By Doug Lowe

If you’re assembling a ShowTime PC controller for your holiday light displays, it’s a good idea to test it before use. You must first install the Light-O-Rama ShowTime Software Suite and the device driver for the USB adapter. Then, follow these steps to connect your ShowTime PC Controller to your computer:

  1. Plug both of the power supply cords from the ShowTime PC controller into electrical outlets.

    The Status LED on the ShowTime PC controller’s circuit board flashes, indicating that the power is on but the device isn’t connected to a computer.
  2. Plug one end of the USB cable supplied with the USB adapter into the adapter, and then plug the other end into your computer.
  3. Plug the Cat5 network cable that’s attached to the ShowTime PC controller into the USB adapter.

    The Status LED in the ShowTime PC controller continues blinking.
  4. Plug a light into one or more of the power cords.

Use inexpensive night lights, which you can usually find at any dollar store for — you guessed it, $1. Since they’re so inexpensive, you may want to purchase 16 of them and plug one into each of the channels. Otherwise, just get a few and plug them into the first few channels.

Once you have connected the controller to the computer, you can use the Light-O-Rama software to test the connection. Here are the steps:

  1. On the computer, run the Light-O-Rama Hardware program.

    To run the program, click the Start button, choose All Programs, choose Light-O-Rama, and then choose Light-O-Rama Hardware. The Hardware program springs to life and displays the screen shown.

    electronics-light-o-rama
    The Light-O-Rama Hardware program.
  2. Click the Auto Configure button near the top left of the Hardware program’s window.

    The Hardware program searches all the available COM ports on your computer until it finds the one that’s associated with your USB adapter.
  3. Change the maximum number of units to be searched to 5.

    To do so, click the Change button located in the Max Units section of the window (near the top right). This brings up a dialog box that has a slider control; drag this slider control all the way to the left, and then click Save.

    This step saves you time in the next step, which searches for any available controllers. It takes a few seconds to look for controllers at every possible address, so changing the maximum from 240 to 5 can save you several minutes of your life you would never get back as you waited for the program to search for controllers that don’t exist.

  4. Click the Refresh button to look for ShowTime PC controllers.

    Assuming you completed Step 3, the Hardware program finds your controller within a few seconds. The display changes slightly to indicate that the controller has been found.
  5. Click the Console button located near the bottom of the window.

    This action brings up the fun console window shown.

    electronics-console
    The Hardware program’s Console lets you test your controller channels.
  6. For each channel that you connected a light to, drag the corresponding slider up and down and verify that the light turns on and off.

    If a channel doesn’t work, verify that the light bulb isn’t burned out, that you’ve connected the light to the correct power cord, and that the light is turned on if it has a switch.
  7. Move the lights to other cords and repeat Step 6 to test all channels.

    You’ll want to verify that all 16 of your controller’s channels are operating correctly.
  8. Use the Twinkle and Shimmer buttons to verify that the twinkle and shimmer functions are working.

    When you’re tired of the twinkling and shimmering, click the All Off button.

    You’re done!

Assuming all the lights came on, you’ve successfully tested your Light-O-Rama controller and are now ready to start creating sequences. (If any of the channels don’t work, carefully double-check your wiring to make sure everything is connected properly. If you get stuck, contact Light-O-Rama’s technical support department; they can help you get your controller working.)