January to May
See a comparison of the hardware used to run the displays between 2007 and 2019.
Other 2009 Pages:
Like last year, I started this year with a wish list for what I want in 2009 based on what I considered my show was lacking.
- Scrap the energy-intensive floodlights and replace them with LED floodlights
- 4 meter tall "Mega Tree", will be refitted with white, red, blue and green lights, 16 channels of each color.
- Get the Mega Tree strobes working. they were a failure last year, so more testing is needed.
- More security cameras with recording on the PC this time. I currently have 4 Swann cameras, but something a little better would be nice (A donation of 2 to 4 cameras and a card would be better lol).
- Double-height ledtriks, making it 4 panels in total.
- Replace the ageing 595's with Ren 64's if I can. All new channels will be renard 16 or 64's
- Scrap some of the older lights and replace them with the new 150 string arlec lights I have ordered.
- Probably aim for 50,000 lights this year, most of the addition coming from changing from 2 to 4 color lights in bushes, trees and the megatree.
Some people might be interested in a recent purchase I made. Peter Olsen, the "Olsen half" of the Olsen 595 recently sold a few of his remaining items from his hugely popular Lugarno Lights display, and I managed to score a few items.
Here I am (Left) with Peter. In his hand is the original home-made 595 board. Alas that is not one of the items I managed to score. In fact Peter kept the board pretty close to himself for some strange reason lol.
One of the most popular items from the display was the tree. I managed to purchase a few of the small items in the tree - they are 36V light sets in the shape of Christmas items. I will be building my own additions to them for the display this year, but my prize posession is the star from the top of that tree! It will grace the top of my Megatree this year.
In the previous few years I have had little time for my family tree, so I decided to spend a couple of months researching & updating the tree. I have also updated my Stephen King page, making them both database driven, rather than static html pages.
It felt great not worrying about the Christmas light display for a while.
Well, crap, it's May! So far I have managed a few PCB orders for SSR's (64 of them), led floodlights (6), DC SSR's (10), 2 Renard 64's, 2 Ledtricks and 2 Triks-C's. Added to that I have ordered more than a few parts from Futurlec ($434 worth), as well as "some" LED's - 5000 of them, 2000 for the expanded Ledtriks, and 3000 for the LED Floodlights.
So far I have put what parts I can on the SSR's, DCSSR's and the Renards, and now I'm waiting for the rest of the parts to arrive before doing an inventory and making one order from Mouser for the bits I can't get elsewhere.
Approached Redkite as my chosen charity for this year. I sent them an email, and am awaiting agreement from them. I'd like to continue collecting for the less common charities, and I think I can do something special for Redkite as I might have a few spare Red LED's left this year so a nice red kite "flying" over the house might not be hard to do lol.
I heard back from Beth today regarding the Charity fundraising for Redkite. She wants to discuss our offer with her colleague, before agreeing to it. Since it really only amounts to their agreement, and maybe permission to use their logo on the website, I can't see it as being a problem at all. We are also interested in purchasing t-shirts from them to wear during the christmas period (if they have them, or if not we will get some done here ourselves).
I started on small candles for the display. 16 small candles will form a shape on the front of the house for one particular song in the display. While the candles are small, they only have to look like candles for a few seconds :)
The candles start as a sheet of plastic, supplied in this case by a local real estate agent.
The sheets are cut into small sections that are 1/4 the size of an A4 sheet of paper, and sprayed black on the back and the house color on the front. This is to help them blend in with the house a bit more during the display.
45 Lights are placed in a pattern resembling a candle. It's not exact, but it's really not supposed to be perfect. I'll probably color the "Flame" lamps an orange color to highlite them a bit more.
Here is a candle lit. I'm debating weather the yellow background might be a bit too light. I'll see how they look when I get a few of them done and connected to a few SSR's and use in action.
5 Candles completed, and bases for 5 more done. Alas I am in the middle of "hell week", and have to work basically 9 days straight, but the plus is in a few weeks when I will be heading to Melbourne for a few days for a holiday as well as to HOPEFULLY pick up a few Christmas Lights I ordered last year. (Update: No the person has family issues and will not release the lights)
My wife and I will also be able to catch up with a few friends both down there as well as on the coast on the way back. 4 days, 2300km - easy!
Since all my parts arrives from Futurlec as well as both LED orders, I decided to start building the LED Floodlights. 4 Floods and DC SSR's are complete, and 2 more LED Flood boards have been completed and tested for a minimum of 2hrs at 100% output. A few minor component failures were fixed easily.
I will grab some more pegboard tomorrow (if it's not raining) and start on the Ledtriks expansion. A new design for the frame is on the cards that should make it 30% thinner, and only about 30% heavier than the 2 panel ledtriks setup. More images will be coming as soon as the build starts.
All the LED Floodlights I have parts for have been completed. I still need 4 more floodlight boards, but the 6 I have and 10 DC SSR's have been completed and tested.
Here is the back of one of the floodlights before the LED's are soldered. The board makes it much easier to build a simple floodlight in a matter of an hour or so, so thanks to Matt, John & anyone else involved in its design.
This is the front view. The LED's vary color by row, with the top row being Red, then Green & Blue, followed by red once more.
Here is a picture of the lights illuminated. The reds are a little duller than I would like, but they are being run a little harder than Green & Blue which helps being them in line.
This is a spot of light on the wall. Because the spread of light is not ideal, I later found a very thin sheet of plastic from a white plastic bag gave a more softened light that made it harder to pick the led colors on the outside as you can in this image.
