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2015 Plans - Paperbark Christmas Lights

Discussion in 'How is my display put together...' started by MarcD, Aug 31, 2015.

  1. MarcD

    MarcD Full Time Elf

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    This year, we decided we weren't doing lights. Our neighbours and regular visitors had other plans. It seems our neighbour across the road has developed CLAP. Our next door neighbour usually goes to Vietnam at Christmas to visit relatives. This year, they're coming to him, so he's decided to go all out. One of our other neighbours has never done lights, but they're moving out next year and decided to go out with a bang. So, it appears we are doing lights this year.

    But, there's a problem. The front corner of our yard is slipping away. It's become very steep and potentially dangerous. We're now scrambling to find someone to build a retaining wall and front fence. If we can't make that happen, we probably won't be able to do lights. Assuming we can get the wall and fence built, we will have a whole new canvas to work with. I've come up with an ambitious plan and thought I'd share it and get people opinions.

    The attached photo will give you a rough idea. Essentially, the idea is to run 10 light strings from the fascia under the guttering of our portico, out to wire suspended between two poles attached to the front fence. Each string will be made of of standard Big W type LED lights attached to a string of icicle lights. All wired back to a DC48 controller. That will give us 40 channels on that setup. Red/Green and Blue/Yellow on each of the string and icicle sets. The fascia is about four metres wide, so that should give us spacing between strings of about 440mm. At the fence end, the spacing will be 670mm. So it will go from four metres fanning out to just over six metres.

    At the house end, I plan on mounting a four metre length of 50 x 50 mm channel to the fascia. Inside it, I will add a 19mm square length of timber with small hooks mounted through the plastic into the timber. These hooks will be used to hold the lights in place at the house end. The channel will have 10 notches cut in so the wires (and excess lights) can be hidden away.

    Now for some questions.

    I don't really want to wait for lights to come into Big W, so I'm considering buying some of these and these in bulk. Does anyone have any suggestions for alternative/local suppliers?

    I already have a DC48 controller I purchased from David. I also bought my power supply and mounting box from him, but his website no longer seems to have them listed. Where is the best place to buy these items?

    Although I can't do anything to start this yet and don't know the exact distance from the house to the front fence, I may need help from any mathematical genuises out there to help work out the formula to determine the length of each of the five strings (the other five will be an exact mirror). Any takers?

    Anything else anyone would like to add?

    Marc
     

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  2. David_AVD

    David_AVD Bite my shiny metal ass!

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    Hi Marc,
    Give me a pm or email with what you need and I'll see what I can help you with. :)
     
  3. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    Great that you're going to put a display together!

    I wouldn't bother with Big W if I were you. It won't be long before they get their light sets in stock but for the last few years their range has not included single coloured red, green or pink sets. They only sell multicolour, white and blue.

    I'll also be the first to point out that your setup would look very good if you used pixels instead! Imagine having full control over the colour and brightness of each light!

    If you want to stick with traditional light sets, try http://top-atom.en.alibaba.com/
    Just search for "christmas" at the top of the page.

    There is more info on their string sets here http://auschristmaslighting.com/forums/index.php?topic=4583.msg39855#msg39855

    They are very good quality but only 1 channel each.

    They run at slightly lower voltage than the Big W sets and the red was about 28V (despite the seller saying 24V) but I can't guarantee that and testing is always a good idea. Adding resistors or diodes can increase the voltage but decreases efficiency slightly.

    www.MySolarLED.com have sold lights to several ACL members too. I understand that you can specify the colour, voltage and length that you want.

    I have worked out a formula for your string lengths: "=SQRT((A1^2)+((0.115+(A2-1)*0.23)^2))"
    Copy and paste everything in quotation marks into an Excel spreadsheet and put the distance in metres between the fascia and fence wire in cell A1. Put the number of the string (1 being the shortest, 5 the longest) in cell A2.
    I have assumed the two shortest strings will be at the middle of the 10 strings.
    In the formula, the distance between the wire and fascia is like the distance of the shortest string that could reach between them; it's not the distance from the base of the house to the base of the fence.
     
  4. OP
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    MarcD

    MarcD Full Time Elf

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    Thanks for the excellent advice and the formula.

    The reason for suggesting the Big W lights is that all of our existing lights are Big W strings and I want to match in with them. Due to time constraints, I think it is easier to simply add more of the same and then add them to our existing sequences. Yes, pixels would be awesome, but I don't want to push my luck with my eldest who writes all the sequences.

