Maybe you’ve seen the videos on the Internet or on the local or national news. Perhaps you were driving home one day and saw one in person. Whatever the reason, you’ve now decided that you want to start using LOR to do your own Christmas, Halloween or other holiday display.

The most important thing to know is that this is NOT something you put together in a few hours. This WILL take time and WILL require you to have some technical ability, or a willingness to learn.

Getting into the world of Christmas displays synchronized to music is fun, but it does have a learning curve. Stick with it, and enjoy!


There are three main components to a Light-O-Rama show.

  • Software – The Light-O-Rama system runs from software on your computer. If you are considering using LOR, you should first download the demo version of the software, and see what you think of it. Anything you create in the demo version can be used when you purchase the software.
  • Hardware – Once you get the hardware, you are going to have to hook it up. Take a look here for how things are usually connected together.
  • Creativity – You have to put together a design for your home or business, and then figure out what you want to do with that design.

Congratulations. However, before you get started in this hobby (or business) I want to take a moment to let you know some of what you are getting into. There are some people who think that this hobby is as ‘simple’ as plugging everything in and turning it on. While one could argue this is true, the reality is many hours/days/weeks/months go into the planning, procurement, design, programming, installation and testing of a display that is synchronized to music.


When you start using LOR there are some things that you need to plan for. In this example suppose you have a ‘typical’ one story home (for your area). Just some of the things you need to figure out are:

  • Where on the house am I going to put lights?
  • Am I going to put lights in the yard? If so, where?
  • Will I decorate any trees/bushes that may be in the yard?
  • How much electrical power do I have available to use?
  • How will I connect everything to the controller(s)?
  • What about the music. How will people hear it?
  • Am I going to run this from my computer, or from a LOR director?
    • If it’s from a computer, how will I get from the computer to the first controller?
    • If it’s from a director, which director will I be using?

There are a lot more questions that you will end up having to answer, but that right there should give you a start.


Once those questions are answered, you will then have to start tackling the costs of this hobby. When you start using LOR you will need to get everything. Hardware and Software. As of this writing (December, 2018) a Starter Kit with everything you would need to get a basic 16 channel show going is $308 plus any shipping charges.

You might think the $308 number as a minimal expenditure, or a large sum of money. How you see the number is going to depend on your current financial status.

Other costs to consider are

  • Installation Materials – Extension cords, cables to connect the controllers together, securing items to display.
  • Spare equipment – Keeping some spare equipment in your inventory is a great idea. Some parts could fail at the worst possible time, think Friday night, and it would be Monday before you could get something shipped back to you.
  • Commercial Displays – Permitting and Licensing. You should make sure that the area you intend to install the display doesn’t require any permits or licenses.


Let’s now get into the technical aspect of this hobby. If you think that you can just plug in the controllers directly to you are computer, you would be wrong. Light-O-Rama runs on the RS485 protocol, which is not the same as Ethernet, which runs your home networking equipment.

Note: Some of the equipment can run over your home router, but make sure you have read the instructions first!

Some people new to the hobby think that the lights will just blink, chase or fade with the music without any input from the owner. This is false as well. Every effect you see in a display controlled by Light-O-Rama was programmed by someone who said, “At this exact moment in the song, I want these lights to do this specific thing.” Yes, the software does have an “Instant Sequence” functionality, but that requires quite a bit of setup work as well. It’s not something that you just turn on, tell it how many channels you are going to run, and get a sequence. You may spend many hours programming just to get one minute of music programmed when you start out.

Once you’ve figured that out, you are ready to begin the design of your display. You can find an article here (PDF) that talks about ways to determine what you might do for your first display.

Questions about the hardware or software?

Any questions you have about Light-O-Rama you can find here, or on the Light-O-Rama Support site.