The Christmas Adventure has put an effort into helping newbies get into the Light-O-Rama lighting system. Newbies, this page is for you. Looking for a fun and creative way to create your Holiday Cards this year?
Looking for a fun and creative way to create your Holiday Cards this year?
Welcome to the Light-O-Rama Newbie's Help Guide
Quick Index Of Discussion
- In the beginning...
- Pieces And Parts
- Software And Such
- Connecting it All Together
- Lights And Loads
- Rain And Other "Disasters"
- First Year
Welcome to the world of "Light-O-Rama"! In this little crash-course, you will learn how to create a computerized show of your own. After you finish reading, if you think this was helpful, please pass the link on so someone else may learn about Light-O-Rama. Ready to begin? Lets go.....
The Light-O-Rama system has 3 main parts, a master controller (aka computer), a method of getting the signals to the actual light controllers, and the light controllers.
What do I mean by "master controllers"? My definition of a master controller is a device that can command a light controller. It used to be that the Master Controller was only a computer, what type of computer? To sequence your songs, you probably need a p3 or greater with 128-512mb ram, that should get you going, but of course, the faster the computer, the less time you will be spending turning your wheels on some stupid Windows process. To run the shows, a minimal pc will do, I have used a 200mhz w/64mb ram, with no problem. Now, there is also ANOTHER type of Master Controller you can use to run the shows, the Director Card with MP3 PlayerMini Director with MP3 Player. Those nifty little devices will command the light controllers and also play the sound, if you have music synced up.
Transporting The Signal.....
So you now have a way to play and create your sequences, but you now need a way to get that signal to the light controllers. The method is using the Light-O-Rama protocol transported via a cat-5 cable or phone cable. If you were using the computer to control the show, you will need one of three devices, USB-RS485 Adapter with Booster, USB-RS485 Communications Adapter, or the SC485-RJ45 Serial Adapter. All of those devices will take the signals from the computer and turn them into something the light controllers understand (The cat-5 cable). If you use an director card, all you need is an SD card reader as the units play the sequence files off of the memory card, The director cards also have the output to the light controllers via the cat-5 interface.
The Light Controllers
So, you can now send the signals, and transport them, but how do you use them to make awesome light shows? By using one of the Light-O-Rama controllers! Link To ctb-16d, now I can't explain all the controllers and their functions, but they usually come in a few flavors. You can get 8 or 16 channel controllers. You can get "d" or non d versions. Kits or all assembled. That is basically it, when I say "d", if you click the last link, you will bring up the ctb-15"d", d=deluxe. Deluxe boards offer higher memory onboard if you want to do a standalone operation, and the ability to have upgradeable firmware. The biggest difference between all the controllers is the amount that is assembled, you can get soldering kits, just the board, and kits that are already soldered but require assembly. There are a bunch. Visit The Light-O-Rama store and look through the wide range of options available. and the
The software that I think is the most recent is 2.0.16 Read about It Here. The Light-O-Rama software suite comes with 5 applications to help you with your show.
1. Sequence Editor
2. Show Creator
3. Schedule Editor
4. Hardware Utility
5. LOR Tray
First off, the Tray application just enables the shows to run, and provides an easy link to the other parts of the software suite. The "sequence editor" is what you will use the most, it lets you create and edit the sequences the make up a show. What is a sequence? A sequence is generally one song, that includes the instructions for the lights. The resulting sequence file is a simple text file, the audio file always stays separate. After you create the sequences, you create a show with the show creator. Once open you will see different tabs; background, startup, animation, musical, shutdown. They do pretty much what they say, the startup and shut down play before and after the show, the animation and musical play the show, then background plays under all that. In the show creator, you also have the option to order the songs to your liking. Once the show is created, you need to schedule it to play. The schedule editor is very simple, it has two views, weekly and monthly, I have never used monthly because I can't find a use for it anyway, in the weekly view, click anywhere in the schedule view and click add. Select the location where your show is saved, the set the days and times, once that is done, click save, then again to just check it. After that you are ready to get the shows to play, in the tray, click "enable shows", that should get everything going, if everything was scheduled correctly, the shows will play when the time comes, to see what is happening, open the try and click "status". Just a quick note, when the last show till Sunday 12am plays (first day of new week), the status window will display next show playing at Sun 12am, it a bug but it doesn't mean anything will play. Last but none least, the hardware utility, that is used to test the controllers and to set stand-alone sequences.
