Roof Lights Up … And Then Goes Dark

Over the last week, lights have been installed to the roof. The LED roof strings will run from DC boards this year, and unfortunately initial tests showed some kind of electrical leakage problem within one of the strings somewhere.

This has resulted in the loss of one of the four white triangles, and I am urgently looking into ways of getting a replacement at short notice (10 metres long).

I’m still not sure how the light set could have been pulling so much power (ten times the amount it is supposed to) without even lighting up.

Combined with the DC power supply problem earlier this month, DC is sure appearing to be stubborn.

DC Controller Update

Can you believe it is already halfway through the month of October? Time for an update!

Christmas decorations and lights have now been installed in the three front windows. The window borders will be installed during the next week.

Where the majority of time has gone is setting up the new DC controllers. The controllers themselves appear to be working perfectly out of the box but where the issues have been is with a dodgy power supply unit (DC Controllers must be connected to a PSU and not directly wired to 240v AC).

I opted to purchase a non-brand name power supply, due to hearing that other Christmas displays were using them without issue. However when I powered up my PSU, older computer monitors using VGA cables started showing strange lines and the ADSL2+ modem lost connection to the internet. Turns out this particular cheap supply from China emits high electromagnetic interference in the air (EMI). Cheap fixes such as ferrite rings and filters proved no good.

I will now be using official Meanwell power supplies even though they cost anywhere from $100 upwards as they do not let off any noticable interference and also come with a reliable warranty.

Lesson learnt.

New Controllers Arrived, Setup Begins

The new DC controllers finally arrived earlier this week, although I’ve not been able to test them just yet. Enclosures need to be made for them before I power them. I’ve not had anything to test with the DC power supply either, so there is a potential double headache to be had if neither work as intended.

New controllers aside, the older AC controllers have been installed this week, so the ball is officially rolling. A new LED sign has also been set up in one of the windows – although it won’t be turned on until November. A few set up pictures are available in the 2010 photo gallery.

Why the earlier setup you ask? With university studies continuing right up until the 2nd-last week of November, I may not be able get lights and cables up as quickly as in the past. Worse case scenario might be that I will not be ready by the 1st of December, in which case the launch night will be postponed – but more on this in November.

Recent Test Yields Pleasing Results

Last night, the lights which were up so far were turned on just before dusk to do the first full on computer control test.

Results were better than expected, although not perfect. With two different types of controllers being used this year, (Light-O-Rama CTB16PC’s and DIY Olsen 595 Switches) there appears to be a very slight delay with the former, of only a fraction of a second. This is fixable by adjusting the light patterns in the sequencer (Vixen 2.5.0.0) so that all the channels of light that use the LOR controllers send out the message a fraction before messages are sent to the Olsen 595 controllers. This, I hope, will correct the problem. Testing will continue leading up to opening night, which this year is Tuesday December 1st from 8:00 pm (lights on from 8:30 pm).

Set up over the past week has been slow due to record breaking heatwave conditions, but while there’s a break in the very hot temperatures I shall get to work setting more decorations up.

Roof Lights Almost Complete

Yesterday the 240 volt cables needed for the rope light train and stars were installed in the roof once again and today the five LED red/white roof triangles put up.

If all goes to plan, the rope light train and star motifs will go up tomorrow followed by all the roof lights being connected to the show computer on Wednesday or Thursday.

The three windows now have lights around them as do the three verandah poles.

Regarding the streaming webcam, I’ve calculated that I should be able to turn it on on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights of December for three hours (such as 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm) without running out of internet bandwidth like last year.

Set Up Has Begun

The first of the display was put out today. The data cables (ethernet patch cable) for computer control have not yet been put in as planned.. they were supposed to go in last weekend but will finally be installed tomorrow.

The next job after that will be laying out power cables to various points in the roof, and putting up lights on the roof.

Starting To Feel The Pinch

On this day next week is the planned light up on the 1st of December.

Only yesterday were the roof lights completed. The mega tree is not up yet, nor are any computerised lights in the left/right gardens.

I had to delay many of the lights going out until necessary electrical work was done by a qualified A-grade electrician.

Let’s just hope I get it all done in time for the advertised launch.

Up They Go

Outside decorations are beginning to go up.

Last week the magic cave had white tinsel and foam attached to it. LED Blue and clear icicles are now up. Decorations in the main lounge window out front and window around the side have also been put in their place for the season.

A dead end area to the side of the house (which has been a junk yard longer than I’ve been on this earth) has been cleaned out to make way for four of the new ‘Light-O-Rama CTB16PC’ computerised Christmas light controllers.

Today the plan is for some of the rope light path borders to be put out. Right now they are laying in the sun so that they will be easier to bend into the correct shape.

New Lights Arrive

The new lights for this year arrived in Australia last week and were picked up today. The order contains 4000 new LEDs – some in white, blue, or red – at a cost of $1220. This bumps this year’s expenditure up to $2375, the highest it has ever been.

The newer lights mean that the Mega Tree will contain double the amount of LEDs this year, and the garden bushes will no longer have clear incandescent mini lights.

The display will begin to be set up in the next day or two. New set up photos will likely be added sometime during October.

Display over for another year

‘It was the night before new years, when all through the garden, everything went dark…’

Ok, I made that up. Anyway, last night was the final night that the 2007 light show was operating. Over the next month the lights will be removed and stored until late September or early October.

Another vandalism attack occured during the display this year (with the other one happening last year) causing an estimated damage bill of around $100. I am hoping this will be covered by insurance again. Other problems such as melting light sets in 40 degree celcius heat will also be claimed for.

Over the next few weeks some plans will need to be finalised before further planning commences, such as what new features I would like, what improvements to existing features I can do, and – for this year most importantly – what sort of computerisation method will I use (Currently I use Olsen595 boards made by a friend of mine. There are several commercial products available that have more flexibility that I may well consider.)

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and I would like to welcome you to the new year.