January to December

See a comparison of the hardware used to run the displays between 2007 and 2019.

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DEC 23

I must be mad, but no, I think I'm just keen to do the updates I wanted to do in 2015 but never managed. More rolls of filament for the covers, and I have already printed enough parts for 5 12 Point Pixel stars, on the way to another 20 or so in 2016.

A part of the display that I have not liked for a while now is the Tune To Signs. These are often missed by viewers in the clutter of the display, so they are being replaced by a small LED matrix panel that I hope will work as well as I want. Considering they will likely have almost as many, of not more LED's compared to my large matrix on the front of the house, this should really add a pretty darn complex sign that will eithor be an additional matrix, or most likely a seperately triggered sign with pre-programmed sequences.

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DEC 31

Screen #1 is made and it is a 3*3 panel matrix, giving me a total of 96 * 48 Pixels, so 4,608 LED's and 13,824 channels per board. Outch!

One of 2 screens for next year, currently waiting for the last parts to arrive next week to allow testing to continue.

Some of the brackets needed. There are 8 side brackets, enough for 2 screens, and 4 corner brackets which is just one screen worth. I still have to print 4 more top/bottom brackets, and 4 more corner brackets for the second screen, along with 4 center brackets to hold things together. There will likely be 3 or 4 full 3D Printer plates worth of brackets just for the 2 screens!

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JAN 20

We visited Redkite this week and delivered the cheque to them. As always a wonderful day for the family, made even more so by a lovely gift of appreciation from Redkite, which proudly hangs on our wall.

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JUN 14

Loads have happened in the last few months. Sydney Mini, my conversion to xLights, order of more pixels, and the update of a few of the controllers to better fusing, voltage indication and more.

I ordered 500 WS2811 pixels from Ray to make new 12 point stars and the new Fireworks items, and maybe I might have enough to light the new North Pole lamp, but I will have to wait and see. I plan on driving the fireworks with a Raspberry Pi V2 or 3 and a Pixel Pi from Alec in South Australia (Thanks Ben and Alec), and just have to work out how that works lol

The Screens are all built, and I am going to order the Perspex for the covers soon. I cant order locally due to price, so will have to head to Sydney to get the stuff I need....

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JUN 16

Finished the upgrade of the Rose garden lights. 672 LED's were aligned, covers added, and a few LED's repaired.

After seeing how good these came out, I think I might have to spend some time and print covers for the megatree too :(

This shows how uneven the last pixel was. As I add the covers the spacing was changed to be a lot more even and this should help with effects.

Completed the upgrade, and even the string sections with the LED at the back show a great light.

The Window surrounds will be upgraded in the coming week or so,

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JUN 30

Added the covers to the 8 sets of lights that go around the windows on the house, and repaired the sets as needed. I have a few more minor things to go, but have been busy printing more LED covers for the Megatree.

This is the window surround Lights, with 2 sets per bag to minimise the chance of things getting too tangled.

I received 3 new rolls of a new natural ABS blend from Aurarum last week, and the new ABS is on the left, and the old on the right. The new is a lot whiter, but slightly less transparent, but the print strength is brilliant. I still have to tweak the extrusion a bit as it is over extruding a fair bit, but the strength is incredible compared to the old LED covers. I had to step on this to break it!

Started working on the new control box containing a 5V PSU, Raspberry Pi V3, BeagleBone Black (to drive the 2 LED Screens), Wireless router to allow me to remotely monitor and upgrade the show, the FM Transmitter, and a 16 port hub used to send the multitude of data around the show this year.

Here is the box in action (The Transmitter is not plugged in as it needs 12V from a nearby box), driving 2 LED screens via the 6 ribbon cables. The Pi on the Router is just there as I needed to upgrade the firmware, so used the existing PSU to power it during the upgrade.

The 500 WS2811's arrived last week and were tested and bagged before being used in the coming weeks. I still need some metal for the new Firework/spinner items, and I had 1 failure out of 500, which is pretty good.

This is the new North Pole item, and yes thats a car battery beside it. I hope to get some lights in it this week to see if plain 2811 Pixels will work, but I believe they will be fine rather than needing to resort to Strip.

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JUL 15

LED covers for the Megatree are all done, and now just printing a few hundred more as spares while I work on the Megatree LED's, aligning and repairing them this week, and of course adding the LED covers.

I made a second order up for Ray Wu, including 260 more pixels, a couple of power supplies and some connectors. Basically stuff I was running short of. Also updated the 2016 spend to add a few things that I had missed.

Completed the initial programming of 5 songs so far for this year, and just 30 more to go - YAY.... Not!

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JUL 30

Slogging away on more 12 point LED stars as I get time. I need 15 more for this year, so I'll chip away and add parts to the printer as I get time.

Starting to tidy up the control box that will contain the Pi, and the old rubber seals are being replaced with plastic plugs.

