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Everything posted by tfischer

  1. Most of mine are Lemax. The two in the picture are GFeller's Pizza and Tim's Trains and Hobby (I had to have that last one for obvious reasons)
  2. Our village is much smaller than many of yours, but we did have a giant rodent stop by this year. (it's my boys' hamster Smokey)
  3. I agree with many responses above. - Who cares what other people are doing. Do what makes you happy, and hopefully (and likely) that will make others happy too. - I've been doing this a long time. 10 years computer-animated this season. About 3 more of what I'd consider a 'large' display, and about 5 before that where others still considered us the 'big Christmas display in the neighborhood". I've never, ever cared about what other displays are doing. I might borrow (steal?) ideas from them. I might decide I don't like it, and will do something different. But I've never, ever cared about being the biggest or the most popular. - Somone above mentioned that nobody takes pictures of animated displays. I would argue that's because many people program their animated displays with hardly anything going on at any given time. We have dozens of people taking pics of our display each season. - I'm not sure what "it's too commercial" means in this context. Too many lights? Too many blinking lights? RGB lights? Pop songs being programmed? Whatever it is to you, then make sure that your display isn't like that. This hobby is expensive, tiring at times, and a time-sink. If you don't love it, than it's ok to leave it. Most of us start getting crazy ideas about what we're going to do next year, because seeing everyting working and people jazzed up coming to see the display makes them happy. I'm curious why the police are there every night?
  4. Well, I tried to stay out of this topic when it started back in January, but now that its sprung back to life again, I'm going to take the bait: I think the "Mr. Christmas" boxes, and other "buy at Home Depot, plug a bunch of lights in and go" sorts of things have diluted the "wow factor" a bit. The fact that there have been 3 or 4 (at least) viral videos of other people's displays over the past few years has further diluted things. Does that mean nobody cares about displays anymore? Certainly not. But I think what that means is if you think you can cook up a recipie ("throw in 3 leaping arches, one average-sized mega-tree, one 3D reindeer, a Bethelehem Star, and Wizards in Winter - stir vigorously and add stock 'witty' voiceovers to taste", you may have people lining up to the next county to come watch. Because it's been done before. That's OK, people will still enjoy it. So... lets assume you WANT a bigger response. You could keep chasing technology. How about LAZERZ! RGB smart pixels everywhere! Belching fire-cannons! Pixel-mapped video making your house turn into the Grinch! Or... you could (gasp), just do something decidedly low-tech, but be unique. Make your display *your own*. Go ahead and copy a few elements from others, we all do. But make your OVERALL display unique. I have to confess I go to a lot of displays, and much as I try to just enjoy them, start thinking "there's the standard arches, the leaping poles, the Holdman star.. Hmmm, I wonder who this is on PlanetChristmas or the LOR forums?" And when I DO come across a display that does something I've never seen before, I really sit up and take notice. As noted in the reples above, a lot of people would prefer to see a plywood cut-out than $1500 in RGB pixels. Because they're handcrafted, and unique to your display. Don't get me wrong, I have a Mega-tree. I have arches. I'm spending a good chunk of cash to jump into Pixels this year. But I also strive to put little touches in the display to keep things unique from other displays out there. We use a lot of music that I haven't heard in other displays. When we DO "copy" an element from another display, we tend to change things up so it's unique to us. Do the visitors care? Maybe, maybe not. But they seem to enjoy it
  5. The list in the Star Tribune was shorter than I ever remember it. We don't submit our display anymore since we get enough traffic with word of mouth and online... Never heard of this "Twinkle Trail" site. Seems there are too many competing "display locator" sites and none are terribly complete. I kind of miss the old days where I'd get the Star Tribune's list and plan out a big route...
  6. I've done it many times for touch-ups on strings where one color (usually blue) is very faded but the others are fine. As noted above, it's really tedious, and doesn't last more than a season or two. For coloring clear strings from scratch, I'd recommend spray paint vs. sharpies. I've also used the brush-on stained glass paint for reasonable results, but I only did this to rejuvenate the green on my super-strings (3 colors zip-tied together) for my mega-trees, where it would have been a lot more labor-intensive to rebuild the strings vs. color them.
  7. I've said that every year for the past 3 years, and it has gotten progressively worse. Fortunately last year, rather than getting upset and depressed about it like usual, I treated it like a big prank pulled on my Mother Nature, tried to keep a good attitude, and made it through. I'm not going to jinx myself and everyone else this year by saying anything about whether it will be better or not!
