Pushing Forward

It’s crazy to think I’m already four weeks into my build for the year, overall I am progressing quite well and look to be on track. So far no major setbacks.

This past weekend had props scheduled that are my least favorite to build, the natural trees. I don’t like doing these because they take a long time, are very fiddly and time consuming. Also because they are natural (real) trees they are not a perfect shape, no matter how much time I spend trimming and pruning them, so the bulbs never line up perfect. The weather looked like a mixed bag for the weekend with snow forecast, but warm and sunny on Friday. I decided to take advantage of the good weather and take Friday afternoon off to work on the lights

The first item to attack was getting the final ground stakes in for the pixel panels,  this included creating the mounting holes in last years panel to match this years mounting method. I wanted to get this done on Friday because it was supposed to drop to -15′ over the weekend and I wanted to get them in place before the ground froze (and so they would freeze in place).

Next it was onto the small ash tree in the middle of the yard. Last year this tree had four white sections up the trunk, one upper white section wrapping  the major limbs, Dee Snider had commented these looked like the tree “throwing horns”: 20181125_145055000_iOSIt also had an outer section of warm white lights (which were too low and looked like the tree was wearing a diaper) and an outer set of multi coloured LEDs. The tree had about 2k bulbs on it last year. This year I decided to upgrade, I kept the white “Horns” but replaced the trunk sections with RGB Cosmic Colour Ribbons (CCRs), the Multi LEDs with 500 RGB Bulbs and the white outer “Diaper” with Net Lights, still about 1,500 bulbs. I had put the white limb wrap and CCRs up last week so the Net lights went up first on Friday, then the RGB Bulbs, finally connecting the controller and giving them a test. After the test I realized I had one of the CCRs modeled wrong  when colours ran up the tree they ran down the bottom section. I would need to reverse the string in S5.

Saturday was for the big spruce, which meant net lights. This tree is my least favorite prop to build because of what I mentioned above; plus I have an allergic reaction on my forearms every time I’m “in” this tree and getting the net lights on requires a lot of repositioning of the ladder and lots of up and down. The net lights are also a pain to untangle and prone to breaking when taking (pulling) off the tree in spring. First step is to unpack, untangle and test them all. Nothing worse than getting the whole tree done and having a section or half section out.

Once all unpacked then its up and down getting the nets in place, I Always start at the top and work around and down, this way if I end up sort it is easy to add new ones at the bottom. After it was all done, I was short 3 panels, I don’t really know how I could have trimmed as much off my tree as I did this year and still not have coverage? A trip to the hardware store was in order, while picking up 3 new sets of net lights I also found a star to put on top of my tree (its actually a pathway/yard ornament but I figured I could get it mounted on the tree).

Sunday was a complete change in weather with the temp getting down to -18′ and several centimetres of snow falling throughout the day. I didn’t have a lot of time between the kids events throughout the day and wasn’t too keen to spend long periods outdoors so I began the day attacking the one new song I wanted to add this year (Merry Axe-Mas by Ice Nine Kills). In the early afternoon I decided to bear down and get outside to add the new sections of Net lights to the spruce and finish it off. It wasn’t too bad out so I also added a controller on the side of the house that runs the garage pitch and pathway gutters and the left garage tree. I also spent a little  time starting to lay down the power cabling (extension cords).

Monday was the remembrance day holiday in Alberta so I have planned to get the RGBs up on my spruce tree. My plan was somewhat foiled as the kids didn’t have school today so I had to keep an eye on them and take them to some activities they were signed up for.  Before I went outside I needed to get my controllers mounted to the WOWLights stands, different layout means different locations for the controllers, it also requires some modifications (drilling new mount points) to the stands to be able to mount a standard LOR controller and pixie16 on the same stand.

In the morning I got all 16 strings of RGBs up on the tree but didn’t have time to arrange them correctly or secure them. Once we got home I had to jump into a couple of meetings so when I headed back up the ladder to finish the RGBs off, it was dark .

Star test

Once they were all in place I mounted the new star on op of the tree and boy does it look good. I actually started going back through some of the sequences and adding in the star last night.

I have had to revise my build schedule a little as we have some new windows being installed so there was no point mounting the lights that will be going on the windows that are to be removed, I’m also holding off on the ground props in the areas the workmen will be so avoid unnecessary breakage.

All in all a productive extra long (3 1/2 days) weekend. Four weeks into the build with three weeks left and most of the large items are complete, next weekend will be all about the pixel tree and running the rest of the power cabling and network. I am almost complete converting last years sequences which involved quite a bit of rework to incorporate the pixel panels.

 This week To date
Due Complete % Due Complete % Run Time
Build 2 2 100.00% 12 15 125%
Sequences 7 7 100.00% 36 48 133% 2:40:44


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