It's all about the blinking...
See a comparison of the hardware used to run the displays between 2007 and 2017.
A trip down to Canberra this weekend was worth while, with plenty of ACL members turning up from NSW, ACT and even Qld.
I purchased 2 shirts as well as 5 sheets of Coro, which is being used for the new Candy Canes coming this year. Oh and plenty of tint tubes, opaque 80mm diameter plastic tubes just begging to be lit from inside!
I have packed up a lot of the gear used last year into new boxes and in a cupboard previously unused. This keeps them out of the way and a bit more secure. I have also started work on a new item - the toadstools. Initially they were to be small items scattered through the garden, but one use of the tint tubes will be for a slightly raised toadstool which should look rather, um, unique.
So far I have 2 completed tops for the toadstools, and painted one in the classic red color, with holes which illuminate from inside. So far it looks great, but I might add some reflective material inside to help bounce some more light out the holes.
The hot spots on the base are just because the lights in the base are not clipped to the back as they will be in the final light. Also the red paint has only had 1 coat, but I think 2 or 3 will be needed for the final light as well.
Today while at bunnings I noticed some 24V AC LED Fairy lights so I decided to get some to see just what they could be used for. They were no good at 24V DC, but because they did not have resistors to limit current (which could easily be replaced to allow 24V DC), so I ended up cutting 2 LED's out of each string of 10 and they light up perfectly, giving a string of 80 instead of 100. 2 stings were placed on one of the old deer and the results were quite good.
The 2 small deer have been completed, with a total of 160 lights on each one, and the 6 meter power cable has also been attached. The white metal frames were washed, dried and given a light coat of white spraypaint to tidy them up and remove any corrosion marks which have formed during the previous 5 years they have been out in the display.
I also had previously picked up a pair of larger deer witk moving heads, but earlier tests had shown that the 24V motors had failed, so they were removed. The heads were attached in a fixed position with cable ties, and a single string of 240 LED's proved the perfect size for the deers. One has been completed so far, with the second only a day or so away from being completed.
I think I will ned to order more cable ties this week as I am down to only a few hundred left - probably not enough to complete the 4th deer, and definately not enough to continue with the upgrade to the 5th and final deer (old 240V deer) and the waiving santa, both which are planned to receive the 24V LED upgrade as time permits.
While testing the 24V DC LED deer upgrade my one and only spare 24V DC power supply failed. I have finally seen the need for 0-30V variable power supply with a 2 to 5A rating, so I will start looking this week on eBay.
The failure has also highlited the need for better power supplies for the display, so I have decided to replace all my 5v, 12V and 24V DC supplies with better quality Meanwell ones. I will source these from Stellascapes as they have supplied excellent quality items for my display in the past.
The deers are all done now. The 2 small ones have 160 LED's on each, the 2 medium ones have 240 LED's on each, and the one large one has a total of 480 LED's on it.
For interest, the large deer used to be 240V powered and drew some 240 Watts, whereas the upgrade to LED draws just 10 watts. While it is not as bright as the old 240V ropelight, it matches the other deer in terms of looks, but has a lot more LED's on the frame, making it much brighter than the others.
With luck I'll get the Santa done tomorrow, with the exception of the coloring of the LED's.
After a couple of nights at work I managed to start the Santa LED Outline today, but was unhappy with the result, so I will add another set of lights on the frame on Monday.
The new power supply was given a good workout to test its accuracy and current indication and it is very close to correct indication, and was pretty stable under load.
Finished the deer LED upgrade, the Santa upgrade, and given them all a test and they look great. It will be good to get these items back into the display as they have been unused for the last few years due to their poor lights, or in a few cases, no lights.
I might get a few images of the deer in the yard when I get a chance.
I decided to order some AVD fuse boards for the display this year. These small items have 3 20A inlets, and 6 10A fused outlets on the one board, meaning I can use them to save space and fuse the power supplies in many of the boxes.
I initially ordered 5, thinking that would be heaps, but I now think I may need more.
The AVD boards arrived, and I also ordered one more lot from Ray, only slightly short of my largest single order, although he said it will actually come as 2 seperate items due to weight restrictions.
I ordered 1500 5V 12mm LED's, 200 RGB Pixel modules which can be individually controlled for use in the new candy canes, 100 more 4 core connections, 100 meters of white 24V ropelight to restring my 240V ropelight items, and also 5 meters of 12V 30LED/m white LED Strip for a few things which I dont want to use RGB on.
I finished work on the upgraded minitree box, as well programming the DMX address for it, although I am not really happy with the layout in the box, it will do for this year and may need a layout change for next season to utilise the internal space better. While I was at it I programmed the Bethlehem Star and got updated current details for each section, rather that relying on calculated values.
After a trip up the coast to visit my wifes sister yesterday, today is all back to working on the lights. I scrapped a number of items used in previous years, but not before removing any useful items from them.
One of the jobs today was upgrading one of the controller boxes used in the show. This box controlled the 24V ropelight for about 1/2 the house outline, as well as providing power for some of the floodlights around the yard, and also a couple of 12V RGB Strip items. Last year the box looked like this:
This year the 100 watt 12V supply, at bottom left, was discovered to be too small for the 12V demand which peaks at about 205 watts, so it was replaced with a 350W unit. Also there are 3 27 channel boards there - one 12V and two 24V boards. The 12V board is being located at the base of the megatree (and the 12V supplied from the 12V supply in this box), and the 24V ones are remaining in this box.
