2013 was a good year for the light display. I had been getting fairly negative about the whole process. Between the money involved and more importantly the time and effort that goes into setting up and tearing down the display as well as the “baby sitting” of the display while it is up, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was even telling people this might be my last year for a while. Well maybe, just maybe I might have this stuff figured out (yeah right). It could have something to do with not adding any new elements this year, but setup went fairly smoothly and most importantly, the changes that were made to try and make the display run smoother all worked to keep the display fairly hands off for most of the time it was up, other than the broken or burnt out bulb here or there everything worked great.
I ran the show with the Falcon Pi Player and for the most part it ran flawlessly. It was great being able to leave the house and know that everything would be working when I came home. At one point I decided to change the schedule to play the show until 11PM on Fri and Sat and 10PM all other days, and that introduced a bug in the software that affected scheduling on Wednesdays. Once the Falcon guys looked into it, they had it fixed, but I didn’t want to risk updating the software so I just went back to an everyday schedule and modified it on the days I wanted it changed. It wasn’t that big of a hassle.
I have struggled with the LEDtriks display since the first year I built it. The bottom set of panels was constantly having problems somehow related to the cold. It would generally run fine inside. Last year I replaced all the easily replaceable parts on the Triks-C with no real improvement. This year I bought all new chips for the LEDtriks that controls those panels and that seemed to do the trick. I was pleased to not have to worry about that at all this year either. I did find a few columns stuck on which means a few bad LEDs, so hopefully I’ll get those swapped out before next year.
Towards the middle of December I worked on sequencing “The Polar Express” using some sequences I found and mostly using xLights/Nutcracker. I really like where Nutcracker is going and it enabled me to do effects on my ridge strips I couldn’t dream of sequencing by hand. They were a lot better than the solid colors I had been using in the past. Ultimately I think Polar Express turned out great and is currently my favorite sequence. This year I used Vixen+ for sequencing the old fashioned way. I have tried other sequencers like LSP and HLS and just can’t get myself to learn them, so I keep going back to Vixen. Vixen+ is great, it’s the Vixen I know with stability and new features.
We drove around to see some other local shows one evening and came across North Canton Christmas. His display was very well done and I was impressed with a lot of the elements. It, along with the fact that my display was running show well, sparked me to want to add some elements this next year. There is quite a bit I want to do, but monetarily just can’t do it all. I originally wanted to do a pixel mega tree, but after talking with my wife we decided that we kind of like our current mega tree and that we’d keep that. We’ve talked about several things, some pixel mini-trees, some pixel mini-mega trees, a pixel matrix on the hedges, dumb strings on the artificial trees, dumb strings on the hedges, dumbstrings on the spiral trees, pixabulbs around the windows on the porch, pixabulbs on the mega tree star, and lastly, what I found yesterday, pixcicles made out of nodes. I really like the look of these and want to do them, but can’t do it all. I’m kind of at an impasse at the moment about what projects I’m going to do, basically where the limited money I have to spend on additions this year are going to go. Ultimately I want more color in the display, as a lot of what I currently have is white and multicolored incandescent, the white incans have their place and I don’t really want to get rid of them, but with the influx of LEDs everywhere, I highly dislike how the multicolored incans look.
While my wife was out during post-Christmas shopping, she found 6 mini blow mold solders and 2 other blow molds that we will be adding to the display. I’m also going to get off my ass this year and get the garlands re-wrapped so that will add a bit more color to the porch.
This year, Brewster held a lighting contest. I wasn’t originally going to enter because I don’t like the attention, but at the last minute I went ahead and entered. We tied for 3rd place which was fine with me because There were some other nice static displays that people put up and like I said, I don’t like the attention. What wasn’t fine with me is a few weeks later I heard more people didn’t vote for us because they thought we paid someone to put up and do the display. I should take it as a compliment that people like it so much they think we pay for it, but still hurts a little because of the hours and hours of effort that go into building display pieces, sequencing, setup, baby sitting the display while it is up and tear down.
The last night we ran the show was New Year’s Eve. It ran until midnight and the lights were on until 2AM. Everything came down Saturday the 4th, minus a few extension cords that came down on the 5th and the lights on the dormer that will stay there until the snow fully melts off the roof so I can get to them.