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Christmas Lighting

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Hughesie, Dec 2, 2006.

  1. Hughesie

    Hughesie Well-Known Member

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    Hey everyone,

    every year my street puts on a big light show for christmas im talking huge

    this year we want to get the edge of them and go really big

    im not talking moving lights or dimmer or dmx or anything i just want some general ideas
     
  2. Chris15

    Chris15 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Is this the kind of huge whereby council either a] makes the street one way of a night or b] closes the street entirely of a night? There was a street in my suburb who for years and years did Christmas lights, but a couple of years ago, they stopped doing it because of all the traffic problems it caused etc.

    As for what you can do, there are a million and one options. Incidentally, The Myer windows in Melbourne (the city store of Myers has big display windows right?) are all run on DMX with replay units and RS 232 control for what it is worth. They are also set up so that at 10 or 11, the volume level drops and the sound becomes concentrated to immediately outide the window so as to comply with noise regulations.
     
  3. zac850

    zac850 Well-Known Member

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  4. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    And for those doubters out there.
    http://www.snopes.com/photos/arts/xmaslights.asp

    The guy spent months programming and even had a low power FM transmitter hooked up so that motorists could tune in the music, "Wizards in Winter" by the Trans Siberian Orchestra. A traffic accident the next year caused his local law enforcement to shut him down, but from what I understand the display was even bigger and better.
     
  5. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Back in the day before everything Christmas type came from China and “economical”, there used to be both quality rope light and Christmas light strings available (the shunt type where if you had one lamp go out, that was the only lamp that did go out). Even 130v industrial grade rope light doesn’t hold up as well as the normal solid molded stuff from 15 years ago one could use as a lasso and still expect it would function. This much less in going to the vendors, they fondly remember the shunt type industrial Christmas lights, but on the other hand have no further sources for such gear. Even the “industrial” lighting these days won’t hold up any better than the “economical” stuff at the home centers - and I have tried hard in both cases. Don’t know if it’s of help, but I’m not aware of any source of better quality gear on the market for the most part than you can find at the hardware store or K-Mart.

    That’s my major ***** with any useful lighting on a string, this before one goes even with insulation displacement parallel type belt type lights as a third option - this given my belt light past project last week that gave me endless trouble but in the end would be less troublesome perhaps as type of lights for effect and option available. I did learn from the belt lights that I dealt with, that they are insulation displacement type - this especially by way of fixing those lamp bases that didn’t displace and instead bent. It’s possible and feasible to install more lamp bases per center in a normally 12" on center belt light string.


    Ok, my problems with the Christmas lighting industry of types and styles aside. Spent a bit of time at Chicago Scenic in “troubleshooting” nets full of Christmas lights - before there were nets on the market. Than later at Frost Lighting later in making three dimensional snow flakes worth of also Christmas lighting so as to become useful or in making from scratch. Believe they had a huge stash of the Shunt stuff because I don’t remember doing much trouble shooting in their lights by way of individual lamps - this or I was just replacing the entire strings as cheaper than my time in other than easy troubleshooting. Blast from the past also, make sure you keep segregated your 50 string light replacement lamps from those of the 100 string lamps.

    Out of the Frost Lighting experience, I found it curious and interesting how easy it was to simply manufacture Christmas lighting effects that look cool for winter use out of just a support mechanism for the lamp strings wrapped and or hot glued around them. Granted it was mostly three dimensional snow flakes of various sizes, but say a three dimensional rain deer or what ever, just a question of making some pencil steel or other material support, than wrapping the lighting about it. This or the zip cord staple gun in such things could be one’s best friend in stapling lighting to even a plywood board that’s painted with some two dimensional image.

    Look towards the scenery books in how to make such things as paper meche frames (not the newspaper itself in being useful but what type of frame was used,) or towards how to make a scenery rock. Simple three dimensional frames to either by way of plywood solid structure, or some form of wire framework to light.

    Make a framework of what ever shape is wished and it’s simple enough to glue or staple one’s lights to the framework to light it up.

    That’s all simple normal stuff - dancing Santas and other type stuff. Perhaps even to the extent of a hollow plastic Santa with a fluorescent lamp inside of it. Still all 120v based powering up what shapes two or three dimensional you make as lighted props.

