About the Display

Information about our display:
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We took a bit of a hiatus starting in 2013 due to a move out of state.  This year our display will include limited animation and no synchronization.  When we moved from Montana back to California we sold the majority of our display.  It will take time and a lot of money to rebuild what we had, we hope to put up larger displays in the next few years.

Our 2017 display will likely include 12,000-15,000 lights.  We’re running about 95% LED this year so our power draw is considerably lower than it has been in the past.

2011 Display

  • Our display for 2011 included only a few thousand lights.  There was a reason for this – the day in early November that I was supposed to start hanging lights I was awoken by the sound of running water.  Our house was flooded due to a faulty water filter.  We moved out of our home that day and did not return until January.  Because we were living in a hotel and not in our home I could not justify hanging the full display.

2010 Display

  • Approximately 50,000 lights
  • 276 computerized channels
  • 8000+ feet of extension cables/wire
  • Utilizing approximately 100 Amps
  • More LEDs added for 2010 – we have approximately 7000 LEDs in the display this year including all of the icicle lights on the house.

2009 Display

  • 2009 was an off year for us, no animation, approximately 25,000 lights.

2008 Display

  • 45,000 lights, a few strobes, 24 LED spotlights
  • 176 computerized channels
  • 30 channels of DMX
  • 7000+ feet of extension cables/Wire
  • 1100 Feet of steel rope cable (guy wires, element support)
  • 220 Amps of available power, 115 Amps in use.
  • New for 2008 – we’re utilizing more and more LED lights, this year our display contains approximately 2500 LED lights.

 2007 Display

  • 40,000 lights, 24 strobes, 24 LED spotlights
  • 101 computerized channels
  • 5000+ feet of extension cables/Wire
  • 700 Feet of steel rope cable (guy wires, element support)
  • 180 Amps of available power, ??? Amps in use.

2006 Display

  • 35,000 lights, 13 strobes
  • 53 computerized channels
  • 3000+ feet of extension cables
  • 700 Feet of steel rope cable (guy wires, element support)
  • 140 Amps of available power, 115 Amps in use.

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Voiceovers: The voice you hear during our show is that of the Demented Elf.  This gentleman is kind enough to support the enthusiast community by providing low cost high quality voiceovers.  You can find more information at http://www.thedementedelf.com.

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Computerized Control: 2005 was our first venture into computerized lighting control with a single 16 channel controller.  In the summer of 2006 we invested in two additional 16 channel controllers.  In the summer of 2007 we invested in two additional 16 channel controllers for a total of 80 AC channels. By 2010 our display had grown to 276 computerized channels.

Each controller contains two sets of eight channels, and each set of eight channels is capable of supplying eight amps per circuit up to a maximum of twenty amps at any given time.  This means we could, in theory, run 200 Amps worth of lights through our computerized controllers.  However, for safety’s sake we do not run that much power through our controllers, we follow the generally known rule of not using more than 80% of a circuit’s capacity (16 amps on a 20 amp circuit, 12 amps on a 15 amp circuit)

Light-O-Rama: our controllers are manufactured and sold by a company called Light-o-Rama.  There are several other similar companies that sell similar products, I was sold early on by the quality of the product Light-o-Rama produces as well as the quality of the support they provide in the case of a problem.  It’s not uncommon to hear stories about Dan, the owner of Light-o-Rama calling customers late at night, even on a holiday, to help solve a problem.  If you’re considering computerized control of your Christmas lights I highly suggest you consider Light-o-Rama.  You can find more information and visit their online store at http://www.lightorama.com/.  I suggest you get your email on their mailing list so you can get notifications of their summer sales.

We’re currently running controllers out of their Hobbyist line.  These controllers are purchased as assembled boards (you can also buy unassembled boards that you assemble yourself, but I’m not very good with a soldering iron!), you add (or create) heat sinks, enclosures and plugs.  We run CTB16D, CTB16PC and CMB16D boards. On the software side we are currently running the newest version of the Light-o-Rama software.  Programming songs can take as much as ten hours of programming for one minute of the song.  Songs are programmed as sequences and the light enthusiast community is typically willing to share their creations, so often times others will use the timings and/or effects that others have created for their display which can cut down on the time it takes to program a song.  Of course it is always better to have original work, something that the new software version should help with (better tools).  Currently most of our songs have at least some borrowed timings/effects from others willing to share.

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Power: Many people ask me about power.  Most homes are not equipped with the amount of circuits required to power this many lights.  In 2005 we installed four 20-Amp GFI circuit breakers in our main panel and connected four outdoor outlets for our lights.  That was barely enough for that year (23,000 lights) but it got us through the season.  Realizing the need for more power we had three additional 20-Amp circuits installed in a sub-panel in our garage in 2006.  This gave us a total of 140 Amps of dedicated power to use.  In the summer of 2007 we added two additional 20 Amp circuits and are now at the max for our electrical feed.

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Setup: Setting up a display of this size is time consuming.  We don’t keep track of our time, but we estimate it takes about 150-200 hours to setup the display.  We also spend a lot of time on projects in the summer months.

 

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