About the Show

I started building my first set of controllers back in 2008, but naturally started too late to be able to get a show ready in time for the holiday season, so I had to wait until the next year. However, we moved in early 2009, so any plan that I had from the previous year had to be thrown out because I would have to decorate this house completely different. Because of this, I could not really work on a show until I started decorating.

Once the holiday season rolled around and I could get my decorations out, I put them up and hooked up my controllers. That first year I started with 8 small controllers with 4 channels (individually controlled circuits) each. However, being my first attempt at building these, I had some technical difficulties, and not all of the channels worked. Of the 32 channels, only 26 worked (ok, I was really bad at building these). However, with the help of some others on the Internet were kind enough to share their sequences, and the fact that I only had 26 individual channels to program, I was actually able to put together 9 songs that year. I thought it came out pretty good, albeit small.

In 2010, we moved again. This time, we moved just before Thanksgiving. Again, new house, new decoration layout. I put my decorations up and then had to work on the sequencing. Because the location of the decorations changed, the channel number also changed, which means that the sequences that I had from last year would not work. However, the good news was that I did not add any new songs or channels, so it was a simple matter of just copying and pasting the old sequences into a new sequence that matched the layout of the new house. The only bad new was that I had another channel die, so I was now down to 25, but still, all things considered, I couldn’t complain about how the show turned out.

2011 saw an expansion to the show. I built two new large controllers, which gave me an additional 32 channels. But I also eliminated some of the original controllers that were having problems. This year I had a total of 51 channels. Since I added new channels and new decorations this year, it required a complete re-working of all of the sequences. Naturally I got off to a late start, so I only about 4 songs completed for the show. It wasn’t a good year. 🙁

2012 saw another expansion. I added another 32 channels and was able to fix a couple of the bad channels as well. This year I was up to 84 individually controllable channels. I also made several changes and additions to my decorations. Again, I had to re-work all of my sequences. I was able to actually complete 6 songs this year. However, you will only find 4 videos posted. This is because I got frustrated while filming. I tried to record the show on three different occasions, and each time someone decided to stop right in front of the camera to watch the lights. So I gave up and uploaded what I could.

2012 also saw another first. I entered the City of DeBary’s decorating contest and won 3rd place for my quadrant. The city is broken up into four quadrants, and each has a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winner. While I was hoping to do better, I also had a number of technical difficulties with the lights this year, so all things considered, I could not complain.

My original plan for 2013 was to try to keep everything as close to the 2012 layout as I could so that I could just concentrate on expanding the music. That only partially worked. While I did not add any additional channels (still at 84), I did end up changing a number of decorations. However, with the aid of some new sequencing software, I was actually able to increase my song count to 8 this year, with a couple of new songs that I never had before.

Additionally I entered the city’s decorating contest again. This time I had a plan. I figured that, last year, the judges most likely did not see the light show, they only saw the lights on because of how I had it scheduled. So this year I ran the show continuously during the times that I knew they could be coming by. And I won 1st place this year!!!

2016 Updated – It’s been a couple of years since I’ve updated this page.  Since my last updated, we’ve moved to a new house, so I had to completely redo my display and my show sequences.  Because of that, I ended up taking 2015 off; the lights were up but no shows were running.  Now I’m back in 2016 with a new/updated display.

Non-Techncial Information (as of 2016 season)

Interesting facts:

  • This is my seventh year running the show, and the first in my current location in DeBary.
  • This year, 2016, I am running approximately 16,000 lights (give or take a few, I lost count while putting them up) on 90 individually controlled channels.
  • When the show is not running, I still broadcast Christmas music over my radio station, which only really reaches within a one-block radius.
  • In several locations, I have both white and multi-colored light strings. They are never on at the same time. When the show is not running, the lights will transition from white to color and back about every three minutes.
  • Because the lights are run through the controllers, I am also able to limit their brightness and how much power they consume. Rather than have them run at full power in between shows, I run the lights at 60%. This, coupled with the transition mentioned above, helps save on the power bill, just a little.
  • I won third place in the City of DeBary light competition for the South West quadrant in 2012.
  • I won FIRST PLACE in the City of DeBary light competition for the South West quadrant in 2013!!!
  • I won FIRST PLACE (again…) in the City of DeBary light competition for the South West quadrant in 2016!!
  • It takes about five to six full days to test and setup all of the lights and controllers.
  • It can take anywhere from a few days to an entire month to sequence a single song. This depends on how many individual channels are being used,
    how complex the music is, how much free time I have, and how motivated I am to get it done…
  • In theory, it should takes a full year to plan and execute the show. This includes planning decoration locations (if I want to change anything or add something new), building new or repairing existing controller boxes, testing tens of thousands of individual lights, and sequencing new songs. However, I usually don’t end up thinking about it until around October. That’s when I start getting crazy ideas and looking to spend money on new equipment. Not to mention that I end up going crazy trying to update everything to any changes that I do make. This does not make the wife very happy. I do really need to start my planning for the next year’s show as soon as the lights come down.
  • All of my equipment is hand soldered and part of do-it-yourself kits designed by someone much smarter than me.

Technical Information

If you are interested, here is what I currently use:

Hardware:

  • 6 – Lynx Express with EX/RX wireless receivers (16 channels each)
  • 5 – Lynx SSR4 (Solid State Relay) (4 channels each) (I ended up not using these in 2016 show)
  • Lynx USB DMX Dongle
  • Lynx Wireless Transmitter
  • EDM Electronics FM Transmitter (set to FM 91.3)
  • Windows based laptop

Software:

  • Vixen 2.1.1 for sequencing, scheduling, and background music
  • Vixen Plus (Vixen+) for sequencing
  • Audacity (sound editing)

For any additional information on any of the hardware or software, please take a look at some of the links in the sidebar.