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Christmas Lights

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by adude23, May 22, 2008.

  1. adude23

    adude23 Active Member

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    hey there,
    I'm doing a play which has a school Christmas dance in it and I want to make a sort of curtain of Christmas lights just bog standered ones with mains plugs on well I'm not to sure about the curtain idea but how would i go about controlling them? would they be able to link up to a dimmer box? anybody done anything like this before?
    ~adude~
     
  2. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Yes, Christmas lights are fine on dimmers. Don't string more than 300 lights tied together as a daisy chain, because you'll notice that the lamps will burn out quite quickly, so for about every 300 lights you'll want a new line coming in to feed them. It doesn't have to be a new power source, just a separate feed, could even be two-fered or three-fered.

    They are dimmable as-is, no need for special equipment or worries. Keep in mind that every 50 lights will consume ~25w each.
     
  3. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    In college we built a set for the Will Rogers Follies that had a massive staircase with strings of christmas lights hidden on each step. Put them all on seperate dimmers and made chase sequences up and down the steps. It's a great fun, cheap, and easy project. The only potential problems are the things MNicolai mentioned about wattage and daisy chaining. We used power strips to avoid the daisy chain problem.
     
  4. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    That's hardly period correct.
     
  5. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    When the Broadway production premiered in 1991, Jules Fisher used Great American Market ColorWiz color scrollers for the stairs. Was that "period correct"?
     
  6. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Most modern twinkie lights have a fuse in them that pops when you put more than 3 strings (300-450ish lights) together. This is to keep you from have A Christmas Story/NL's Christmas Vacation moment. adude23 might want to take a look at these as half the work would allready be done for him in terms of building the curtain.
     
  7. chipster

    chipster Member

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    Well I am so surprised Grog referenced a movie to qualify his logical answer! Fuses are your best buddy but also keep in mind that dimming the load can shift your draw and thus negate the fuse protection!
     
  8. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    I would definitely check out the product Grog linked to, it would make your life so much easier. You might also try icicle lights if you can't get your hands on pre-netted ones. Also remember that you can't cut off extra lamps if you have them as they are wired in series and that would cause the lamps to blow.
     
  9. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    Well if you were trying to be period correct it isn't exactly easy to find minature screw base C6 lamps anymore.

    I've seen industrial mini light strings advertising the ability to plug SIX strings end to end.

    Also, you can always check out Action Lighting. They might have something, or at least give you some ideas.
     
  10. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I think your main question has been answered, Yes you can dim them do not plug more than 3 strings in a row. < that 3 strings applies to plugging them end to end, or if they are the kind with a female socket on the back of the male plug BTW.>
    As for Application, I once did a Christmas show and built a " curtain of Christmas lights. I used a downstage batten and spread 30 strings across about 15'. Then strung them to an upstage batten about 4 positions upstage, and spread them across about 10 feet. The effect was sort of water fally / chandelierish. you could really alter the look by raising and lowering on or the other battens. It were Purty.
     
  11. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Weeeeelll...that depends on who you buy them from. A lot of them these days are wired in parallel. That being said....DON'T CUT OFF THE EXTRA LAMPS. It's just a universally stupid thing to do.
     
  12. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    If you guys want to hear what a real mess is, I was the LD for a Madrigal dinner this past Christmas. The trick is that the set is 180'x16' and involves ~40 circuits of Christmas lights, each circuit in a different pattern. Then during songs the lights would flash in association with different instruments. For example, for one song a piano part might be played with white lights on ____ part of the set, and strings may be colored lights on _____ part of the set, and brass might be _____ patterns on the set, etc, etc.

    I ended up having to design for about 18 theatrical lights, the entire sound system, set arrangement, table arrangement, followspot positions...oh, did I mention the 15,000 Christmas lights? We ended up having to pull about 180A of power in to run the show.

    That wasn't even the worst part though, the worst part was the thousand extension cords all over the place, and having to map out the dimmer and circuit arrangements.

    The moral of the story; if you ever want to burn a designer out, tell him the technical end of your show is in their hands, and that you want a truckload of Christmas lights on individual, dimmable circuits, and a bunch of other fun stuff. But the best part is checking through each strand of lights to make sure they all work...

    If you're lucky he'll fall over and die before his jaw drops so fast that it goes through the floor.
     
  13. pacman

    pacman Active Member

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    I made a 50ft long "curtain" with 18ft strings of white Christmas lights. The strings were on 8" centers. I'll try to post a picture a little later. It's a single circuit (draws between 5 & 6 amps) & I control it off a dimmer circuit. I'm thinking about making a multi-circuit curtain. It's not hard to do, but does take some time to mount the in-line female Edisons for the individual string drops on the main power trunk line cord.
     
  14. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Takes virtually no time at all with these.

    Neither Control Booth nor the author shall be responsible for the advocacy or suitability of the referenced product. If at all in doubt, consult a professional. All methods and materials must comply with the most stringent of local, state, and national fire and life-safety codes.
     
  15. Clifford

    Clifford Active Member

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    We used christmas lights for Alice in Wonderland to make a curtain-o'-light backdrop. We used 12-14 actually strings of lights on a few channels (don't have an actual number yet). We used power strips so that none of thestrands were attached to each other. This also allowed us to get a wider light curtain and use several dimmers.
     

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