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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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About JackStevens

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  • Birthday 06/22/1955

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  • Location
    Pittsboro NC
  • Biography
    I'm a network engineer and system admin, have been "over decorating" for Christmas for years, and now doing more with electronic light controls
  • Interests
    Computers (not games)
  • Occupation
    maintaining part of the Internet
  • About my display
    Brightest house in the neighborhood, the wife wants more!
    2006 and prior - static displays
    2007 - about 8,000 lights, some of them controlled by a Mr. Christmas Light controller. http://JackStevens.net/Christmas2007
    2008 - only 6,000 lights, again, with a Mr. Christmas. Decent Nativity scene.
    2009 - 64 Channels of LOR and 14,000 Lights
    2010 - 80 Channels of LOR, working on another 92 of DMX and thinking about 25,000 lights

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  1. JackStevens

    Texas Newbie

    Google resistor color code; I'd copy/paste the color code here, but I can't get it to look as good as what you can find doing that.
  2. JackStevens

    Texas Newbie

    Zach - First off, get a digital volt meter (DVM) so you don't have to guess at things, Printed and researched ratings are great guidelines, and give you a "what should be" but an actual measurement will give you a "what is" Second, a quck diversionary question for you to ponder: If you get some controllers, would you want to be able to control these lights with a controller? If so, keep them separate. You don't really want to try to syncronize the blower motor and lights to music, just the lights. Third, keep in mind you are playing with potentially dagnerous voltages and currents. Not so much the 12 vdc circuit, but the 120 vac / 240 vac / 170 vdc portion. Be careful. OK, what you should do before modifying the LED string is cut it someplace in the wire and do a current measurement. You said 3.4 volts per LED; I'm going to guess they are while LEDs and probably between 12 and 20 ma (milleamps) but they may be the really bright ones at 100 ma. The higher the current draw, the brighter they will be. However, you can get them so bright that you'll let the magic smoke out and they'll then stay dark. That's why a current limiting resistor. You might want to check that 3.4 volts per LED by reconnecting the break in the wire you did for current measurement, and actually measure the voltage drop across one of those LEDs. Measure the output of that AC adapter; you said it's a 12 vdc output. It may or may not be a well regulated output, which means it may or may not vary a whole lot with no load, only a little load on it (LEDs only) or heavy load (motor and LEDS) I hope it's fairly constant. Now for some math. If the LEDS are at a decent brightness at 15 ma (.015 amps) and drop 3.4 volts each, you can put up to 3 LEDs in series (as you said, you have to watch polarity) 3*3.4=10.2 volts. 4*3.4=34.6 volts. Say your AD adapter puts out 12 volts under motor load; you can only use 3 LEDs in series, because 4 won't ligght. But what do you do with those other 1.8 volts? If you expect the LEDs to handle it, you might let that magic smoke out. Using Ohm's law (voltage=current X resistance) and a little algebra - communitive properties, e/i=r, you get an LED resistance of 3.4/.015, or about 226 ohms. 12 volts divieded by 3 LEDs gives you 4 volts, plugging that back in you get .017 amps (17 ma) which the LEDs might handle, dumping the extra voltage as heat for a while before they get too hot and let the smoke out. To keep the current flow the same as what you measured before, 15 ma, you would need to drop that 1.8 volts using a resistor. 1.8/.015=120 ohms. So, wire the LED string something like this: +12 from AD adapter +----------<+LED->---------<+LED->-----------<+LED->-------<120 ohm resistor>----------- - of AC adapter. Resistor color code would be Brown-Red-Brown and use a Silver or Gold last band (10% or 5% variance tolerance) Wattage rating would be "power=voltage X current" or "1.8 X .015" or .027 watts, so a 1/4 watt resistor would give you plenty of safety margin here. If you decide to use 6 LEDs for increased brightness using the idea above, wire up two sets of "3 LEDS and rsisotr" - don't try to share a resistor between LEDs in parallel, because of tolerance differences between LEDs. Hope that helps. -Jack
  3. JackStevens

    Texas Newbie

    Sidetrack73, basically what's happening in the cheap LED strings is the individual LED only comes on for half the AC sine wave. All of us can see the time the LED is off, then coming back on, then going off, then back on........most of us don't realize that we are seeing that, though. Doing a half-to-full-wave conversion means the LEDs are coming on twice as often, appear brighter (because they are on more often) and dim better. There was a group buy for some small PCBs to mount the rectifier diodes on - http://doityourselfchristmas.com/forums/showthread.php?28751-Group-Buy-FWC-Full-Wave-Converter-1-2-to-Full-Wave-LED-string-Converter-board - and these will probably come available again, although the person who did the original design is trying to add the capability to add current limiting resistors to the circuit so you can reduce the number of LEDs in the string - like needing only six or so for an eye on a singing jack-o-lantern, for example, and not having to "black out" the ones you don't use. There will be another group buy soon. I've got this up at ChristmasCarolina.com, but I think you ahve to register as a member there, so I also have it on my own web site - http://pittsborochristmas.com/Half-wave.doc It's basically the same as the above PCBs but without the PCB. The PCB gives the assembly a lot more structural strength and it's less likely to have the heat shrink crack.
  4. JackStevens

