It's all about the blinking...
See a comparison of the hardware used to run the displays between 2007 and 2018.
I am still cleaning up and packing away, so a few images of the storage "loft" for the sleigh will be coming soon.
Items to add in 2011
This is the storage shelf used for the Santas Sleigh. Made from welded 20mm square tube bolted to the wall, and braced to provide pleanty of support. This will give me enough storage to put the sleigh during the displays days when it is not needed, and in the off-season the sleigh and a number of light items will easily be stored there. Because this sits above the back of my car, I have ensured it is as strong as possible, including a brace which clips over the top-hat on the roof of the shed.
These large 200 litre plastic drums are used to store the lights in the off-season. In 2010 I had surpassed the storage I had (4 drums) so I managed to source 4 more drums from work and they should provide more than enough storage for the future expansion of the display.
I have been busy fibreglassing the new "Balls" which will form part of the light display this year. These 15cm diameter balls will eventually contain 84 RGB LED's as a single block of 3 channels. See more on the RGB Balls on the RGB LED Balls page.
This is a half ball after being removed from the mold. A white outer later was used, then once that dried 2 layers of 200gm fibreglass and a clear polyester resin. This is left to harden for 24hrs before being removed from the mold.
Once the half ball is hardened there are 42 holes drilled into the ball. It is then coated with 2 coats of white automotive spray designed for fibreglass. Again this is left to dry for about 24hours before anything else is done.
As a demo I wanted to create a single ball which could be used to test the design. Here single color (white) led's are wired in groups of 8 which draws 18mA when connected directly across 24V DC. The last 2 have a 1K resister to limit the current to the same value. In this shot above you can see I used alligator clips to connect the power and the 2 sides together as a test
You can see the gold flecks used to give the ball some color when seen through the day The "Gap" will be filled when a small strip of fibreglass tape is wound around it to join the 2 halves of the ball together in a waterproof seal. I'll add flecks to the join after it is complete. The flecks are actually sprinkled on the clear coat which is used to seal around the LED's from both the inside and outside. For the final balls I wont clear coat the outside until the balls are completed, tested and joined together as a single part, as this will allow a more even coating of color sprinkles
Here is a better shot showing the glowing ball, without the camera flash lighting the area. Each white ball draws a total of about 200mA, but as the final lights will be RGB, that will probably be 600mA per ball. Update: the balls ended up being 5V, as opposed to the 24V test item, and they draw about 1.2A per color, and 3.2A when on white, so thats a rather bright 16 watts.
I finished one RGB LED Ball this week, well at least up to a demo test of the LED's themselves. I consider it a total success so I have ordered 1000 more LED's allowing me to build 11 more balls. 84 RGB LED's, 252 Resistors and about 6 hours later we have these images:
See more on the RGB Balls on the RGB LED Balls page.
So far 6 of the LED balls have been completed, and 2 more are underway, and 2 more are in early construction. I have created a small item that will be used sparingly in 2011, but until the Sydney mini in July I dont want to add too much info on the website.
A few days ago I also received the first batch of 150 pixels. These pixels are a 12mm item with 8mm RGB led inside them. Set in strings of 50 long, and individually addressable, they are going to be used to replace the megatree this year. The old 16 sets of lights for each of red, blue, white and multicolor, totalling 8640 lights will be replaced by a mere 800 lights (to be doubled to 1600 lights in 2012). The thing is these 800 lights are brighter, have the ability to display over 16 million color combinations, and can do things that I have never considered in previous years, such as chasing around a tree, chasing up and down a tree, and doing that in any color I choose.
I now have to save up for a buy of about $2000 worth of pixels and another $500 in controllers. All for fun.... and peoples enjoyment. Alas I cant find a sponsor for these, otherwise I'd add even more this year.
Ordered a couple of additional items off Ray in China. 100 RGB LED's in a string. These will cover items like the minitrees and also go around the windows. In the next couple of weeks I will be placing the LED's on 2 windows of the house, and the original lights on the other 2 windows to see what they look like. Might even do a couple of minitrees as well to see how they look.
In addition I ordered the first of about four 5V power supplies needed for this year, 3 for the display and one spare. These will be used to power the pixels and RGB LED's, including the RGB Balls I have created myself.
One of the people on the Aus Christmas Lights forum had received 100 of the 5050 pixels with the 2801 chip in error. He contacted the supplier who gave him a $30 partial credit. While I dont know where I will use them, I bought them off him for the $55 he was out of pocket and may consider using them in a pair of new "tune to" sign I have been thinking about, but I have to source some opaque 3mm or 5mm perspex first.
Been working on the star today. All the lights are up, the Stellascapes E16 is in a box, and eventually it will also contain a 5V power supply and decent connetions, but for now it is roughly connected for testing. I neded a heap of 2, 3 and 4 connection extensions for the gear, but I need to work out what I need first, and also how to pay for it - probably about $600 in leads alone there - outch.
Still waiting for the RGB string from Ray. He sent it Friday, it arrived in Australia Sunday, cleared customs early monday morning, and probably wont be here till thursday - great work Australia Post! The last string was sent on a friday and arrived 8am monday via courier.