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Saturday, 08 November 2008

Setup for the 2008 show is in full swing now.  One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, 'How long does it take you to put everything up?'

Well, that all depends on how you look at it.  Once everything is ready, it takes me about 9 days to get all the lights on the house, put the trees up, and get all the other display elements out into the yard and wired.  What you don't see is all the behind the scenes work that happens in the weeks leading up to the first setup day.

This past week I have been hard at work re-assembling all the display elements and testing all the light strings.  It takes nearly 2 full days just to re-assemble, test, and repair all the wire-frame elements of the show. 

Once all of the elements are re-assembled and tested, they are 'staged' - that is, hidden from public view but close to where they need to be.  For example, many of the wire-frame elements are now safely locked up on the patio awaiting their placement in the yard.  Light strings, extension cords, and other show parts that live in bins and boxes are now in the garage ready to go.

Of course, everything is tagged and organized - something amazing for me!  Some days I can't tell you where I set the car keys, but I can always find the bin that has the corkscrew stakes for the snow globe!

Along with reassembling everything and staging all the show elements, I've been working on other projects for both this year's show and next year's.

I've changed computer interfaces for the X10 elements this year.  This change required me to write some new software which I finished last night.  This new program takes an input file containing 1 to many X10 commands and sends them out the interface.  This allows me to create separate command files and only have to call the interface program once, saving a lot of initialization time.

I devised a new system to manipulate AD files to add tracks.  My new system allows me to add fixed timing tracks to an existing sequence without adding them to the ALL track.  This allows the track to be completely hidden from other tracks - eliminating the need to watch for columns with duplicate times.

I also began construction on a new LED sign board which is computer controlled.  When complete, the board should be about 20 inches high by 8 feet long, consisting of over 1,500 separate LED's.  I completed construction on the 2 driver boards.  The interface boards should arrive in the next few weeks.  Then I need to find the time to solder all those LED's! 

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