January to December

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

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DEC 10

Well it looks like my old FM Transmitter is on its way out, so I bought a new VAST FM transmitter with the ability to do RDS messages, station name and song name. This is something I have wanted for a while, so it was worth the spend, and we can use the old radio as a spare.

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JAN 02

I have been madly designing and printing a demo snowflake that will contain 96 2811 pixels, so I need pixels, a LOT more pixels. My first Ray Wu order of the year for a total of 1,500 5V 2811 pixels is on the way from China now. 500 are for the 5 remaining snowflakes, and 1000 will be a good start for the house outline replacement, but I'll be getting another order of about the same size soon as I want a few more items changed to Pixel, and I'm thinking of 6 more snowflakes on the other side of the house.

One of 6 of the parts needed for the Snowflake.

A completed Snowflake, which is 660mm in diameter when completed

Lights installed on the frame

LED's during a test run

LED's during a test run

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JAN 04

More filament ordered from Aurarum for the 3D Printed Snowflakes. 3 rolls of natural and 2 of white PLA.

4 frames for Snowflakes done now, and I am considering doing 6 on the west side of the house, and 6 on the north side as well. Still working on decent programming for them at the moment, and I have a small issue with the mapping of the LED's, but I'll get that right soon.

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JAN 17

As usual, we delivered the Redkite Cheque in person to the Redkite office in Redfern.

The Redkite staff watch on as we show a few of the videos from this year.

Redkite CEO Jenny Seaton presents David Rawsthorne with a thank you (That sits proudly in the shed!).

Sue gets a lovely bottle of wine as a thank you from the Redkite staff.

The Redkite staff group photo

The LithgowLights crew present the cheque to Redkite CEO Jenny Seaton.

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JAN 27

All 12 Snowflake frames have been done, and a couple have lights on them already.

Started a list of things to be done:

  • Change Bethlehem Star P2 to use just 1 output, second is for roofline Done 11 Feb
  • Change house outline to pixels
  • Check 2 DMX Boxes to see what is in them in terms of PSU's Done 12 Feb
  • Update firmware in all controllers Done 11 Feb
  • Build snowflakes - In progress
  • Redo arches for 1-3, and 4-6 off one controller output each, and add better power injection
  • Check setup for arch 6 to get rid of the white pixels on the end
  • Get roof profile for wooden feet for singing faces
  • Get gear down off roof/walls - Just retired LED's on roof peak left to get down
  • Consider injection to Megatree to include center of section as well
  • Repair singing faces
  • Look at better/more power injection for pixicles
  • Build 5 more 5v window silhouettes for bedroom windows
  • See if I can get strobes to work using 3 chan controller
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FEB 04

Still no sign of the transmitter that I ordered back in early December. I contacted the supplier and they are sending me a new one express post once the transport companies open after the Chinese new year celebrations

A few more items have been repaired and most of the controllers have been upgraded to the new firmware.

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FEB 11

So much for express post - they sent te item normal post as DHL was too dear. Bloody Vast and their transmitters, wish I had not bought it now as I wont get it for at least another month.

All the controllers are updated, but because of the item below, some of the controllers will be retired this year, most likely the PIXAD8, and I'll put the P12R in its place.

On the plus side I ordered a new controller - the Falcon F16 V3, plus an expansion board, a differential expansion board and 4 differential receivers. This thing is NICE!

The new Falcon F16, with 16 outputs of 1024 pixels each. As you add expansion boards that 1024 pixel count is shared between the main board and the expansion.

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FEB 15

Well the VAST transmitter arrived and this thing is sweet. It allows you to transmit the song name or the station ID so that more modern radios can see the digital information, but older radios still hear everything the same.

I'll replase the older transmitter in the next few weeks and begin testing it. The power supply is 5V, compared with 12V for the older transmitter, so that removes one more cable from the mix as well.

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MAR 02

Started to sequence this week!

My sequencing is terrible, so I really needed to get started with some sequencing earlier so over the last week or so I have started to update the latout for the 2017 show, upgrade all the old song names to a more uniform layout, and basically tidy up the show directory to make sure 2017 is easier to sequence. Items like the new Snowflakes have had channels allocated, they have been added to the house, the old Pixel screen has been "moved" and the location freed up for the new 25 panel P10 screen.

