    I have a dream, and it is bright!
  • Interests
    Mountain biking
  • Occupation
  • About my display
    Just starting up

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  1. pjones


    The F16 is a very dependable controller. Last I looked into it I found you need to mount it into an enclosure. If that makes you nervous or is more work with tools than you want to do them go with the light-o-Rama. I believe the light o rama is much more expensive in the long run because you need to purchase all their equipment (or something like that) but they are a plug and play solution, or as close to that as you can get. I use Renard Plus TR24 controllers to control 120VAC lights. I haven't moved over to Pixels yet which is why I'm a little vague on the details. When I move to pixel I plan on using the F16V3 or whatever is out at the time in the Falcon lineup. It has lots of options and capabilities as well as a ton of support. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  2. pjones

    2018 Hot light item

    I see a lot of people using the color shifting lights now. They were getting more traction last year. I don't expect to see a boom in them unless the price drops dramatically. Most people don't want to spend a lot of money or time on lights which I'm guessing is why the lasers took off so quick, they are Fast and cheep, that fits the bill for them. The lasers are also easy for elderly and mobility restricted people so they opened up that part of the market also which was previously untapped. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  3. pjones

    Fake trees outdoors?

    Keep in mind if your tree isn't outdoor rated and your insurance company catches wind that you are using it outdoors then you would most likely not be covered if there was a fire or someone got hurt by it. You would be better off not using the pre lit function and installing your own lights that are rated for outdoor use. The other thing you would need to do if you decided to use the lights outdoors is protect the controller from the weather. I'm guessing the circuit board enclosure isn't weatherproof at all. I find even the outdoor rated LED strands from the big box stores have LEDs that rust out on them if the LEDs are the replaceable type. I will only buy the sealed type strands now because of that ( I've learned my lesson the hard way). Since its indoor rated I'm guessing you will probably encounter that same issue unless the LED strings that are installed use a sealed type LED bulb. I wouldn't want to try and find a failed LED in a 15 foot pre lit tree and you can expect to do that every year if you expose it to moist outside conditions if there are replaceable LED's. The pre lit trees don't have strings that easily pull off so it can be extra tricky to find the failed bulb when compared to finding one in a straightened out strand laying on the floor. That's just my three cents (two cents plus tax) your results may vary but I would error on the side of caution. And I would defiantly find out about the insurance thing. It would come out quite easily in a post fire police report after they inspect the scene if the tree was outdoor rated. Also I've received a shock from touching a strand of LED lights before and they were actually rated for outdoor use. What about making your own mega tree? For $900 you could probably make a nice one and then you can also program it to display any design you want. Just a thought that might be with looking into if that were to interest you and fit the looks of your display. The other issue I've found with replaceable bulbs is that you can't get spares easily. They aren't available off the self for most of the brands that I have and the manufactures won't send them to me. I've had to buy sacrificial strands and used them for replacement bulbs. It looks like the LEDs on that tree are dual color. Not sure what two colors but not a standard bulb by the looks of it. So you get 46 replacement bulbs before your tree starts looking dim and patchy. I see it has a string that will stay lit even when a bulb is removed. It didn't say how many can be removed before the string goes dark by in my experience you might not notice they have failed bulb until 5 or 6 are dark. Some stay lit type strings will go dark once that many bulbs fail and that defeats the purpose of it then. I may be wrong about these strings in particular but it would be worth inquiring about before spending the money on it if you go that route. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  4. pjones

    2018 Hot light item

    I think more and more will be doing the Really Big Lights and the RGB color shifting strands. I appreciate every effort people put in to decorating their house. Some people just don't have the time to dedicate hours upon hours for months on end to put together a show. Other people have accessibility issues that make decorating impossible for them. I was able to get a show going for a couple years now but unfortunately with the addition of another joy to the family and the mahout landscaping that has occurred in our front yard that now completely changes our display setup, this year I may fall somewhere in the middle of that. I'll probably get lights up but won't be able to get a show going this year. For those with even less time or inability to use a ladder or reach window frames then there are the projectors. It is quick, it is decoration, and it displays good holiday spirit. I just wish that they came in more colors and patterns so there was more originality to it. I see projectors are super cheep now too so I bet we'll see a bunch of those in people's Windows soon also. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  5. Hi Cory, It all depends on how much time and money you want to put into it. It sounds like you are looking for a simple sequence that shouldn't take very long to achieve. I'm not sure of the exact string of lights that you saw, someone else here might be able to help identify them. There are many ways that you can achieve this same effect. Lots of people buy controllers and fabricate their lights out of pixels (so they can change to whatever color that you want and dim them if and when you desire) or box store strings of either LED or incandescent bulbs. If you want to use box store type strings AND want to be able to dim the lights then you may wish to use a full wave commercial grade light string, they will produce a better result and probably last much longer. Others on here will be able to direct you better as to where to get whatever type of light you decide to use. There are lots of controllers to use and the type of light that you decide to use will help determine what controller you will require. There is a vast selection to achieve pretty well anything from a small flashing light sequence to a large animated and sequenced to music light show. The setups some people put together can get quite spectacular and a fare number of those people are in this forum and would be happy to direct you to their videos if you want to see examples. They also invest the time to make it happen and because of that have a wonderful display to show for it. Once you decide how big or small of a display you want to put together then it's time to figure out a budget. Calculate how much length of lights you will need (and power wires) and source a suitable controller. You will need a program on your computer to program and design your display. Lots of people use free software from either xLights or Vixen. Others use pay to use Light-o-Rama, there are others also but those are the most common that I see being used. For something very basic and that does not require programming a sequence then there is the plug an play Mr Christmas. No choice is the wrong choice, it all depends on what you want to have when it comes time to turn on the lights. And how much time you want to invest to get to your vision. Word of caution. When you figure out your budget you will want to double it. There are a lot of little things that add up pretty quick. If you do a search on here for start up costs I'm sure you will find detailed breakdowns of items required. You may have lots of the stuff already, but you also might not. I'm not sure how big you want to go or what your long term plan is. If you are still deciding then once you've had a chance to think it over let us know if you have big plans for a sequenced show down the road or if you would like something to highlight a walkway or porch and leave it at that so you have something pretty to come home to, then we can start to help you pick the appropriate controller and gear. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  6. pjones


