View Full Version : 36" snowflakes (+/- 600 lights)

11-14-2009, 12:24 PM
My goal this year was to display a unique feature for my first show. After seeing the Sak's Fifth Avenue light show in Manhattan, the concept of enhanced snowflakes came to mind. I had a longtime friend give me lots of advice on suggestions for engineering the first round of flakes. After quite a few hours of searching for designs, he utilized his experience in Autocad to create flakes that would optimize the space on a 36" circular cut. We needed to do this on the cheap this year, so I used 3/8" plywood and the cheap mini lights from WalMart. We went through a couple revisions before we came up with a classic look for the snowflakes. Each one is two channels (white and blue). From cutting, to stenciling, poking, drilling, stuffing and gluing, each flake took a little under 6 hours to create. There are 10 being used for the show this year.

Once we finalized the design, we printed out the pattern to use as a stencil. Once we cut the 36" circular cuts, I painted them the same color of the house. We had to poke holes and dot each space (approximately 590 spaces on each). This ensured we'd be drilling accurately into the board as the spaces were constrictive.

Here are a couple shots of cutouts that were completely drilled:

Once drilled, each flake then had to be stuffed. 3 strings of 100 for each color of lights were needed. We didn't need all 600 and each string of lights contained 4 lights that were a bigger size. So instead of messing with drilling larger holes for those lights, we accomodated them by simply skipping to the next regular sized light when we were stuffing.

Here are a couple pictures of the setup after lights were stuffed:
(pardon the focus on this one)

(continued on next post)

11-14-2009, 12:24 PM
Here is the stencil we used for the 8 36" flakes:

The back of each flake is quite a mess:

Given the inconsistency between each light, and given that lights were popping out quite often, we glued each and every single light into their respectable holes. This alone took at least a couple hours per flake.

In this picture, you can see the background lights have been glued, but the front are in queue:

Here are half of the flakes after they've been glued:

So after cutting, painting, stenciling, poking, drilling, stuffing and gluing, here is the final result.

Design 1:

Design 2:

Both designs combined:

8 of these will be hung on the house's facade and 2 others will be hung on the front yard's fence. We still have to weatherproof the sides and the back, but that shouldn't take too long.

11-14-2009, 12:38 PM
Those are nice.
Hope they do not bust into flames with 6 stands of minis each:razz:

Seriously though, that was a lot of work.
I might look at trying to seal the paint on the blues.
They typically only last a season or two before they are too faded or chipped.


11-14-2009, 12:42 PM
Wow! That's quite a heroic effort and a very, very nice result!

Good job!!! They're going to look GREAT!

11-14-2009, 12:52 PM
Whew - - too much work for me! Be sure the plywood is sealed very well (esp the ends) if they will get wet - the plywood will delaminate very quickly on you. Plywood will probably work better than Coroplast for this because of the weight of the lights.

Looks great - a bunch of those on the house will really make it unique!

11-14-2009, 02:01 PM
Would you mind posting your autocad template?
If yes, can you please post the dwg file in a format that can be read by older autocad versions?

11-14-2009, 04:21 PM
Given that the back of these flakes are untreated, what do you recommend I spray it with?

11-14-2009, 06:26 PM
If you haven't populated them all with lights yet, I'd seal them first before you put lights on. A lot easier.

Otherwise, I'd suggest Thompson's Water Seal -- the stuff people treat outdoor deck flooring with. Put a LOT of it on. If not that, then a really good outdoor deck paint would be a pretty good choice.

11-15-2009, 02:05 PM
Very nice! Do you have any tips for hot gluing mini's into plywood? I'm about to do that on part of my display.

11-15-2009, 08:37 PM
Well, I guess the only thing I did was to fit the light in the hole in one hand and glue the two flat sides of the light with the other hand. Hold it in position for a moment (preferably, glue with a low-heat glue gun). After 5,200 glued holes, a method to the madness will eventually evolve, so I learned. :)

11-15-2009, 10:42 PM
After 5,200 glued holes...

:shock::shock::shock: And I thought the LEDTriks was a lot at 1536 LED connections... wow...