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Tom B.

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About Tom B.

  • Birthday 01/31/1962

Profile Information

  • Location
    Fishers, Indiana, USA
  • Biography
    This is my fourth year of having an animated display. The hardest part is keeping it fresh for me.
  • Occupation
    Financial Advisor
  1. Hi All, I have had a Z-Tree I made 6 years ago. The lights and the garland are going bad, so it is time to restring and possible redesign. I'm considering NOT using Garland this time around ... just guy-wires and the lights. 1st The Current Tree: I had made it originally out of PVC, in sections. It look great, for 1 week! Till the 70mph winds came. Then ... well, it didn't look so good, unless you like Christmas Blobs. So, I was in a hurry, it was time for the lights to be running, and didn't have time to rebuild the PVC structure. So, I salvaged the lights and garland, and rebuilt the tree on a Metal frame made with a bottom ring, and two center rings, supported by a center pole that pull 8 outer dog chains tight. (Think T-Pee with out any covering, and the outer shape of the tree is made with Dog Chains stretched out by a center pole that is ratched into place with a long bolt. Everything is ziptied onto the Dog Chains, and each year, I and a few friends lift into place, then insert the center pole, tension the strings tight, and set the tree up ... takes no time, but takes 4 people (at least) to set up. NEW TREE QUESTIONs: I'm considering the Modified Mega-Spiral Tree concept. Vertical Slices, wrapped with Spiral Slices. But I want to do this wrapping job once. Attach it to the above "old tree" structure, and then ziptie all the cross over points -- guywires, vertical slices, and spirals as they cross. DO YOU THINK it will be easy to take down and set up again next year? Or will the light strings get all tangled together? Do any of you spiral tree guys have your tree designed so that you don't have to re-wrap the spirals each year? Depending upon your answer to this, I may have more. Thanks, Tom
  2. Hi JR: Well, here's what I think at the moment: * A flat triangle that will fit the wall of an eve above my front door. (6' at the bottom, and about 5' tall) * All the lettering would be made from an outline of RED lights, and a field of WHITE or CLEAR lights in each letter * I made a pattern for one letter -- an "M". I spaced the outline at .75" and the field of each letter at a 1" spacing -- on paper it looks good. The words "MERRY CHRISTMAS" (with MERRY above CHRISTMAS) would be made out of one piece of Duratherm Lite. I think I would like to leave it on a white background. I'm not good at painting, and have little idea as to how to paint letters -- and even less about how to paint them to look 3d ... any ideas? So, for now, I think I would not paint or outline the letters, unless there is a way to do this with some type of vinyl stickon? Any thoughts? Thanks, T.
  3. Hi Y'all - "So I have this idea" -- the most dangerous words in our hobby. So here it goes: I would like to mimic a Marquee from a oldtime theatre Large lighted lettering - letters just under 1ft tall - probably Arial Bold for thinkness I would like to use coro -- probably duratherm lite I would like to outline the lettering in Red, and have the inner field another Questions: Should the "letters" be painted/vinyl(ed) onto the Coro? What should the spacing of the lights be? Is there an ideal spacing that looks best? Without the paint or vinyl lettering background, will this look good? Any tricks to this? Is this process detailed anywhere already? Thanks, will keep process pictures and notes for future reference. T.
  4. Hi Everyone, I've been thinking about other things for a few months ... decided it was time to get back in the swing of things. I would like to arrange a local gathering here in the Fishers Area. If anyone is interested, please let me know. Hope your summers are off to a great start! All the best, T.
  5. As I see it, one of the big reasons for a mega-tree is to be able to see all the slices. So being able to see through the center is very important. A Pine tree would not allow for this "view". So regardless of the twisting, I think you might not get the result you would want any way. You might consider a Z-Tree concept on a live Pine ... the problem will be to make even horizontal slices. T.
