The Occaisional Blog

Where did the time go! - October 15, 2012

Wow!  I can’t believe it is October already.  Only two weeks until Halloween, and less than six weeks until the Christmas Display is lighted for the first time.  There are days when I think I am making good progress and days when I feel I will never get everything done in time.


The decision to do a small Halloween show has been fun but it took about eight weeks to put the show together. It took time that I probably didn’t have to spare.  On the upside, I now know that my equipments works at least on a small scale and I only have the logistics to deal with in the much larger Christmas Show.


So what have I accomplished in the last three months?


For Christmas:

  1. The four sixteen foot arches are complete.
  2. 8 of 9 24” x 24” roof snow flakes are complete (Waiting on lights for the ninth
  3. 9 of 9 Support frames are done for the snow flakes,
  4. 9 Double DIYC Floods completed and tested
  5. Antenna for transmitter is done and transmitter has been tested (104.1 FM)
  6. 5 - 8’ Pixel Columns have been designed tested and completed.
  7. The six foot Bethlehem Star is complete, base is designed but has to be built and painted.
  8. Set up private wifi network running E1.31 protocol separate from House wifi.
  9. The 20 Foot Mega Tree design is coming together and I have painted the base.  I am waiting on additional hardware needed to continue this project.


For Halloween: 

  1. Four Monster Faces have been designed, tested and completed.
  2. Frames for Faces Built and painted
  3. Upright Frame to hold Face Frames has been completed and painted
  4. 4 Ghosts were made from tomato cages and king pillow cases
  5. Sequencing for Halloween is ongoing – only two weeks to go. 


Still to Do List: 

  1. Finish installing control boards in control boxes.
  2. Program all control boards and install Xbee receivers
  3. Build Bethlehem star base and paint.
  4. Build Mega Tree
  5. Build donation box stand for local charity (not for Xenialights)
  6. Install lights and display elements
  7. Find a couple hundred hours for music sequencing
  8. Catch up facebook and website.

Making Progress - July 4th.

I had no idea how much work this new hobby would entail this first year but I am making steady progress. I just completed soldering and testing the 16 Renard-SS light control boards that were purchased in a group buy with DIYC members this year. To that you can add the 2 Renard SS24's I did after the first of the year along with the Ren48LSD, so I have 19 out of 20 boards completed. I have a Mini-Ren8XBLSD which I recently purchased yet to complete and nine DIYC Flood boards whch will be added to the nine I have already completed which will result in nine double DIYC Flood lights.

I have also recently been working with different enclosure for the DIYC Floods. I have used the red Utilitech model from Lowes and two different Bayco models from Amazon and Wal-mart. I bought two more Bayco units from Walmart for $11.98 this past weekend and then went to Lowe's only to find that they now carry the same Bayco unit for $9.97. This is the better Bayco unit with the better bracket and power switch on the back of the enclosure. I think I like the Bayco units better because i do not have to modify them in any way to install the floods. The reflector acts as a holding lip and the glass holds them in place when you close the unit

Three of my four sixteen foot arches are done with one to go. Next is putting the boards in enclosures. The RenSS24's will go into the fence post enclosures. The dozen RenSS16's will go into the Orbits Boxes.

Next on my to-do list is the six foot Bethlehem Star for the roof top, the four small roof stars, and the five snowflakes for the roof over the porch posts.

Finally I am in the planning stages for three mega trees.  My countdown clock says there are 141 days left until XeniaLights go on officially for the first time.  I better get back to work!! :)

March Winds Blow!

Well it is March already and time is marching on, (pun intended).  I continue to work on my new hobby and as I sit here I am just finishing sequencing my second song in Vixen.  Vixen is the software program we use to control the lights and do the synchronizing to our music.  I will do a section on Vixen for the "How We Do It" page later.  For now I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the controller boards from the DIYC Group buy.  I have sixteen new controllers kits ordered which means about 40 to 60 hours of soldering and fabrication.  I hope to get theses all done in March and April. so that as Spring rolls around I will be able to concentrate on constructing various elements of the display.  Wish me luck.  :)

Radio Banner is Here

One of the challenges is letting people know what FM freqency to tune their car radio to so they can listen to our lights.  Well fortunately one of the members on "Do It Yourself Christmas" clued the rest of us into a great deal from Shindigz Banners.  I was able to get the vinyl banner below which is 18" by 54" for just $8.00 including shipping.  This banner will sit in the front yard and be spotlighted during the show and also directs people to this web site.


What Have I done! What have I done!!

Well January has come and gone and I have worked on this new hobby every day.  One might wonder if I've gone too far.  I know that my wife certainly thinks I have.  But, I am having the time of my life and enjoying every minute of what I am doing.  In many ways January has been very successful. I have purchased lights, trees, wreaths, control boards, control boxes, a low band FM transmitter, the tools, and a soldering station to put all these pieces together.  I am just geting started on learning the Vixen software that hopefully will make everything come together for next Christmas.

As February starts I am in small panic that I have dreamed too big and won't be able to get all of this done.  I have spent my evenings this past week building the first two control boards that will make up the 20 or so control boards that will be necessary to operate my planned display layout.  Below is a representation of my how I hope my display of Christmas lights looks when actually up and running.  As you can see it involves lights out-lining the house and shrubs, a mega tree, fourteen four foot mini-trees, four 6 foot mini-trees, ten Spiral Trees, a nativity scene, a Bethlehem Star, snowflakes or stars on the roof, wreaths on the front of the house, large candy cane porch posts, and four large leaping light arches and as of this writing will take about 248 control channels.  In the bottom left hand corner is a banner that shows the FM station that the music is on and directs people to this web site which I am also just learning how to use and build.  I hope to blog on here monthly just to track my progess, my successes and my panic levels.  I am sure my level of confidence in completing this project will surely ebb and flow as the Chrsitmas season draws near.