Instead of a long video with me droning on-and-on, I thought I would do a walkthrough in pictures this year…
Unfortunately things don’t look quite as nice in daylight…
We do have some more-conventional decorations on the porch and in front of the house.
Our light show starts with the Show Runner computer, which is a Raspberry Pi 4 mounted to a DIN rail with a PSU in the basement. Our low-power FM transmitter is behind it, and is switched on and off using a relay that is operated by the Raspberry Pi. We also have our dedicated power system that controls power to the whole show using two SSRs and power monitors. These actually stay online all year so I can keep them updated, and we can use them for other things if-needed. We also have a Raspberry Pi touch-screen controller and status display that uses WIFI so we can put it anywhere that’s convenient.
Starting next to the driveway. we have our pixel fence that first made an appearance in 2021. We decided to just set it up along the driveway this year, and not in front of the display like last year. The one in front blocked the pixel stakes and seemed to be more of a distraction.
In front of the display is our array of Peace (Pixel) Stakes. We have 100 now, and are considering adding more for next year. Kim will tell you these are the hardest things to set up since the ground is so hard we have to drill holes for them every year, and they need to be fairly carefully laid out. The deer love knocking them over too, and we have several breaks to fix each year.
The Pixel Stakes and oak tree snowflakes (below) are driven by a 4 channel differential receiver. The last picture above also shows the PSU for the Tune-To sign (below).
We added a couple of large coro snowflakes to the oak tree this year, along with a new Tune-To sign underneath. We might do more with the tree next year.
Our “Maxi” Tree is next. We decided to move the Mega Tree to the other side of the yard this year because it was partially blocked by the oak tree in 2021 with branches hanging in front of the star. We had to relocate the video screen, and decided to still use a tree to hold the projector for it. This design is similar to what we did for our largest mini tree last year. We are using the topper and star from last year’s Mega Tree. It uses 1/2″ galvanized pipe on a wooden base that is weighted and staked down. It turned out a bit shorter and fatter than I wanted (much like me), and it will be redesigned for next year to be a taller and thinner to more closely match the proportions of the Mega Tree. I also want to re-do it with 3/4″ galvanized pipe, as the 1/2″ is a bit too thin for the loads it is carrying. It also really should have a front guy line, but so far it has held up well in the wind. It uses 3D-printed stabilizer clips with 1/8″ wire rope to help keep the plastic strips straight.
It is roughly 7′ tall without the star, 44 pixels on 2″ centers by 15 strips. It runs off a single 4-channel differential receiver, 3 x 5 strips ea. plus the star.
Also returning this year are our Hattitude Quartet and wreaths, and our (famous?) pixel Sparkleballs. In past years we had problems with the locations of the Sparkleballs, due to wind damage and the distance we had to run wires for data and power to them, so we decided to move them all under the porch roof this year. This also makes some of the musical note animations we’ve done with them a bit more obvious. They will probably be staying there. 😊 We also have our P10 pixel columns that we introduced last year, which we love. We also added an audio speaker under the porch roof, mostly so we can hear the show in the yard, but any potential pedestrians can also (barely) hear the music. We didn’t want it loud enough to bother the neighbors.
Here are the controllers that run most of the yard and porch elements. They consist of differential controllers, differential receivers, P10 controllers, power supplies, and network boxes. (And a bunch of leaves. The trees STILL haven’t finished dropping them as of late December.)
And the star of our show, our “new” 14′ Mega Tree. This uses the same ASAP Pole hardware and design of last year’s, but with a new Boscoyo Studios topper, 8 new strips, and a re-built controller. It is 75px x 32 strips, and again this year we are using stakes and bungees to hold the bottoms of the strips in-place. Because the ground is very soft in some areas around it- we had to use screw-in auger stakes for some of the strips. We are using three rows of 3D printed stabilizer clips and 1/8″ wire rope to help keep the strips from thrashing around in the wind and hold their spacing.
Each of 16 controller channels only runs 2 strips and we are using four PSUs, one for every 8 strips, with power injection at the top and bottom of each strip. The pole is sunk into a screw-in pipe support in the ground, and we are using 30″ Earth Anchors for the guy lines to hopefully keep it standing in our usual December extreme winds.
On top we have added a new Starburst, which I still owe everyone more build information for, and around the bottom we have Kim’s Sparkledrops, which are essentially half-Sparkleballs, with the pixels in a spiral tree pattern inside. The controllers for the tree, sparkledrops, and pixel fence are all in the bottom.
In the carport above the driveway we have our P10 Info Matrix sign. It has been re-worked a few times due to power and heat problems, and is “permanently” installed as we have used it for other holidays in the past, and plan to use it for more things in the coming years. Most recently we have moved the power supplies and the controller into a box behind it, and it is connected to a wired network now. For our Christmas light show- it runs independently of the rest of the system and automatically displays running show information or pre-programmed messages.
Last, but not really least, we have our roofline pixels. The carport line is only used for some of our static light displays, to resemble regular Christmas lights. We wanted the focus to be on the yard and front of the main house. We don’t do any pixels or props on the roof (anymore) as accessing them is just too dangerous, especially in the winter. The roofline pixels are all driven by differential receivers and use a parallel power injection system. (Our entire show uses 5v pixels.)
That’s it for our 2022 show. We are pretty happy with this layout, so I don’t expect any substantial changes for next year as far as what we have out now. I have a goal of streamlining some of the prop and controller assemblies and cabling, which is all behind-the-scenes work. Some additions we are considering for 2023:
- The return of the mini-trees. Likely one between each porch column. We just didn’t have time to get them re-built and out this season.
- More Pixel stakes, with a denser pattern.
- “Micro” Trees, scattered around the display.
- Some window frame pixels.
- Porch video projection decorations.
- More oak tree decorations.