    I completely understand. I have 2 kids as well and refused to take time away from them so I spent the wee hours of the nights working on the project. I got a late start so it made for little sleep and a tired papa. I'm starting earlier this year so that wont happen again. 8 hours would be a quick and dirty build if you were to populate the board yourself and if you got into sequencing you could easily see that timeframe turn into a weeks worth of hours spent once it's all added up. I spent about 3 or 4 hours per minute of song and people with more elaborate displays can spend around 10 hrs per minute. (A simple static dim only takes about 3 minutes to do) Three boxes isn't bad. There may be cheeper switches that are BT capable, I just realized I found that on .ca and everything is more expensive here so you could try looking on .com and see what turns up. I'm eager to see how the LED switch dims in comparison. If you get a chance to post a comparison it might be helpful for others who wish to achieve the same thing. I can't for the life of me find an LED dimmer switch. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  7. pjones


    https://www.amazon.ca/GE-Bluetooth-Smart-Dimmer-13870/dp/B014RK7POW I haven't tried one of these before so I'm not sure what the range is. Typically I find 25-35 feet is max for my BT devices. Not to beat a dead horse but how many are you making and how much is each one costing? I would say if you are approaching $300-400 or so ($110 controller and enclosure, $30 Raspberry Pi, $15 memory cards, $$10 wifi Dongle, $50+ 16 plugs and wire, $30 12VDC power supply, $10 12vdc to 5vdc adjustable power supply, $6 2@ 1.5" 12vdc computer cooling fans, $50 safety buffer for things I forgot, $50+ tools and stuff you might not have, 8+ hours of spare time) ...then you could build yourself a 16 or 24 channel controller and have it run off your smartphone through your home network. If you get your wifi signal then you will be able to connect to it and run your channels from your internet browser. This is of course considerably more expensive than building one dimmer but if you are building multiples and the cost is getting up there and you want features like smartphone control and or wish to open the option to sequencing later if you decide then it would be an avenue worth exploring. Don't get me wrong though. I'm not trying to push you in this direction at all, I know you didn't want to invest the time to learn the software and the cost was well above your original price point but when I looked at Bluetooth switches I realized your project could add up quick if you are building many that way. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  8. pjones

    Looking for a rugged 15A/20A Relay switch

    Look up Snubber. Often people plug in an incandescent night light or a Glad Plugin (with or without the scent packet) to stop their Christmas LEDs from staying on. Plug it in before the lights to remove the leaked current, not at the end of the string I've been told. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  9. pjones

    Looking for a rugged 15A/20A Relay switch

    Are the relays you are currently using mechanical? If so then you may want to look into switching over to a solid state relay mounted to a heat sink. In HVAC we use them all the time to energize electric duct heaters of various sized, typically around 40-60 amps at times, and that is basically just a giant lightbulb since they just use a large coil of resistance wire to create heat. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  10. pjones