All 6 sets were connected to a Ren 64 and given an overnight run, alternating in brightness and color. One LED failed during testing, so was replaced. Each set draws 0.48 to 0.5A at 24V DC, with the reds drawing roughly 26mA and the Green & Blue drawing a bit under 18mA per group.
Today I started on the upgraded Ledtriks. I bought another sheet of Pegboard, cut it to size using my Ryobi One+ 18V Jigsaw, used the matching One+ Grinder to tidy the edges up using a flapdisc, and then the One+ drill was used to drill out 768 holes so the LED's would fit in the hole. All this was done on 1 battery which had previously done quite a bit of work putting up 2 new doors on the house. This battery performance was much better than I expected, and a credit to Ryobi for creating such a great system. Ryobi have a new higher capacity Lithium Ion battery and matching charger out now, but I can't justify the cost to upgrade to them, even if it will give longer run times on the batteries, and longer storage time without capacity loss. I have the Ryobi hammer drill, jigsaw, grinder, circular saw and torch which all use the one battery, so an additional battery would probably be a good idea as I really want the One+ Hedge Trimmer and Router for Christmas :)
Here are the tools, resting on the pegboard after the final drilling process. The battery on the drill has been seriously abused, but still bounces back every time, so the outlay to set up the One+ gear was well worth it for me.
This is my growing collection of boards for this year. Most are complete, save a few small items or chips. The missing components have been ordered on 28 May and will be here early next week.
A seperate box houses the growing collection of SSR boards, built and tested, plus about 60 blank boards in the bottom of the box. Each SSR is designed for eithor 24V, 36V (not many) or 240V based on the resistor value between the optocoupler and the Triac. Since no fuses are placed on the SSR's, that place is used to note the voltage the SSR is designed to run at.
Almost completed the first of 2 additional Ledtriks panels. I have stuck in all 768 LED's, done all the vertical cabeling, and am in the process of completing the horizontal wires. I expect that the new panel will contain roughly 50 meters of wire, plus the short runs of Cat 5 that I hope to complete in the next couple of days. Once the 2 new Panels are complete, I will begin mounting them in a new lighter frame.
I also ordered 25 chips that can be used in place of the Allegro/MBI chips. I use 20 of the chips in total, and only need an additional 4 to complete the Ledtriks, but I prefer spares, and have had issues with the chips in the Ledtriks in the past, requiring replacement, so spares are always good to have. Another $83 well spent (until my wife finds out). (Update: They dont work real well in the Ledtriks it appears)
Ordered the first, and hopefully last, order from Mouser for the year. This should provide all the parts needed for this years (and maybe next years) display. Since most parts were sourced from Futurlec, the Mouser order was mostly Chips and sockets I could not source elsewhere, with a few additional parts I forgot on the last Futurlec order.
I spent a little more than I expected, but I refrained from overdoing it TOO badly, keeping it under $260.... Just...
Wow what a day. I completed my first of 2 additional Ledtriks boards, then added all 768 LED's that are needed per board, and soldered the verticals and some of the horizontals. I am short a few parts, and it looks like Allegro replacements are just not quite as good as the Allegro chips, so I hope I can get them working in the Grinch, as its chips were raided for the Ledtriks testing.
The first board was literally hung from the roof of the shed, given power and left to run for the next day or so to ensure it is reliable and no early LED failures cause problems. I try to test all my new boards for a day as I find that most failures occur in the first few hours of running, so if they make it a day, they should last a LONG time.
The above image shows all 768 LED's in place and hot-glued to stop them from falling backwards. Last year I noted that twisting the board could cause LED's to come loose, but glueing them, plus the support from the rather stiff wire caused any loose LED's to remain firmly in their place.
3 strands of copper wire are used to make the horizontal and vertical connections. The led's are bent over and then pressed onto the wire before being soldered in place. This way any "Missed" solder joints dont actually cause a problem. Last year I never had an LED fail during the show, but at the end of the display, when it was taken down for the year, I found a complete row that were never soldered.
This is last years Ledtriks before getting modified into the 2*2 setup for this year.. This image was actually taken upside down, with the top of the sign at the bottom of the image, but it gives you an idea of the complexity behind there. 1536 LED's probably close to 5000 solder joints, 100+ meters of cable, and for some stupid reason I want to do it all again.....
Completed the second additional ledtriks panel and tested it today. I am still short a few items for the last board, and they should arrive next week.
The board is currently undergoing a burn-in test overnight before being mounted in a new frame in the morning.
I also got wood for the new frame today. I'll start lightening the wood and building the frame, and hopefully I'll be able to keep the weight under what the total of last years frame and backing was.
Well the Ledtriks is coming along rather well. All 4 boards were given a test today, and performed well.
I had to clean up last years Triks-c's as they suffered a little corrosion as they were mounted on the base, rather than behind the panel, so sat in a little water or condensation for a while, and corroded slightly. A quick spray with clear laquer after being cleaned up has got them looking pristine once again.
Here is some wonderful person busy grinding the bottom off the old ledtriks to enable it to slot in with the new ones. Rather than cutting, I found a grinder with a Flapdisc is the best, but it DOES create a lot of dust, but thats the wifes car, not mine, so no big deal lol
Above image shows the back of the 4 panel Ledtriks. The blue straps were used to squeeze the panel together while it was screwed, so it was as tight as possible. Hmmm, that sounds nasty, but it's quite innocent... The bottom 2 panels (actually they are the top as the whole thing is upside down) still have to have the triks-c's mounted on them (they were the ones mentioned above, as having to be repaired), but thats for later in the week.
This is to give you an idea of the sheer size of this monster panel. Thats my 9yo daughter standing in front of it!