These are the 3 supplies in place. The left two are 24V, and the right one is the 12V supply.
The two 24V boards are added, along with cables and the AVD fuseboards sourced earlier in the week. The left power supply is powering the two 24V boards, while the middle 24V supply is cabled up to 4 pairs of 2 pin outlets, which are used to power the 24V floodlights in the yard.
Stage 1 of the base, with power entering on the left, a vent to the right of that, then the 24V outputs for the ropelights, and on the right are the 24V power outputs for the floodlights. The 12V power outputs will be added once I get some cable and connectors for the moderate curent (up to 6A) 12V items to be supplied.
The spare space on the bottom left corrner will be used to store the DMX splitter items which were previously located inside the house, along with the 12V pDMX injection from the 12V supply in this box. I will probably need to replace the vent with a grommit to handle the pDMX in and out cables, and place the vent elsewhere along the base.
Yet another busy day today, completing the upgrade of the box I was working on yesterday.
The bttom right corner shows the 4 way DMX splitter and 4 pDMX injectors. Because this runs on a seperate universe to the items in the case, it is actually cabled seperately and shares no common DMX lines.
This is the cabeling for the 2 DMX universes. The red cables on the right provide the signal to this box, and the green & Yellow cables on the left are the DMX in and pDMX outputs.
I think I can fit a little more in the box, dont you think? (There is still power outs for the 12V items left to go!!)
While I was at it today I modified the Tune To signs so that instead of two strings of 50 pixels supplied from 2 ports on the P12R, they are actually 1 set of 100 pixels, saving a port which can be used for other items. Because of this I needed to cut open the back, add an "output" wire before resealing the back.
Here are the 2 signs given a quick test run.
Completed the painting of the Toadstools, and then put them together today. Each item has eithor 42 of 45 LED's inside, but as yet I still dont have a base for them.
This is the top, lightly marked for the holes, and then being sanded to help the paint adhere. The sections where the paint is to be applied are sanded, and the rest is left with the clearcoat intact. The round marks were actually drawn around a roll of electrical tape, so that gives you an idea of the size.
Here are 3 tops. One unpainted, one with the first coat of external red paint, and another with the first black internal coat. The red and black are coated twice, and then once dry a third coat is applied to any areas that dont have a nice thick coat of paint. The black is used to stop light passing through the red outer paint. Blue and green looked great, but red actually shon through the paint and looked horrible.
After the 6 toadstools were completed, I decided to do the ten candy cane pairs. The 20 old plastic tube candycanes are being replaced with ten Coro Candycanes.
This is a piece of Coro marked up with 3 pairs of Coro canes, minimising the wastage for each sheet.
The ten candy canes, which have the spacers already installed. The spacers, simply 3 thicknesses of coro glued togather in a 500 by 20mm section, keep the front a set distance away from the back and thus keep the light spread of the pixels nice and even. I'll add a plastic tube to the back tomorrow which will allow me to mount the cane onto a pole which will be inserted in the ground.
I received my order from Ray Wu this week so have been flat out using the items. All the candy canes are completed, but looking for somewhere to store them where they wont get damaged.
This shows some of the ten 2801 three LED RGB modules in place on the back of the coro before the front was glued in place. A plug and socket allow easy powering of the ten candy canes.
One of the times I got was 1500 waterproof RGB LED's in strings of 50, and I used 8 of these to replace some of the ones which suffered water damage last year. Since Christmas the damaged LED's have dried out and suffer no more problems, but to avoid more issues I have replaced the ones in the shrubs with the new LED's and they look great. The old ones were used for the last 8 window silhouette upgrades, with 4 being done, and 4 more to be completed when I get time.
The last item I have almost completed is the Toadstools, three of which were completed tonight, and given a quick test run and I am extremely happy with the look.
Completed 10 of the 12 the candy canes today. They say a picture says a thousand words, so heres a few thousand for you.
This year one of the problems with the Pixel displays is that I need to have 2 seperate voltages on one of the boards. Some 300 12V pixels will be driven by the P12R, along with almost 850 5V pixels. The old box did not give enough room for dual power supplies as well as the P12R, so today I rebuilt them into a new box. A 250W 5V supply and 350W 12V supply were shoehorned into a box along with the P12R, 1 mains and 3 12V fuses, and associated cabeling.
Here you can seee the 12V supply on the left, the 5V supply on the right, with the P12R on top. The 240V fuse bottom left and 12V fuses top right help protect the setup. The 5V is protected by onboard fuses on the P12R. The red cables coming out the base are the 12V supplies, while the rest are 5V. 3 additional 12V power outputs are also included to allow power injection along some of the longer pixel strings.
This is the box closed. Here you can see the air outlet vent at the top, covered in aluminium flyscreen to stop insects from gaining access. The mottled green color ensures that it blends in to the shrubs where it is mounted.
Flat out preparing for a bit more concrete to go down in the back yard in the next few weeks, as well as getting ready for Melbourne, but I did manage to complete 4 of the poles which will be used to hold up the no entry tape to stop people entering the yard. Last year I used 3 thin metal poles which could not be seen, but this year I decided to do something different and use lit poles as part of the display.
These are the 12V 2801 pixel modules used in the candy canes and also the new poles. Here they are mounted on a thin strip of 5mm Coro which is later hot glued inside the poles.
Of course we have the usual video....