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The meaning and definition of common terms and words used at HolidayCoro.com
Last Updated: 02/08/2013
The follow are a number of different terms and words that we use throughout our website.  They provide you with additional information and background to help complete your understanding of the products that HolidayCoro sells.

Coro (#CORO) - What is Coro?
 
Coro is a common nick name for a corrugated plastic.  It is also known by a number of other names including most commonly Coroplast but also Correx, Corriflute, Coriflute, Twinplast and Polyflute.  While from vendor to vendor the formulation varies slightly, coro is a fluted, thin-wall polypropylene (PP) plastic, much like the plastic milk cartons are produced from.  It's design is nearly identical to that of standard cardboard only in that it is a single, extruded material and not assembled with any adhesive.  

Coro has a number advantages for use in outdoor holiday projects - it retains its properties through a wide range of temperatures (-17f to +160f), is inexpensive, is structurally stiff for its light weight and is resistant to sun, water and snow.  It also comes in a wide variety of colors.

A majority of our designs, such as Coro MiniTrees, incorporate either mini, 5MM, M6 and mini lights into their design.  The properties of coro allow the bulb to be inserted through the material while still retaining the bulb securely and without damage to the bulb.  We also offer selected items with C7 and C9 bulb holders incorporated into the design.  As a result of the high working temperature of PP coro, 160f (melting temp of 324f), incandescent bulbs can be mounted directly to the coro.
 

At it's core, "DMX" is a standard, that defines the protocol, method of transfer of the data in that protocol (RS-485) and the types of connections and wiring (XLR3, XLR5, RJ45).  For the holiday lighting world, it is mostly thought of as a protocol.  Here are some comparisons that may help in understanding how DMX is the same and different from other type of systems:
 

DMX Networks

PC Networks

LOR Networks

Control Software

LOR S3 Adv / xLights / Vixen / LightShow Pro / DMX Consoles / Etc

Internet Explorer / Skype / Chat software / etc

LOR S3 / xLights / LightShow Pro

Protocol

DMX512 (open standard)

TCP/IP (open standard)

LOR (proprietary)

Signaling

RS-485

Ethernet

RS-485

Physical Layer

3/5 Core Cable - Common in professional lighting CAT5 - Common in holiday lighting

CAT5 / CAT6 / Fiber

CAT4/5 and Telephone wire

 
For additional general information on DMX, see our "Understanding DMX" presentation.
 

DMX Addressing (#DMXADDRESS)
Controllers that use the DMX protocol use a standard method of addressing data to a specific controller.  There are several key items to be aware of with respect to DMX addressing:
  • Each controller (a device intended to control eletrical output to a device) has a single DMX "start" address. 
  • A controller may have one or more DMX addresses (eg 3 channels, 27 channels, hundreds of channels.)  These addresses are nearly always consecutive (1 then 2, then 3, etc.)
  • The address for any DMX controller must be between the numbers 1 and 512 (this is 9 bits of data.)  DMX addresses start with 1, not zero.
  • A "universe" is a range of addresses between 1 and 512 that are located within the same network (eg - connected to a single dongle output.)  Thus, you would consider all items connected to the output of a single DMX dongle as a single universe.
  • There are unlimited numbers of universes.  You need additional universes when you exceed 512 channels.  Universes are setup in the DMX software you are using.

RGB (#RGB)
The letters RGB stand for Red, Green and Blue.  With these three colors, all other colors can be created (eg - pink, yellow, orange, tan, etc) - thus, by mixing different amounts/levels of each given color, we can control the final color output.  RGB is the usual order that software is setup to work with but sometimes devices may not be in the order of RGB and maybe in RBG, GRB, BGR and so on.

There are two ways to use controllers in a holiday lighting display - in a centralized and de-centralized method:
  • Centralized - This means that you will use a controller, mounted in a centralized location (such as in the bushes or in the garage) and then mount the lights that it controls in a remote location, such as in the yard or tree. 
    • PROS:
      • Allows a reduction in the number of or size of power cable (AC based controllers) or power supply (DC based controllers).  For example, if you were to run a large power cable 100 feet to your controller from it's source location, it may require a 12 gage cable but if it were located next to the outlet/power source, it may only require a 14 gage cable.
      • Allows location of controllers to more secure or convenient locations.
      • Allows few number of controllers to control larger number of elements.
    • CONS:
      •  Each run (channel) from the controller requires it's own run of cable.  So if you have a 16 channel controller located 100 feet from the elements that it controls, you will need 1,600 feet of cable.  Additionally, since the length is so great for that 100 feet, it may require higher gage wire to run that length.
    • An example of a centralized controller is our 27 Channel DMX controller.
  • De-Centralized - This means that you will use controllers mounted very near (usually AC based) or directly (usually DC based) on the elements that are being controlled.
    • PROS:
      • Much fewer lengths of cable as the lengths are directly connected to the lights - such as in a MegaTree.
      • Allows you to consolidate the controller and the element into a single item.  This is very common in basic/dumb RGB elements where the controller (and sometimes the power supply) is mounted directly to the element being controlled.  This means you can just plug in power and/or signal and go.
    • CONS:
      • Requires more controllers (DC usually)
      • Requires larger power cables (AC based) or sometimes more power supplies (DC based)
    • Examples of centralized controllers are:
      • Our basic/dumb 3 Channel DMX Controllers #26, #30 and #37
      • Our pixel based controllers #610