    One will find two very important tips if anything I recommend to doing Christmas lighting. First is the use of a good and long oak stage brace. Them hooks to the stage brace are ideal for hanging the Christmas lights over all other tools on a tree or high up. This beyond on stage gel pulling, the hooks on a stage brace are ideal for hanging Christmas lights. Rent or borrow from a classically fitted proper stage a stage brace to ease in hanging the stuff if one does not have access to a cherry picker. Nothing looks worse than a tree that’s only decorated to the extent one could reach.

    Second is protect the fuses (inside the plug) on the Christmas lights. First thing you check in troubleshooting, and often the first thing that gets moisture and goes bad. Tape up your connection by way of if over 50 degrees, normal good quality electrical tape, or if under 40 degrees, cold weather electrical tape - available thru at least some electrical supply houses. Once installed, it won’t matter as much but the “all weather” electrical tape is overall a better investment for cold weather installs. It stays flexible when cold and protects better. At very least self vulconized rubberized electrical tape available thru any home center will offer better connection and plug insulation in cold weather than that of “economy grade” electrical tape that’s not of much use in the winter. If nothing else, avoid them ten packs of cheap electrical tape for “all weather” installs, go with the “Super ‘33".

    120v power running everywhere is or could be dangerous. Make sure your connections are both off the ground and taped shut so water can’t get in and freeze about conductors. Properly there is other stuff necessary in feeding stuff by 120v power but it’s not as easy or at all easy. One thing one might do is to cable tie Unistrut or at least a 2x2 piece of lumber below each taped joint / connection so as to keep it out of minimum expected water levels on the ground, and not have a connection in other than high ground. Such a tapped water tight connection when cable tied to a blocking up of the connection from exposure to the ground is needed for all other than 64v (low voltage) in line voltage connections or even with them. In other words, while not easy in all instances to run say a 12/3 SOOW to your props, (And instead most often running the as possibly fine say orange 16/3 SJTOW where load and length appropriate) be aware of all junctions in keeping them weather tight and out of the water. Pay attention also to the loading on your circuits - do the math with your layout just as you would on stage. A cable melting down (most often at the plug end) due to voltage drop is a fire hazzard and no longer display. Check one’s load and size the cable for it. Be safe in deciding what wire gauge it is you are using by way of knowing what is safe over just using what’s about and or cheap.


    Ok, now into the advanced stuff. I do believe that nobody on your street has moving lights, or if they do, nobody is using a black light based or fiber optic system for effect. You are stage technician and have the advantage in a Homer Simpson type of way.

    First there are many outdoor moving light fixtures on the market such as the EC-2. Or from a cove, a normal moving light fixture might work, or from heated Eco-dome, a normal moving light could still be useful. Talent as with the above posts in design can compensate for a moving light in your front yard, but it’s a concept to feasibly design with. Just be careful about where that light from the thing is pointing - pointing towards the sky - especially if near an air port, requires a very specific permit. This much less moving lights in a household application induces RF to the community and could become a complaint by way of the next door neighbor no longer being able to watch Oprah. Be very aware of any moving light warnings of what installing such a thing might induce upon the city block about you - this is a possible reality.

    Most Wildfire fixtures are a pain in the rear by way of both being very weather tight and aluminum. Could wash the house in black light and in say plywood based signs or symbols, paint them with UV paint. (Wonder how well the UV paint on the market holds up to water?) So beyond some various lights, one than has the UV effect about one’s house, and either in addition to other lighting, or the stealth effect of limited lighting but your house and it’s decorations now glowing by way of a few fixtures, you now have the UV lighting doing it’s job. Sure everyone else on the block has their various lights all about, you just have some UV effect in being different - very different in being different if so desired.

    Not sure but I’m thinking research into “cold cathode pads” as discussed a few years ago on this forum or perhaps Pro Sound, would also be effective in a concept type of thing by way of starting at a low temperature and providing a different than normal source of light. This as similar to fluorescents - other than cold weather ones one should plan for also not liking under 40 degree temperatures, it’s possible to plan for and use to best advantage.


    The fiber optic thing is potential for the future. Imagine, some high output and water proof fixture in the garage, than just running the fibers to the sources and potentially just installing lenses where needed. We as consumers see the Christmas trees at the store that are fiber optic, imagine doing fiber optic light strings to the various fixtures about one’s house or perhaps just one or many. Say a star of David if nothing else that’s just plain permeated by way of fiber optic lighting. Limited for now in use, but keep in mind the fiber optic effect by way of both color temperature and real safety beyond this of just plain wave of the future.