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MAR 28

Order 2 from Ray Wu is in progress. This $990 order is the screens for the replacement for the pixel screen on the front of the house, as well as enough pixels to allow the Megatree to be increased to 63 pixels using the pixels from the rose garden, and then replace the rose garden pixels with new 2811's.

Need to start on the pixel upgrade of the house outline too, so might start that later today so I know I have enough LED's for that job.

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MAR 29

Started updating the lights to Pixels for the outlines.

2 Verticals and 2 Angle sections were upgraded to pixels with covers, gaining a few extra lights per string, but a LOT more control, and better power injection. 124 pixels added to the display, with about 400 more left to go at a guess.

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APR 10

Pixel outlines are done! A total of 566 pixels replaced 782 dumb LED's, but I decided not to add pixels along the bottom edge of the house, thus cutting that 782 down to 587 LED's that are being replaced with pixels.

Started building the P10 replacement for the LED matrix on the front of the house. Loads of 3D Printing, wiring and building in he next few weeks.

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APR 19

P10 replacement of the LED Matrix has been completed. It still has the back to be installed, power plug and also network cable and front perspex screen to go on later.

This is a front shot of the new P10 screen in its wooden frame. A marine ply back still has to be added and perspex front added as well.

The 3D Printed brackets and framework at the back of the P10 panel.

The P10's are fastened to the outer frame so they are pulled tight in both directions. This stops the P10 from sagging under its own weight over time.

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MAY 22

I have been a bit busy with other things, but we are currently away on holidays in Port Macquarie. I managed to take my laptop and a second screen and do a bit of sequencing while I am away.

The following video is a screen capture, so not ideal, but it gives you an idea of one of the new songs for 2017.

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Well the 2 days of the Sydney mini are in progress. Well it's not in Sydney, so it's more the Newcastle Mini.

A huge thanks to all the people who attended in person, on Zoom, as well as those who donated giveaways for the day. I was lucky to win a Lilia sequence, and hope to get it soon.

The ACL Newcastle Mini attendees for 2017.

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Still working on the Snowflake items for this year. They are not fast to build, with it taking about 6 hours to build each one, and with 12 to do it's taking its time.

Worked out I will need about 100 more pixels and a few more plugs and sockets for this year, so I'll add some to an order with Ray soon.

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JUN 14

Ordered 500 more pixels and 100 plugs and sockets off Ray Wu. This should give me 400 spare, and enough plugs and sockets to replace the 4 and 5 pin ones off the old outlines with 2 and 3 pin ones for the new pixels.

No real work done, still working on window outlines and repairing other peoples gear as I get time.

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JUN 23

Ordered 3 new boxes for controllers to finally retire the big green boxes this year. Two new boxes are 400 * 350 * 130mm, and one smaller at 350 * 300 * 130mm. All will have cable glands, a LOT of power supplies and be jammed with controllers as well.

Thanks to https://www.mjselectricalsupplies.com.au/ for stocking these items at a pretty reasonable price.

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Another few big days again, with all the window and shrub LED's completed and load tested, and my old "DMX West" box being stripped down and replaced with the newer Falcon F16 setup.

This is the old box containing a 350w 24v PSU, 350w 12v PSU and 300w 5v PSU, 2 DMX Splitters and a pDMX setup, along with a pair of 27 channel DMX Boards and was built in 2012.

Along with the box above this 2012 vintage box contains a J1Sys P12R, a 12V and 5V PSU. It is to be re-purposed as the window and shrub box driven by a differential remote board from the F16. It will contain a single 300w 5V PSU for the pixels and a 350w 24V PSU for power injection to the floodlights. This used to power all the pixels in the arches, poles, candy canes and mushrooms, the balls in all 4 trees along with the shooting star on the roof and also provide power to the Bethlehem star on the roof. Its 5V PSU was only drawing 200W but the 350w 12v was drawing over 450 watts, so it needed work this year.

This is the new box, almost complete, just missing the cooling system for the box. The spare cable glands are for the cat5 cable going to the differential transmitter board.

