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  • 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.


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    Everything posted by sw

    1. The updated Lumos DC controller boards now support an expanded command set with a more streamlined protocol, the ability to define and trigger stored sequences, optional sensor inputs, power supply control, and more. Experimenting now with adding support for DMX512 in addition to its native command set, but expecting that to be part of this update when it's completed. (All of these features will be ported back to the older Lumos AC controllers as well.) There are 5 days left to pre-order PC boards, programmed microcontrollers, and a limited number of fully-assembled boards. Full details
    2. If anyone else wants to add their orders for the DC controllers in this batch (either fully-assembled or DIY PCB+chip sets), there are 9 days left before it's closed. In the mean time, I'm working on updates to the firmware to support DMX commands (as well as its own native set), and also support for pre-programming sequences into its memory which can be started or stopped on command or by sensor inputs attached to the controller directly (for stand-alone use without a computer attached).
    3. Based on feedback from some of the people who visited the Kickstarter campaign site, I have decided to add support for the DMX512 protocol into this ROM image, in addition to its own native protocol. In case that's interesting to anyone who is using DMX for their setup. The board hardware is RS-485 with RJ45 jacks, so at worst you may need to make a small adapter cable to plug it in, but with the ROM changes you can configure the Lumos board to respond to a block of DMX channels starting at an arbitrary channel number you choose (one per output channel plus a control channel).
    4. I just launched a Kickstarter campaign to make it possible to complete the testing and manufacture of my new design for DC SSR controllers. I'm including finished PCBs and programmed controller chips in the rewards for some of the backing levels, which is effectively a "preorder" deal if you want to construct one of these boards yourself (I'm also including an offer to build a limited number to ship fully-assembled as well). Or, of course, if you just want to help there to be more options available in the world of computerized light displays, you're welcome to drop by and back the project a
    5. Cool effects. Going to actual pixels is next on my major upgrade list, but I think I'll have a lot of fun this year with the RGB LED strings and RGB floods I'm making. I'm still not sure about attaching the cords to the ribbon vs. the lights themselves, but I guess I'll have to experiment and see what it looks like with actual strings and it'll probably make sense when I see it in action. Thanks!
    6. Interesting. So the nodes are still supported by the ribbon cable, just not more than 3 nodes at a time. From your experience doing it that way, do you think that was better than, say, zip tying the nodes themselves to the cords and letting the ribbon cable hang free? Did you point the nodes out from the tree trunk all around, or did you point the back nodes "in" so they are visible from the front as well?
    7. Good idea. I believe these are IP66. I'm guessing you'll want to attach each node to the cord, or they'll still hang on the wires. Do you zip tie the cord directly to the nodes? I'm thinking of how to make them tight enough to avoid slipping during the month they are up.
    8. Cool, thanks. I'm not sure they're talking about the same kind of lighting I am, though, I think that's my fault for using the word "ribbon". I meant ribbon cable, not CCR lights. I'm talking about these: http://www.diyledexpress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=10&products_id=65
    9. I must not have been searching the other threads hard enough. I figured it had to have come up before but didn't initially see anything on this. I suspect you're right, though, it seems like it would be asking for trouble to put all the weight on the wires with these. I'll look for some way to run a strong cord or wire and attach the lights to that instead. This is my first attempt to switch anything to LED lights, and the possibilities for using RGB strings with my display are pretty exciting. If this works out, I'll start saving up to take the plunge to true pixels next.
