Technical

This page contains technical information for folks who wish to look behind the curtain and learn how the display works. If you don’t want the magic ruined, stop reading now… You’ve been warned.

This page is also horribly out of date. Sorry…. We’ll get around to fixing that some year. *cough*


The Basics
The display is controlled from a computer inside the house. A USB RS-485 adaptor attached to that computer takes commands and sends them via category-5 (ethernet) cables to each of our relay bank animation controllers outside (3 in 2009, 6 in 2010) The controllers (and the software and the USB RS-485 adaptor) are from “Light-O-Rama” (www.LightORama.com). And before you get all bent out of shape… No: we do not pay those prices. They have 2 sales in the off season. We get the cheaper equipment and do a lot of the assembly ourselves to save even more. It’s not “cheap” to do this, but it is manageable if you plan ahead and hit the sales. We are not rich (at all.. really), but with careful planning it can be affordable.

Every set of lights in the display needs its own extension cord to an animation relay controller. Additionally, every animation controller gets power from its own circuit (or 2) in the house (5 circuits in 2009, 8 in 2010). In other words, power goes out to the animation controllers and is distributed to each display element from there. Each controller can handle 16 display items (we say that it has “16 channels”). Every 8 of those channels can handle up to 15 amps of power draw, but we keep it under 14 amps for safety (and prefer to keep it under 13 amps). Extension cords are costly and need to be rated for the power and distance they will be carrying it. The cords which go from in the house to the animation controllers are all 12 AWG and 14 AWG because they handle the most power.

The music gets to your car radio with an FM Transmitter from EDM (www.EDMDesign.com. Don’t let the unprofessional website scare you. It’s a great product made by a company who we have heard nothing but good things about. We purchased ours from another display operator in Colorado, who no longer offers them.

This transmitter is very powerful so we turn it down in order to operate within FCC regulations and no permit is needed.

We broadcast on 96.9 FM specifically because there are no other stations in our area using that frequency.


Sequences

If you are another display operator who is using Light-O-Rama (LOR) then you may be interested in our animation sequence files. We use the “tracks” feature extensively so you will need the “S2” version of the the LOR software to use them. They are bundled together by year and holiday in large downloads. Be sure to read the accompanying info file before using them.  If you use these sequences in your display all we ask is that you let us know. If you post a video of it, we’d like to see it. That’s not too much to ask, is it? And of course, you should go out and buy any of the music you’re going to use. You should not just use these edited versions and avoid paying the artists. Use the edits, but make sure you own the songs.

Christmas 2009 – 84.8MB ZIP file

Amazing Grace – Yule
Carol Of The Bells – David Foster
Christmas Eve Sarajevo – Trans Siberian Orchestra
Dancing Queen – Mamma Mia Soundtrack
Forever – Chris Brown
Happy Birthday Dear Jesus – Barenaked Ladies
Harder Better Faster Stronger – Daft Punk
I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
Jingle Bells – Barenaked Ladies
Joy To The World – Go Fish
Manger 6 – Bob Rivers
Reflections of Earth – Gavin Greenaway
THX Electrical Failure – THX/Pixar
Welcome To The Big Show (Space Jam) – Jock Jams
Wizards In Winter – Trans Siberian Orchestra

Halloween 2010 – 7.8MB ZIP file

NCIS TV Show Theme Song
Sandstorm – Darude
Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr
Toccata – Galbatron
Thriller – Michael Jackson
The Simpsons Halloween Special Theme

Christmas 2010 – 83.2MB ZIP file

Amazing Grace – Yule
Christmas Eve Sarajevo – Trans Siberian Orchestra
Deck The Rooftops – Glee
Do You Hear What I Hear – Spiraling
Forever – Chris Brown
Happy Birthday Dear Jesus – Barenaked Ladies
Jingle Bells – Barenaked Ladies
Joy To The World – Go Fish
Reflections of Earth – Gavin Greenaway
Silent Night – Cinnamon
THX Electrical Failure – THX/Pixar
Welcome To The Big Show (Space Jam) – Jock Jams
Wizards In Winter – Trans Siberian Orchestra

Christmas 2013 – 3.3MB ZIP file

Forget You Santa – Mashup
Sugar Plum Daddy – Jason Livesay

We try to share sequences after we’ve used them at least 1 season first.


Charlie Brown Patterns

Several people have asked us where we got our large plywood Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and Snoopy’s Doghouse. We made them ourselves using pictures in a coloring book for reference.

Below are links to the images we created from those pictures to use as a reference while creating the cutouts. We marked a 6 inch grid on plywood, and then using the grid on these images as a scale reference we drew them on the plywood. If we were to do it again we would have borrowed an LCD projector and used a computer to project the images on to the plywood, but the scale/trace method still works great.

Image Files:

Charlie Brown – 4x’6′:

852 x 1280 - JPEG - 184KB
852 x 1280 – JPEG – 184KB

Snoopy – 4′ x 4′:

800 x 800 - JPEG - 95KB

Snoopy’s Dog House – 6.5′ x 8′:

– Top Half –
1280 x 640 - JPEG - 233KB

1280 x 640 – JPEG – 233KB

– Bottom Half –
1280 x 640 - JPEG - 223KB

1280 x 640 – JPEG – 223KB

102 Amps of Jesus Loving Christmas!