A big push to the finish

This weekend was to be a big push towards completion, The goal was to just have a few of the decoration type props to put out by next weekend.
My new USB rs485 adapters had arrived. I could now test out the additional lights I’d put up including the big spruce. but first I needed to test the connector and make sure it wasn’t a PC or controller issue that caused the piece to short, fingers crossed.

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Mini Pixel Tre

I’d still made some progress throughout the week finishing of building my mini pixel trees and also starting to lay out the electrical to hook up the LED lights.

This weekend would be all about getting the rest of the big props complete, connecting the lights to the controllers and completing the networking of all the controllers.

The first thing I decided to do was remount my controllers, I didn’t like how I had initially mounted them as I am a bit OCD about things being square and aligned, my initial set up was a bit of a Frankenstein. I’d need to use a few more extension cords, which I have more than enough of but my controllers would be much more aesthetically pleasing.

After remounting the controllers I needed to mount the last pixie 2 inside the garage, before I did this I had to buy 1 more 30′ network cable. Once I had this I could complete my network. Saturday I didn’t get any new lights out but managed to hook up the controllers network and LED light strings. I also got my pixie 16 mounted in my big spruce tree and got all the strings connected to it, mounted the speaker and the FM transmitter.

After getting the network complete it was time for a quick test. The RGBs worked as expected but no of the LEDs were working. Time to hit trouble shooting mode. I could detect the standard controllers in the hardware utility and they were picking up the LOR network but as soon as I tried to play a sequence they lost the LOR network. I really had no idea why this was happening. I couldn’t understand why but then for some reason it hit me that it maybe it was my network settings, I had remembered somewhere reading that only Pixies could run at 1,000K, changing my network speed to 500K fixed these issues (it also says right in the network config tool that 1,000K is only for pixie 16).  After making the quick config change I could run some tests.

One thing I did notice when testing was that my net lights on the spruce tree were not coming on. digging into it I found the controller ID for this prop had not been updated accordingly from last years #4 to this years controller #3, a quick and easy fix.

Sunday I had much more time to get things done than I had on Saturday. I got outside early with a determination to get as much as possible completed. First thing I did was mount my matrix and hook it up, then on to building up my Pixel tree, after this laying out the mini trees. The pixel tree takes a while to get set up and I needed to get it done to determine the actual position of the mini trees. Once all these were laid out it was time to get them hooked up. A quick test and something odd is going on with the pixel tree, one strand is not coming on at all.

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Pixel Tree and Matrix

Quickly I realize that the controller is set to unit 21-29 where in my prop definition it is defined as 20-28. Do I change the prop definition and rebuild the play back files or reprogram the controller ID? I decided on the latter as I had compiled most of the playback files for the light up show. I was a little nervous opening up the controllers as it had started raining and I was worried about getting the electronics wet, but it wasn’t raining hard to I pushed forward. Putting up lights in the rain was a first from me, snow and -15’C I was used to but not a light drizzle and +5’C.

After all the RGBs were out and hooked up it was onto putting out the Pathway lights along the driveway, the big candles at the end of the driveway, the candy canes that separate mine and my neighbors yard and the rest of the ground based decorations. The weather, it had stopped raining by now, really helped putting in all of these ground props, usually I am using my drill or a hammer and a screwdriver to make pilot holes in the frozen ground to put the light supports into, but this year I could just push them in by hand. This also made it much easier to get the lights vertical and aligned.

I was so determined to get as much done as possible on this day that I didn’t even stop to capture many pictures as I was completing the build. I had promised the kid we could watch the entire Twisted Christmas show in the evening so we all piled in the truck and watched for 45 mins.

Testing wil close to full set up
most of lights installed and configured, Matrix and LEDs as well as main RGBs functioning

There were a few things I noticed that I needed to change and I also noticed on string of lights (string 2) on my pixel tree were not working (either not at all or all red), I had this issue with this string last year and after playing with the connection managed to get them working. This year I could play with the connector and get it working but it would only last for a few mins before it started acting up. Last year this string was positioned in the back where this year it is in the front so I will need to rotate the tree a little to make it less prominent. I’ve also ordered a new string from LOR but it has not shipped yet.

Overall I am on or slightly ahead of schedule, I have this Friday off of work to finish up the last details before the light up party on Saturday.

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