A Rare Opportunity

day I had a rare alignment of some great weather and a 1/2 day with a clear calendar. Since I will be out of town most of next week I decided to take the afternoon off work and crank through some of my outstanding build tasks. My plan worked out even better than I had hoped for, by the time I got home and was ready to go outside it was 14C. Before I could head outside I needed to get into the spirit, the best way to combine Christmas spirit and spring like weather? A Candy Cane Blizzard of course.

My main reason for taking the afternoon off was to fix the bad network cable I had running from my upper gutters to the south side of my front yard. It took me about an hour to remove and replace the cable, test it appropriately (I wish I’d have done this the first time) and re-mount all the cable to run from the highest part of my house into the yard.

My next big goal for the day was to get the last run of RGB bulbs mounted above my garage gutter. I am using shingle tabs to mount the RGBs on the shingles at the very front lip of my garage roof. The warmer it is, the easier for manipulating the tabs under the shingles. It also helped that the snow had melted so I didn’t need to freeze my fingers. Additionally I wanted to get the globe projection lights that mount on the garage gutters up too. Once I had completed this I had all the lights on the house complete.

Finally all the RGB bulbs mounted on the house.

Now  to test the full RGB install; to avoid anymore network issues I decided to start cabling the network and power ready for go live to keep any surprises at bay. I really don’t want to be fixing anything like my bad cable when it is -25. After running the power and network cables to all my controllers on the north side of my house I could test it. Everything worked great.

I also hooked up my FM transmitter and ran the antenna.




I changed the channel this year to 88.3fm as I would occasionally get some pick up of other channels (I think it was K97 from Edmonton, which is actually why I chose the channel initially, as a bit of a throwback to my youth)  when it was snowy and overcast on the channel I used last year (97.3fm).

I need to remember to order a new sign.



Testing with audio playing trough truck stereo of 88.3fm.

After running some tests (and noticing all the nuance details that bug me but no one else will notice or care about)  I secured all my controllers with cable locks and moved on to adding my mini trees. To do this I needed to lay out 20 extension cables, 5 groups of 4 cables , a group for each tree and a cable for each colour. When building a project like this with 100+ extension cords and 64 channels, a labeler is your best friend. Unfortunately my labeler ran out of tape on the first cable. A trip to staples was needed.

I built up the cables in set of 4, zip tying them together and labeling the end of each cable to identify where I had to hook it up.  This keeps the cables organized and neat when running across the yard and also keeps them organized and orderly for troubleshooting, if you can save 5 seconds when it is -25 the effort now is well worth it.

After building the cables I decided to wait on putting out the mini trees until it was light, this would make connecting the right cable to the right channel on the controller much easier and avoid me eating the butt of a flashlight for 1/2 an hour. Instead of laying out the mini trees I finished up replacing the incandescent bulbs in my pathway lights with LED replacements.

An afternoon off work is always a good thing and I accomplished a lot in the time I had. I feel good about being able to complete the rest of the build this weekend before heading out of town. This weekend I need to light up my large spruce, then add all the ground based lights and hook up the network and power on the south side of the front yard. I did take the afternoon of Dec 1st off as well to troubleshoot and finalize any details, if needed, before the light up party on the 2nd.


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