January to June

See a comparison of the hardware used to run the displays between 2007 and 2020.

Other 2015 Pages:
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Jul-Dec Build


Lights from 2014's display are all put away and I have started working on the 2015 display. At the moment I am just sorting out controllers, fixing and upgrading lights, and thats about all, but I have a few plans for this year, including:

  • Upgrade the pDMX items to plain DMX, to allow easier distribution, and more standardised communication which should allow things to be a little easier in terms of connections.
  • Repair the floodlights. These are starting to really show their age, and have a number of failures in quite a few. I have about 4 or 5 spare boards so if I have enough LED's I'll make them up and swap them out with any damaged sets to allow a more seamless repair path.
  • Open all the controller cases and do any repairs, upgrades and tidyups. Some of these have basically been in service for 3 or 4 seasons with no repairs needed, but I dont know the condition of the actual boards and wiring, so a good check, upgraded fusing etc will be carried out where needed
  • 6 new silhouettes for the bedroom. I have the silhouettes and think I have enough lights to put on them.
  • I will need a few additional 27 channel controllers for items this year, and maybe an additional J1Sys P2
  • New leaping arches are a definate add, and I should have enough spare outlets to allow me to use existing controllers, but they will likely need a PSU upgrade to a decent Meanwell in 2 of the boxes.
  • New Tune To signs, with the old ones being moved to the front of the yard to allow people to see them easier
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A huge day in the shed tidying and repairing gear. LED Floodlights 13-33 were all pulled apart, tested, repaired and any damage that was found was fixed as I was going. These lights have been in service for many years and I am very suprised they are still operating so well, but I plan on giving them a slight visual upgrade as the black paint on most has peeled off, leaving the light to start to rust. I'll get a couple of tins of different color green spraypaint soon and spray them green so they dont stick out quite as much when on the green grass during the display.

I also did an upgrade to the snow machines so I can place a LED Floodlight under each one during their use and control the LED light remotely from the remote used to operate the snow machines. This way I can turn the lights off when the snow machines are not being used so they dont shine towards the road, but then quickly turn them on when I want to operate the snow machines.

This is an image of the Snow machine controllers and the remote receiver used to control the 2 snow machines and 2 LED Floodlights. The 12V power for the receiver is sourced from one of the snow machine remotes, making it totally independent of additional power sources. The connection at the top is for the 24V power in for the 2 floodlights which can be mounted below the snow machines for the best effect.

JAN 10

All the floodlights have been repaired and put away. I trsted the pDMX to plain DMX upgrade for the floodlight boards, but alas the 24V input to the lights, and the extremely small 5V regulator caused the regulator to get too hot to touch. It looks like I will have to think of another way to upgrade them, so for now the pDMX will stay for the floodlights.

While cleaning the floodlights some had minor water damage, so I was cleaning the back with 100% isopropyl alcohol, but in this case I forgot to tighten down the power supply and a small spark ignited the alcohol. Of course I did what any self respecting light enthusiast should do, and took a picture before blowing it out.

JAN 24

AussiePhil over at ACL has been talking about 3D printers a lot lately, so I started to look at what one costs.... OUTCH, maybe Santa might bring me one lol.

Things are slowly happening, with cases being checked, lights repaired and stored away, plus a few ideas for 2015 worked on.

FEB 23

Still repairing and upgrading, but it's pretty much as time permits. So far all of the boxes have been worked on, but some still need replacement fans for cooling as the ones I bought were pretty cheap and have only lasted 2 seasons in most cases. I still have a collection of 40 and 50mm 5V and 12V fans so they are perfect to use in the cases.

All the Lights have been repaired and stored away with the exception of the LED matrix which requires a rebuild anyway, so that should happen later in the year.

MAR 18

Mini Season is approaching in a few months, but this year I am not planning on much of a display at the mini, as in previous years there has simply been limited space for all of us to put items up, but I am doing a few talks at the Sydney Mini.

