How We Do It

It’s complicated, but in a simplistic sense, all of our lights in the front of the house are LED, which means that they are energy and cost efficient. They use approximately 20% of the energy that the traditional incandescent lights use. LED lights also are brighter, turn on faster, and turn off faster as well. We’ve been slowly transitioning to environmentally friendly and more economical LIGHT EMITTING DIODES type lights, and have finished that change-over this year.

To control the lights, we use a sophisticated software program called LIGHT-O-RAMA. This software allows us the ultimate in control of all of the lights, and we can turn them on and off in very quick time intervals, sometimes as quickly as a tenth or five one hundredths of a second. In the sequencer, or programming mode, we can put all of our lights and the musical sequence in too, and we program all of our light strings, or in the case of pixels, or the lights that we have along the rooflines and the windows and on the Mega Tree, each INDIVIDUAL light.

So, one pixel could be twinkling, the next flashing white, the next a steady blue. Pixel lights are what give us the fantastic effects that you will see throughout our show. Each individual bulb in a string has built into it a computer chip that controls that pixel alone. So the data signal comes down the line, and the chip takes that data signal for that light, strips it off the data signal, and sends the remaining data to the next light bulb in the string. The arches that you will see in the foreground of our display are actually made of pixels as well, but in a strip form rather than a string. Additionally, there’s 3 pixel bulbs per computer chip, so for example, when you see a twinkle effect, it’s actually 3 bulbs twinkling the same color, which means 3 bulbs per computer chip. We have some pictures of the different types of lights that we are using this year.

 

A Typical RGB node

A Typical RGB node

COOL OR WHAT??!!

RGB lights are different in that while each bulb can be any individual color (up to perhaps 2 million possibilities!!) the whole string must be the same color. You can see examples of RGB strings on our front shrubs, and in our Candy Canes placed under our arches. When we use pixels and RGB lights, the channel counts get very high very quickly. You’ll see why when you see our show!!

The LOR Sequencer…in action!!

Pixels are quickly becoming our industry’s standard. Each light, whether it be on a strip or a bulb, has 3 tiny LEDs, or LIGHT EMITTING DIODES in them, and all of them are one of the three primary colors, Red, Green, or Blue. By changing the amount of power that goes to each LED, one can change the color of each LED and therefore of the bulb. So, each pixel, and also each RGB light, has 3 channels that must be controlled to get those really cool effects that you see for each bulb. For example, let’s take a look at our front porch. On the front railings, there are 450 pixels on that string. So, to program the computer to control those lights, 1350 channels have to be programmed into the computer. And that’s just ONE STRING!! You can see why a state of the art computer with a boatload of memory is ESSENTIAL to having a successful show every night.

A C9 Pixabulb, from DIYLEDEXPRESS. You'll  see these in our windows and roof line. Looks just like an old fashioned Christmas light!!

A C9 Pixabulb, from DIYLEDEXPRESS. You’ll see these in our windows and roof line. Looks just like an old fashioned Christmas light!!

Here's the inside of the Pixabulb. Note the computer chip and 2 LEDs, and also the arrow that shows you which direction the data stream goes.

Here’s the inside of the Pixabulb. Note the computer chip and 2 LEDs, and also the arrow that shows you which direction the data stream goes.

As far as the music is concerned, the music is played within the LIGHT O RAMA software program. Some of that audio is routed to an Alesis 100 watt studio amplifier, which sends the music to a pair of Monitor One Studio monitors which will be placed either on the front lawn, or on the front porch.. The other part of the audio is sent to an FM stereo transmitter that transmits at about 100 milliwatts, which allows passers-by to listen to our music on their car stereos, at 90.7 MHZ. So, we have our own little Christmas radio station, also.

So, now that you’ve gotten a glimpse at how we do all this, (and understand why my wife has short hair….from pulling it out all year long!!)  come enjoy the show!! And, don’t forget your donation for the CNY Food Bank!!

2 thoughts on “How We Do It

    • Sorry….we’ll be dark this season, but we will be back next year, totally revamped. We’re excited for you to see it!! Have a great holiday season, and please do what you can to support the Food Bank of Central New York. Thank you!!

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