  8. Not sure what you mean by that - I was being sincere. I've never heard anyone say they've tried a network with lots of splits and had no issues. I'm glad you posted that yours worked. Is this true with DMX as well?
  9. You can order a new GAL5 from Ramsey for not a lot of cash, and that will fix them.
  10. Thanks for this post. You're the first person I've seen that has given hard data that it just might work in practice On the other hand, not sure what you mean about "not supposed to use RJ11 cable" - are you referring to the flat stuff? I know that for some reason Dan said that was OK, but recommended against splits...
  11. It sucked. 4' high by 6' wide walls of snow (compliments of the city plow) blocked our entire 200' frontage. I did my best to knock down the peaks, but were do you put that much snow? I didn't even bother shooting video of the display because it looked so stupid. Fortunately I had taken still photos a few days before this big storm. I stubbornly dug out most of the visible display and had that stuff down by the end of January. The less-visible stuff went down in late March. -Tim
  12. Put a meter on the radio wire to see how low voltage is actually dropping during the start.
  13. So do I. But last year we had nearly over 2' of snow in December alone, and nearly 4' drifts in some places. Here's my photo evidence. And that was just after the "big" ones, not all the smaller ones that followed: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1705095314451.2097142.1450070609&type=1&l=6a524328f3
  14. All I really want this year is a whole lot less snow than last year.
  15. Just a note that you're not supposed to split an RS485 signal like that. Nothing terrible will happen, but you might find that your network becomes unreliable. And it's bound to happen at the worst possible time (like it will work until the big night when the TV is coming to do a live broadcast ) Also, just for the record (never know who is reading this, now or in the future): Never, ever, ever use an ethernet hub or switch to attempt to branch an LOR network.
  16. I'm a big fan of solid colors. Too much of any single color and things start to get washed out. As such, I use virtually every color available to me, including clear and multi. Different elements (bushes, trees, etc) all have different colors. Note that many people are now going to a "multi-layered" approach were a single element can be many colors. For the most part, I haven't embraced this, mainly because I'm pretty old-school
  17. That's the TPI Kneeling Santa with Christ Child. OOP since around 2001 if I recall correctly. We got one on clearance on what turned out to be its last year in the stores. I've gotten significant emails over the years of people looking for one...
  18. Overhead projectors are getting really hard to borrow, at least with my connections. Probably easier to borrow a video projector and project right from your laptop, like someone else suggested. Last time I did a cutout (it's been a long time) I still used the overhead/transparency method, but that's been a long time, and I haven't seen one around the office in years. I freehanded my "singing tree" last year with the wife's help.
  19. Ryan, I know next to nothing about freelance writing, but I'm assuming if you wrote an article for someone and they reneged, you could probably try to sell it elsewhere. With a sequence, you could try to re-tweak it for someone else's display but that's still a lot of rework. I do know a little bit about woodworking, although I'm not of the caliber that people are buying my stuff. But it's pretty standard there if someone wanted a custom bedroom set built for them, you'd probably get 50% down at the start of the job, and the other 50 upon completion. Just to be clear, I'm not defending the behavior of the folks who sequence and don't deliver - I'm just thinking that asking for a deposit, in and of itself, isn't necessarily a huge red flag. As always, buyer beware - and I sure wouldn't give anyone my money without seeing some references. I avoid the whole issue by sequencing my own stuff
  20. I kind of do understand the deposit thing - after all, you're spending hours working on something that's totally customized for a single display. What if you finish up, and they say "You know, I'm kind of broke right now and I don't think I can afford this after all"? On the other hand, there are folks out there who are reputable custom sequencers, and (to my knowledge) have never had any issues delivering their product. Many of them also don't come cheap. See "if it's too good to be true, it probably is..." -Tim
  21. ^^^^ What he said Standard mini's (or LED's for that matter) can't be arbitrarily extended/shortened.
  22. Try running them through the online utility at picresize.com. I'd be interested in seeing them.
  23. I read an article awhile back about how John Menard is getting up there in age -- near 70, I believe, and nobody in his family is really poised to take over. The speculation was that they'd probably sell the company, and perhaps whoever buys it would take it nationwide. They made a big deal about how Menards has always expanded slowly and carefully. The example they gave was how Home Depot announced (years ago) they were coming to the Chicago market - Menards considered that "their territory" and was able to beat them with a number of stores opened before HD opened any stores. But otherwise they're pretty content to remain in the Midwest, although it seems they expand a little outward each year. Around here they're slowly upgrading all their aging stores to compete with HD and Lowes. HD entered our market maybe 15 years ago, and Lowes just over 5... Menards has been here since the early 80's, I'm told.
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