When do you start setting up?
October / November.
How long does it take to set up the display?
Over 1 month and at least 400 hours.
When is the display turned on?
Usually right after Thanksgiving.
How much electricity is used?
When the lights are all on, I can easily draw 450 watts of power. Because it's computerized, approx. 1/2 the lights are on at one time, meaning I draw less than 15kw/hr. on average. In fact, the City of Wadena installed a huge electrical box in the ally to handle the power requirements.
What kind of lights are used?
The roofs and Christmas Star are C9's ( I need those to melt the snow). For the 2008 show, approx 45,000 lights. For 2011, over 100,000 lights are in use. As the years, show and technology advances so does the number of lights and protocol. With the advent of the 2012 ghost protocol for LED lights, advanced DMX programming, and servo robotics, the sky is the limit!
What lights do you use?
As technology has advanced, so have lights. I use LED's with ghost protocol to enable dimming, C9's on the roof lines to assist in melting the snow. Otherwise, they would be hidden if we receive significant snow accumulations.
Who pays for all this?
Currently, I invest in the display and have some sponsorships.
Do you collect money for this?
Yes, I collect for local charities.
How do I donate?
Donation lock box located at Christmas in Wadena or click here to donate securely online with PayPal.
Why do you do this?
Good question! A sense of self-satisfaction, making people smile, proving my capabilities, and being able to help local charities.
Who designs and installs the displays?
I do it all. Everything is made by me. You can not buy this. You create it.
What makes the lights flash?
A computer. It basically sends a bunch of 1s and 0s out, which turns the individual lights on & off.
What's an I/O card?
An I/O card is also known as a data acquisition card. It plugs into a computer slot and allows the computer to interface to the "real" world by sending and receiving digital or analog data. Currently, I only use the output of the card to spit out "on" and "off" signals to the Christmas lights.
What is a channel?
A channel is a single output from a computer that switches a set of lights on and off.
How many channels control the display
I have over 12,336 channels running.
How is it automated?
A program on the computer tells the display when to start and stop and also controls the sequence of light flashes.
How long does it take to program?
Programming can take a long time because there are over 12,336 channels to edit. To add 5 seconds to a program can take 10 to 12 hours of programming. I started programming in 2007 thru 2008 for the first 2008 musical sequenced show, had a limited amount of songs, and still took over 450 hours to program! Currently, the show runs for almost two hours.
What software do you use?
I run Windows 7 Professional and custom made lighting software to control the lighting sequences.
How do you get the lights up so high?
Is it safe?
The entire display is monitored by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters which monitor the safe distribution of electricity. The wiring installs and products used follows the standard electric Code.
Where do you buy your lights and supplies?
Many different stores.
How'd you get started?
Ever since I been a kid I've been involved in lights and projects. This is just another project that progressed throughout the years that really began when I discovered data acquisition, which is essentially controlling real-world controls via computer.