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About azfrankp

  • Birthday 02/20/1946

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  • Location
    Phoenix, AZ
  • Biography
    Retired owner of a couple of Ace Hardware stores. I have an Engineering background from Penn State. Married to a wonderful wife of 44 years and the proud father of two boys and Grandfather to the most beautiful child in the world.
  • Interests
    Woodworking, gadgets and Christmas
  • Occupation
  • About my display
    A 1/5 scale interactive home built Santa train with several operating features and free candy canes. The display has grown for over 33 years and is now totally LED (approx. 17,000. I have thousands of visitors each year and any donations received are matched and sent to the Phoenix Childrens Hospital. Our display has been featured in several newspapers and TV stations (links on website).

    Features include a ferris wheel, swing carousel, operating crossing gate, teeter totter, flashing rail road sign, erupting volcano, snowmaking, a mountain Christmas tree with lighted mountain snowflakes dancing to music, an automatic candy cane dispenser and a life size singing and dancing santa scene.

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  1. The good news is that these are LEDs that basically use milliamps at a DC voltage to light through a limiting resistor. the DC voltage is higher than its AC source (I'll explain why if you really want). You will only loose about 1.6 volts/100' for 22 awg wire at 1.75A. Because they are LED you won't notice the drop.
  2. The way to sense the difference you are referring to is to measure the voltage between ground(earth ground) and the neutral wire of your two wire device which Is what I started out saying. The GFI doesn't care what's plugged into it (2 or 3 wire devices). Perhaps UL can explain it to you better here: Sorry, you'll have to cut and paste to your browser. http://www.ul.com/global/documents/offerings/perspectives/regulators/technical/ul_GroundFaultProtectiveDevices.pdf
  3. No, There is 120 volts between hot & neutral. GFCI's are meant to detect any small leakage current or unbalanced load conditions that may exist in devices such as faulty appliances, wet plugs, etc.. Thus the name GroundFaultConditionInterupter or it's shortened name GFI. They are not designed to trip on overload conditions. That's what the panel breaker is for. In other words if you grabbed a bare wire of a two wire light string that was plugged in to a GFI outlet and were standing on ground (without shoes) the GFI would trip even though you didn't exceed the breaker's rating of 15 or 20 amps. What you did to cause that condition is create an imbalance in the load from what the load really was (lights) and the resistance to ground (you). Without the GFI in place you may become electrocuted because a normal breaker would not trip. The neutral wire and the ground wire are at the same point in the main panel box which is ultimately connected to earth ground. You can actually light a bulb with one hot wire and the other wire connected to a nail pounded in the ground. However, because of reistivity the voltage to the bulb in this condition will be a few millivolts different than if it was plugged into the wall normally. It is this difference that causes the GFI to trip. I hope that helps because I already told you more than I know
  4. Also check your display for grounding problems or damp connections. GFCI's trip on the millivolt difference between ground and the neutral (white) wire. Is your GFCI wired in a wall outlet or is it a GFCI breaker in the panel. If it's in the outlet and the panel breaker is tripped than it is most likely a problem in the surge protector as Justin suggested and not a true 'Ground Fault'.
  5. OK so I'm a little dyslexic. That might explain why I come up with this stuff AFTER there's a problem and why my train sometimes runs backwards . Seriously, if you want to build this yourself without soldering there is a breadboard available for about $14 from www.parts-express.com (320-090) which is the same company that's listed on the pdf. No soldering is required. You simply push wires and compoents into a board. That will be less expensive then me building one for you. However, if you still want me to build one for you email me at [email protected]
  6. Oops! There is a typo on the .pdf. The center pole I used was IMC not IMT. Sorry for the confusion.
  7. Not yet. A few of my friends asked me to help them after their display was vandalized. I thought it mite something others could use as well so I thought I would share. Let me know if I can help with specific questions. Email me at [email protected]
  8. Attached you fill find an inexpensive security system for displays, outdoor furniture, grills, etc. that works on the same principals that retailers use to protect their merchandise. If you just have some basic soldering skills you can build it yourself in about an hour. Let me know if you have any questions. email me [email protected]
  9. For those that have built or tried to build a 12' or higher mega tree in their display know how time consumming it can be and the difficulty in trying to keep all those lights from tangling during assembly. Two years ago I decided to do something about it by coming up with a design which is both tangle free and easy to assemble and store. I thought I would share my design for those interested. I just purchased LOR equipment so next year will be the 1st year of using a musical sequence to control the little mountain next to my home. Attached you will find the pdf file and narrative on the construction techniques. Please email me at [email protected] if you have any questions. You can see photos at www.santatrain.comMegaTreeAssemblyNotes.pdfChristmasMegaTree.pdf
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