  6. tfischer wrote: Eeeeeee Gadddddd ... that is true ... I tried to do a guestimate per channel ... here's what I think I came up with ... assuming year 1: First 16 Channels (Showtime Starter Package, current dollars, no sale): $31 per channel for equipment and software $12 per channel for 600 lights mini lights (assuming $2 per box) $5 per channel for extension cords (could be more or less depending upon placement, etc.) $5 per channel for hooks, nails, wires, suction cups, landscape staples, zipties, electrical tape, staples, misc. wood, etc. $xxx per channel for props: Wreaths, garland, wireframes, ornaments, signs, homemade projects, artificial trees, etc. $x per channel for storage: Rubbermaid containers, etc. Sooooo ... $50 to $60 per channel, would probably build a nice 16 channel display. Your shopping skills, crafting skills, location, etc., will determine whether you can save money or will spend more. Bottom Line: "This ain't cheap ..." Assuming Budget will be an issue ... Buy the stuff for a "static" display for the firstyear. Make a wish list for Christmas Presents ... cords, props, etc. Buy a little each month. Download the "Demo" software from the website ... and design a display ... during the early part of the winter Then Plan Carefully! ... and work toward your goal Good luck, T. [edit] PS: Stay away from pre-built props the first year ... like wireframes ... they "eat" your budget, and your creativity with strands of lights will be much more impressive in the long run. (IMHO)
  7. Phil, Did you ever have someone tell you something, and by their tone and manner, you know that it is good news ... but for some reason you can't understand a word they are saying. Well, this is true for me. So, I'm just going to say, "COOL!!!" and pretend I'm not totally stupid, and hope that someone else understands what a 30 uS pulse is and how it might help. But, keep up the good work ... that's what I love about this place. There are so many "big brains" around, looking at problems from different perspectives, with different skill sets ... that vitually any problem can and will be solved. Thanks!! Now I will go back to being amazed at my thumbs. And wondering if I have a learning disabililty. T.
  8. UPDATE: The Good: All the "team work" parts are DONE -- Roof, Big Tree, Z-Tree is Up!!!! Man it is fun working with some friends ... starting to become a tradition ... next year, I'm planning on having more of a "tail-gate" style event for the helpers. Clearly you know when you have been lucky enough in life to build some solid friendships ... I am feeling very blessed right now. The Bad: Still need to wrap the individual branches of a maple tree ... this is a tedious job! The Low Bushes ... one would think these would be the easy part ... but, since they are relatively boring to do ... I hate 'em.:} The Ugly: Lugging around a 16 ft A-Frame ladder ... I think I'm getting old. (HA!!!, understatement of the season) The Plug In ... laying 1.5 miles of extension cords ... for some reason ... really gets on my nerves. The Guilty Pleasure: I love it when people are slowing down just to look at what we were putting up ... eventhough it was a bright sunny day ... and not a single light was on. I think some of my neighbors anticipate the lighting more than I do. Hope you are all having a lot of fun right now!!!! All the best, Tom
  9. Phil, Well, darn, I sent him a note ... but other than being able to read the words you typed, it meant little to me. But, they are checking anyway. Thanks, T.
  10. Hi Richard -- Yes, I have the same problem. I have sent a MR16 LED flood to Dan and company at LOR. He said they are testing, but I have heard nothing yet. I'm interested in PSHORT's reply ... I hope Dan sees it ... I think I will PM him to take a look at this thread. Thanks, T.
  11. Ancient ... Welcome to the wonderful world of OUR "addiction"!!! Here are some signs when you know you are beyond help: When people casually walk into your garage and say, "You have more lights than Target!" When you know you have a greater variety and quantity of extension cords than most of the local "Big Box Stores" When you find yourself always dropping in to the Local hardware store or Walmart/Target to see what's new on the shelves When during business meetings you are planning your display instead of the mindless doodling that everyone else is doing. When you find yourself smiling ... way too much ... because you have just installed over 3,000 lights the night before (and they look great, I might add). When you have bags of Christmas lights and accessories (cords, hooks, zipties, etc.) laying around ... and some of which you forgot you even bought. When you sneak outside at midnight, just to turn your lights on to see what they look like before going to bed. ... note, there are many more signs ... these are just some of the more obvious ones. Good luck decorating, T.
  12. Brian, You may wish to Pose this question in the LOR forum, or AL, or D-Light ... depending upon where you are getting your equipment from. But, personally, I design my light display so that I can turn on all channels without blowing a circuit. This works for me in at least two ways: I have a small brain that cannot remember not to "overload" my board inadvertently by turning things on too high or together, etc. (So I make sure I can't do it by accident.) and, more importantly, I REALLY like to blast the entire display on at 100% every so often! (Cheap thrill, Iknow, but it makes me happy!) Good luck, T.
