While it may seem complicated, the equipment necessary to run the light show and the process for connecting the equipment is actually quite simple.
Controllers – We use the Light-O-Rama CTB16PC 16-channel residential controllers. Each controller has two plugs that provide electricity and sixteen plugs to provide that electricity to the lights. By using LED lights, we do not even come close to the maximum current limit of the controllers.
The computer is connected to the controllers via several USB to RS-485 adapters. The individual controllers are connected to the RS-485 adapter (and to each other) via Cat6 ethernet cables. Cat5e cables also work for this purpose; I chose Cat6 because they are a bit more rugged and the price was only slightly more expensive.
Control Computer – I built my own computer from scratch because I love to build computers, but almost any off-the-shelf Windows laptop or desktop will do just fine. Please note that this computer runs my show only; I do all of my sequencing on my office computer, which has significantly more power. For those who are interested, the specifications of my lighting control computer are below:
- Gigabyte GA-F2A78M-D3H Motherboard
- AMD A6-5600K Dual-Core 3.6 GHz Processor
- 8GB G.Skill Ripjaws PC3-1066 RAM
- Western Digital Blue 500GB Hard Drive
FM Transmitter – To send audio both to my local speakers and to the speakers of those visiting the display, I use the RangeStar FS CZH-05B FM Transmitter. The transmitter is extremely easy to set up and offers fully-digital channel selection.