1. 96,000 Plus lights in the display
2. 28 Renard output boards with 24 dimmable channels plus 2 custom Renard based boards controlling Frosty and Crystal (my animated snow man/woman) with 8 channels each, giving us 688 total channels of control.
3. The show is controlled by a computer (P7 processor, 4G mem, 8 port expansion card) running on Win7.
4. The software for creating and running the show is called Vixen. It is freeware available from
www.vixenlights.com This is a great program that is well written and has great support.
5. The Large Mega tree (Big tree on the right) is 20 feet high, has a total of 24,000 lights in 5 colors, plus a 3D star on the top, a string of 12 strobelights, and 6 lighted presents under the tree.
6. The Small Mega Tree (Smaller tree on the left) is 10 feet high, has a total of 6000 lights in 5 colors, plus 3D star on the top.
7. 15 3ft Mini trees each with 2,000 lights in 5 colors plus a small star on top
8. 10 2ft Micro trees with 300 clear lights each
9. 4 arches with 10ea 100 light strings and 10ea 50 light strings for a total of 1500 clear lights each
These were made by wrapping the lights onto 3/4" Diameter electrical PVC conduit (2ea 10' each arch) and extending all the wires to reach the controllers. (10 wires each side of arch)
10. 40 candy canes with 100 clear lights each
11. 63 snow flakes in 3 sizes , 100, 50, and 20 clear lights
12. 12 palm trees wrapped with 4 channels of 200 clear lights (800 total on each tree)
13. Merry Christmas sign using 1500 multi colored lights
14. 10 white only mini trees 300 clear lights each (3000 total)
15. 8 icicle strings (4 clear 4 blue) mounted on the front of the house
16. 3 colors of C9 bulbs on the front eves and 3 uprights on the front of the house
17. 8 netlights (300 multi lights each) with rope light boarders
18. Stage with 64 lights, and also Frosty the snowman, and wife Crystal, with 8 channels of control each
19. Santa Tracker (satellite dish that rotates in either direction, and lights up)
Remote Display across street
20. 2 custom boards using xbee chips for wireless control of remote display
21. 8 netlights (300 multi lights each) with rope light boarders
22. 16 candy canes with 100 clear lights each
23. 8 snow flakes 100 clear lights each
24. 2 palm trees wrapped with 4 channels of 200 clear lights (800 total on each tree)
All of the snowflakes and candy canes were made from 3/8 plywood cut on my Home built CNC router from programs generated from my own cad designs. After the routing was done, they were painted and lights were installed and glued in place.
The animated snowman, Frosty, (and also now his wife Crystal), were designed and built bu myself right here in my own shop as well. The bodys were made from 1/2" pvc pipe, heated and bent around forms made on the cnc router, then bolted together. The they were mounted in such a way that they could rock sideways to appear to 'dance'. The Heads were made from machined aluminum pieces covered with a fiberglass outer shell formed over a 14" ball I bought at wallmart.
Motion is achieved with 5 RC Servo motors, 1 mounted on the body for the "dancing" affect, and 4 RC servos mounted in the head for the Mouth, Nod, Tilt, and Pan motions.
The Stage has a motorized curtain using a 24vdc motor/gearbox, with a cogged belt/gear setup. Because there is no feedback with our control, we used micro swithes to assure voltage shutoff at each end of travel. This way the program just holds the voltage on for a little longer than needed, and let the switches turn the power off. 2 relays are used for on/off and direction.
The same motor/gearbos used above is also used in the Santa Tracker, with added chain drive. you may notice the light stays on the whole time the dish is rotating. This is possible with a 'ring' of copper routed out from blank circuit board material, and using spring loaded motor brushes to keep constant contact with this 'ring' throughout the rotation. 2 relays are also used to control on/off and direction of the dish.
I first started looking at commercially made controllers, they were much too expensive for me, so I started looking at alternatives. I stumbled upon a great site with many knowledgeable people called www.doityourselfchristmas.com This site has people who openly share knowledge and hardware designs. I started buying bare boards from one of the members (www.kostyun.com) and built them myself. My display currently uses 28 of these boards.
These boards are controlled directly by the computer through 9 com ports. Each channel (all 688 of them) gets refreshed 20 times per second (50 msec)
In order to hear the music the lights are synced to, the line outputs of the computer are connected to a low powered FM stereo transmitter and are transmitted on 96.1mhz
Last year I ran 7 songs, for a total of 16 minutes.
Programming takes me anywhere from 3 to 6 hrs for each minute of the show depending on speed and complexity of the routines.
List of songs: (proposed list)
1) Greatest Time of Year
2) White Christmas
3) Wizards in Winter
4) Getting in the Mood
5) Music Box Dancer
7) Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
8) All I Want for Christmas
9) Two step Round the Christmas Tree
10) Baby It's Cold Outside