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PlanetChristmas Magazine September 2014

Cheater wire in place to arch the pipe September 2014  |  PlanetChristmas  35 pour from the motor. Seems mixers are designed to mix cake batter and not turn 10’ water pipes. I ended up trashing the mixer and using a standard battery operated drill by attaching it to the mixing paddle already inserted in the plastic pipe. Wrapping a pipe by hand takes a little over an hour. Wrapping a pipe spun by a motor can be done in about 20 minutes. It’s worth the effort to motorize. Now you have a straight 10’ piece of pipe wrapped in lights. It should be easy to bend it into an arch. I wish! I tried all kinds of ways anchoring each end in the ground to create the arch. Let’s just say that thin water pipe prefers to be straight and constantly fights being bent. At one point I bent the pipe a little too much and crimped it. Word to the wise: don’t bend the pipe too much. In the perfect world the top of the leap-ing arch is 32 inches off the ground. You can shoot for 36 inches but you’ll probably suffer “crimped pipe syndrome.” I used a couple of right angle brackets and electric fence wire to make up a cheater wire exactly 96 inches long. I insert one end of a right angle bracket into each end of the pipe (flexing it a bit of course) and you end up with a perfectly curved leap-ing arch you can actually carry around. When done, flex the pipe a bit, remove the cheater wire, the pipe becomes straight and you can easily store it. How do you mount the leaping arches in your display? I use a 4’ piece or rebar, pound it in the ground and lean the arch against it. Use a big tie wrap to secure everything together and you’re good to go. The leaping arch is built but what about the animation part? It’s beyond the scope of this article to teach the sequencing but it’s easy. You have eight circuits that simply chase one after the other. Light-O-Rama sees the potential and even includes leaping arches in their Master Controller Layout concept found on their website. How much does a leaping arch cost? $5 for the pipe. $10 for lamp cord. $16 for plugs. $25 for lights. Grand total for parts: $56. You can probably beat the pricing with minimal effort. It took me about two hours to build my first arch so value your time accordingly. Are there leaping arch alternatives? Winterland (http://winterlandinc.com) has metal arch frames (instead of plastic pipe) and will even put the lights on for you. Wow Lights (www.wowlights.com) has complete packages of larger arches. Check around and you might get lucky. Already tired of leaping arches? There’s a new trend of using “leapers” in displays. Instead of bending the water pipe into an arch, the straight pipe is mounted vertically so lights shoot up and down. Put a strobe light at the top to add a real pop. Coooooool! Now that’s a versatile design piece for any display. Can you build your own leaping arch? Sure! An ugly duckling during the day but this finished leaping arch adds drama to your display!


PlanetChristmas Magazine September 2014
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