    Texas Newbie

    Hey, Zach, welcome to PC! I also purchased a lot of LEDs from Walmart, Big Lots, Lowe's, etc....... They all need to be "fixed" - converted from half wave to full wave. Many can't see the half wave flicker, but long term exposure gives them headaches, makes then edgy, and a few other symptoms. Some of us, me, inclusded, can see the flicker, especially under fluorescent lights - which to me, also have a bit of a flicker - because of phasing issues. There's a simple and fairly cheap fix, although the supplier I get the parts from doubled the price of the core components, which are 1N4007 diodes. (you can use 1N4004 or 1N4406 but they have a lower PIV and are the same rpice). 100% price increase, they went from a penny each to two cents. It takes four of them; I found my biggest cost to this mod is heat shrink. PC is a great idea site, with a lot of higher-level views and suggestions. You might want to check out http://diylightanimation.com/ for some DMX-based controllers (unfortuantely, closed source) and/or http://doityourselfchristmas.com/ for DMX, Renard, and other protocol based light controllers. Both are DIY - you need to know how to solder. Both sites do group buys, where the members get together and place a mass purchase of compotnents to get very good prices. One of these will start over at http://doityourselfchristmas.com/forums/showthread.php?30928-Renard-SS-2014-Group-Buy-INTEREST-ONLY on February 1 for 8/16/24 channel Renard controllers (can run in DMX mode) I have five of the Renard SS24 with DMX firmware as well as 5 LOR controllers; love them all, but really like the Renards 24 channels for about $100 each. There are local forums, too, like http://ChristmasCarolina.com you can generally find me on, and there is The Academy that holds classes on Christmas Lighting right there in your state. Do it for yourself, do it for your kids and wife. Have fun!
  5. I guess I helped confuse the issue. I was reacting to Toozie21's comment about not wanting to buy 50 plugs. I was giving him a reason to do so. The group buy won't include the female plugs for the 24 outputs; they are obtained outside the group buy, just like the controller cabinet is. I have five of the SS24 controllers, as well as 5 LOR CTB16PC controllers. All the SS24's use vampire plugs on their outputs. The LOR controllers would have, if I had realized I could buy them for that price, instead of using Dollar Tree extension cords.
  6. Correct. A Renard SS 24 has 24 110VAC channels; two controllers would use up 48 of the 50 vampire plugs in the bag, leaving two left. Group buy on the Renard SS 24 (can run in DMX mode) will happen starting Feb 1.
  7. There's going to be a group buy announced shortly (Feb 1) on Renard SS series. Two of the Rendard SS24's will eat a back of 50 and give you back two as change.
  8. Radiant Holidays is taking re-ship orders; he generally tries to fill up a container coming from China. http://radiant-holidays.com/radiant_holidays/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=7&zenid=f1368dbb8c6bd9626e470af31f110308
  9. 4x8 covered or open? Just curious. I wish I had one to do that with.
  10. OK, I'm going to guess you actually mean "Lynx" controller, as sold by RJ over on http://diylightanimation.com If I am not correct in that assumption, I apologize, and will have to ask you for more clarification of your question, as "Linux" is an operating system, although many device controllers have Linux embedded in them. The Raspberry PI can run Linux as a controller. Assuming I'm correct, #1 - The Lynx Express is a 16 channel 120 AC controller, 8 amps per channel, using DMX protocol and RS485 voltage/current level connections; you'd need either a USB dongle or an e1.31 compatible controller. It is NOT open source. There are DC versions available from RJ as well, but they aren't called Lynx. 2. Cat 5/cat 5e/Cat 6; RJ's controllers use pins 1 and 2 of an RJ 45 to carry the data. 3. cost varies depending if you get in on a group buy or buy it on your own from RJ, and wherever you buy components from. It's an assemble-it-yourself board, similar to the Renard boards listed on here. Ratings are 8 amps per channel, not to exceed 15 amps per bank of 8 channels. There are 2 banks of 8 channels each on a Lynx controller. 4. The answer to this question is "yes., the controller has 2 power cords or 1. Each of those 2 banks of channels (15 amps per bank, remember that!) can have its own power cord, or you can tie both banks together and run it from a single power cord, but then you limit yourself to 15 amps for the controller, not just per bank. Do I have a Lynx controller? No, but I do have a couple of bare boards that I may populate one day. That would be dependent on needing the amperage per channel, if I ever need that and can't use one of my 5 LOR controllers, which have the same current ratings. Would I recommend one? That depends; do you have some modicum of PIC programming experience or have someone available locally who does? They're OK boards, but personally I prefer to run Renard boards in DMX mode; as well as the 5 LOR CTB-16-PC controllers I have, I also have 5 Renard SS24 controllers, as well as a couple different DC controllers.
  11. You might try a barbeque rotisserie motor. They should be readily available at this time of year.
  12. I'm not sure why you can't get there......it just popped up an untrusted security certificate on me, though, and I was just on the site yesterday. Here's their contact info. Welcome to The Holiday Light Store Located at 2720 S Wilmington Street Raleigh NC 27603 Call 1-866-458-LITE (5483) Local 919-828-4222 I'm sure right now their wireframe display room is about as hot as it gets. I walked through it about two years ago late September and all the displays had been on for a while; outside was in the high 60's, inside about 85.....but they were just starting to switch over to LEDs at the time.
  13. DennyD, Are you referring to this place? http://holidaylightstore.com/outdoor-lighting/repair-and-refurbishment They're good people, but like said before, shipping would probably be cost prohibitive. They can send you parts so you can repair your own; light clips, lights, etc. but that' would mean you'd still have to do any frame repairs and repaints yourself.
  14. Not an endorsement of any of these products, but are you looking for something like any of these? http://www.walmart.com/ip/Green-Fiber-Optic-Tree-with-LED-Bulb-and-Transformer/22003188 http://www.walmart.com/ip/GE-50-Light-LED-Color-Effects-Color-Changing-Tree/22080619
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