The coding begins!
Monday, 04 September 2006

It's the beginning of September, and that means PROGRAMMING!

I've stated working on programming this years show.  Since we have some new channels to work with (along with some new landscaping that I hope will be done in time) I had to make a few changes to the layout.

Gone this year is the 'outer beds' area  - the lights that were on the outside edge of the main flower beds.  I needed to have 4 channels available for the new landscaping, and these were the easiest to remove.  I wasn't very impressed with the effect from last year so off they went!

The 16 new channels were put to use on the the Mega Tree, the large 10' tree to the (stage) right.  This year's mega tree will be truly mega; The number of lights has been doubled to 6,400, and the channels have been doubled to 32.  That should allow for some very cool 'spinning' effects.  With only 16 channels, last year's tree always had 2 'slices' lit at one time - one at the front, and another at the back.  Doubling the lights (to make the tree more full), and the additional 16 channels allow much better control.

Of course, that also means more wiring.  After discovering a good deal on some spools of wire, I went and created a wiring harness for the mega tree.  At the time however, I was going to stick with 16 channels.  Since that has changed, I had to go searching for more wire.  Skycraft came through again!  Although they have been out of the 2 conductor lamp cord for some time (stupid me told people on a certain Christmas website, and they bought em out!Tongue out), they did have 3 conductor at a very good price.  By using a shared neutral, I'll be able to put 2 channels on one piece of wire - meaning the 3 conductor stuff is actually cheaper to use per channel!

This year is the first year we will be using x-10 technology.  While the rest of the display uses specialized controllers, the static parts were all on timers which were impossible to keep synchronized.  This year, we purchased some outdoor x-10 controllers.  The same computer that runs the show will also control these x-10 modules, turning them on just before the start of the show, and then turning them off at the end.  They will also be used to turn the security lighting on and off.

I though you said you started programming?

Yes, I did!  I finally dusted off my software and started making the initial changes for the layout.   Tomorrow I'll start working on integrating the other 16 channels of mega tree (right now, only 1/2 the tree is in use!).  After that, I'll audition some new songs for this year's show. 

Things to do:

  1. Create new wiring harness when order from Skycraft gets in
  2. Make second 'bun foot' for additional mega tree lights
  3. Program new x-10 controllers for static lights
  4. Swap 15A breakers for 20A
  5. Wire new outdoor outlet (20A)
  6. Wire new strobes