Welcome to our Christmas Lights website! Here you can learn a little about us, our show, and how to get started on your own Christmas show.
Back in 2008 my wife and I were watching TV one night and saw a show that featured Christmas lights synchronized to music. She was enamored with the lights and I was interested in the computer and technical side of the show. That year we ordered a controller box to begin our process of hosting our very own synchronized light show. We initially ordered at 16 Channel Light-o-Rama controller starter package. What was great about this package is that it has everything you need to turn your PC into the command center of a sophisticated light show. With the included software, adapter and cables you have the tools and connectivity to put your personal computer in total control of your lights. Package includes: one Showtime Pro LOR1602W controller, one 25′ Cat 5 cable, Showtime Software Suite S2 License – Basic Version, one USB485 adapter and one USB cable with filters. Skip to the bottom if you want to contact me on getting your own show up and running.
I have to admit, our first show in 2008 was pretty simple and nowhere near the complexity of the stuff we had seen on tv and the internet. The learning curve was pretty small, but we didn’t get started on wiring and programming our first show until early December which was too late. We also didn’t consider the cost of running the show. Most people think that our power bill increases a ton, but it’s usually cheaper than my neighbors because they keep their lights on steady for hours a night whereas my lights flash off and on for hours. The other cost beyond the starter package that I didn’t consider was the extension cords. Each channel of our controller needed to be plugged into a separate lighted piece that required an extension cord. Here is a great example of how simple our first year show was:
The whole next year I watched videos online, picked songs in July, and bought an extension cord a month until Christmas arrived. I had learned my second biggest lesson about the complexity of synchronizing Christmas lights, which was how long it took to program each song. On average it takes about 2 weeks of programming for a 4 minute song. This is about 1-2 hours of programming per day for a total of about 15-20 hours per song. People ask does it get easier and faster? Yes and no. With practice the programming does get a lot faster, but then you realize you can make the complexity of your programming a lot more which takes more time. Eventually you’ll want more lights and more channels, so each time you add another box, there becomes 16 more channels to program. Don’t forget, most shows have more than 1 song, so start programming early like July like I do. You’ll only get a few strange looks when you’re listening to Christmas music at work in July. By Christmas time in 2009 we had put some more work into our display and redone some of the lights so they looked and functioned better. We had had problems in 2008 with too much load on our roof lights and them shorting out. We replaced them with LED roof lights from Walmart which eliminated that problem. Here is one video from 2009:
In 2010 I had the need to go bigger. I ended up buying another 16 channel control box which brought my show to a total of 32 channels. This let me do a lot more with my show and really start feeling like I was getting close to those houses on TV. Unfortunately again this was another expense + extension cords + the time involved in going back and adding 16 more channels to my old songs and re-doing the whole process. We redid the windows this year and removed the outline framed and made them LED net lights. We also welded a total of 10 “mini trees” to use in the display. The biggest edition we had was the 13 foot free standing “mega tree” which was a modified design from http://loopychristmas.com. Here is a video from 2010:
This brings us to 2011. This year we cleaned up some of the lights and removed the blue mini trees. They kept shorting out, so we bought multi colored LED’s from Lowes. We even used full wave bridge rectifiers and snubbers on all our LED components. This year featured our first non-traditional Christmas song. Here is a video from 2011:
So you want to create your own synchronized light display? You’ve come to the right place. There are SEVERAL different ways to get the same result. A lot of the options are complicated in their DIY requirements. Unless you’re pretty handy with soldering and electronics, I suggest a ready made simple solution from Light-o-Rama. No matter what, I suggest getting the heavy duty 30amp outdoor enclosure 16 channel starter kit. This is the most basic setup possible to get you up and running. I suggest getting the “Advanced” license for the software at the time of purchase. This bring you total initial investment to $446.80. If you don’t have an old laptop or old spare computer lying around it might be worth buying the mp3 director instead. Now lets run down a basic checklist of things you’ll need.
- Christmas lights (LED or incandescent)
- LOR controller box
- Spare laptop or computer if you don’t use the mp3 director (I use a 7 year old computer)
- Extension cords
- FM transmitter
- Sequencing software if you didn’t purchase the starter kit. LOR S3 or Light Show Pro
- Drawing of your setup and TIME TIME TIME!
With all of this stuff you can get your first synchronized light show running. Now hurry over to Planet Christmas Forums and read all the cool stuff people are doing for their displays.
You may also contact me for questions, or paid consulting work.