Half way through the ’21 install

Time flies when you are not getting much done. Here we are half way through my install schedule, I’ve had a couple of weekends that haven’t been as productive as intended but have been trying to catch up as best I can. With Halloween behind us it will be an all out push to light up.

Usually snow puts a dent in my plans, which we did have a little the first weekend, but overall it has been rain, the kids hockey schedule and my general hopelessness that has been catching me out. The first weekend was all about getting the garage set up for winter then getting some of the upper storey lights up. I got the garage done but the kids had 10 ice times over the weekend, every time I found a few mins the weather was not cooperating for me to get on the roof. Instead I focused on cleaning up and improving some of the sequences that appear in the prime time hours of my show.

The next weekend went well getting the upper lights and windows installed which are some of the most challenging to reach as well as requiring some minor reconfiguration to accommodate the pixel panels I am building for the house. The first couple of weeks of install were documented in my prior post. After two weeks I was a little behind on a few items but ahead on a couple of later ones so I felt OK with 14/15 items complete.

The 3rd weekend of the install was supposed to provide some time to catch up, Saturday was pouring rain so I focused on finishing up the North Poles and started installing the pixels in the pixel mesh for the house pixel panels.

I also spent some time working with Light-O-Rama SuperStar to auto sequence the singing trees. This was a really frustrating experience as I am not familiar with SuperStar and it is very different from the S5 sequencing software. I had watched the LOR tutorial several times but wasn’t getting the effect I wanted, after giving up a couple of times I finally figured it out on the 3rd attempt. There are some things I don’t like about the process but I may just need to learn the tool more to address what seem to be simple requirements. I also tried using Xtrax-Stems to process the voice of the audio as I had seen recommended in another tutorial. I didn’t really like the results and I found it easier more effective and fun to use my own voiceover to capture the lyrics.

I did not want to fully assemble the pixel panels until I could re-test fit the frames after I glued them. Sunday was a nice day but there was a lot of frost on the roof so I wouldn’t be getting the test fit done until later, I focused on inserting lights into the pixel mesh and cleaning up more sequences. It was 4:30pm by the time we got home from hockey and I could get on the roof. The first thing I did was a test fit on the matrix frames, I also needed to identify the left and right panels as well as the front and back as they are a little off square and if I get them wrong the will not line up with the clips I have drilled into my house. After the frame test fit I started connecting the controllers and network to be able to kick up the Halloween light display. Finally the last thing I did was mount the lights around the outer of the garage.

Progress wasn’t very good this weekend and I fell behind a little in the schedule, but getting the controllers hooked up was good progress that isn’t listed as a task in my build plan. This allowed me to have some pretty decent looking Halloween lights.

Week 4 was leading up to Halloween, a key activity scheduled for this week was getting the pixel panels installed. Through the week I grabbed a few mins here and there to finish up the pixel panels. I also had to assemble a small 15 string of lights for the top of the window half moon panel. I did this by trimming and connecting some of the extra lights from the centre panel.

With snow scheduled on Friday I decided to get the panels up on Thursday night as the weather was nice and the forecast didn’t look like any snow that fell on Friday would be gone by Halloween. The install went off without a hitch and all seemed to be working . The exception wat the top of the half moon was not lighting up. After a little analysis I deduced it was that the preview hadn’t synced to the show server when I re-arranged the wiring while installing the bulbs. This was a bit of a had scratcher as OneDrive seemed to be updating. After a little troubleshooting it turns out I hadn’t updated the working folder on the show server to the folder that contains all my 2021 LOR files including the latest preview. Once I got this sorted and the show server was reading the correct file everything seemed to be working as expected. It is a good thing I got the panels up early as the snow did come on Friday and stayed through the weekend, so I would not have been able to get on the roof to install them.

Another project I had scheduled for this weekend was to build the frames for the Singing Trees. For these I planned to use the same design as I had used on the matrix panels. 2×2 frame mounted on Rebar. Because the trees are taller and will need to sit higher I decided to use conduit over the re-bar to provide some additional rigidity.

Finally I was planning on catching up on some of the tasks that were behind schedule, this included the living room window, living room pitch, garage pitch and main pathway gutter. These got delayed again because I took a fall on some ice on Saturday night and hurt my wrist. With the sore wrist and lack of mobility in it I wasn’t comfortable to be hanging onto a ladder so had to delay these again. I also ripped off a bunch of lights when I fell so I had to put on new parapet clips to mount the lights to. There is nothing I like more than having to re-do things.

Halloween was a great opportunity to test the Pixel panels and they worked flawlessly, adding an extra element to the Halloween display.

I also tried out a new sound system on Halloween, I wanted to get away from wireless to a wired speaker solution so I bought a small amp and some trumpet speakers, I’m not super happy with the sound from the speakers (and I think I blew one testing them) so I may order some different speakers but I do like not having to worry about latency or interference.

Overall I am a little behind schedule but the weather looks to be cooperative and hopefully plenty of time to be outside over the next couple of weekends I will be able to catch up. I have 1482 out of about 8,000 lights up. many of the remaining ones go up quickly in groups so I am not overly worried unless I get any more delays.

Progress to Nov 2nd

This weekend will be about finishing the house and the 2 trees. The next weekend (after Remembrance Day) I have taken a day off to give me a 4 day weekend when I will start getting all of the decorative items up and install the pixel tree.

The Calgary Foodbank also reached out to me about kicking off my campaign for this year and reactivated my donations page which is great news, they will also be providing me with a bin in the next couple of weeks to incorporate in the display and collect food.

So here I am half way through my install with a lot left to do, the positive is I have a 4 day weekend for Remembrance day and one and a half of those days I should be able to be completely focused with no interruptions, so I should be able to tackle most of the remaining items.

I am still waiting to see if there are any changes to the regulations regarding indoor and outdoor gatherings before planning out light up festivities, but we do plan on turning them on on November 26th with the show running through to January 2nd.

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