Here you can see the 300w 5V PSU (left) and 2 12V 350w PSU's in the centre and the right. Fuses provide 12V power to the DMX splitters (lower left) and pDMX injection sytem (on the left PSU), along with power injection for the 2 lots of pole/candy cane groups, and 12V and 5V outputs via Anderson plugs. The DMX cables are 3 pin while the pDMX are 4 pin plugs. Lower right is the Falcon F16, and the differential expansion board is to the left of it.

While the plugs are labelled with DMX the large red group to the leeft, pDMX the yellow/green striped cables, the pixel and power connections could easily be swapped over, so the red is 12V outputs, and blue 5V outputs. The Falcon outputs 1-8 are 5V and a mix of 3 (2811) and 4 (2801/2811) pin sockets, and 9-16 are 12V with the same mix of 3/4 pin sockets, plus power injection 2 pin sockets as well.

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AUG 18

I have been busy with a few other projects only partly light related, but this week is has been full speed ahead with the lights once again. In 2016 I decided I wanted to increase the number of LED's in the Megatree so I have increased the strings from 42 to 63 LED's high, but only increased the height by less than half a meter. This means the lights are a lot closer together. I have also increased the power injection from each end of 163 pixels, to the start, Pixel 126 and the last pixel number 252.

The lights, after being upgraded, being placed in a bag ready for storage.

The lights are being places to that the tip of the cover touches the base of the previous pixel. One set was used as a "master", and all other sets will be made next to that set, so that the spacing between the LED's is a lot more uniform compared to previous years.

The master set sits on the right, and all LEDs are cabletied in place so that they match the spacing of that set.

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SEP 10

All the Megatree upgrades are completed, the actual power measured for my spreadsheet, and they have all been packed away ready for Christmas.

This was just 1 pile of cableties after the lights were upgraded. Each string of 168 LED's had 2 cableties per LED removed, an additional 4 lots of 21 LED's soldered in the string, and then 2 cableties placed on the 252 LED's on the now lengthened strings. Made a mess of well over 4000 cableties for this upgrade.

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SEP 16

There are a few new boxes required this year, and one is for the North East pixel area. This includes the North Pole, 12pt stars in the trees, snowflakes, spinners and house outline, and this box was completed this week, and also included a small lan switch for items in the area.

5V PSU fo the 5V LED's, drawing close to 55A, the rating of this Meanwell PSU, as well as a 24V PSU for the floodlight power supplies. A small lan switch will allow the deck, relocated pixel screen and any additional new items to be plugged in to the network at this end of the house.

The old box was green, which was rather poor choice considering it was not hidden by a tree or shrub, so this one is now a patchy white and cream as it will be close to the house.

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SEP 18

Started work on the new West snowflake power supply. This will power just short of 600 LED's, but I may also add a singing face that was given to me last year.

The beginning of the install in a small box. Just a single 5V PSU and Falcon F16 Differential Remote board, along with a 6 way fuseboard.

Almost completed, just waiting for the 5V PSU monitor board, vent for the case and fan to be installed.

This is the singing face that I may populate and install this year. I have left additional outputs on the board and capacity in the PSU for this small item.

Dont you love it when you go to power a box and realise you have run out of power cable. Had to make a quick detour to Bunnings to get a couple of new power leads for the new boxes.

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OCT 16

A busy few weeks finishing off control boxes, items, testing strings and completing 4 of the 5 latest items - Minitree replacements.

These 5 trees hold just 78 LED's each and will replace the 9 old white trees in the south western section of the yard.

Day 1 of the building the Pixel Minitrees. All 3 3D printers running and one tree completed.

Day 2 of the building the Pixel Minitrees, when I was back to just one printer doing the last print of the center LED holders, and 3 LED trees completed.

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Total of 2017's spend

FM Transmitter: $160
5 Rolls of Filament: $170
Ray Wu Order 1: $682
Ray Wu Order 2: $990
4 Rolls of Cable: $100
Falcon Controller: $500
Soldering Iron parts: $60
Ray Wu Order 3: $243
Paint: $100
Wood for screen: $150
Moving head lights: $140
DMX Cables: $30
Boxes: $240
Clear coat Spray: $45
Paint: $50
Steel: $45
Nuts & Bolts: $35
Cableties: $55
Rope: $65
Lollies: $400

Total: $4260