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They saved me all the trouble of learning it all on my own.
 
Star:
This is new for 2011. I got the idea from here.http://www.holdman.com/christmas/star/ .I basicaly followed his steps of using a projector to mark out the star on a sheet of plywood. Then I cut it out with a jig saw. Since I use C-7's I could not get his method to work for drilling the holes. I made the holes just big enough so I could insert the socket in from the back and then screw the bulb in. Then I used a staple gun to secure the wires on the back. I also made a folding bracket that allows me to store it. I used 4 50lb bags of sand to hold down the bracket on the roof.
 
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Base folds up for easy storage and clears ridge vent
 
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Animated Snow Man:

This is new for 2011. It turned out to be a major undertaking. I estimate it took me about 50 hours to make this. I did have some rough plans to follow for making the head. Thanks to Mike at http://www.lightsondisplay.com/ for sharing his ideas and giving me the help I needed. I could not find a store bought body that would be big enough so I decided to make my own. This involved bending steel rods add then welding them together to form a barrel like shape. I then covered it with chicken wire to give it some shape. Then covered it with small bubble wrap to smooth it out and finally used 4 way stretch spandex to cover it. The body is two pieces so next year I can make his body move. The inside of the head is made out of a toilet flange, bucket lid and aluminum brackets to hold the shape. It uses small electric servos. I am using the Light-O-Rama Servo Dog circuit board. This is mounted in his head, The head shell is made from a product called veraform. It is thermal plastic. When you heat it, it becomes pliable and when it cools it is a semi rigid plastic. To mount his head I used steel plumbing parts to make a H style bracket that sits on the ground and then a long pole up that the main threaded rod from the head can sit into. The body is just resting on the bracket and centered with some wire. This allows me to dissemble him when needed. HIs head can come off if 5 minutes for repairs if needed. 

 

Because he is not water proof I built a little shelter for him made out of pvc pipe and plastic roofing material from Home Depot. I glued only part of the connectors so I can disassemble the whole thing flat. The ones that are not glued I drilled holes through them so I could insert a nail so they cannot come apart with all the wind we get.

 

 

Plumbing parts base that everything is mounted to.

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Body made from steel rods then chickebn wire

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Back view of the assembled head

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View of how the rod is connected to his mouth

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Servos mount to plastic lid

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The begining structure.

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Mega Tree:

Update 2011: I added an additional 10 feet to make it about 30 feet tall. I had to string 2 strands together to get the length I needed. I wire tied the stands together to take the stress off the plug. I did run into a problem that I exceeded the 15 amps and blew a fuse in the LOR box. I solved this by just going to 5 strands per channel. It still looks fine and I am now under the 15 amps by a bit. I also added one guide wire in the rear just in case. The wind always comes from the same direction when it whips around the house. I also used large 3ft long steel stakes that I found at Home Depot to secure the mega pole to the ground. Last year the smaller stakes worked there way loose. I went to reusable wire ties when I wrapped the strand around the bottom. This works much better because they are wide and have more grip and do not loosen up as much as the normal thin wire ties.

 

This is new for 2010. The design comes from a very creative man. You can get all the directions and parts list from here. http://www.magicchristmas.org/ . Using the postable hole design allows me to move the tree any place I want should my display change. For my tree topper I found it actually cheaper to buy a pre made one, plus the quailty is better then one you could make yourself. This tree topper screws right onto the megapole. http://christmaslightshow.com/product.php?productid=227 Price $25. I also bought a pre light wire frame star from the same place for the top of my tree. http://christmaslightshow.com/product.php?productid=379&cat=22&page=1 Price $20. For the base of the tree I used 4 -10' gray 1/2 electrical conduit that are pushed togther to form a circle. I secured it with 12" concrete j bolts and 12" lengths of rebar a few inches off the ground to keep the lights off the ground. I decided to use 12 channels for my tree. Each channel has 5 strands of white 200 miini lights, so that will be 12,000 mini lights. I used 20 strobe lights, which I hung from tree topper hooks. I used 4- 25 ft lengths of my spt1 wire and attached the strobe lights in random positions. The mini lights are wrapped around the base and then goes the the control box that is attached to the megapole.

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I use concrete J bolts to secure the conduit above the ground.

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Concrete portable base. Control box is secured to the pole with u bolts. .

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Strands are wrapped twice around conduit. I need to wire tie them because the wind causes them to looseen up.

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Donation Box:

For the base I purchased a round 16” cardboard concrete form, 2-80lbs bags of concrete mix and a 8ft 4x4 pressure treated post. I cut the post to 70". I cut the cardboard form to 1ft high using a jig saw then I screwed 4-6" lag bolts into the bottom sides of the post, set the post into the cardboard form and temporarily screwed on a 2x4 across the 4x4, resting it on the form to keep the post level. Then I mixed and poured the concrete. I cut another piece of 4x4 to 17". Using a circular saw I cut out notches in the post and arm and then screwed them together. I used a fire safe for the donation box. It was only $18 and seemed to be the best choice. I used my air die grinder to cut a slot in the top. I screwed a hanger bolt(threaded on one end-wood screw on the other) in to the arm. Drilled a hole in the bottom of the safe. Used a fender washer and wing nut to secure it. I can bring the safe in each night so no one is tempted to steal or break it. The sign was designed use Microsoft Publisher and was printer by FedEx office. They can print any size you want on an outdoor material. I used velcro to secure the banner to a plywood backing. The strips were made using red duct tape. The light is an outdoor lawn stake from Ace Hardware.

  

Concrete base

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Stud for money box

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Outdoor lawn light from Ace Hardware with both sides of the stake ground off and 2 holes drilled. I used a mini compact florescent floodlight and put a piece of black electrical tape to block out any side light that would be distracting and in your eyes.

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Safe with slot cut out

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Safe with hole drilled in bottom to secure with fender washer and wing nut.

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FM Radio Sign:

 

I used Microsoft Publisher to design the graphics. I found the background from www.freephotos.com . I used the Word Art to make the words. I would highly recommend using a 24x18 size. This seems to be a popular sign size. I test printed my design on a regular printer then taped the pages together then went into the bathroom and shut the lights out and used a strand on mini lights to see how it looked. I am glad I did this because my first design had a red letter outline which looked great before I back lit it. I changed outline it to black.

 

I went to 2 sign shops to get some ideas on printing it. One way they do it is too use a translucent vinyl that has an adhesive on one side. They print it in full color on the vinyl then stick it onto a piece of lexan. the cost was between $75 - $90. The one shop could print on what they call backlite film. This material is slightly heavier and does not have an adhesive. The would print one out for $47.

I found http://www.posterprintshop.com/order/pc/media_backlit.htm?gclid=CI2K_rPJq50CFUdM5QodCDmYiQ that would do this for $24 plus $13 for shipping. I then purchased 2 sheets of Lexan from Home Depot (9.95 each). They already come in the 18 x24 size. I sandwichiched the sign in between the 2 pieces.

 

I made a box using 1x3's. I used a 3/16 router bit to make a slot around all 4 sides. Then I slide the 2 pieces of Lexan into the slots. I used 1/2 inch plywood on the back and painted the whole thing in green. I used rope light to backlight it. I sealed around the laxan and wood with a clear silicone to keep the water out of the slot.

 

 

Shows the slot made with the router. The 3/16 bit was not wide enough so I had to rerun the boards on the router table to make it 1/16 wider

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The box with 3 sides

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Pianted the inside with Gloss White Indoor/Outdoor spray paint

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Painted outside with 1 quart of Bher paint from Home Depot

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Rope light fastened in place

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Mounted on fence posts

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Hanging Lights on roof line:

 

I decided to use C7 bulbs for the roof lines. I found someone with a great idea that they used for around windows. I purchased J channel from Home Depot. This is used for siding. I am using 3 separate colors for my display so I measured each roof line and cut the J channel into sections that were even and manageable based on the measurement of each roof line section. I wanted the lights spaced about 4 inches apart. I used excel to calculate how far they need to be apart to get the same amount of colors plus the length of a standard strand is 25 feet. I also used excel to tell what the tape measurement would be for each light. I used a permanent marker and made marks on the bottom of the J channel. I then used a 5/8 wood bore bit. I pressed the tip through my mark. It is important to position the tip sideways when pressing into the J channel otherwise it might spilt the vinyl lengthwise, making it more difficult to drill it out. Then very gently start drilling the hole out. You must be very careful to hold the drill exactly at a right angle, you can see if the bit is skipping a section and adjust accordingly. Also use the drill at maximum speed. This will prevent the bit from catching and ripping the vinyl. Then remove the bulb from the socket and place the socket inside the channel with the clip over the front of the J channel. Screw the bulbs in from the front, holding the socket in place.

 

I purchased some SPT 1 male and female vampire ends from www.christmaslightshow.com. I cut the C7 stands to length. I put galvinzied nails into the boards below the gutter. This allows me to simply hang the 12 foot section of J channel up, then connect the plugs. This guarantees even spacing, the lights are held in place and easy installation and take down.

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Close up

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Backside with wires tucked in

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Overhang with large wreath with 1,100 white lights

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Top roof line with electrical conduit piping so I could hoist it up thru the attic.

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The J Channels are hung on galvanized nails, making it a breeze to setup and take down the whole assembly

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2010= Instead of using the light stakes I converted the sidewalk to the J channel design and secured them with J bolts. Makes it look much nicer since all the lights are now in a striaght line.

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Stringing Lights on the artificial trees:

 

I am using 3 colors (red, green, white). I used black wire ties to secure one of each color strand together about every 2 feet. I then wrapped the strand around each branch of the tree starting from the lowest level and the inside of the tree. I wrapped around each branch going to its end and then back. I did not fluff up the branches too much as at night time no one can see it anyway and it just makes it harder to wrap. I used 5 - 100 count strands of each color per tree. For a total of 1500 lights per tree.

 

 

Extension Cords:

They are all custom made to length. I purchased 1000ft of SPT2 wire and vampire plug ends from www.christmaslightshow.com This is by far the most economical way for extension cords. I made a little chart up in excel with the number for each cord, description of where it goes, and the Light-O-Rama control box and plug number. On each end of the extension cords, on the vampire plugs, I wrote the number with a silver sharpie. To save female vampire clips I just used electrical tape on the cut ends. I folded the tape in half over the end.

 

 

Extension Cords plugged into Light O Rama boxes

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 Extension cords from the 7 trees. 21 in all

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Dogy door I installed to run the wires into the garage.

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Controlling the lights:

 

Lights are all controlled by a computer program and special hardware boxes. I use www.lightorame.com boxes and their software. For 2009 I have 48 separate channels that I can control all at one time. This means I can do 48 different effects at any one time. Every section of lights is plugged into it own plug on the hardware controller boxes. Each song takes about 25 hours to program. When you program the song it is broken down into .25 of a second. So a 3 minute song with 48 channels gives you 34,560 different choices of what to turn on and off.

 

 

The heart of the system. The Light O Rama boxes with 7 new electric circuits.

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Lights:

 

The lights are just normal lights bought at after Christmas sales. The exception is the C7 in the red and green color. They are not available in stores in a single color. Those were purchased from www.christmasdepot.com . They are all cut to the exact length so it required a good amount of SPT1 vampire plugs to get it all plugged in.