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Newbie getting close to burnout


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This is my first year with animation too. I always had a very large static display, so I had an inkling how much work would be involved. I started working on my display last spring, right after I happened to stumble upon Planet Christmas, and all the great people here. I started making the components of my display last April. I basically did it at night and on Sundays. I'm a home exteriors contractor and make the majority of my income in the warm weather, 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, but I attacked everything a bit at a time. But, I had a clear plan, on paper, and a schedule of acheivements, I treated it just like a construction project. On the 4th of July, I had my mega tree set up in the backyard and was practicing with it. At night, I would watch the Red Sox while I wound the lights on my arches. I basically knew exactly what I needed for materials, but because of my proffesion, I have a knack for that sort of thing. it is a year roung hobby.

Last weekend I started hanging lights, and got more done today, and will be at it tommorow too. I have 14 songs sequenced (that, IMO) was the hardest part of the whole thing. I am on schedule to be up and running on Thanksgiving night, as has always been my tradition, but I'll be done the week before so I can have some middle of the night rehearsals. But no, I feel no stress, I have truly enjoyed every moment of this, and can't wait to see it all work.

It's when the best laid plans start to go amiss that the old stress factor comes in....Rain for a week so you can't string lights. Issues with controllers at the last min and on and on .......don't get to comfortable.

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Don't forget the payoff. For me, it is the joy of my neighbor's 5 year old son as he sits and watches the lights from his house, sitting on a stool and listening to the lights.

I'm with Dale. I've been doing this for 5 years and trust me the first 2 were/are the hardest. Always something I didn't have or needed or didn't understand. I understand the frustration of the story told. Get your freinds involved.

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I'm with Dale. I've been doing this for 5 years and trust me the first 2 were/are the hardest. Always something I didn't have or needed or didn't understand. I understand the frustration of the story told. Get your freinds involved.

I take a wild guess that once I see the animation on the full light strings in the front yard, I will then go nuts over some of the choices and feel like I need to stay up for a few days straight fixing the animation...hope not!!!

Glad to see I am not alone in the idea of trying the animation out in the middle of the night to be sure it all works as well as planned. I expect the week of Thanksgiving on Monday and Tuesday nights I will start testing around 10 or 11pm and go for an hour each night taking notes of what to fix etc...hopefully its all perfect out of the gate so I can focus on changing around the song order and leave it at that...That would only take an hour each night to run thru take notes etc...besides I have to get the gingerbread ready for house building on Black Friday when my daughter and nieces will all be ready to build a house or two each.

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I started in Dec 2006 looking into how to setup a display for 2007. I am glad I took the time to read everything, plan a display that fit my house, estimated costs, revised plans down to fit costs, revised plans down to fit time, revised plans down to fit frustration. I found lots of ways to cut corners on time by getting lots of premade items, and seeing how little I could do to get a good effect.

One example is mini-trees. It came time to get them setup and I only had some lights sitting in the shed, no frames or anything. I went to Ace Hardware and picked up 10 Zig-Zag premade mini trees, zip tied them to a garden stake and was done. 1 hour vs 20-40 making mini-trees, and I convinced the kids to do it. They look almost as good as a regular mini-tree, are easy to setup/pack, and use LOTS less power. I might replace them with bigger trees this year if I get time.

When the pressure gets to high, just start cutting things out. You are the only on that will know that it is missing.

Leave something for next year. People will want to come back and see what you have NEW this year. Make it easy and do not put up everything the first year.

My proof of concept for my first year was to get a 16 channel Halloween display working. I learned so much from getting that going, that it made Christmas much easier. Setup a trial show in your back yard if you have time.

- Michael

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I started last November or December for this year's display. I'm going from ~4000 multicolored incandescent lights to ~35,000-40,000 lights and 160-176 channels.

It has been my year-long hobby and it's been a blast(except a few of the sockets on the Bethlahem Star but that's another story). After seeing Richard Holdmans setup in 2006 and 2007 I just knew I had to do something similar because... well... Ima Geek. ;)

I have done everything either by myself or with my 8yr old son. I added a 100A sub-panel and 14 GFCI circuits outside in NEMA 3R boxes. Made four 2-color arches, 16 mini-trees, 9 medium-trees, one 19' mega-tree, a 3' and 6'2" Bethlahem Star, wrapped two 3' wireframe stars, wrapped huge "Merry Christmas" wireframe, bought tons and tons of extension cords to the point that... uh... I have too many? (never thought that'd be possible with all the talk of never having enough) ;)

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it *is* possible to jump into this hobby. BUT you have to know what you are getting yourself into. It definitely is one of those full-time hobbies if you want to go from 0-60 in 3.4 seconds. I have had probably 10 other hobbies and it's funny but most of them have better prepared me for this Christmas Light obsession. I'm used to having to get things done and I think I actually thrive on it. ;) (just ask the wifey)

And honestly... if it gets to be too much I just walk away for a few days or weeks even. I mean, it's only a hobby, right? confused.gif

Good luck with your display and have fun! cheers.gif

-Jeff

p.s. Notice I didn't talk at all about sequencing? That's thanks to Richard Holdman sharing all his sequences. The wifey and kids were soo jazed when I told them I could use *his* exact sequences that I decided to mimic most of the aspects of his show with my own little twist(there's only one Richard Holdman!). So this one fact alone saved me months of work. I'd recommend this option to anyone, anyday. Even though I didn't come up with the sequences, I've had to add things and change a few timings and because I've played the sequence probably 1,000s of times... it was almost a no brainer. I was shocked at how easy it seemed to massage things to fit our display.