Note: Due to the complex nature of the sequence editor and hardware utility, I have left out the details for those, one day, a separate help4newbies will be created a for those as well.
For this section, I will be picking on the CTB-16d.
Ok, you have your software and controllers, but one little detail is missing, can you guess what it is? DUH! The Cables! Look at the below picture...
Look on the top, you will see three black jack looking things, those are the data connections. The board will accept standard phone cables or cat5 LAN cables. The jack on the left is for a phone cable IN, the other two are for the cat5 cables in AND out, also those also are used for PHONE out, why not another phone jack out? I really don't know. What is you live in the "Baltimore Estate" and stringing cat5s every place is just not practical. Well my friends, Light-O-Rama has a solution for that as well! The Easy Light Linkers They sell them individually or in pairs, why just get one? Well if you had three, you could have one transmitting and the other two receiving, an easy way to spread things out a bit. STOP! let me say one thing, when there is the data cable coming from the computer, the controllers are daisy chained together, in one controller, out to the next; so if you had three "Easy Light Linkers", then I guess you can break the chain and start two...
Again, for this section, I will be picking on the CTB-16d.
This will be a small section, one of the most common questions is "How many lights can I plug into the board?" or "If the string of three rule still applies, then how do you get the full load per channel?". Easy questions! For the ctb-16d which has the ability to have two power feeds into it, 20 amps each bringing it to a total of 40 amps. The maximum amperage per channel is 8 amps, if you had the board wired for 40 amps, and each channel has 8 amps on it then... do that math! How do you know how many amps the lights pull? A fool-proof way is to just read the box they came in! Now if you get a "Showtime" pre-assembled controller, then most likely the outputs only have one outlet on them, so you could be saying, how do I get my full 8 amps off the channel, if I am restricted to one outlet? Well a Quick Google Search just gave me the answer, check it out! For a chat to tell you how much load you might be pulling, check out The PlanetChristmas guide to figuring power loads.
OH NO ITS RAINING! WHAT DO I DO?????? If I melt in the rain then my show will defiantly melt also! This has nothing to do with LOR, but just remember to keep everything protected by a GFCI AT ALL TIMES! If an unsafe situation arises, then shut the show/lights of instantly! There is no exception!
So its your first year, you have a zillion lights, a billion channels, and you live right smack in downtown Atlanta Georgia at the i85 - i75 intersection. BUT with all that no one is watching! What is wrong with that picture? Why did you do your show? Did you do it for the publicity, or to make people happy? The first person to please is yourself, did you make yourself happy working on the show? Second is your neighbors, do they care? Now that everyone is happy, try to get people? Tell you friends! If it is any good, they will tell their friends, and they will tell their friends. I can almost promise little-to-none traffic is the first season, but I can also say that in the second year there will be a lot more traffic just from word-of-mouth. Don't panic this is a normal starting road bump. (Have you seen those "speed humps" or "speed dips"?)
Why go with Light-O-Rama? Well one of the main reasons is that the company has excelent customer service and they are very friendly people to work with, in this buisness their are three main companies, one being Light-O-Rama, I have been reading alot recently about terrible customer service with there current automation company and people are selling that equipment to transfer to Light-O-Rama! Does that speak for its self? So that about wraps up this little complete idio... err "Newbie" guide to Light-O-Rama, if you found it helpful, please take a minute to drop me a message over at firstname.lastname@example.org
I guess I should say that I am NOT affiliated with PlanetChristmas or Light-O-Rama in any way.
For additional reading, check out the below links...
The Official Light-O-Rama support board
We are planning on making an additional guide for topics that may not be covered in this guide. If you have have a topic or an issue you want covered, please send an email to email@example.com.