20 March 2013

No free rides - Cheap isn't free when it comes to RGB

Fairly often, HolidayCoro receives questions from customers looking for how they can add RGB / Pixels / DMX to their display.  In the majority of cases, the customer is new to these technologies.  There are a few options here:
  • DIY - Spend weeks or months pouring over forum posts, videos, blogs and other information spread, literally, all over the Internet
  • Ready 2 Run - Purchase a pre-packaged solution from a vendor
  • Custom - Work with an integrator/vendor to custom build a solution
So, let's break down these options and look at the pros and cons to each.

DIY - The Do It Yourself option is, without a doubt, the least financially expensive option - assuming the customer is fully educated on all their options before purchasing.  A customer that has spent the time to investigate all the options can properly select between all the different features, vendors, lights, wiring, power and software available in the market.  Because the customer knows their own display requirements, they are able to select the most applicable products and software to meet their needs.  They also are usually able to determine which vendors can provide them with the best options, pricing and quality.  There is also a cost and that cost is in the time that a customer needs to invest into spending, literally, weeks or months reading and educating themselves.  It can also get costly if insufficient time is spent prior to making purchases, with purchases of hardware that can't ultimately used.  Another major advantage for DIY customers is that during the process of learning "how" RGB works, they are better prepared for technical problems as they come up down the road.

Ready 2 Run - For customers that are looking for a simple "drop in" solution, a small number of vendors sell package solutions (also see our article on Package Solutions).  The advantage to these solutions is that they are usually a complete package - controller, power supply, lights and sometimes software.  Since these solutions are a known for the vendor selling them, it is easier for them to support should you have a problem.  The downfall of this route is that often these Ready 2 Run solutions don't exactly meet the customers requirements - sometimes this isn't an issue and sometimes it is.  Another downfall is that in nearly all cases, this solution is 30 to 100% more expensive than a DIY solution.  The additional upside is that the customer doesn't really have to fully understand what they are doing to implement the solution.

Custom - A small number of vendors (including HolidayCoro) offer custom solutions.  This is basically the DIY solution without the requirement that the customer fully understand the solution.  The vendor collects all the requirements, including ones the customer may not be aware of and through a process of refinement, uses their knowledge to narrow down all the solutions to those that meet the customers requirements.  So, the customer gets exactly (with a good vendor) the right solution for their display requirements but without the need to know the vast number of issues and solutions to arrive at the best solution.

HolidayCoro primarily focuses on the DIY market - our best customer is an educated customer and hence why on HolidayCoro.com you will find an amazing quantity of videos, articles and other educational information (see or Knowledge Base and Blog), not just on our products but on general concepts and designs - more than any other vendor.  We also offer a number of Off The Shelf solutions. We also offer custom solutions (products and  designs) for customers that have limits on the amount of time they can dedicate towards finding the best solution for their display needs.

Let us know if HolidayCoro can help you with your project.



  1. The thing that worries me is the programing and sequencing. Is it better to start with basic rgb and move up to pixels as you learn?

    1. Yes, start with a simple RGB device (controller, one or two strings or ribbons), and then learn the software that allows you to spend your valuable time on the sequences. Later, when necessary, you can then spend some time on soldering and debugging power needs, but after you now have the ability to create the end product -- a light show. The real beauty of your show will be the sequences to music you develop. Although I've done Christmas lights for many years, this is my first year with RGBs. It's been very easy for me to use off-the-shelf RGB solutions, which allowed me to spend valuable time on the actual building my props, and developing and testing my sequences.



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