There are always ups and downs each year when building up my display, I was feeling pretty confident in my progress so far this year. I’d managed to stick to the schedule I’d laid out and I’d been able to resolve all of the technical nuances that had shown up to date. Today was a day to forge ahead and knock off a bunch of my todos, but things didn’t go quite as planned.
It should have been a day of great progress a provincial holiday but the kids are in school. A rare day completely to myself. The plan was to get the lights in my large spruce, add the globes over the garage and if time allowed put up the pixel tree or build the mini trees.
I felt so confident in my progress I decided I didn’t want to go outside until it had warmed up a little, -7’c in the morning. I debated between cranking out a quick sequence from the new grinch movie, building up a couple of my mini trees or reprogramming and re-mounting my controllers. I decided on the latter as it is something I wasn’t looking forward to doing so would be even less pleasant with the kids around. I use wowlights controller stands but needed to add the pixie 16 for my matrix and mini trees to the same stand as controller #1. I also need to change the controller ID on controller #4 to #2 as I didn’t need all four controllers and my original controller ( #2) has some issues when all channels are on. I also wanted to check the config of the controllers from last year to make sure the IDs hadn’t been reset. I had to Frankenstein my mounting because I had old style wowlights stands but the new style controller cases, they work fine when mounting 2 controllers back to back but not so well for a single unit. I also had to fit the pixie 16 who’s mount points do not align with my conventional controllers.
After they were all mounted I configured the unit ids, finally I decided to check my pixie 16, as I was thinking about bumping its ID by 1 to align the dongles (1-16) with the unit is for each for, doing this would align the first 9 channels with the dongle #.
That’s ,when, things, got, out, of, control…
The Hardware utility couldn’t pick up the unit and kept freezing, this is when I notice a burning smell. I quickly unplugged everything. Looking at each part the USB to RJ45 (rs485) adapter had shorted out and melted.
This was an alarming moment because I didn’t know what caused this and this was also the sole point of connection between my PC and my lights. I could not control any of my lights or turn on any of the 2,500 RGBs with out this tiny bespoke piece. After dwelling on this for a couple of mins I decided I needed to order a new dongle and a spare . I also ordered a new USB cable just to make sure it wasn’t the culprit. I also put in a Light-O-Rama support ticket to understand what may have caused this and if it a common failure? I got a quick response from LOR with an offer to replace my part. This all has me very nervous right now as I do not know why it happened or if it will happen again, but at least it happened with enough time for me to order a new part and find out. If it had happened a week from now it would have out our light up event in jeopardy.
LOR quickly put my new part in the mail which after thinking about for a bit added more panic as we have a mail strike in Canada . A few quick correspondences with them and they overnighted my other order of backup parts. I could now relax a little knowing that I would have the new parts by the weekend to allow me to test the lights including the tree lights I intended to install today. As always LOR were super accommodating and easy to deal with through the whole process even though this is their busiest season.
After all this drama I got back on with the scheduled activities for the day, adding the net lights and RGBs to my big tree. First this to do was to test each string, I have learned to do this the hard way and in the end glad I spent the extra 10 mins doing this.
As always getting the big tree finished took much longer than expected as it requires lots of up and down and moving around of the ladder. I also had to figure out how to mount the RGB strings to align the bulbs as best as is possible on a natural tree. Zip ties saved the day here, 2 big ones around the trunk of the tree then attaching each string to them with another zip tie. This method also gave me some room for adjustment and alignment of the bulbs which is important for the RGB effects.
Once I got all of the lights on the tree I could not wait to see what it looked like but I’d have to wait until my USB to rs485 adapter arrives. The one thing I could do was plug in my net lights and see how they looked.
This day didn’t go as expected but I still got some of the key big tasks in my build complete but my anxiety levels will be greatly elevated until I can get my replacement part and be able to turn on the lights incident free. I’m also glad this all happened a couple of week and not a couple of days before our light up party and fundraiser.