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All set up for Thursday night


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I turn my display on each year on Thanksgiving night, so I don't have any videos of it in action yet. But I do have a couple pictures of the set up. It's by far my most ambitious display yet, as there are some pretty significant additions or changes from last year.

First, I moved the arches and all the smaller twig and spiral trees from the right of the driveway to around the mega tree. Last year was the first year I'd done a mega tree and I drastically underestimated the attention it would draw. Moving a lot of the other elements to the mega tree area helps them complement it rather than trying to compete with it.

Of course, that created a large empty space to the right of the driveway. In my old house I'd had a nice wall for a laser projector to shine on but that's not the case in the new place, so last year I couldn't use it. This year I created a "Greeting Card" out of 3/4" plywood. The message area is blank because the laser will fill that section with animations. It looks nice by day and really comes alive at night. Since the projector runs constantly rather than as part of the main display, it will give people something to look at during the 30 second pauses I use between songs.

Last year I also felt that the area beneath the mega tree was pretty empty. It was just the frame that held the tree's shape and that doesn't have a lot of visual interest. As a result, I've added the small trees and sign. I found those trees by accident when I went into Lowes one day (always a dangerous place to visit!). They were just finishing setting up their Christmas section and she was finishing with the display model of one of these tree pairs. I loved it and wound up walking out with the only two sets they had in the stock. LOL A cool thing about the trees is that they have separate strings of colored lights on them. One of the elf figures has a string of lights in his hands so I got it looking like he's stringing one of the trees.

The biggest addition is in the mega tree itself. Last year I had 64 strands of lights, half green and half white. This year I've taken half those strands out but replaced them with 8 sets of CCB's. Let me tell you: putting CCB's into a mega tree is an interesting challenge. As expensive as they are, you do not want to risk damaging them. We also get a lot of strong wind where I live, which complicates things. I got ahold of polypropylene heavy duty grade strapping, looping and clamping each end. Then I just laid the CCB strand onto it, using zip ties about a half inch before and after each bulb. 1,600 zip ties in one week was NOT fun. But none of the weight of the strands is on the CCB ribbons themselves. It's all evenly distributed across the strapping, which is rated for up to 600 pounds. Since putting the mega tree up, we've had winds as high as 40 mph and there hasn't been even a hint of a problem.

Of course, hanging the CCB's was only part of the challenge. I've had to branch out into additional networks for the first time, adding four more just for the CCB's. Thank goodness for this forum! Without it I wouldn't have known I needed more networks, and then I wouldn't have thought to go into the Network utility and map the networks to the correct adapters. I would definitely have found myself scratching my head wondering why things weren't working. Thanks to the forum, I got it set up and configured without a hitch. When I ran a test sequence the other night for just a few minutes to make sure it was working right, it performed flawlessly. (That was Mannheim Steamroller's "Deck the Halls", the sequence for which weighs in at 168 MB -- a full 20 times the size of the largest of last year's songs. That many CCB's really make the computer work for it!)

Anyway, I'll get some pictures and videos posted after Thanksgiving. I just wanted to share how it's shaping up, and also to say thank you to the fine folks here who have shared so much know-how over the last few years.



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I can't upload more images here, so I'm going to try to link to a couple of the Greeting Card at night. I hope it works!



There are also red and green lights behind the snowman cutout so that the silhouette can change in sync with the lights that trim my garage door and entry area.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here's the first video for my 2012 display. The mega tree is pretty amazing with RGB lights in it! Be sure to watch it in the 720p resolution.

Edited by aurickle
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Mannheim Steamroller's "Stille Nacht". It's one of my favorite Christmas arrangements ever. The CCB's let me do a really neat effect with the mega-tree, too!

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