It's all about the blinking...
See a comparison of the hardware used to run the displays between 2007 and 2018.
The 2010 light season is only 10 months away, so time to get started! See some information about Lithgow Lights going Green in 2010.
I have been toying with replacing the 240V ropelights on the house with 24V DC rope lights. While I'm at it will be replacing old damaged 240V ropelight silhouettes with the new ropelight, but it's going to get VERY expensive at around $5 a meter for most colors.
To test the ropelight, I bought 9 meters for a test. 3 meters of each of red, green & white. 50cm of each was placed on the roof of the shed & will stay there for a few months to test the real-world ability to handle UV light and the weather.
The LED floodlights were a big hit last year, but I want a more even light, plus some uplighting on the 5 trees in the yard. More LED Floods are needed, so I ordered 20 more boards from the next coop. I'll still need to buy more LED's (a LOT more actually) soon, and cases as well. Oh well, theres another $300 or so later.
Also ordered some parts from Mouser, but they wont be here until mid february as there are a few parts on back order.
The LED ropelight test was a real success. The DC SSR's dim the ropelight perfectly when driven from the Renard 64 I had handy.
I have ordered 80 meters of ropelight from Santas LED Lights today. 30 meters of Red, Green and 20 meters of White. This will give me enough to string lights on the Olsen Star (who's existing incandescent light strings & clips are beginning to crumble due to age), and restring lights on my "Merry Christmas" ropelight, as well as start with a few bits for the house.
I will still need another 350 to 380 meters throughout the year which I am NOT looking forward to buying.
The build has started. Sort of. Today I built the 2 DMX controllers (I'm still missing some parts that are in the Mouser order which will arrive next month), and partly built the first 2 (of 4) Renard 64 XB's, as well as started building the last 2 LED lights and a few SSR's.
The 2 Ren 64 XB's are to replace the ancient stripboard 595's, as are the SSR's - I'll see if I can recover at least some of the parts so I dont waste too much.
The floodlights are the last 2 of the 15 I ordered for last years display, and I have 2 spare cases so they will end up being completed in the next few days, with the exception of the DC SSR's (or more rightly a DMX controlled DC SSR as all the floods will be DMX this year to save on cables).
The upgrade of some of the old 240V ropelight silhouettes to 24V DC LED Ropelight have started. Please excuse the poor images, as they were taken with my iPhone rather than heading inside to get the big camera (It was raining).
This is the original 240V Ropelight silhouette. Age, cheap price plus some idiot trying to pinch this silhouette a couple of years ago has left it looking extremely worse for wear. Just 2 small sections are now illuminated out of the whole silhouette, plus the once white rope is now a poor shade of yellow.
This is the new setup, complete with about 26 meters of LED Ropelight. It still needs a little more tidying up but it sure looks a LOT better than the old setup. I have yet to measure the current & thus power used, or count the led's, but that will get done in the next few days. I may also add a bit of color to a few items, such as blue wheels, a red hat on santa. I'll post a better image once its complete. Oh and the silhouettes will all now be hung up on that wall for storage to avoid damage by folding or stacking stuff on them.
Headed down to Sydney today and called in at our sponsor, Fluidtek to pick up 3 new cases to house the controllers and SSR's for the 2010 display. Once again it was great to catch up with Eddie and his family, and have a good hour chat before heading back. People may complain about Fluidtek, but I have found it the cheapest and usually best stocked PC store in the Sydney, and I'll continue to use it for all my PC purchases. Considering we drive close to 2hrs each way to get there, and head down every month or so says a lot.
While I was at it I grabbed an external DVD drive for the kids MSI Wind Laptops (Purchased from Fluidtek), as well as a Bluetooth Logitech mouse for my own Laptop. Oh and Eddie, the Pink poster now graces the front of Juani's door - thanks!
Begun working on the new cases.
These are the new cases sourced from Fluidtek at an extremely good price. Each one will be stripped down, have 5 24V transformers installed in it, as well as a maybe 1 or 2 24V DC power supplies for external items like floodlights & Ropelight.
Inside the case there is basically nothing left at all. This is the initial setup with a single 240V to 24V AC transformer installed. There will be 5 installed before completion. Eddie from Fluidtek complained about previous years images containing junk in the background, so a lovely Logitech banner was donated to be used as a background for future images. Considering I run a Logitech keyboard and mouse on the 3 main PC's here, and have a wireless logitech keyboard & mouse for the sons PC, and a bluetooth Logitech mouse on my PC, it seemed like a logical choice.
The front of the case needed modifying so that the USB ports are removed and the holes covered. The top of the case has a black piece of perspex stuck over the USB holes. I still have to mount the 240V switches and fuses on the front in the next week or so. The bottom blue stripe will indicate the power to the 24V transformers, and the red power light will indicate 240V power to the box (I think).
