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Did you know?
  • The original Rudolph did not have a red nose. In that day and age, red noses were seen as an indicator of chronic alcoholism and Montgomery Ward didn’t want him to look like a drunkard. To complete the original picture, he was almost named Reginald or Rollo.
  • The Christmas wreath was originally hung as a symbol of Jesus. The holly represents his crown of thorns and the red berries the blood he shed.
  • The three traditional colors of most Christmas decorations are red, green and gold. Red symbolizes the blood of Christ, green symbolized life and rebirth, and gold represents light, royalty and wealth.
  • Tinsel was invented in 1610 in Germany and was once made of real silver.
  • The oldest artificial Christmas trees date back to the late 1800s and were made of green raffia (think grass hula skirts) or dyed goose feathers. Next the Addis Brush Company used their machinery that wove toilet brushes to create pine-like branches for artificial Christmas trees that were less flammable and could hold heavier decorations.
  • ‘Jingle Bells’ – the popular Christmas song was composed by James Pierpont in Massachusetts, America. It was, however, written for thanksgiving and not Christmas.
  • Coca-Cola was the first company that used Santa Claus during the winter season for promotion.
  • Hallmark introduced their first Christmas cards in 1915.
  • 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.
  • Christmas 2018 countdown has already begun. 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.

vkjohnson

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Everything posted by vkjohnson

