So what does it take to create a show like this? Good question. First off, lots of patience. All the props (snowflakes, trees, candy canes, etc) had to have all the light bulbs (pixels) pushed into place. Most of this work has been done over the last few years. This year, the only prop that got changed was the “mega tree”. It was redone to go from 800 pixels spaced 2″ apart, to 1600 pixels spaced 1″ apart. “Pushing Pixels” takes time and often results in sore fingers for a while…
The 2023 show contains:
1 Mega Tree (1600 pixels)
4 singing bulbs (572 pixels)
5 candy canes (495 pixels)
4 “fans” (1340 pixels)
13 snowflakes (624 pixels)
Spinner (85 pixels)
8 Spotlights (8 pixels)
Icicle lights (600 pixels)
Matrix (600 pixels)
Mini trees (450 pixels)
Presents (170 pixels)
Verticle strip lights (183 pixels)
Strip lights around garage door (188 pixels)
P5 Panel (12288 pixels)
Additional lights on the porch pillar and landscaping (600 pixels)
Press Button for Music button and speakers (0 pixels)
To run the show, it takes 3 primary controlers that all the pixels are connected to. To drive the P5 panel, it takes a Raspberry PI. The entire show is then run by a second Raspberry PI.
Both Raspberry PIs are running Falcon Pi Player (FPP) software. One is the primary and controls all that is happening. It also tells the 2nd Raspberry PI, running as a remote, what to do.
To program the show, I use the xLights software. This is an open source software package designed for creating light shows. Over the years the software has greatly improved where it can even push the configuration out to the controllers, and upload all the sequences to the Raspberry PIs.
As for the sequences (songs), I will usually take the current years “xLights Around the World” project’s starter files (again they are providing 2 sequences, one Christmas, one not). Many in the xLights community will also share seqences they have done for others to use. I’ve also created my own sequences that are part of the show. Each sequence does take a bit of time to create and refine, even when using sequences from others. It can take as little as an hour to review, import, refine a shared sequences, to many days to create one entirely from scratch. But it is all a labor of love and creativity.
The physical setup of the lights is now complete for the 2023 season. Looking at the extended forcast, today was the day to do the setup. Waiting any longer and I’d have to don the hat and gloves (which would slow things down). I could have done without the high winds tho…
Final pixel count for this years display – 7518 individually controllable “pixels” (aka bulbs) and the P5 panel with 12288 pixels bringing the total to 19806 lights.
I must be getting more efficent at the setup. Probably about 8 total hours to complete everything, setting up all the props, wiring, testing and debugging.
Now to go complete all the programming that goes into the light show…
Won’t be long now, and it will be time to get everything placed out into the yard, programmed, and running.
For 2023, the changes to the setup are less obvious than in the past. The one (hopefully) not noticable change is how the icicle ights are connected to the gutters. I call it “plan C” (as plan A and B didn’t really work out too well last year – gee, thanks Mother Nature). Only time will tell if Plan C is a keeper (fingers crossed).
The visible change (hopefully) will be the large “mega tree” went from 800 lights to 1600, and from bulbs spaced 2″ apart, to 1″ apart. Hopefully this will increase the visibility of some of the effects/images the tree displays. After completing the change and running a test, well, let’s say, I’m hoping most people won’t notice. *sigh*
Some of the lights are now installed/attached to the house. Missing one section of icicle lights yet as I ran out of the 3D printed hooks (measure once cut twice type problem). The printer is churning away at more hooks as I type this.
Still waiting for the xLights around the workd project to release the starter programming for this years songs. Should be “any day now”. Also been going through and trying to decide on the other songs that will make it into the show this year.
Hope everyone is looking forward to this years display as mch as I am!
Noticed last night one of the virtical strips was “stuck” on some red glow and not doing what it should. Not sure what happened, will have to wait until it comes down for more testing. Maybe a squirrel nicked the cable? Hard to tell when most of them are under snow now. *sigh* Sure is a good thing I got a video of all the songs early on…
Yesterday was the first nice snowfall since the display went up (had one prior to setup, was panicing that I might have to shovel off the grass to setup). Noticed an issue on the mega-tree that night. Upon inspection this afternoon – 99 lights (2 strips) were out. Appears I have been terrorized by a squirrel. Wire chewed clean off right after the first bulb taking out the next 99 in the string. No chance of splicing right after that first bulb either. Grr. Why couldn’t it have gone one strip left or right? Then it would have only taken out one bulb that 99.9% of the visitors wouldn’t even notice. *sigh*
Still debating if I attempt replacing the string or not this year…
Well, amazingly Mother Natrue cooperated and gave us a VERY warm day today. All the display elements are now in place and the show is go! Will work on getting videos of this years songs up as soon as I am able.
One element (the P5 panel) is, uhm, a bit more hidden then I’d like. The landscaping bushes are partially hiding it. Guess I’ll have to add that to the list of things to redo for next year (build some kind of stand for it to be placed on that can also hep support it in the wind).
Less than 2 weeks to go, and the weather forcast between now and the start of the show is, well, less than awesome. Looks like I’m either going to be freezing cold putting out the rest of the display in the yard, or shoveling snow off the grass, or both. Hrumpf.
Doing final prep work and testing indoors. Looks like the megatree might need to replace a string of lights or two. More testing needed. There is also one bulb stuck on blue 100% of the time and has been that way for the last 2 years. I keep saying I’m going to fix that. Maybe I’ll finaly fix that this year.
Tune your radio to 93.5 FM when at the house to hear the music.
This year, the display continues to expand. Planned additions include:
New Arches with multiple rows of arch lights per
Icicle lights along the gutters instead of just a single row of lights
Small LED Display
A “play music” button to allow those on foot to hear the music
For those that like numbers, there planned display will have 6403 individually controllable light bulbs or “pixels” plus another 12288 in the LED panel for a total of 18691 RGB (red/green/blue) controlable elements.
There is a project that has been putting together snipits from light shows all doing the same song. xlights around the world. For the second time, I have participated in the project. The video for this year is up for this year. My house is at 45 seconds in to the video. xlights is the software that I have been using to create the light display.