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  • Christmas 2017 countdown has begun. Most people reveal their displays the day after Thanksgiving. Will you be ready???
  • Why do we love Christmas? It's all about the traditions. In this chaotic world we can miss the "good old days." Christmas reminds us of that time.
  • The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on that day.
  • Santa Claus's sleigh is led by eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder (variously spelled Donder and Donner), and Blixem (variously spelled Blixen and Blitzen), with Rudolph being a 20th-century inclusion.
  • Outdoor Christmas lights on homes evolved from decorating the traditional Christmas tree and house with candles during the Christmas season. Lighting the tree with small candles dates back to the 17th century and originated in Germany before spreading to Eastern Europe.
  • That big, jolly man in the red suit with a white beard didn’t always look that way. Prior to 1931, Santa was depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to a spooky-looking elf. He has donned a bishop's robe and a Norse huntsman's animal skin. When Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly in 1862, Santa was a small elflike figure who supported the Union. Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years, changing the color of his coat from tan to the red he’s known for today.

Greg.Ca

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About Greg.Ca

  • Rank
    Senior Member
  • Birthday 01/01/1958

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  • Website URL
    http://www.HighlandsRanchChristmas.com

Profile Information

  • Location
    Highlands Ranch, Colorado, USA
  • Interests
    Home Theater
  • Occupation
    Field Service Engineer
  1. I am currently in the process of building a beautiful functioning Santa Claus sleigh and want to spare no reasonable expense to have a very cool high tech dashboard. I have already committed to having a functioning 12 volt dc hot cocoa dispenser on the dashboard. I need other ideas. Obviously I will a have a FM radio with 2 front speakers mounted in the dash and two back speakers in the backseat. I do own a 10" and a 8" Amazon fire tablets which could serve as a electronic map or perhaps some kind of ' coal vs present detector'. Any other great ideas electronic pprojects to enhance the magic of Santa's sleigh? --Greg--
  2. I tend to think of a mega tree as the 'Center piece' of your Christmas light show. it may have started years ago when Mason Williams had that famous video in which his mega tree 'danced' back & forth with the music from Trans Siberian Orchestra's 'Wizards in Winter' (Still my favorite) with his early LOR show. Somehow I either read or was told years ago that you needed to go to home depot hardware store and buy one or two 10 foot 1 1/4 steel threaded mast poles. Well that's exactly what I did. For over a decade my mega tree has been propped up with two 10 foot steel threaded 1 1/4 heavy metal steel pipes joined together in the middle with a female-female threaded coupler. This mast pole is extremely heavy and terribly top-heavy making it very difficult to handle. If it starts to tip over, it could easily find it's way into the neighbors living room through one of their large living room windows. YIKES!!! I worked just fine but over the years but the hook head grew in size to accommodate more lights and the 'star' on top of the mega tree also grew to accommodate more lights. In the past all of this was made of steel and there was one big disadvantage. Yes, you guessed it. WEIGHT! Having large steel structures (hook head and star) on the end of a long heavy steel pole has been increasingly difficult to erect and stand up. It was just a matter of time before a disaster may have happened. 2-3 feet of this monstrous pole slides into a cemented slightly larger 'sleeve' that is always buried under the ground by a few inches. Trying to get the end of this pole to slip into the sleeve has been a difficult task at best because it is just so cumbersome with it being so top heavy. As time grew my labor force of strong teenage boys dwindled down to zero as my three sons became adults and moved out of the home starting their own lives. They now live thousands of miles away at University in a different state, Coast Guard academy on the east coast and my oldest son is just lazy and useless. He wont help his dad even for money. It is now become impossible to erect this very heavy monstrosity, lift it up from the bottom and fit it into this sleeve. I need either a cherry picker bucket truck to lift it from the top or three more strong helpers. But alas I have come up with a different solution. If airplanes were made of steel they wouldn't fly yet every airplane flies because they are made with aluminum. Over the years I have had the hook head re-manufactured with aluminum, the large pixel star is made entirely with aluminum and now I am using a aluminum mast pole. To keep strength, I am using a larger size pipe 1 1/2 diameter instead if 1 1/4, and went with a schedule 80 not schedule 40. The difference between schedule 80 vs. schedule 40 is thicker wall diameter. The pole appears much beefier, has a thicker wall diameter and yet it still is 1/3 the weight. Hooray!!! I really don't know what other people are using to prop up their mega tree for their center pole. So therefore, please let me know how tall your mega tree is, what it is supporting, and what type of props (hook head and star) reside on top of your tree. I'm proud to say that this mega tree in the LOR days had 16 strands of 300 count full wave LED's X 8 different colors/strand. 16 X 8 X 300 =38,400 LED's. In the modern pixel world, it will have 64 strands of 240 5V pixels WS2812b pixels (each strand) which I currently in process of constructing all the necessary devices to drive and support this. The Pixel star on the top will also have thousands of 5V pixels. So far I have seen no negative consequence except for the high cost of having everything built from aluminum. In my real job, I'm paid to over-engineer everything for worse case scenario and have done the same with my Christmas light show. So, how is your Mega Tree propped up?? Tell me how your mega tree is designed especially the center pole. Thanks --Greg--
  3. One of my favorite songs is 'My best friends girl' It's so cool and would be even better if the lyrics were changed to a Christmas song. Does anybody know if the cars or Ric Ocassic ever did a Christmas song? --Greg--
  4. J1Sys Or Sandevice ?

