Computerised Christmas controllers arrive

Late this morning, the door bell rang. When answered, it was a delivery person here to hand me a rather large box which contained the new Christmas light controllers for syncronising lights to music this year.

So the assembly of the controllers has now begun. Once finished, an electrician will put in a new electrical circuit to run all the lights. This is the first time ever this is happening, purely as a safety measure due to the high amp capacity that each controller is capable of running.

I have also been informed that the ordered Christmas lights will be arriving in Australia during September – that’s only next month!

I’m estimating that lights will commence being erected outside during October.

A couple of new photos have been uploaded to the 2008 page and the upgrade costs updated on the history page.

The webcam quality has been improved also, although live streaming will not be available until October or November.

May Off-Season Updates

Its been a few months since the last post, so it is about time I update all you Christmas light fanatics.

First of all, a new Christmas lights order of about 5,000 LED lights has been placed with a manufacturer in China via Starlight Christmas Superstore. I should be getting these in August or September sometime.

This year I am retiring my current method for computerising lights (Olsen595) for a commercial alternative that can do much more (Light-O-Rama) including control of light brightness and ability to operate higher voltage lights safely. Financially, this single change is the killer this year.

After adjusting the amount of new lights and controllers that I’ll be getting for 2008, the financial requirement now sits at approximately $2200. So far I’ve managed to raise just over $1000.

In other news, the computer page has been modified to display information in a similar fashion to the detail and history pages. However, this text is still based on the 2007 display at this stage.

2008 Update

The website has again been updated with a few more goodies:

  1. There is now a streaming webcam available during the Christmas season
  2. The 2008 photo gallery has been created (with a single photo)
  3. The videos page as been redesigned
  4. There are now two new pages – Details and History – in place of the former ‘Quick Facts’ area.

I am now at the stage of choosing what is needed for 2008 such as new lights and computer controllers. There will not be too many new lights this year as new computer controlling hardware is necessary which will cost in the thousands. A record breaking $2600 is the estimate upgrading cost for 2008, providing I can pull together enough cash.

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.

Display Had Problems … But Not Any More!

This last week has been quite stressful as the first outdoor test with more than 28 computerised channels up and running returned a result that I was not exepecting. Some how the lights on the roof were following the flashing pattern of the front garden sets on top of their own instructions. This meant that they would remain on for most of the time (If either the garden light or roof light was set to turn on, they would come on – so unless both lights were instructed to turn off the roof would remain on.)

But at last the problem was fixed after replacing a nusiance cable TWICE and getting a lot of components found on the ‘brain’ replaced. (The brain’s job is to coordinate all the on/off signals and send them to the right light set).

And So It Begins…

It may only be September, but preparations for this year have already begun. With 20,000 lights, 1,000+ metres of cabling and 56 computer controlled channels, there will need to be a lot of spare time for set up. On top of that this year is when I need to sit my final secondary exams (i.e. year 12) so I’ll need to break for 3 weeks for that most likely.

You may notice a few enhancements around this website also. I revamped the blog colour scheme and updated some information on the computer page. Since the last update, one of the webcams has been fixed into its permanent position outside whilst the other has been disconnected due conflicting issues between the camera and recording software. This camera may be replaced prior to December 1st but there are no promises.

Mid-year Update

Hey there, just thought I’d post a mid-year update.
Firstly, as of today I have finally met my financial obligations regarding payment for the LED Christmas lights order from China. With thanks to an unexpected gift from a relative, the total money raised for this year now stands at $1850.

With regards to the Christmas lights order, they have arrived in Adelaide and will be picked up closer to Christmas. The garden renovation is progressing quite well – one new photo added to the 2007 photo gallery.

At this stage I’m not sure if fog and bubbles will be a part of this year’s display, but either way I’m sure the lights alone will be dazzling enough!