My First Project

MarcD

Full time elf
Joined
Sep 7, 2012
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338
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Heathwood Qld
We had several people walk by as we were installing them on Sunday afternoon. Most said that having stopped by at Halloween, they couldn't wait to see what we would do for Christmas. We didn't even have any lights up for Halloween. We just smiled at them and said, come back in December, you won't be disappointed.
 

logandc99

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Joined
Jul 13, 2012
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1,153
MarcD said:
Most said that having stopped by at Halloween, they couldn't wait to see what we would do for Christmas. We didn't even have any lights up for Halloween.
Do you just happen to live in a house that looks like the one in Psycho then!
:)
 

MarcD

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Heathwood Qld
I didn't even think of that. I keep telling mother to stay away from the window when guests are arriving. ;)

logandc99 said:
Do you just happen to live in a house that looks like the one in Psycho then!
:)
 

MarcD

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Sep 7, 2012
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Heathwood Qld
We've added a pair of elves this year aka youngest two sons (22 and 25). Santa will certainly appreciate the help. I know that, for most of you, your light display is mostly drive-by visitors. For us, it's mostly pedestrian traffic. We like to include a lot of interactivity as you can see from the attached photos of Santa and Mrs Clause interacting with the visitors.

We found that kids usually only get a minute or two sitting on Santa's lap in a shopping centre. When they come to our place, Santa will play games and dance and listen to everything they want to say for as long as they want. The hardest part is trying to remember all the names. Should make a list or something. ;)
 

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MarcD

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Exactly. The problem is that the elf tunic is very short and the tights are more like thin stockings. The two together make for a somewhat revealing result. We now have to find some sort of bike shorts to help protect the elves modesty. Otherwise the kids are going to see a whole new side to Christmas. :D

Kaden said:
MarcD said:
It's not just about pretty lights you know. :)
Yeah it's also about pretty elves.
 

Kaden

Pixels! I need more pixels!
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Jan 10, 2012
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Gold Coast
MarcD said:
Exactly. The problem is that the elf tunic is very short and the tights are more like thin stockings. The two together make for a somewhat revealing result. We now have to find some sort of bike shorts to help protect the elves modesty. Otherwise the kids are going to see a whole new side to Christmas. :D
Lmfao and gross!
 

MarcD

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Heathwood Qld
We managed to get a lot more lights up on Sunday. Eldest was putting the strings up on the roof and had a great view of the rapidly approaching storm. Eventually, he gave up and came down just before it hit. We had some good news and some bad news. First, I had bought three sets of 10m blue rope light from Deals Direct. When we tested it last night, we found that one half of one string was doing something different to the other half. All the lights were on, so we're assuming it must be a faulty controller. We're cutting that off anyway. We also found that the lead wires from the stuff on the roof was way too short. We have plenty of spare cable, so that won't be a problem.

On the positive side, we were putting up our 3.6m tree (same as this one) which we've had for years. Last year the controller died and we did some dodgy connections to get it working. The repair was so dodgy, the cables fell apart as soon as we touched them. The good news is that we discovered that the tree is actually four channels, so we're adding it into the system as four channels. We've decided we'll make a focus of the tree during O' Christmas Tree.

The other thing was that, while we were outside, we had at least four families walk past and say they were so pleased with last years' lights, they couldn't wait to see them again this year. Then we learned that our neighbours opposite, who are the most directly impacted by the lights, are going overseas to visit relatives and won't be back until late December.

We've also (almost) finalised the playlist. It starts with the Hi-5 Xmas Mix (search iTunes) to really kick off with a bang and show off the lights. That's followed by several songs from the album 60 Christmas Carols for Kids by Countdown Kids (also on iTunes) as well as a couple of Hi-5 songs. The finale will be a cut down version of John Lennon's Happy Christmas (War Is Over) which will mainly be lights swaying from side to side. All up about 15 to 20 minutes total. So far, only a few have those songs have had sequences written, so we may have to cut back our plans.

All looks very promising.
 

MY03VY

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Sep 7, 2012
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All light strings are now finished... and no more will be added until at least next years display (hear that dad? lol).


After countless burns from the soldering iron, frustration with heat shrink being too small, and other minor issues, I have now completed the final piece, a 5m wide "curtain" of droppers each at 2m long. This will be able to pull back out of the way to allow access to the garage, but when the show is on, pulled across with a 2m long string every 30cm.... doing the trial run in the hallway... it's bright! As painful as it has been making all this stuff, it's stuff we'll have for ages and the glow on peoples faces when they see it all up and running is what makes it all worth while in the end.


As per above, the strings on roof framing were all measured with the "4m should be enough" rule, and as it turns out, 4m is about 4m too short... whoops. Doesn't, matter, I wanted to tidy it all up anyway with the security cable so everything coming into the contoller was colour coded, I'm a bit of a neat freak like that.


For those that raised concerns (me included) that starting in August was too late... we've made it, well almost. With existing strings, and stuff we bought this year, I have now put together approx 18 or 19 different strings of light. On top of that, I've modified existing items, and fixed stuff that was broken last year.


Now that all the creation side of things is done, it's just a matter of a few little final patch ups on stuff, cabling and patching into the controller, and zip tying off all the various runs. Everything will be in place by next sunday for a Dec 1 launch... well thats what I'm aiming for anyway. I'll make sure I get plenty of "behind the scenes" type photo's to show off my handy work lol.


The main focus for me now is to write and finish these sequences I'm currently working on. The Hi-5 Christmas Mix is going to be seizure enducing... but it's got a great beat to it. It's a slow and tedious process which has seen me forgo hours of sleep recently, but by the end of it I should have approx 10 sequences all audio linked to suit our display all using Vixen.


The other thing we've done is set up the laptop controlling it all with TeamViewer and installed the apps both on the iPad, and my Samsung Galaxy S3 so we can test/control from a remote location with ease... allowing for changing of schedules and so on on the fly.


That elf costume... not a snowballs chance in hell of me wearing one though. I'll just stick to the behind the scenes stuff getting my hands dirty (or burnt as the case more often than not was).


Till next weekend...
 

MarcD

Full time elf
Joined
Sep 7, 2012
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338
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Heathwood Qld
Major progress last night thanks to the tireless efforts of Robert. Almost everything is in place and wired up. There are still three strings of lights and a star to go on the roof on the weekend. All up, we used 47 of our 48 available channels. Which, of course, made us wonder what we could use the last channel for. I've attached some photos. We're really pleased with the garage door curtain light we invented. It simply slides to one side to get the car in and out. When it's on, it completely fills what was a bland boring space last year.

I'll apologise for the quality of the photos. They were just taken on my iPhone because my good camera was on loan.

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This is the controller mounted on an unused shelf.

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Mission Control

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My home made, fully retractable garage door curtain light

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All (currently installed) lights on

ImageSam.jpg
A different angle
 

MarcD

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Sep 7, 2012
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338
Location
Heathwood Qld
We finally managed to get all lights up and running, including the non-controlled 240v stuff. Pictures attached. Again, apologies for the quality. I'll take some decent photos after we start running them nightly from December 1.

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Left side

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Right side
 
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