It's early 2008 & planning for this years display has started,   . . . but I'm not saying how early.

After last years success with the lights animated to music,  I've been thinking what to do to improve it.  Now some of you might be thinking,  'don't bother at all',  but I think your in the minority judging by the complementary comments,  so I'm going to add some more lights and add some more pieces of music.  Now, if I'm going to add more lights that means extending the controller - the bit between the computer and the lights, from 128 channels to 196 channels,  it will go up to 320 channels - but not yet, I couldn't afford the electricity bill.

As last year was a bit of an experiment, ( big experiment ),
the controller was built on a prototyping board.
Now it will be built into something more substantial
and extended to cope with the extra lights. 





Here are the components laid out on some strip board, these boards will need to be put into a case to keep them from touching each other.  ( No touchy feely in here, not even at Christmas. )  Remember the old DOS PC's that used to drive the Merry Christmas & conical tree, well, as they're no longer required I've decided that with a bit of a modification from a hacksaw, hammer, drill and some sticky back plastic one of those boxes will house these boards just fine.


To power the circuit boards I've cannibalised a PC power supply ( not with the hammer, drill and hacksaw ) but with a soldering iron, and used both the 5 & 12 volt supplies, 5 volts for the controller & 12 volts for the interface to the lights.  I've also used 9 way 'D' connectors to connect the controller to the RJ45 patch panel, this allows me to re-group the outputs from the controller to the groups of the opto-isolators.

Now, rebuilding the controller involved a lot of soldering.  So I thought I would do some counting, and here's the results;
46 Silicon chips and sockets,  Approximately 2300 solder joints !
56 crimp on RJ45 connectors,  200 Meters of 8 core cable,
100 Meters of 4 core cable.


The 48 way RJ45 patch panel with the outputs from the interface coming up from the lower right and the outputs to the opto-isolators going out of the garage on the left just behind the red and yellow cables.

( okay so this isn't quite planning, this is solution, but it finishes off the bit about the re-built controller interface. )




Whilst looking around the do it your self Christmas forums I came across a display with some very impressive hoops, by this I mean 6 foot high hoops with lights wrapped around them and sequenced with the Christmas lights controller.  These can be seen on his website  So I thought I could do something similar, only a lot smaller as my garden isn't as big as his.


I used some white plastic conduit and covered it with black 2" wide tape.  Then wrapped seven strings of LED lights around the conduit.  This enabled me to have seven channels of lights on each of five hoops.  So, now I have some loopy hoops, with which I could do all sorts of silly and amusing things.



History Index

Messages from
     The Grinch (2011)
No Change
     (Dec. 2010)
Trees Grow !
     (Dec. 2009)
2008 Display
     (Dec. 2008)
Planning for 2008 !
     (Early 2008)
Here we go !
     (Nov. 2007)
The Big Change !!!
The Night Before
     Light-up (Dec. 2006)
The Tungsten Tree
     (Feb - Nov. 2006)
The Second move
     (Dec. 2005)
Who put that there ?
     (Aug. 2005)
Back in business
     (Dec. 2004)
Click Click Click
     (Dec. 2003)
Rope Lights
     (Dec. 2002)
The Move
     (Dec. 2001)
More Silicon Chips
     (Dec. 2000)
The Next Few Years
     & Chips
The Bug was biting
     (1993 on)
Early Married Life
     (1981 on)
A logical development
     (Dec. 1973 ish)
In the Beginning
     (Dec. 1962)