    I own 4 of the J1Sys P12S's boards. Each does 12 full universes. My megatree uses 48 strands (5VDC strips) of 150 pixels each so therefore I need 4 boards. The new boards cost about 225 each. I've had no trouble with them. I was told that san devices do 16 strips per board but each output cannot do a full universe. I don't know if that is or ever was true but if I need more pixels, I would definitely buy another P12s. Price isn't everything reliability counts for a lot. The only other thing you need is a ethernet switch and you can pick one up for $20.00. 1 in 4 out. real simple. --Greg--
  5. Ginormas Reindeer & Sleigh (Plywood)

    Tell me how you made the seat. Is there plans for a cushioned seat --Greg--
  6. Ginormas Reindeer & Sleigh (Plywood)

    Rob, can these be built to be sturdy enough to be fully functional for the purpose of picture taking? I want to have a 250 pound Santa along with 2-4 kids inside when these kids will have their photo taken. Sturdy enough?
  7. Ginormas Reindeer & Sleigh (Plywood)

    Who or what is Winfield? Is there a smaller version? Can this be disassembled and stored easily? --Greg--
  8. Anybody Else Have A Tough Year?

    Car accident, sickness in the family, FREEZING cold temperatures, trying to get Xlights to work my 550 channel LOR display, lazy son, son in College and overworked son who's attitude is poor all led to a compromised display this year. Last year we took first place, this year by the time we got our stuff going, the contest was over and we won NOTHING!!! This is a tuff hobby to get everything going in just a few weekends. However it was my fault. I didn't test anything in the summer time like I should have. --Greg--
  9. I have almost 600 LOR channels on 37 16 channel controllers that was running fairly well last year in LOR mode. Now this past year I built a RGB megatree using 8100 RGB channels. I tried on LOR running everything but LOR could not handle running both traditional controllers and the E.131 at the same time. Consesus is that Xlights should run both the pixels and the LOR but LOR should be in DMX mode. Even the setup in Xlights warns about maximum LOR channels running in LOR mode. It suggests running high numbers of LOR channels in DMX mode for better throughput. Since I have more than the maximum channels that a 'universe' allows (512) I have to run my LOR in two seperate DMX universes. Therefore I ordered an additional USB-RS485 converter and two LOR-DMX cables. Both of these parts are on order and should arrive in a few days. What should I be doing in the mean time? II am relatively new to DMX and not sure if my channel configuration or anything else needs to be modified for DMX?? Having my LOR network split up in two seperate DMX universes in confusing. My RGB pixel megatree has been working perfect using Xlights. I have 36 strands and 36 universes that I use for the megatree. I'm assuming that my 2 new universes that I will be using to run my LOR network in DMX mode will be universes 37 and 38? Is that correct? How and where are these assigned and configured? I do know that I have to install' them in Xlights 'setup tab' and feel comfortable with doing that in Xlights. But how does my LOR network know that they are operating as universes 37 and 38?? What do I do to my LOR network so that everything is assigned and mapped correctly? How do I tell my LOR network that they should respond to universe 37 channels 1-512 and universe 38 1-100?? By the way, I deserve this for not testing all of this in July. Lesson learned. --Greg--
  10. Ray Wu Color Ribbon

    A little confused here. According to the picture of the 'smart' strip, there is only three 'connections' on the strip. Ground, 12VDC and something called 'DO' As a newbie to RGB lights, there must be something fundamental that I'm missing. How do you control each individual pixel in the strip with only 3 wires? What am I missing? --Greg--
  11. Well, I need something that could keep me warm while I am out 'guarding' our display. I live in the suburbs of Denver and yes, it certainly can get quite cold here in the evenings around Christmas time. Typically in the evenings I sit out on a lawn chair in the driveway while cars are watching the display and generally try to greet each car with a smile and a candy cane. But after 20-30 minutes or so, I need to go back in the house to warm up. It's just too cold to stay out there all the time It would be great if there was a portable 'warming hut' that I could quickly step into to warm up my body so that I could stay outside for longer durations of time. I don't know what exists, but it would have to be very portable, perhaps operate on propane or electricity (preferred) and be see-thru so that I could peek out and exit quickly if I needed to stop vanadalism or go meet a car. Anybody have any ideas what I could use to stay warm instead of just freezing sitting on a lawn chair?? --Greg--
  12. Easiest Terminators/Snubbers to make

    What type of 'sealant' is everybody using? Using something like caulk would that not 'seal' in the resistor and prevent it from dissapating heat? Wouldn't it be best to NOT seal in th resistor so that it can better dissapate heat? In other words, would it be better to have the plug and resistor in the 'elements' so that it can best protect itself by dissapating heat?? Thoughts? --Greg--
  13. Here's mine: www.HighlandsRanchChristmas.com in Beautiful Highlands RanchColorado (suburb of Denver) --Greg--
  14. Thanks for the invite. The boys (my helpers) and myself would like to see how you did your display and perhaps view it before it gets dark. Let me know. I don't think we live too far. I'm in the west end of highlands Ranch very close to Santa Fe. --Greg==

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