Big tidy up in the shed saw a couple of trailer loads go to the local dump, but I think I could throw the same volume out agin and still not make a dent in the mess out there

MAY 10

Working on the display talks for the Sydney Mini. I hate Powerpoint.

2 down, 1 to go, and did I mention I hate Powerpoint.

MAY 24

Well the 2 days of the Sydney Mini are over for another year. A big thanks to my son Jacob who helped video and photograph the Mini for the 2 days, Ben for running the mini, and Craig for supplying the location and parking.

I think things went really well at the Mini, with lots of new faces learning heaps, and with a 2 day layout it gacve people a lot more time to talk one on one, and yes I talked a LOT about Eddy's 3D printer lol

JUN 10

Guess who bought a printer.... A 3D printer I mean lol

I blame Eddy and his 3D printer demonstration for making me see about 30 things I could make for the display this year, and AussiePhil provided some interesting 3D printed covers for us to drool over, and dream to build.

JUN 23

The 3D printer has been busy!

I was given a copy of Thil's LED Cover design, but decided to design and print my own, but there have been a few design steps on the way. In this image the covers on the right are from Phil, and my initial design is on the left, but it's too small.

This is the final design and it's a press fit onto the LED. I have been asked to include a cable tie clip and maybe cable clip into a future version so that sounds like a bit of a challenge for later weeks. Now I just have to wait for the 15kg of filament to arrive so I can get serious about printing.

Here is a comparison of a bare LED and a cover, but the camera does not do it justice, and the light is way more even on the cover, at least to the eye.

Another job was designed and started this week, and that is covers for the ends of the Tint Tubes. These polycarbonate tubes are open ended and attract bugs, snails and even grass in them, so I decided to 3D print a clip on cap for the top, and a matching base (the base has a slot to allow cable entry). These are currently being printed with the last of the white ABS I have here.

The workshop area, now much tidier than it has been in ages. May I also suggest not blinking... Yes that is a weeping angel from Dr Who lol

JUN 28

Really starting to get stuff done for the lights in a big way. Had a small failure yesterday, but it was dealt with in a very quick way by the place I ordered the printer from, and a new heat bed and cable will be on its way soon.
Also painted a new tint tube with similar undercoated and not undercoated clear lacquers to see how they age in the sun for the next few months. This will give me a good guide as to weather I should coat the tubes and LED covers with to avoid damage in the display from UV, but also physical bumps as well. Already at 128 covers printed so it will take a while, but I hope to hit the 400 mark late this week.

This is an under-rated connector for the heat bed on the printer. In just over a week it overheated and failed, causing a heat bed failure.

The connector on the board also broke off as well. A temporary fix was put in to allow me to continue printing until the replacement heat bed arrives in the next week or so. A big thanks to The 3D Printer in Melbourne for their quick and great warranty service.

A few of the LED covers being printed. While I can fit 35 on the bed, I found smaller lots are less prone to problems. Here are 20 in the early stages of being printed, and this takes roughly 4 hours.

A small collection is slowly building up, all vapor finished as I found it made them less porous, but also stronger and an additional benefit of actually allowing the clear lacquer used as a UV protectant, to stick better as I think it has less gaps to fill, thus bonds with more material, giving a more solid coat.

The holder for the acetone treatment. This fits neatly inside the rice cooker and holds quite a few LED's. Just 5ml of acetone is placed in the cooker, the LED's placed in, and the cooker warmed up. After acetone is seen condensing on the top of the cooker, the heat is turned off and left for 90 seconds and then the lid and led's are removed and sat aside to cool. This still leaves some lines, but overall the covers are a lot less porous, and smoother.

Once the Acetone treatment is done, the covers are left for a day to outgas and rid themselves of any more acetone from the treatment. Once outgassed they are put in the larger box with the rest. I have a small collection of led covers outside in the sun waiting to see what is the best combination of sprays to coat the cover with for ultimate UV protection.