    That would be a good enclosure to put your finished dimmer box into if you aren't going to mount it in an approved mounted position. Don't place the dimmer switch loosely into the box without an enclosure though. Its just too dangerous for not only yourself but anyone who might venture into the box, knowingly or not. An LED dimmer may provide less issues with flicker and would probably give you much more satisfying results. If you need a higher capacity switch (more wattage) then perhaps consider building two of these and spreading the load. I would try this for a switch box . If you use a metal box then you need to use a grounded plug supplying power to the box and make sure you connect the ground wire to the box itself as you wire it up. http://www.homedepot.com/p/1-Gang-Weatherproof-Box-with-Three-1-2-in-Outlets-5320-0B/204208007 You will need electrical cable to make power cords. I used these on my controllers because it was cheeper to cut them in half and use the ends that I needed rather than buy SJOOW as well as plug ends. You can source whatever wire AWG you require. https://www.amazon.com/Omnigates-Extension-NEMA5-15P-NEMA5-15R-Connector/dp/B01DS75NQM/ref=sr_1_83?ie=UTF8&qid=1484512644&sr=8-83&keywords=extension+cord+3+prong You will need some Dome Connectors to create a water tight seal around your cord entering the box. because they are plastic you will not need to apply teflon tape around the threads of the connectors entering the box https://www.amazon.com/eBoot-Plastic-Waterproof-Adjustable-3-5/dp/B01GJ03AUQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1484512792&sr=8-1&keywords=strain+relief+cord+connector And a cover for over the switch https://www.amazon.com/MM510C-Weatherproof-Outdoor-Receptacle-Protector/dp/B001JEPX4Y/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1484512852&sr=8-3&keywords=weather+tight+electrical+box Of course you would need a dimmer switch too http://www.homedepot.com/p/Leviton-SureSlide-600-Watt-Single-Pole-3-Way-Incandescent-CFL-LED-Slide-Dimmer-White-R62-06674-P0W/202065967 If you look on the tag attached to one of the ends of your strings of lights then it should tell you how many Watts it uses and you can calculate your total wattage requirements that way. You know, I'll be honest, I am quite well versed in electrical an I looked at the 600Watt and underestimated its calculation to amps (as basic as the calculation is) then looked at the fan speed switch and saw the 5 amps thinking it was a higher capacity. I didn't run the numbers, I didn't even give it a thought, there is little purpose for me to do that at this point. 300 feet of LED lights were mentioned. On average my strings run about 10 Watts per 33 feet. For easy math lets say he has 10 strings. This only works out to be about 100 watts that they are running. That provides a large cushion before any troubles are run into. Questions are being asked before anything is being done which shows me that vette-kid is on the right track and doesn't want to do something that is unsafe. I would consider this to be a simple build that would be good to learn on. I wouldn't expect someone to invest the time to be trade certified just so they can install a light switch. If they were wiring a house or installing an appliance then that is a different story...
  11. pjones


    So I purchased cheep pot lights that came with LED bulbs, they said they were dimming compatible so I figured , how could I loose? Turns out when I installed them they worked great until I tried to dim them. They flickered like I was in a cheep night club on rookie night. I talked to multiple suppliers who were all insistent that it was the switch causing issues. I was ok with that. It was much cheeper and easier to swap out one or two switches until I found one that worked rather than twenty-something bulbs. I tried every which switch but found the specs on the dimmers electronics were hard to come by so it was more or less trial and error. Finally I bit the bullet and bought some bulbs. I put only one in to see if it would flicker and wouldn't you know it the one bulb stopped ALL the bulbs from flickering! So for a while we ran our lights with one different, good quality, light and the rest were all cheep ones. This worked ok except the color temperatures were different and the dimming curves were completely different. But there was still an odd occasional flicker that would occur every once in a while that bugged me. So I replaced all the lights and now is all good, even better with the low voltage electronic switch. My guess was that the good LED bulb has circuitry in it to smooth out the flickering that managed to effect every bulb in the circuit. Is it possible it just has a simple resistor? Getting back on track now, the glad plug in would have a resistor in it to heat the scent pack. I would love for someone to explain how it stops flicker, as I recall now, I too have herd that it can work quite effectively. I know it will also bleed of the current that leaks through the dimmer circuitry when the dimmer is turned off so that the LED lights don't glow. Other possible cheep snubbers are dollar store incandescent night lights as well as some people install resistors into male plugs so they can be plugged in without the distracting light. I THINK they use 470k ohm 2 Watt resistors, I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong. Sorry, I didn't get a chance to re video today. I'll try for it again tomorrow. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  12. pjones


    That sounds like they may have been using it as a Snubber to help them turn off completely when the dimmer is turned off. It may get rid of flicker too. I can't right now but I'll go over my issues finding a dimmer for my house that had similar results. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  13. pjones


    I stand corrected and horribly so! I just looked at them and the slide scale is rated for 600Watts. (Make Leviton, Class, SURESLIDE, Cat NO 6633-P) The rotary switch is actually a "General purpose ceiling or Paddle fan speed control" and is rated for 5 Amps! (Make Lutron, Model FS-5S). This may actually be the answer you are looking for. The Low Voltage Electronic Dimmer that I previously mentioned is only rated for 300Watts, that wasn't in the video and I don't have any extras of those sitting around to test with. Still no luck finding the LED dimmer switch... Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  14. pjones


    Those were rated for Incandescent. I'm sure I have one for LED kicking around I just need to find it. My post Reno room is a mess right now. I'll have a look and see what their amp rating is. I'm assuming 15Amps since it's designed for standard residential 14 AWG circuits. I could be wrong though. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  15. pjones


    https://vimeo.com/199472304 It turns out the video saved itself before the battery died. (That's uncommon for this phone) I didn't explain my way through it because the whole family was in bed at this point. I'll try to get better video later. The flicker seems to be very pronounced in the video. But was much less so in life. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk [emoji46] Sorry, I didn't intend to flip everyone the bird when I was tracing the first cord back to the box. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk