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The Season is (pretty much) over...

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LightChristmas View Drop Down
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Joined: 15 Oct 2007
Location: Equality, IL
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  Quote LightChristmas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: The Season is (pretty much) over...
    Posted: 31 Dec 2012 at 8:07pm
How did everyone fare?

Got off to a very late start, myself. Numerous delays - many work-related - assured the lights didn't go on until Dec 14th.Dead  Would have been much later if some die-hard 'groupies' hadn't pitched in to help with the setup. Was all set to have two spiral megatrees, but time didn't allow for it, and had to settle for only one. Always next season.

And of course, nothing as intricate as a light show could possibly go off without a hitch!LOL First night was an atrocity - some of my help had plugged in lights into the wrong channels, so it was a merry chase the next morning fixing that. Then against all odds, my load calculations were off, and had to shuffle around some of the loads to balance both power legs so the breaker panel would quit buzzing and the living room lights wouldn't be part of a sequence!  The new blue incans that were strung up just a week prior had - to a one - all gone near clear. "Blue Christmas" was a bit of a joke without blue lights, so that was one sequence pulled from rotation.

All that aside, this year was likely the most-visited year since Spectrum died. Santa passed out over 300 candy canes to the kids in two 2-hour 'visits'. Facebook page gained over 100 new 'likes', and the feedback has been rewarding in itself. From a hardware/software standpoint, -nothing- went wrong. No stuck channels, no controller amnesia or other chicanery. Solid as a rock. Using IDs >50 did the trick. Had a few songs hang in Borealis, but re-ripping a new WAV from the CD cured those. Oh - and STILL using 800Mhz P2 running XP SP2 as the show computer!LOL

Only 326 days until the next show!!

Edited by LightChristmas - 31 Dec 2012 at 8:09pm

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  Quote LightsOnLogan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jan 2013 at 2:11pm
How did the 2012 season go?

It was not too bad this year considering.  I started setup *really* early this year (mid October).  With the new baby I knew I was restricted to pretty much weekends when the weather cooperated, so I left myself a lot of time.  I wasn't planning any major changes to the show this year (add a song, remove a song, move a few elements, but no changes to the channel or load configuration).  It was supposed to be a low budget year.  Famous last words...

The first obvious problem was with the homemade RGB LED floodlights I've been running since 2006.  Last year the red diodes were starting to look dimmer to me, but this year they were pathetic (decaying in storage?).  Some just didn't work at all.  Oh well... I got several seasons out of those and I've been wanting to improve anyway.  I switched to three Blizzard Q12W DMX fixtures this year.  Those things are *bright*.  Three of them are more than enough to cover the entire house, the color mixing is excellent, and the cutoff is very smooth making for easy alignment of the floods across the house.  They are not waterproof so I had to make some wood and Lexan covers for them to use them outdoors.

The new floodlights were not flawless though.  One of the three will randomly go into standby mode on occasion (it happened probably about 15 times during the season).  There was no pattern to the issue (could not correlate to weather, circuit load, etc.).  A power cycle on the fixture always brought it back.  That meant that, once again, I was stuck at home all season to babysit the show just in case that one light decided to quit.  I suspect a faulty thermal sensor is sending the fixture into a protection mode, but I'm not certain.  I plan to do a warranty claim after teardown (I didn't want to send it in while live so I just lived with it). 

Other issues... my 2008 era CDI LEDs continue to gradually die.  Purple seems to be failing the fastest (I have now exhausted my spares, which given that I shrank the display in 2011 means a 40% failure rate on the purple LEDs).  The problem is always in the cord end blobs (a nemesis of that LED model).  I'm considering reviving some sets by cutting off those voltage multipliers and wiring the sets up as a standard full wave rectified set... that is just a real pain so I haven't ever gotten around to it (not to mention that they'd undoubtedly have a different dimming curve than the originals).  Mysteriously I had some new issues creap in with some LEDs this year though.  Some sets burn properly (don't go out) but sudenly exhibit a LOT more capacitance than they once did.  If I add three or four sets of incands the channels will ramp properly again (thus a capacitance dv dt problem).  In most cases I just switched those sets for a spare (without the capacitance issue) but I did have to do some heavier loading where out of spares.  Some of those seemed worse in the cold, so I think I'm dealing with bad Chinese capacitors in the blobs.

The last issue of the year was when a Firefli pixel string went out on me right before the peak of the season.  Thankfully someone here had a spare to sell me and shipped it next day. 

Traffic was different this year, with two peaks instead of one.  The first peak was in early December (probably eager neighbors) and the second peak was the usual Christmas eve peak.  Friday nights were busier this year.  Sundays had less traffic this year.  The Friday night crowd was by far the most interesting, with people singing and dancing in the street on two occasions.  I haven't analyzed the Facebook numbers yet, but I would say 100 new likes is about where we landed as well.

For the first time we attracted media attention that I've been avoiding.  We were interviewed for the local paper for an article to appear on December 19th, but I guess we were too boring because they didn't run it.  Actually, humor about how boring I am aside, I think the whole gun issue took over the paper that week since the issue was filled with stories about school security, the local gun store expansion plans, etc.  We were most likely bumped due to the circumstances of that week.

The biggest incident had nothing to do with the show though.  This stomach bug that keeps getting passed around the house needs to go away.  First Karetha, then me, now Karetha (again) and Andrew.  It is the gift that keeps on giving.

Oh... software wise... no problems.  Tested DMX-over-FTDI and E131 on the live display.  I hope we can get one of those out the door (official release) before next season.

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