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Glad to see I am not alone in the idea of trying the animation out in the middle of the night to be sure it all works as well as planned.

I actually sit in my driveway with my laptop connected wirelessly to my show computer. I will start sequences for testing and as soon as I see headlights coming in the distance I stop it. ;) I have played it a few times when people drive by but that was with only a few elements on the house. Now that the house portion of the display is done, I don't want to give anything away. :)

IMHO, you HAVE to see your lights going just to keep YOU going sometimes. This is an awesome hobby but you need to see the reward sometimes. :)

Enjoy!

Jeff

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I actually sit in my driveway with my laptop connected wirelessly to my show computer. I will start sequences for testing and as soon as I see headlights coming in the distance I stop it. ;) I have played it a few times when people drive by but that was with only a few elements on the house. Now that the house portion of the display is done, I don't want to give anything away. :)

IMHO, you HAVE to see your lights going just to keep YOU going sometimes. This is an awesome hobby but you need to see the reward sometimes. :)

Enjoy!

Jeff

I finished getting all of my house lights up yesterday, and installed the controllers and ran all the extensions, now I just need to set up the blowmolds, mega tree and arches, but not for a couple of more weeks. bhut I have to admit, last night at 1 AM, I did exactly what you do Jeff. I had my earplugs in the laptop, and sat in my truck running sequences with the lights that are up and running. Seeing it all work for the first time blew my mind. I went in and woke up my wife to share it with her, I'm sure the swelling around my eye will go down in a week or 2 LOL

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It's when the best laid plans start to go amiss that the old stress factor comes in....Rain for a week so you can't string lights. Issues with controllers at the last min and on and on .......don't get to comfortable.

I have to tell you Bill, I am feeling very comfortable. Don't get me wrong, you can't plan for the unexpected, and I expect some problems, but I've enjoyed every minute of this hobby. My point was that I'm not getting stressed out about not getting it finished in time or being overwhelmed with the work. Mine will be finished earlier that I hoped, if things go wrong, I'll just have to figure them out as they present themselves. I just don't get stressed out about that kind of thing like I used to, I guess it's middle age LOL. The things my kids used to do that drove me crazy, I now find amusing when my grandson does the same thing. I live with my wife and 2 adult daughters, now talk about STRESS!!!

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p.s. Notice I didn't talk at all about sequencing? That's thanks to Richard Holdman sharing all his sequences. The wifey and kids were soo jazed when I told them I could use *his* exact sequences that I decided to mimic most of the aspects of his show with my own little twist(there's only one Richard Holdman!). So this one fact alone saved me months of work. I'd recommend this option to anyone, anyday. Even though I didn't come up with the sequences, I've had to add things and change a few timings and because I've played the sequence probably 1,000s of times... it was almost a no brainer. I was shocked at how easy it seemed to massage things to fit our display.

I admit moving around the programming in solngs purchased already set up is definitey at least for me a lot easier than going from scratch...however it still takes a lot of time to customize to my own display. Of course cutting out editing the columns for beat track etc...is a huge savings of time.

All said, it is definitely a lot of fun. I have a few songs left, and the mini-trees and after that the rest is basically set up...the Mega Tree and Driveway Tunnel will be the big time consuming aspects of the show when it comes to set up.

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I'm new this year also and think I may have gotten in a little too deep, but I did a little Halloween display with 20 channels, some styrofoam tombstones I pushed lights through, some lights in the windows and sequenced 3 songs for it. When I saw the "REAL" lights running for the first time, with everything coming together and working great, I new I could keep going! Christmas will be awesome no matter how much I finish or don't. The videos and the simulation you use to build the show, pale in comparison to seeing your lights "live" and in person. This Rocks!!!!

Rich

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Sup, This is my first year as well, i been stringin lights up already, my first 16chan controller will be here in a couple days, i been fooling around with the seqencer a llil bit, come to find out IF i am doing this right, i need another controller, lol, but ima hold off till i get the first one see if this is working out, i dont think 16chan is going to cut it, it all seems easy but the seqenceing part.

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Glad to see I am not alone in the idea of trying the animation out in the middle of the night to be sure it all works as well as planned.

I went out at 1:00am this past weekend to fire up and test what I had done so far. Want to make sure nobody sees anything on until opening night.

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