A term used to generically describe a discrete item used in a holiday lighting display.  Examples would be - MiniTrees, MegaTree, arches, singing face, north pole, etc.
 

A pixel is a discrete, directly controllable light (Wikipedia).  Much like the pixels that make up your computer monitor, each one is individually controlled for brightness and for color.  Pixels are - directly and individually controlled LEDs.  An example would be if you have a long string of lights and each one on the string can be individually controlled, each of those RGB LEDs is a "pixel".  A string of lights, even if they are RGB, in which each light in the string is not directly controlled is not considered "pixels" - this is a basic or dumb string of lights.  A "pixel" does not refer to a physical type of RGB light.
 

There are two major types of RGB lighting and the differences between them have to do with the method in which they are controlled.  There is no single naming for them and others may use slightly different terminology:
  • Dumb / Basic / Un-Intelligent - This refers to RGB lights that are controlled as a group.  For example, if you have a controller that is connected to a strip of RGB lights or modules - when you control these lights using the controller, all the lights will change to the same color at the same time.  It will not be possible to change the controller of individual lights in the string.  These are useful in projects where you don't need to directly control each light - such as in an element such as a flood light where all the lights function as "one" or in an element like our RGB mini-tree that changes only one color at a time.  This has the advantage of not having many channels to control - instead you will only have three channels to control the entire element/controller.  Any items using this method are NOT refererred to as "pxiels".
  • Smart / Intelligent / Pixel - This refers to RGB lights that are controlled individually.  For example, if you have a controller that is connected to a strip of RGB lights or modules - when you control these lights using the controller, you will be able to "address" each light (or small grouping of lights) individually.  This is useful where you need to create movement within the string of lights.  An example might be if you have RGB lights along your roof line or an arch and you want to create a chase pattern.  The disadvantage is that this results, often, in many channels for a single element.  For example, a single 15ft length of RGB pixel strip could result in as many as 150 channels (50 for red, 50 for green and 50 for blue), thus requiring more complex sequencing and/or software.

Node / Module / Strip (#RGB-FORMFACTORS)
There are three common physical formats for RGB lights.  These formats apply to both basic/dumb and pixel/smart types of control.  Each type has different advantages and disadvantages as listed below:
  • Node - Most commonly is found as a 8mm tri-color (RGB) LED with a ~12mm (about a 1/2") case.  These were orginally designed for use in channel letter signs and are common in such signs throughout asia, though almost never in western countries.  They are designed to be mounted in a ~12mm hole punched in steel or thin plastic but the holiday lighting community tends to use these as replacements for older style mini light strings in items such as mega-trees. 
  • Module - Modules can vary greatly in shape, size and mounting.  They can be round "pucks", rectangle "bars" or square.  They may or may not have diffusers or covers over the lights.  The types of lights that form the module can vary widely also and include 5050 SMD mount RGB LEDs, individual 5mm single color LEDs, 8mm tri-color LEDs or others.  Often they have some method of mounting such as adheasive tape, mounting tabs or other.  Modules are connected to each other with lengths of wire that vary.  Modules are useful where you want a RGB light that can be mounted to a substrate (PVC pipe, boards, coro, etc) or where the pattern of the layout of the light changes changes often (such as many curves or angles.)
  • Strip - Strip is a flexible circuit board with 5050 SMD RGB LEDs mounted to it's surface.  They can be purchased with and without waterproofing options.  They most often are sold in lengths of 5 meters (about 16 feet) and contain 150 to 300 5050 LEDs over the length of the strip.  Strip is useful in elements where you need a long, mostly stright length of RGB lights.  Examples are along roof lines and gutters, large arches, poles and other stright items. 

RS-485 (#485)
The method of data transfer for the DMX and Light-O-Rama (LOR) protocols is over RS-485. See Wikipedia for more information


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