In the famous words of Jon Bon Jovi “Woah, we’re half way there”
Woah, RGB thoughts are in the air. It is the halfway point between turning my lights off on Jan 4th and light up 2020 on Nov 28th.
I usually start thinking about my Christmas display when I get the notification of Light-O-Rama’s summer sale sometime in late August. Because of the unique situation of self isolation and social distancing my thoughts have moved to happier times, with the planning of my 2020 light show well underway.
The last night of the 2019 show was Jan 4th and we saw quite a bit of traffic right until the end when we ended with a looney tunes signoff.
The tear down of the 2019 show was a mixed bag, nice weather to start the year helped me get the upper lights down early. Then commitments to kids activities and some really cold weather through February really delayed the final pack up. The first of the lights/decorations actually came down on Sat Jan 3rd even though there was still the final lightshow that evening. We had some strong wind the night before which had broken several props, severed one of my RGB strings when the garage trees fell over and just caused general carnage. I took down the garage door cover, Santa blow form, snowman and the trees to begin the teardown before the final show.
It was a few more weeks before I got to taking anything else down as we had lots of tournaments, other commitments on weekends and I needed the weather to cooperate. In the mean time I decided to upgrade the computer I sequence on. I had been using a Surface 3 for the last couple of years, while it is still capable of doing the job I had got a dual monitor setup for Christmas and the Surface 3 couldn’t plug into my surface dock to take advantage of the monitors. I decided to upgrade to a Surface Go (essentially the newer version of the 3) which could plug into my dock and provide me with an amazing sequencing experience.
The third weekend of January provided me the opportunity to get back outside and take down some more of the lights. We’d had good enough weather the roof was clear and I could get down most of the lights on the house and trees. Although the snow on the ground hadn’t melted so everything on the ground was frozen in. The last weekend of January I attacked the tress and tried to get some of the controllers out of the ground, although most were still frozen in and I didn’t want to damage any cables chipping them out of the ice (although I did try and damaged one).
February was an incredibly cold month with high temperatures on most days in the -20′ C’s, not one day in February did the high get over -10’C so no lights came down or got packed away that month. One thing we did do was stuff the second batch of socks we had collected for the Mustard Seed and drop them off. An additional 50 pairs plus some extra daily essentials were dropped off. In total we collected 210 pairs of socks stuffed with daily essentials such as toothpaste, soap, bus passes restaurant gift cards etc… I also found out I had won the Christmas light contest in our community.
Although I started taking the lights down in January, it took until the 3rd weekend of April to finally get all of the last pieces out of the ground and put away. As I was taking down the last of the lights we had begun self isolation and social distancing and I actually thought about putting the lights back up to bring some joy back, but it was already 8pm when it would be dark enough for them to be effective and only getting later so I decided against it. That was the last time I thought about Christmas lights until last week when they started creeping into my head.
Last Year the big addition was the matrix panels across the front of my house. I also made some mistakes refactoring my groups in LOR so it was a big effort to update the 50+ sequences I have. This year I planed on making some small changes adding four arches and some curtain lights as well as relocating the RGBs from the small garage trees. Then one night I couldn’t sleep so I started looking at do it yourself projects now I’m adding 2 RGB Candy Canes, 4 leaping arches up the driveway , 2 Light-O-Rama Singing Christmas trees , some North Poles with dumb RGBs and some Curtain lights on the house. I’m also removing the Small Christmas trees beside the garage as I am tired of them blowing over. I will be repurposing the RGBs around the garage and front door replacing the white LEDs. I also have some Giant Hanging LED Lights and a snowflake projector I picked up last year in the post Christmas sales. As always I am planning to move things around a little to accommodate the new items. The other thing I plan on doing it starting to leverage SuperStar programming to create some new effects. If this works well I will buy a license and move forward but if there isn’t significant advantages I won’t be buying the additional license for it. One other thing I am considering adding is a DMX moving head spotlight, I’ve wanted these since I first started looking at animated lighting in 2016 and saw the video video below. I’m going to play around with this one and decide if I want to add a pair to my show.
The Arches and North Poles I will be taking on the projects myself, I am also moving from 100% Light-O-Rama hardware to trying some RGBs and the dumb controllers from Holiday Coro which will also mean experimenting with DMX Universes. I will write about my experiences with these projects as I go through them. I really was only planning on the curtain lights and arches, one sleepless night of researching how to build them led to a giant order from Coro that I wasn’t expecting to make.
The Coro Order
- 6x 3 Channel Dumb RGB DMX Controller / Bare Lead Input & Output / DIP Switch Addressing
- 4x 5″ Long PVC Pipe .5 OD
- 1x Bullet Pixel Node Installation Pixel Pusher Pliers
- 25x Dumb Rectangle RGB LED Waterproof Module – 12v
- 8x EasyPlug3 / 3 Conductor / 5ft Total (2.5 + 2.5) / Screw Together / Pre-Stripped Pigtail / Waterproof Male + Female (18 AWG) / RGB Smart Pixels
- 8x EasyPlug3 / 3 Conductor / FEMALE Pigtail Only / Screw Together / Pre-Stripped Pigtail / Waterproof (18 AWG) / RGB Smart Pixels
- 8x EasyPlug3 / 3 Conductor / MALE Pigtail Only / Screw Together / Pre-Stripped Pigtail / Waterproof (18 AWG) / RGB Smart Pixels
- 1x INSTRUCTIONS: RGB Smart/Dumb Wiring Chart (one sheet per order)
- 2x PixNode CoroCane™ for 12mm Pixel Nodes / Various Heights
- 2x Power Supply – Waterproof / 120v Input / 12v Output / 3.75 amps / 45 Watts with Power Input Cord
- 4x RGB Candy Cane Post Topper Ball for 4″ PVC Posts (Globe Not Included)
- 2x Smart / Pixel RGB LED Node 8mm/12mm / 12v / 2811 / 100 Node String / 3″ Spacing / Black / 10 Foot Waterproof EasyPlug3 Input Cable
- 4x Smart / Pixel RGB LED Strip 30 LEDs/m 10 Pixels/m / Pre-Attached 10ft EasyPlug3 Input Cable / Waterproof Tube (16ft-6in/5 meter Roll) – 12v / 2811 or 1903 / RGB Color Output Order
I had a little Christmas in June on Monday when my Coro order arrived.
I learned a few things after I unpacked my order, mostly that I cannot plug Coro Pixels into my Light-O-Rama controller. This led to a lot of research and learnings which will be part of my next post.
My 2019 Layout Preview:
The Arches will run up the driveway but for sequencing this was the easiest way to lay them out. I am also considering moving the mini trees in front of the matrix panels.
I did some landscaping beside my big tree, the results of this project will influence my layout. What initially started out as a project to repair an irrigation line ended up digging out large sections of my lawn and the entire flower bed/rock garden removing the tree and bush then building a retaining wall. Scope creep seems to end up in all my projects not just lighting projects. This will give me much more room and visibility into my front yard. More room = more lights.
I also think I can push the matrix panels back almost to the tree and use some of the space in front of them.as well as making my Lawn much more usable for props.
We’ve come along way from when I first moved into this house in 2011, I really look forward to what this years show looks like.