Frequently Asked Questions
Here's answers to the most commonly asked questions about the display.
How did you do that?
I have a dedicated computer that runs the light show and all the music. People have asked me if I
use some kind of kit ... well sort of. You won't find this at the local Wal-mart or Home Depot.
There are multiple pieces to this complex system. Controller boxes, FM transmitter, extension cords,
lights, data line, and a computer.
So you program the lights?
Yes. I programmed 112 individual light channels to turn off, on, fade and twinkle to be in sync with
several different songs that our family has selected. I can turn a channel on and off ever 1/20 of a
sec. So that is 403,200 decision that need to be made to program one 3 minute song.
Do you have a day job if programming takes so long?
Yes. With good time management and help from the family, we squeeze a lot of hour into a short
time. We start picking our songs in October and it is non-stop from there. My 13 year old daughter
and 11 year old son do a lot of the programming. It's not hard, just very time consuming.
How do you broadcast the music?
The music is broadcast right from the house. I have a small, FM transmitter with a range less than
a few hunderd feet, but it's sufficient to broadcast the songs straight to your car radio.
How long does it take to setup?
Planning for 2010 started in Febuary, but we don't start set up the lights until after Halloween. A little work each weekend and some long nights
programming; We have close to 200 plus hours invested by the time the first show starts.
How many lights are there?
This year there are 32,000 lights. We started in 2007 with only 1,000 lights but then it ramped up in 2008 with 7,000
and in 2009 with 17,000. I know this because I must be extremely careful
when planning all the circuit loads to reduce the risk of an overload. If everything was turned on
at once, it would consume 56 amps of power -- a wattage of 6,720!
How many extension cords do you use?
The display uses over 65 extension cords with a total length of all the extension cords being 3,700 feet.
That's greater than 12 complete football fields!
How much is your power bill?
The power bill increases about $100 in December. The reason why these increases are so low is because
the display is animated. If you watch any one individual light and ignore the rest of the display,
you will see that light bulb is off more often than it is on. Often, individual strands of
lights are off over 90% of the time.
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