  13. [i wrote the original version of this topic during the build up to last year's display ... based on some of the threads I'm reading here, it is time to dust it off again. ... So, with some minor edits ... ] [align=left]Hi All, The #1 Question most often asked question about my display:[/align] [align=center]"How much did all this cost?"[/align]It may not be the first question they ask, but they definitely get around to it. And, unfortunately it is the one that seems to hit home the most. One of the friends I've made by being part of PC says, and I paraphrase it down to the following notes:"This is hobby. It costs more every year. You're hooked, give up and plan for it!" Okay, maybe I added some of my own inferences in the above, but the truth is this little bit of whimsy we do every year, can cost a freakin' fortune. And fortune is defined as: Defn #1: "That percent of your wealth you probably shouldn't spend, but you do anyway, cause you think it will bring more joy to you and hopefully your guests." Defn #2: "It has to be bigger and better than last year!" Defn #3: "It has to be bigger and better than my arch rival's/nemisis/neighbor's display." Defn: #4: "It has to live up to someone else's display I read about on P.C." Defn #5: "I have this great idea to duplicate the front door neon from the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, and I will not rest until it is done!" With the above in mind, I feel we should discuss the financial side of planning for this season's BIG SHOW! As part of any good 12 step program, one must confess to your addiction -- an example will help us understand the extent of your problem. Then ifyou would please add some tips/ideas/etc. or your own, to help others keep from either: A) Spending Too Much; B)Under Estimating TheirBudget Ahead of Time; C) Being Kicked Out of the House in January; and, finally, D) Having OnlyTheir Lights to KeepThem Warm After the Season is Over. Please make your additions with all the due respect to the many "over spenders" that have fallen before ye. Let Me Start: My PC Name is TOM B. and I am a Christmas Light Addict! Lastyear Ibuilt a Mike-Z style tree --3 colors of lights, All LEDs (C6's), 16 Feet Tall, 5,000 lights, 500 to 600 feet of Garland, more PVC than is in my house, 32 new LOR channels, Loads of Extension Cords, Thousands of Zipties, Guywire, a Dogtie out, some kind of Star, lots of glue and pvc cleaner, the help of at least 2 neighbors/friends, and reorganizing my garage so that it can be stored until next season without displacing my car. [update: This tree died with in 10 days of its installation. Crushed beyond all recognition. I was sooooo invested in this tree, I would not settle for waiting another year to replace it. So, after a large expenditure, and a week's worth of concentrated labor, I rebuilt the tree in "bionic" form. ... So, the point here is ... "Plan for the unexpected!" in your budget, or have a "fall back choice you can live with till next year."] I am an addict. I have not, and will not calculate the cost of the above. But, I am thinking about making it weather tight so that I can live in it when I cannot make my house payment in January. Steps I'm taking to save money: Searched the internet for the cheapest location for the garland. I ended up talking to the Manager at Hobby Lobby -- he says they have them on sale every year ... and the price he quoted me is cheaper than any place I have (so far) found on the net. Made an investment in LEDs for this project. Searched the Internet and PC to find the vendors who could provide such at a reasonable cost, and prior to when they would be in the stores. The LED section of PC helped greatly in this endeavor. I am walking through Lowes and several other stores weekly to watch for extension cords to go on sale. (And other stuff.) I am also lurking in several stores to watch for early Christmas items to be stocked and marked for early purchases. Some items that are new or are "not proven, must have items" often have not been ordered by Store Buyers in large quantities. So, if you see something you like early, buy it ... you may not get a second chance. Some stores have a "no return policy" on Christmas items -- others have 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Pay attention to this when you purchase anything, particularly Christmas decorations. [*]I bought my LOR units during the LOR Sale a couple months ago. For you new folks, you will want to plan some of your budget to be spent in late winter and early spring when some of our favorite vendors have sales. [*]You will also want to raid the stores (Target, Walmart, etc.) just after the holidays (or just before) to watch for their clearance sales. Steps for budgeting: [This IS the important part.] Set a budget maximum ... and LIVE with in it! If you have to scale back, do so. Only you will know what your show "could have been" if you had an endless amount of cash. So, start with what you can reasonably afford. If this is your first year, or you have a "BIG" idea for next year. Don't blow all your money before the sales in December and early January. Personally I used to avoid shopping on the Friday after Thanksgiving and the days right around Christmas ... now those days, however painful are good for those of us with this addiction -- THINGS THAT WE WANT ARE ON SALE! Spend a little each month, instead of all at once. Buy extension cords a few ata time throughout the year ... it is easier to budget over 12 months. Your "life" and your "family" is more important than your display. Remember the "Who's" down in Whoville. Christmas came anyway! ... I know others will have a lot more good ideas ... Later, T. Shop and Spend Wisely
  14. They do seem to vary in quality ... but all the places around here still have several varieties. (Grapevine, wire, etc.) Maybe he meant that due to Global Warming reindeer are evolving into some other kind of beast -- armadillos maybe.:shock: T.
  15. With the Preface ... "So Far" ... The Good: Roof Line Up ... took only 4.5 hours this year (nearly 8 last year) Cousin and I did our 3rd year of getting the Roof Line up ... a lot of fun. Great weather Today and Tomorrow ... and long range looks good for next weekend too. The Bad: Cut myself once on a broken bulb (sort of a tradition) Ladder Muscles are Sore (I'm a desk jockey in real life.) Supposed to rain and have highs in the 40's during the week The Ugly: Not one second of music has been synch'd! (Ughhh) Still NO LORII Got to be party ready by Thanksgiving (inside and out) GO COLTS!!! T.
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