    I shall look into the other lights and see if they're a better option than the one's from Vicky Sun I posted the links to.

    I tested out the formula and was somewhat surprised by the results. A rough estimate of four metres from the fascia to the wire only resulted in a difference of .13 metres between the shortest and longest strings. If correct, I'll just make them all the same length and hide the excess in the channel.

    Thanks
     
  5. i13

    i13 Senior Elf

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    I somehow skipped over the links you posted. More options can't hurt :)
    You could probably rule out Top-Atom unless you want a large number of light sets because of their minimum order quantity. I am unsure about whether MySolarLed has a similar policy.

    You are correct that the formula gives you an answer in metres. I was a little bit surprised by the results too but can't see anything wrong and manually re-calculating that gives me the same figures. I'd suggest checking that your fascia and front fence are parallel too.
     
  6. OP
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    MarcD

    MarcD Full Time Elf

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    Phase one complete (almost). Our new $5,000 front yard has been built. I just need to stain the timber once it's had time to dry out a bit. We now have a front fence and a level front yard. A whole new canvas to work with.
     

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  7. OP
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    MarcD

    MarcD Full Time Elf

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    As mentioned in the Big W 2015 thread, I finally received lights I can use for my strings. Now we can start work cutting them down and wiring them up. That will start next week. Then to figure out how to mount them. Everything appears to be on track for now.
     
  8. OP
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    MarcD

    MarcD Full Time Elf

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    Finally managed to find a solution for mounting the controllers in the garage. $44 from Officeworks plus some bits and pieces from Jaycar. We put 15mm M4 bolts through the back with two nylon nuts as lock nuts and to insulate the pcb's from the metal case. Looks good and hides everything away.


    I just need to find sticker to cover the green cross.
     

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  9. OP
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    MarcD

    MarcD Full Time Elf

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    We're making slow progress. We cut up the strings into 15 six metre lengths (10 for the fan and five for the front fence panels) and wired them up. Due to issues with the old laptop, I decided it was time for an upgrade. I had a perfectly good Dell PC at home doing nothing. When I say perfectly good, I mean the hardware was fine but it had been infected with some sort of virus we couldn't get rid of. The solution was to install a brand new 2tb hard drive I had sitting around. A brand new install of Windows 7 and Vixen 3.2 and absolutely nothing else and it all seems good.

    The PC is talking to the controller and the one connected string comes on. Lights will start going on the roof on Sunday (weather permitting). Next step is to add all the additional channels into the existing sequences and, all being well, we'll be right to go.
     
  10. OP
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    MarcD

    MarcD Full Time Elf

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    We managed to get our 'light fan' installed over the weekend. 35 degree heat was a bit of a killer. We made the mistake of using dymo labels to make each string as we built them. Unfortunately, they didn't stick very well and several fell off in the process. We had to strip back every string, connect it to the test box and then mark them.

    Hopefully it will look good when it's lit up and included in the sequences. 10 string, 20 channels.
     

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  11. franky_888

    franky_888 Apprentice Elf

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    Looks good Marc.

    I'd be interested to see how you handle your sequencing as I'm in a similar boat to you; Using Vixen and BIGW-esk strings only here too!
     
  12. scamper

    scamper Senior Elf

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    I want to thank you for this post.
    I have been looking around for a box to put a new controller and 27v power supply in as I have completely reorganised my display this year and these elements were getting moved to the far side of the house.
    as a bonus I have moved 2 controllers that were originally in small lunch box size containers to this central location.

    As far as you labelling goes... I found the simplest is usually the best, I mark my leads/plugs with a permanents marker. And when I join the plugs on, I usually colour code different leads with the heat shrink that covers the join.
     

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  13. OP
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    MarcD

    MarcD Full Time Elf

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    I'm glad the first aid box worked out for you. Yours is way neater than our. I spent hours scouring the internet and visiting electrical suppliers before discovering these boxes. Cheap but effective solution.
     
  14. OP
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    MarcD

    MarcD Full Time Elf

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    I will post an update once we get everything hooked up and working. We're not adding any new sequences this year, just adding extra channels to existing sequences. There are 20 channels on the 10 fan strings and 10 channels across the five fence panel borders. If it comes together in time, there may be four more channels across the custom built chimney mounted on the roof.
     
  15. the grinch

    the grinch I guess I could use a little social interaction

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    Hey marcd well played indeed looks great and we love it when a plan comes together!
     

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