I finally got time to restring the old "Merry Christmas" sign in ropelight.
This is the old sign done in white ropelight. It was badly yellowed as well as now having a section of ropelight fail.
Although the picture does not do the ropelight intensity justice, the new ropelight is much brighter and the colors are a lot more vivid. The power usage has changed from 168 watts to about 28 watts.
The futurlec order 3 finally arrived, and that means I can continue with the upgrade inside the case.
Here the SSR's, complete with individual heatsinks are screwed onto the side of the case, directly over the outputs. The 24V cable bundles of the old design has now been replaced with just a few cm of cables for each output, and external fuses for every 12 outputs. It looks like there may be room to mount the Renard 64's here as well, cutting down cat 5 cables to next to nothing as well!
The side of the new case is pretty much complete, with the 120 channels of SSR's installed, the 2 ren 64's are installed, minus a couple of chips and a few labels on the SSR's. I have started making a few of the 32 required cat 5 cables which should go on by the end of the weekend.
The above image shows the SSR's, along with their 20mm angle aluminium heatsink bolted to the triacs. I have to source 12V AC to supply power and ZC to the 2 renards, as well as adding another heatsink to the second Renard.
Here you can see the red cables supplying power to the fuses and then from the fuses to the SSR's, and the white cable from the SSR output to the output connections below it. I still have to work on something a little better to insulate the bottom of the ren 64's from the SSR's.
Can't wait to see the mess adding the 32 cat 5 cables makes to this nice neat setup :)
Well Vixen 1 case is almost complete! The 240V wiring was done last month, and today the connection of the Cat 5 cables and 24V AC cables was completed.
This is an image of the 5 transformers, and 240V and 24V cabeling. A 12V AC supply is also tapped off Transformer 1 to supply the 2 renards with a ZC signal as well as rectified and regulated to a 5V supply for board power. A second 12V AC supply will be drawn from Transformer 2 this week to provide power to the 10V DC supply for the case fans.
Here you can see the transformers in the box, and the Ren 64's and SSR's on the right. It has saves over 3KG of cable in the box doing it this way, and add the close to 2KG for the 6th transformer, the box has had a severe diet, making it much easier to carry and store. One big advantage is ease of work on the box in the case of failures of any SSR's.
This is a completed image of the box. All there is to add is a 12V DC supply for the case fans, a rear (or side) case fan, plus I have an idea to allow me to fit a 24V DC supply in the case as well, which will be used to supply the LED floods and ropelight.
This is a 24V DC supply mounted on the other side of the case. Seems to fit nicely and not touch on anything important. The initial test was about 5mm too low, so it will have to be moved up a little bit as it just touched the rear transformer. Cables will all run to the front of the case for 240V power as well as sockets to allow plugging in to provide 24V DC power out of the case. I just have to order the plugs & sockets....
Just as a reminder, THIS is what the case looked like before, back preparing for the 2007 show:
Started on Vixen 2 case today. Stripped the old case down, removed the 3 transformers in it and started adding the gear to the new case. Started adding plugs to the SSR's, and tomorrow I hope to upgrade the SSR's to have new heatsinks and start adding them to the case. This box will also have 2 ren 16's so the total channel count will be 160 channels.
I made a small order with Futurlec for the 24V DC plugs and sockets for Vixen 1 case (I'll probably be adding a 24V DC supply to Vixen 2 & 3 as well).
This is the side and rear of the old case. A plastic back, 3 240V inputs, and outputs for 120 channels. This case used just 1 front fan, and no rear outlet. Considering PC's for years have survived on no case fans I considered this adequate. With the new case containing 5 transformers, and 32 more channels, the upgraded case will have 2 fans (with room for a side case fan if needed) running at 10V to minimise noise.
This is the total mess inside the box. 240V fuses inside, at the base of the transformers, and 24V fuses on the top of the transformers makes it hard to fix any issues during the season. The massive bundle of cables heading to the outputs make for one really heavy case, with close to 100 meters of cable jammed inside there.
Here are the partly upgraded SSR's. The fuses have jumpers across the connection, and 2 and 3 screw connectors for the input & output have been added. I'll start cutting the aluminium for the heatsinks tomorrow, but I think I'll need some more aluminium angle before I'm done.
No images today, just a description :)
The 240V cabeling was completed of Vixen 2, the SSR's were upgraded with new Aluminium angle for heatsinks.
The 2 ren 16's that will be used on this case were also tested, but then I realised that heatsinks were required, so they were dissassembled and a lovely strip of Aluminium added to one. The second one might get a slightly modified setup so I dont have to rip off the Triacs to screw them to the heatsink - ergh.