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A channel is a part of a sequence, representing a particular circuit on a particular controller, which you have lights hooked up to.  The Sequence Editor can be used to assign effects to channels, to make the lights turn on and off, fade, shimmer, twinkle, and so forth.


Channels have several properties that define exactly which string of lights they relate to:


Device type, which is the type of controller (for example, a Light-O-Rama controller or an X10 controller);
Network, which is the COM port that this channel's controller is hooked up to the PC over;
Unit, which is the unit ID  of the controller, allowing different controllers to be distinguished from each other;
Circuit, which represents one particular string of lights hooked up to the controller.


Not all device types have all of these properties - for example, X10 controllers have a unit ID, but no circuit number.  Please see the help pages on the various types of controllers for details.


Additionally, there is a "special" device type: a subsequence.  A channel set up with this device type does not represent a strand of lights.  Instead, it represents another sequence, that the main sequence can turn on and off at different points in time.


Channels also have names and colors associated with them.  These have no effect on the way that your lights will look; they only effect how the sequence is displayed in the Sequence Editor.  It could be convenient to set them up in meaningful ways.  For example, you might want to name the channel associated with a string of red lights running through the bushes in your front yard as "Front Bushes (Red)", and set its color to some shade of red.


In the Sequence Editor, channels are represented as horizontal rows.  On the left side of a row is a channel button, labelled with the name of the channel; on the right side is a grid showing what effects are assigned to the channel at what times.  For example, the following sequence has six channels, and they are named, simply, "Channel 1" through "Channel 6".  One of them ("Channel 4") has an effect: a fade up, from zero seconds to one second:



A sequence with six channels - one on each row - and a fade up on the fourth channel


To turn a channel on or off at a certain time, or do other effects such as fades or twinkles, select the effect that you want, and click on the cell or cells for the times that you want that effect to take place.  See Editing Sequences Using the Keyboard and Editing Sequences Using the Mouse for more details on this.


Between the channel buttons and the grid is a thick grey vertical bar.  You can change the size of the channel buttons by clicking and dragging this bar.  Clicking the bar (without dragging) will hide the channel buttons entirely; clicking it again will make them reappear.  You can also control whether channel buttons are displayed or hidden from the View menu, and from the standard toolbar, and set your default preference in the Display Preferences menu.


Clicking on a channel's button brings up the Channel Settings dialog.  This allows control over various things like the channel's name, color, unit, and circuit:



The Channel Settings dialog


Right-clicking on a channel's button brings up a popup menu with various channel-related tools:



The Channel Button Popup Menu


Channel buttons can be dragged up and down to rearrange their order.  This has no effect on your lights; it only affects the order that they are displayed in the Sequence Editor.


When you play a sequence in the Sequence Editor, its channel button flashes with the color that you selected as it turns on and off; it will also fade up and down, shimmer, twinkle, and so forth, just as your lights will.  If you do not wish to see the channel buttons change color during play, you can turn it off temporarily in the Play menu or the standard toolbar, or set your default  preference in the Display Preferences menu.


The Channel Configuration screen can be used to view and change many channels' settings at once:



The Channel Configuration screen, showing several channels simultaneously


A channel can be in a single track, or shared among more than one track.  By default, there is one track in a sequence, and all channels in the sequence are in that track.  To share a channel between tracks, do not simply set up two different channels having the same unit number, circuit number, et cetera in the two tracks; this will have unexpected and undesired results, as the two different channels will compete with each other for control of the same circuit.  Instead, share a channel by copying it to the other track.  There are several ways to do this; see the help page on tracks for details.


For RGB devices, which can change colors, three separate channels (a red, a green, and a blue) can be grouped together into a single RGB channel.


For more detailed information on how to create and modify channels in the Sequence Editor, please see:


Channel Buttons
Channel Settings
Channel Buttons' Popup Menu
The Channel Configuration Screen