    10. I have recently purchased a bunch of RGB LED strings to re-do my mega-tree in LEDs this year. These have a 4-conductor ribbon cable running the length of the string, with LED modules attached every 4". I'm wondering now what issues I need to watch out for when stringing them up across the mega-tree, with the weight and wind and weather. I read previously the suggestion to fill the ends with hot glue to avoid water getting inside when the wires spread the back of the light open, but should I be concerned about the strings hanging by the ribbon cable like that, or maybe provide something ad
    11. I'm a DIY guy too I was thinking just generally so being a bit intentionally vague there. However, in this case the controllers are boards I designed and made on my own (DIY guy, y'know) but like many of the popular designs here they have terminal blocks for the wiring to attach to. Currently, I have a set of these boards in a permanent enclosure, and 14 AWG wire from the terminal blocks to 120V AC power outlets permanently mounted in the enclosure. This time around, I'm making DC SSRs, again the board design I'm coming up with will end in terminal blocks, and the RGB strings I'll attac
    12. By Cat5 are you referring to the wire itself or the modular connectors typically used with CAT5? The question I'm going after is whether it's better in people's experience to use any sort of connector at all between the SSR board and light strings (Molex, or whatever), or if you'd just have the light strings end in bare wire and attach directly to the terminal strips of the SSR boards themselves. The main issue I can think of here, apart from convenience of making fast connections) is what happens if someone trips over a wire and pulls on the board.
    13. So far, I've been wiring my controllers up to 120V AC outlets in a permanent weatherproof enclosure. Going forward, I will be building some low-voltage DC SSRs and I notice that most of these SSR boards (including my own) use terminal blocks for the external connections. (Up to now I have the outlets wired into these terminal strips so the actual lights just plug into the outlets but I could remove the SSR board if necessary by unwiring them from the terminal strips.) With the low-voltage ones, though, I wonder... do people here generally wire low-voltage lights (in my case, LED strings)
    14. I'm reworking a lot of my display this year, including swapping out a bunch of incandescent light strings for RGB LED strings. This means moving from regular 120V AC plugs and receptacles, for some kind of custom 5V or 12V DC plug arrangement. Likewise for the DIYC LED floods I'm building. I was looking at my options and thought of all those little Anderson PowerPole connectors I've used in the past, and thought that would be a great approach to hooking up all the DC stuff. Any thoughts on those connectors being used for this? They look like they wouldn't care too much if they're rain
    15. I'm looking at the diyledexpress sale, looks like a good deal, but waffling back and forth between getting dumb strings or the pixel strings. I'm wondering what I could use to control the pixels with, but that's a compelling idea to start playing with those
    16. Oh, right, I forgot about the holidays there. Also, I got a message from their website saying the dumb strings are no longer available. Hopefully that's only temporary.
    17. I send a couple of emails to Ray a few days ago, and so far haven't heard anything from him. Not sure if that's typical or if something's wrong, but I guess I'll keep checking out more alternatives.
    18. That looks promising. It's not clear from the description on the site, though, are these in a string or individual pieces that need to be assembled into a string? If they're on a string, I'm curious what the spacing is and how visible they'd be when strung up in a mega-tree (brightness, viewing angle, would all LEDs face the same way or be spread out around the wire like mini-light strings are)? Any experiences using these in Christmas lighting would be great to hear about, thanks!
    19. I'm looking at what it would take to convert my mega-tree to LED lights, maybe one color at a time (due to expense of LED lights). And I was wondering if there are any RGB strings available which are wired up with all the red, green, and blue elements connected together to the controller, so the controller could turn the string on in any color by manipulating those color circuits. Given that, I'd probably just cut the controller out and put each color into my own controller and have a single string replacing what is now four separate single color strings on my tree. However, I'm not sure
    20. I've had computer controlled lights for the last few years, but this will be my first year to synchronize them to music. I'm thinking it would be better to do a much smaller duration of high-quality show than an hour of hastily thrown-together sequences, so I may start out with maybe a 10 minute show, adding a song or two as the season progresses. What I'm trying to consider, though, is how to present such a short show. I don't want to simply loop it, or my neighbors and I will get really sick of hearing the same song hundreds of times. I was thinking that a good compromise would be to
    21. We usually use those little fiberglass poles you can stick into the ground to suspend icicle lights from. This makes a low but solid-looking "fence" of lights which frames the yard and keeps people from wandering through the yard. If someone intends harm, you're not going to keep them out, but at least this should reduce the minor delinquency a little.
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