  1. I agree with merrymidget. Anything with screw type light sockets should remain polarized. (I didn't even know you could buy non-polarized vampire plugs). You can still use the plug, but I would mark with a sharpie which prong is the hot so you can plug it in the correct way to prevent accidental shocks.
  2. I agree with the color scheme idea. I love that look of blue and white with the glow on the house. Looks very professional too!
  3. IMO go for the C9 and C7. I think it will look great and you are correct, it makes for easy splicing and custom strings. Sealed usually is used to refer to M5 and C6 LEDs and whether or not bulbs are removable. In that case you always go for non-removable (sealed) if you want reliability. They will last longer than store-bought which usually are not. The retro bulbs are a bit different because they screw into sockets, but no water will get in the actual bulb, so no worries. When buying retro try to find ones that have 3 LEDs per bulb. Some of the C9s may even have 5. They will be much more vibrant and brighter than store-bought with only 1 LED. My biased opinion will also ask what's wrong with the good ol' incandescent bulb? lol Sales will happen throughout the year from different vendors. Right now I know Creative Displays is doing a run-on sale with a different set of in-stock items each week. The big bulk sales with the best deals and special orders strait from China will happen right after Christmas and into the spring. It should show up here in the forums when each vendor will be starting that sale. Welcome aboard!
  4. I use several strands of minis around my windows. Ends up going around the window 3-4 times. You can't tell when one side of the window has 3 layers of lights and the other has 4. Makes 'em bright too. The other way is to use c7 or c9 sockets with normal bulbs or LED retro fits. Those are in a parallel circuit so you can cut to length without hassle.
  5. I would agree, retros are great because you can trim the strands to length with no hassle. I think the retros have as many as 3-5 LEDs in them too. Best of luck!
  6. If you want bright and warm color, nothing beats an incandescent C9, IMO. They are cheap to buy and you can still find them in most big box stores, just in smaller quantities than you used to. The smaller drug stores and hardware stores sometimes carry them too, or you can order socket sets and the bulbs separately from places like Creative Displays and other online people. 300 C9 bulbs would pull about 18 amps. Split them up on 2 outlets that are on separate legs of your breaker box and it will balance out to 9 amps out of your 100, not bad. Power costs for incans vs. LED is almost negligible and will never pay for difference in the long run, at least in my situation. I ran 120,000 lights last year, all incan including 2,500 C9s for a whopping $274 Dec. electric bill. Granted, they almost give away electricity here and the whole display was also synchronized. By all means, do what you think is best for you. I prefer incans over LED because of cost and appearance.
  7. I'll also add that I sometimes tie off the top of my ladder to a gutter bracket to keep it from slipping sidewise if I'm worried about that happening. You're actually kind of lucky to have a low pitched roof and low 2nd story in general. My house foundation already sits up 5 ft off the ground. That and 9 foot ceilings puts me over 25 feet in the air when I'm up there.
  8. In all honesty, it depends how comfortable you are on a ladder. Simply throw an extension ladder on there and make that last big step onto the roof. More realistically, (and I do this as well) use 2 smaller ladders. Carry all of your stuff up the first one to your 1st floor roof where you can stage everything. Then use a smaller extension ladder or large step ladder set over the peak to climb up to the 2nd floor roof. It is more stable carrying something up a smaller ladder that doesn't move and bounce as much (also less injury if you do fall) Most important is be safe, do only what you are comfortable with, and not when there's snow or ice up there. lol
  9. Icicles are notorious for that problem and they're always high up on the roof and you got to maneuver the ladder around all the other stuff on the ground. I can see a huge benefit to that. I confess that I did buy WW leds from CDI for some indoor garlands. Every year I was having to replace incans on them because they were on all the time and bulbs were burning out like crazy. Not anymore!
  10. awesome! One of the best deals every year.
  11. I've been hoarding them from other people who are converting to RGB and LED. It's time to get prepared for the incandescent apocalypse!
  12. I took the plunge and got started on this. I used the black plastic hardware cloth. I have two very thick maples in the front yard that I wrap with lights on the bottom 10 feet of the trunk. This took a full afternoon to do in the past. I expect this to be much easier now. I will be covering them in clear, red, and green minis. The clears are actually divided into 8 channels on each trunk, red and green are being added new this year on their own channels. Here's an example of what they look like animated if you're interested. Comes on at 1:07. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jMCJkAPh80 Before I started with the lights I checked how the cloth fit. This ended up a great idea. The plastic does not contour well, so I had to cut (easy with a utility knife) relief joints to let it flair out at the bottom with the trunk. (see link below) I then temporarily ziptied a rope to the bottom edge to mark how far apart I needed to stretch the cloth when I took it back to the shop. When I got it back to the work table I pulled the plastic cloth apart at the joints so the rope was tight and started with my lights. I ziptied about every foot and on both sides of my cuts. I kept making sure that I was not pulling the strands tight, so they would be loose enough to expand with the joints I cut at the bottom. The rope I ziptied to the bottom helped me know how loose to make them. After I finished with the lights on the bottom half where I cut the joints, the top was super fast. If you have a perfectly strait trunk and don't have to cut little slits in the plastic like I did, this will be much faster. My next layer of hardware cloth will not need cut like the bottom, so I expect it to take half the time...maybe an hour to do a 3ft by 8ft piece. I am very satisfied with how it turned out. It does get to be kind of heavy. I managed to put 7 strands each of clear, red, and green on one 3x8 piece, however it is so easy to roll up and store away. The black cloth disappears at night and all you see are the lights. Pics of it on the tree here... (I have some other albums posted too) http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157635576849394/ bring on any questions. I hope I explained well enough. It would be easiest to not cut the expansion joints like I did, but I was picky about how it would fit at the bottom.
  13. credit goes to pc user keitha. They mentioned it first, but it's definitely a great idea.
  14. I picked up 5 rolls of the hardware cloth this weekend. I'm starting on this myself in the next week or two. I'll chime in when I learn something. It looks like it should go pretty well. It's just like the chicken wire above, only made of plastic and colored black from the factory.
  15. Agree Bill, the whole competition plot from ABC is just looking for drama of the reality TV kind. Showcasing the love of the work and happy smiles that come afterward is what a show about Christmas lights should be IMO. TLC did a good job showing that with your display and the others. Hopefully they show that re-run again this year.
  16. ^ Yup. I haven't heard anybody who said they enjoyed being a part of a show like that. Too many details, too much fine print, and not enough patients to deal with it. I got the same email and turned it down. I don't believe it will ever turn out into what you think it will be. If someone wanted to take some video of my display and setup on my schedule and wasn't going to add the drama of reality tv to it, I'd think twice, but this is too much.
  17. Usually you can special order from Lowes for pick-up in October-November. Worth looking into. You'll be paying full price though.
  18. I was going to say the same, or even 9" or 12" spacing. Keep in mind that spacing gets closer as you reach the top of your tree. The logistics of trying to connect 100 or more strings to a point at the top of a tree can be a nightmare.
  19. Thanks! My fingers are really gonna hurt after all those zip ties. lol
  20. I was planning something similar with my big tree trunks in the front yard. The only worries I had is how visible the chicken wire is at night time. And also if it would enhance the likely hood of GFCI trips with all that conductive metal around the wires. It is a brilliant idea, love to see a nighttime pic too.
  21. Hehe, I agree as well. It defuses the color much better.
  22. Do you have the high-powered heat sinks? Yes? ....Are you always going to have them maxed at their amp limits? No? Well, I'd say you'll be just fine. I have mine mounted in 5 gallon buckets and have never had a problem, even when pushing the power limits on them. While you are running your show for the first time you could always check on the heat they are generating just to be sure. If you do have a problem, do not vent them, it will just allow moisture to get in and wreak havoc. LOR does suggest mounting to metal enclosures to help dissipate heat for the CTB 16s, so adding a metal plate to the back of the heat sinks could help if you do have a problem. Congrats on completing the soldering kits It's definitely at budget saver.
  23. Great point Bill. The Lowes brand are usually longer than some of the others too.
  24. I agree with the above. When you get to point of uncertainty as to your amp loads, you need to do a full calculation of your entire display, with each element having it's own amp pull. I have never tripped even a single 20amp since I started doing that. I'm to the point now where I constantly have to monitor which channels I turn on simultaneously to not reach the load capacity of my main breaker. I couldn't do it without my spreadsheet. 100ct incan minis are usually listed at 0.33 amps per string. 25ct C9 incans are 1.5 amps per string. Fun Fact: when I ended up plugging dozens of mini strands into one circuit and actually measured the amp load, it was about 15% less than the calculation based on the amp ratings listed on the light tags. Math would indicate 30 strings should pull 9.9 amps, but in my experience that number is actually closer to 8 amps....but again, just my experience. I still use the manufacturer's rating to fill out my power consumption spreadsheet.
  25. The lights around the outline of the roof appear to have 6 inch spacing, maybe C6s or something like that. The roof grid definitely looks like 12 inch spacing, perhaps C7 incans. They are very bright. The strands themselves look closer together than the bulb spacing, I imagine every 7 inches where the next row of shingles begins since they are probably held on with some sort of shingle clips. Could be each individual bulb or more likely mounted to a strip of some sort. Did you try emailing him? Here's their website.
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