We’re half way there ’21.

It’s hard to believe but we are already at the midway point between turning off the lights on January 2nd and the official Light up on November 27th.

I always churn over weather I should bother with another big lightshow each year while getting everything put away. Putting up the lights and getting everything working in time for the light up causes me a great amount of anxiety, then add in all the time of building new props, updating all my sequences to use the new props and the install, it is quite a big undertaking. After it is all done another couple of months of taking it all down and packing it away (which is becoming a bigger challenge each year to find space for everything).

Inevitably at some point I start thinking about what could be in my display this season and start messing around in LOR S5, this used to be in late summer to get my order in for the LOR summer sale but has creept forward the last couple of years as I have started building more props vs. just attaching lights. Also, being at home for the last 15 months has caused me to think about lighting earlier than ever.

When I crack open S5 the excitement quickly comes back and the layout design rapidly evolves. Once the layout is where I want it to be the inventory of supplies is built, then prioritized. Prioritization helps draw the line on my annual budget, lower priorities drop off if the budget isn’t there. Although with the earlier start, smaller orders do sometimes get placed earlier by-passing the budget. I try to avoid multiple orders as much as possible as the shipping and import fees related to living in Canada significantly increase the costs. HolidayCoro have added a more affordable ground option to Canada which I am liking. On another positive note the exchange rate has improved significantly (~$1.40 -> $1.21) essentially reducing my costs by almost 20% from this time last year.

How much CAD one USD cost over the last Year

This years new props focus on something I’ve been thinking of doing for a couple of year but wasn’t sure how to mount. Working with the pex pipe last season gave me a few new ideas to try. The main additions this year are around adding Pixel Panels to the upper pillars of the house and the half circle above one of the kids’ room windows. I think this combined with the existing pixel panels will be able to deliver some amazing effects. One other thing I though of last year is I would like to move my arches from the driveway to the outer edges of my property. This will require building 2 new arches on the right side of the house (and possibly 2 more for the left). I’m also going to build 6 (or 8) more North Poles to put between each of the Arches. The challenge here will be getting them in the right spot that I don’t smash my sprinkler lines (again). Finally I am going to add some Ice-cream pails with Dumb RGBs in them along the edge of the driveway where the Arches were this year.

2021 Preliminary Layout

These new additions don’t seem like a lot but they add up to a pretty big shopping list.

PropPriorityItemVendorQuantity
ArchesHighPixel StripsHolidayCoro1 (or 2)
ArchesHighPixel StripsHolidayCoro1 (or 2)
ArchesHigh Pex TubeHome Depot2 (or 4)
ArchesHigh FlangeHome Depot4 (or 8)
ArchesHigh ConduitHome Depot1 (or 2)
Driveway DomesHigh Pex TubeHome Depot2
Driveway DomesHighDumb Rectangle RGB LEDHolidayCoro64
Driveway DomesHighDumb RGB DMX ControllerHolidayCoro8
Driveway DomesHighEasyPlug4 THolidayCoro8
Driveway DomesHighEasyPlug4  5ft ExtensionHolidayCoro8
Driveway DomesHighEasyPlug4 MALE Pigtail HolidayCoro8
Garage UpgradeMedPixel Strip Mounting  HolidayCoro20
Garage UpgradeMedPixel StripsHolidayCoro2
House MatrixHigh ConduitHome Depot6
House MatrixHighPixNode NetHolidayCoro2
House MatrixHigh1/2 In. Pull Elbow EMT To EMTHome Depot12
House MatrixHigh16×100 Pixel PackageLight-O-Rama1
Misc SuppliesHighHeat Shrink 1/2″ ClearHolidayCoro72
Misc SuppliesHighMale EasyPlug CapHolidayCoro30
Misc SuppliesHighEasyPlug3 10ft ExtensionHolidayCoro2
Misc SuppliesHighFemale EasyPlug CapHolidayCoro30
Misc SuppliesMedUSB-RS485-HSLight-O-Rama2
Misc SuppliesHigh1/2″ Pipe Mounting ClipHolidayCoro50
Misc SupplieslowLight-o-Rama to HolidayCoroHolidayCoro10
Misc SUppliesLowRJ45 Waterproof DangleLight-O-Rama6
Misc SuppliesHighEasyPlug4 MALE Pigtail HolidayCoro12
Misc SupplieslowRGB Flood Light HolidayCoro2
Misc SuppliesHighEasyPlug4 PigtailsHolidayCoro5
North PolesHighNorth Pole Topper  KitHolidayCoro6
North PolesHighEasyPlug4 THolidayCoro12
North PolesHighEasyPlug4  10ft  Extension HolidayCoro6
North PolesHighEasyPlug4 MALE Pigtail HolidayCoro10
North PolesHighSewer PipeHome Depot3
North PolesHighRe BarHome Depot12
North PolesHighRed TapeHome Depot2
North PolesHigh Globes1000 Bulbs6
Singing TreesLowRalphieLight-O-Rama1
Singing TreesLowZuZuLight-O-Rama1

This will be pushing the limits on my exiting (4) networks, I tried reorganizing how controllers were distributed but ended up having to add another network.

2021 Network Design

I also want to make a couple of upgrades to the North Poles this year, replacing the wooden supports in the pole with UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene) supports. The wooden ones kept splitting so hopefully these will work better. I also want to upgrade the power connections making sure they are consistent that they can be added anywhere inline. I think I did this last year but I cannot 100% remember how I had them set up and if I used to Coro Easyplugs or other connectors ordered from Amazon, so I will re look at all the connectors and power supplies and re-engineer as needed.

I also have a couple of other projects to revisit. I have a few sets of lights that are designed to stay up all year. These are the ones around my flowerbeds, the front door and the garage. the mountings fell off the flowerbeds, this started while the lights were still on when I hit them with the shovel while shoveling the drive. I duct taped them back on to get through the season. I figured I needed to scuff the back of the pixel strip mounting channel to give the glue something to bite to, then re attach them with a stronger glue, I used PL 600 that I had used on the bricks last year, this year I have the heavy duty all purpose version. I also bought more clamps to I can have a better mechanical hold, than the duct tape I used last year, while the glue cures. I’m also going to get some more pixel mounting strips to extend the RGBs to the full length of the wall when I make my Coro order.

One last thing I need to fix is the Pixels around the garage (again for the 3rd time). I will need to remake the Pex mounting system with larger holes at some point as I think this is causing the failures, but I am also considering replacing this with Pixel strips so we will see. After fixing 2 different dead spots in this light set I finally gave up when a 3rd dead spot showed up after completing the 1st two. I figure this set is junk so I need to decide if I move forward with another set and new Pipe or go with Pixel strips like I have around the door and flowerbeds.

Last year I ran the door and wall lights off some WLED ESP8266 NodeMCU controllers. my intent was to run them of my LOR controllers for the summer but I may eventually re build the NodeMCUs. For now I will use my LOR controllers, to get them going it took quite a bit of troubleshooting as I couldn’t see the controller on the house, only the one for the flowerbed. After testing many different cable configurations to see where the miscommunication was occurring, I ended up resorting to unplugging it and plugging it back in, which resolved the issue.

I also have a moving head Globe Lamp I bought last year that I have not figured out how to control with LOR, if I can figure that out maybe I will incorporate it as well. I think I have a good idea where I am going, but I’m still not convinced that I want to spend the time and money required for this years vision.

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