    Finally, above the 120v lack of safety with running it all about by way of short verses that of what is needed to run a low voltage system by way of both voltage drop and transformer. My advice overall is to be careful about stringing 120v power all over the yard - this by way of all it takes is one puddle and you get something very dangerous. Plug into GFCI outlelts and watch and design for your loading.
     
  6. Chris15

    Chris15 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Ship, I'm not sure whether those were intended specifically for Hughesie or whether they were more general comments. In the case of the former, there are a couple of things to consider. First, we run 240, but that is a reasonably simple thing to work around and second, the temperature problem is not going to be with cold, but with heat. Last Friday was 40 degrees Celsius in Sydney, I think that is somewhere around 100 degrees Farenheit. In light of this, are there other potentials for problems that require consideration? I imagine that overheating occurs much more easily when the ambient temperature is so high, would this be a reasonable guess?
     
  7. jasonlights

    jasonlights Member

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  8. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Oops, my bad again in expecting everyone to have a white Christmas similar to the blizzard we had a few days ago.

    Heat should not be a problem in this case but still make it weather tight. Not as much worry about the standing water I suppose but still a good idea to block up any connections and keep them to high ground.
     
  9. Chris15

    Chris15 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Yeah, I momentarily forgot we were talking about Melbourne. Given the ability to have four seasons in a day down there, waterproofing all your connections is most definitely the right thing. Can be as simple as wrap or two of electrical tape around all the connection once they are joined. Remember also to ensure that not only are the joins between cabels watertight, but the connectors themselves, where they join the cable needs to be watertight even more so. Given the drought and all that, keeping your connectors off the ground would still be a goddd idea to reduce the amount of dirt getting into them...
     
  10. Kelite

    Kelite Apollo Staff Premium Member

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    < Last Friday was 40 degrees Celsius in Sydney, I think that is somewhere around 100 degrees Farenheit. >



    Good grief! It's almost hard to think of Christmasy things when it's like summer vacation. Whew!!!
     
  11. Chris15

    Chris15 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    And I love the irony of us singing carols such as "I'm dreaming of a white chrstmas"...
     
  12. TechiGoz

    TechiGoz Active Member

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    I agree. Aussie holidays are going to be incredibly hot! Even in South Australia, tomrrow is forcast for 38 degrees celcius! It is hard to get into the 'festive' spirit when its so incredibly hot!

    I'd just like to thank the people who posted some videos about Christmas Lights on houses syncing to music. That was pretty awesome.

    Cheers
     
  13. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    There are a ton more out there on YouTube, Google, and PutFile. It's funny I found another video a guy I had made, Using "Wizards in Winter" and a ton of lights, but his cueing, his timing everything just wasn't as good so I didn't post it. I did think that it made a good object lesson for here though. I thouhgt it kind of highlighted the difference between talent and technology, one is not a substitute for the other.
     
  14. PhantomD

    PhantomD

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    I've had about ten copies of that in email in proper movie form. It won't go away! Great sync though.

    Can I hijack this thread and ask about outdoor moving lights? Do they exist, and are they any good?
     
  15. Chris15

    Chris15 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Not sure if there are specifically designed weatherproof MLs out there, but I am aware of plastic domes that go over the top of the mover and keep the rain off them... Brings it up to say IP56. Same thing exists for some conventional fixtures.
     
  16. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Unless someone else here has good contacts for outdoor moving lights check out this vid. The guys programming sucks but he does appear to have at least 2 outdoor MLs. You might see about dropping the production company that did a line to find out what they used.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7751485222029867963&q=christmas+lights&hl=en
     
  17. koncept

    koncept Active Member

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    no doubt about his timing being off....

    as for out door stuff where it snows in winter (not that there are nto days when i am jealous of the heat...) you might want to look at something like this
    http://www.prolightingsupplies.com/shop_showbook.php?sku=190510
    i have never used it so i dont know how well (if) it works
     
  18. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    High End Systems has an outdoor tank of a fixture - believe it's the EC-1 or EC-2.

    Otherwise there is various moving light condoms that have been in the industry for years such as Intellibeam and or Trackspot bags, and Ecodomes and other types of domes. Yep, a Mac 2K will just fit into a EcoDome.

    For winter work, one tends to want one that's heated so that in the off hours, you have sufficient temperature to strike an arc and not cause problems with the electronics. Also, you tend to want ones that have internal timers and or circuit protection. Gets complex and expensive - this including such security that someone with a pickup truck don't swipe the thing.
     

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