Here we see the old and new plugs for the control box.

Of course I needed somewhere to put the aerial during the off-season, as putting it in a cupboard will end up with it being lost.

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AUG 10

Thanks to Brad I am now the owner of the earlier shown large opaque Ball that I need to illuminate, so time to work out how it will be built. Firstly thee interior will be lit with 50 2811 pixels and the ball will sit on a piece of 90mm conduit.

Here is the internal illumination. The 90mm conduit was split to allow internal access to push the 50 LED's through the holes in a slight spiral pattern.

This is the base that holds the internal illumination LED's in place. Again this was 3D printed to suit a specific task and I did a few others for Brad and Ben.

This piece of plastic, again 3D Printed, fits over the base of the ball and is a tight fit into 90mm conduit. This allows the ball to neatly and tightly fit on the top of what will be an illuminated base for the North Pole light.

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AUG 22

Still printing away, working on the frames for the LED Matrix and doing a few more LED covers for some late addition items, as well as more spare covers.

For a bit of fun I tried some dual color signs on my 3D Printer. One for the gate saying go through to the front door, and this one for the shed.

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SEP 24

Completed all the parts for the additional 15 12 point stars for the trees.

Here I am slowly putting them together, and this time the LED's have enough cables between each of them so they do not need additional lumpers between each of the LED balls in the trees. The only additional length will be between the trees, thus saving connectors more than anything.

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SEP 30

Working on the new Spinners to replace the Firework item I had a few years back. These are 8 arms, with 10 pixels per arm, and I will have 2 this year, and likely more next year.

Here is an early test as the lights are being added to the arms.

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OCT 20

I have been busy, so few updates, sorry. Binny, one of the ACL members, asked me to print a set of joiners for the P10 panels, so I sent him off a set, but it's not always that easy - parts did not fit. Then to compound the issue he expanded his P10 matrix from a 3*3 to a 4*5, so ordered more P10 panels.... Only to find the second lot are different to the first.

Here we can see custom designed parts to adjust between both different hole spacing as well as different P10 depths. While it was a nightmare to design and print, I hope it will really help in his display, so I was glad to allocate about 4 days printing on the Aurarum Wombot to make the parts for him.

Might not look like a lot, but thats over 600 grams of plastic, about 6 hours design time, and 4 days print time.

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Who in their right mind leaves things until the last minute? Oh yeah, me - ARGH!!!!!

Last year I decided to replae or rebuild the Pixel matrix that had been badly water damaged over the last few years. These are the pixels in the old water damaged MDF screen, and the pine surround really did have cracks that were beginning to reduce its structural strength.

What looks like a slight change to the previous picture took 5 days, pieces of deck planking for the casing and marine ply for the front. I also added a steel internal frame to hoist from, so this thing is extremely strong, rigid and should last for many years to come.

While I was at it I totally redesigned the power injection, and probably went really overboard in the setup. Instead of a total of 6 pairs per half of the screen, each quarter has 4 pairs, and that pair of 1.5mm cable runs to between every 50 pixels in each 520 pixel section. This increased the total current draw by almost 50%, and brought it up to white, instead of pink, when the pixels were illuminated at 100% intensity.

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A quick test-fit of the new LED screens to allow the wire hangers to be set up properly.

The screens weighing close to 15kg each, are mounted using steel cable attached to rings screwed to the house.

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Day 1 of officially putting up lights! So far 1900 lights have been installed, with a LOT more to go over the coming days.

A BIG thank you to Jim Mason for the loan of the cherry picker today. It allowed me to put a number of items up that normally cause issues with location and weight, so this really helped.

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NOV 26

Hyphey, the new display element was tested last night, and looks great. Yes this is the Hyphen from the historic Coca-Cola sign in Kings Cross which was won by my son Jacob. Just need to work on a display stand and it will be ready to go! Next year we plan on replacing the P10 panels with smaller P5 or P6 setups to allow us to use more of the space inside the area, but we had the P10's here so they got used.

Here is Hyphey sitting on a temporary stand for testing. Cabling will be tidied up and a more permanent stand made for holding it in place.

Hyphey in his original home, before he was moved to our display!

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Total of 2016's spend

5 Rolls Natural ABS: $160
3 Rolls Transparent ABS: $90
30 P10 Panels: $750
2 BeagleBoneBlack's: $131
3 Octoscroller's: $110
Cables and Connectors: $80
Ray Wu Order 1: $190
2 Raspberry Pi V3: $130
Ray Wu Order 2: $250
Paints/lacquers: $70
Cableties: $70
Wood for framing: $250
Paint: $100
Glue: $50
Steel: $200
Perspex: $105
Screen Hanging Hardware: $120
Paint & Silastic: $120
Rope: $70
Lollies: $450

Total: $3,496