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About Obewan

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  • Birthday 07/03/1963

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Profile Information

  • My favorite Christmas story
    Once upon a time, about 2000 years ago ...
  • Location
    San Jose, CA, USA
  • Biography
    I'm an electrical engineer specializing in custom test systems and operations. My passions are God, my wife, kids, acrobatic gymnastics and Christmas light displays.
  • Interests
    Acrobatic Gymnastics, Ferroequineographer, Christmas Lights
  • Occupation
    Rocket Scientist
  • About my display
    2006 was our first year with an animated light display. We started out over our heads and just kept getting deeper every year.

    2006: 10,000 lights & 96 channels
    2007: 15,000 lights & 128 channels
    2008: 20,000 lights & 176 channels
    2009: 25,000 lights & 233 channels

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  1. I've used my pool breaker to power the majority of my show for the past 15 years. As you say, the pool goes into hibernation and i just make sure the daily filtering schedule doesn't run when the show is on. I'd also caution that many pool pumps run off of 240 VAC (two phases of 120 VAC), which is bad for the lights and controllers we tend to use. From the photo it looks like you might have a 120 VAC connection, but use an AC voltmeter to verify your situation. If you don't know how to adapt, be sure to ask for help or call a local electrician to check it out. Other factors to consid
  2. Absolutely fantastic. How many channels do you use for the entire effect (ground, pole, shooting star, exploding star, etc.)?
  3. Using 2% resistors are fine. That's the tolerance on the resistor value, so 2% resistors will generally be closer to the 47K value than the 5% would be. The only reason to use the 5% would be that the higher tolerances are usually cheaper, but if you already have them, use them.
  4. Last year I used: This is Halloween Heffalumps and Woozles (Winnie the Pooh) Ghostbusters Time Warp The Addams Family Others I've considered and may use this year: Old Black Magic I Put a Spell on You Remain of the Day (Corpse Bride) Thriller Monster Mash and now a few others thanks to this thread Next ...
  5. Welcome aboard. Sounds like you'll fit right in. I don't know if you read the fine print when you joined, but you might have noticed there's no such thing as a sanity clause with this group.
  6. Our first arches were 12' long 3/4" PVC with 8 channels each. We built them using a 100 light string in each section, but we installed them out closer to the street so when we lit them up they were so intense they really washed out everything else in the display:eek:. Luckily, we wrapped the segments by folding the string in half before staring. Rather than reprogramming every sequence to reduce power levels, I decided to remove a single bulb from each segment making them the same as a 50 count string in each arch segment. The other benefit I found was in repairing a segment that had stopped w
  7. Our first year with arches it was about an hour before show time and I was inside trying desperately to finish wiring the last arch. My wife and daughter were outside putting the first arch on the ground rods when I heard it snap. Like you I used a Tee at the center of the arch, but it was on 3/4" PVC. Since that's the highest stress point, that's right where it broke. Looking around I used a 2 ft piece of re-bar, wrapped the ends with duct tape so there would be a loose fit with the pipe and no sharp edges. I also wrapped the center of the re-bar for a snug fit and put the two pieces of t
  8. Philip, My deepest sympathies for your loss. I envy you the length of time you had with her, even if it was not always the smoothest. She is in a better place now, and no longer suffering. You are all in my prayers.
  9. Sanman, I had a similar experience last year. While the wife was out running errands (problem #1), I decided it was time to get started. I brought out the universal ladder and set it up as an A-frame (problem #2) and climbed up onto the first story roof. When I was done, I started to climb down and noticed there was a lot more wobble in the ladder than I remembered when I was climbing up. Sitting there on the edge of the roof, I could just picture my wife coming home and finding me laid out on the ground. I had to wait about 15 minutes before a neighbor came home and I called him over to stea
  10. Richard, What a wonderful turn of events! I'm so excited for you just thinking about the possibilities. I don't know how much you'll be able to recycle from last years display, but I know we are all looking forward to seeing the results. So what does the power situation look like? I don't imagine a normal commercial building site would have enough outdoor power by default. You might also consider security. Being out on a more public street will add exposure, and might make it a more tempting target after hours. Just a paranoid thought I had. Like you said; lots of work to do, but l
  11. Richard, Great news! I'm really glad to hear you found a place and will be getting a display again this year. I know you've got some challenges ahead with the late start and new canvas, but we all know you can pull it off and make it look fabulous! Looking forward to seeing the results!
  12. You might try contacting PC member Severex, his display is 100% solar powered. He generates enough solar power to cover his entire houshold usage, including his light display. See their display at: http://www.severex.com/xmas.html See the Solar page at: http://www.severex.com/pv.html
  13. You can count me among those that had my eyes opened by Carson's video. In my case, my daughter showed me the video, and I thought it was video animation because of the compression. I began thinking, "I'm an electrical engineer, I can do that too". I started a design based on a PIC controller, and while researching I stumbled on PC and LOR. After lurking for a number of months, I threw away my design and jumped in over my head. I ordered 6 controllers, received in early November 2006, and had the show running the second week of December. As others have said, this hobby is very addictiv
  14. Personally I have 9 pre-wired mini's that I purchased at Target and have been using for the last 2 years. This year I'm removing them from the display. In their place I'm building 9 multi color mini's that I have yet to make (I know, I'm really behind on all of the construction and programming this year. That's what October is for, right?) I like the look and how they offset my larger trees, and the mini's fit with my display and vision. The addition of color will give me more options for my sequences, and while I will lose the look of real mini bushes I think the trade-off will be well
  15. The two kits indicated are just not very accurate, primarily because they both use an RC oscillator as a time reference for the counter. There is a slight frequency offset to these circuits, even with fine tuning and precision matching the RC values (which these kits do not provide for and is beyond the scope of all but the extreme hobbyist). When you factor in the temperature induced fluctuations in the RC values and the resulting errors it just gets worse. I've sensed two related applications being discussed in this thread. The first is a short countdown until the next show (something on
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