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Thread: First year show, 160 houses, it's been quite a year!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
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    Columbus, Oh
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    Default First year show, 160 houses, it's been quite a year!

    So I thought I'd share my story of how my display this year has come together

    My son (5), prodded me into making him a controller box after seeing a show a the zoo nearby. I used some mechanical relays and an old arduino I had lying around. After finding the online communities in my hunt for code to run it, my imagination ran with it.

    I admire you guys for your dedication at setting up these massive displays, sequencing, tearing down, etc, but I don't have that in me for every year. So my thought, put some controllers together and coordinate a few houses on my street with the lights we already have. I have a networking and programming background, so I did some development and testing and I'm able to get channel data sent to the controllers across the internet. This way I don't have to mess with cabling or wifi outdoors, each controller will just join the wifi of the homeowner and phone home to begin the data stream.

    Then came the hardware. I started with Dirknerkle's zcssr boards and an ESP32 arduino. My goal was to give each house 6 channels, plus one for each street tree. I ended up designing my own boards (first for me) so it would all fit on a single board. Then came the scale.

    I had intended on doing 10 or 12 houses around me, but I put the question out to my entire neighborhood, to an overwhelming response. I'm currently building 150 controllers. I looked like a maniac when I kept coming out of Menard's with shopping carts full of ammo boxes. I custom ordered 1500 2 foot power cords with 5-15R on one side and nothing on the other.

    On the software side, I've got three pieces running the backend. One piece is the master control, which the arduinos come on line and register to. It keeps track of who's on and who's not, gives me info about the unit, wifi signal strength, etc. Then, when it's showtime, it will send each unit the address of a data proxy server to connect to. Originally I was going to run this at my house too, but my cable modem can only run 100 or so at a time. Because of that, I've got the data proxy server running in AWS. It uses about a gig an hour of data running 150 clients, so it's nice that I can turn that off when the show isn't running. AWS charges you on outbound data, so it's about 10 cents an hour to run. The third piece splits the E131 signal from Vixen to multiple data proxies so I can spread the load.

    So the dmx data comes into the data proxy software, which parses out 8 universes worth of channels (future growth), and sends out 12 channels worth to each controller that's logged in.

    I went through a pound and a half of solder this year making them. If I ever have to make more of these, I'm going to have them fully fabricated and charge more than just cost.

    It seems like every step of this project has taken more time than anticipated. It took me more than two months just to get people to come get them! But now as the show is coming together, it's totally paying off. it's better than I could have imagined.

    I've got a few videos posted. https://www.youtube.com/user/rickarps
    The more recent ones show it off better as more and more houses are coming online.

    Anyways, thanks for reading, and thanks for the inspiration!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
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    Winter Haven Florida
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    Default Re: First year show, 160 houses, it's been quite a year!

    I have 1 thing to say.

    WOW!!!
    James WinterHaven Fl

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Palmdale CA
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    Default Re: First year show, 160 houses, it's been quite a year!

    Grate job on the controllers lights and getting your neighbors to do this !!
    KEEP HI AND DRY

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Mims, Fl
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    Default Re: First year show, 160 houses, it's been quite a year!

    And i struggle getting one house running - Wow for sure! Where are you located?
    http://www.vixenlights.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Vixen3-Logo-435x165White-300x107.png

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Long Island, NY
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    Default Re: First year show, 160 houses, it's been quite a year!

    That is amazing. Great work. Please keep the updated videos coming.
    Thanks,
    Brian, your friendly site Admin.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Redding Ca
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    Default Re: First year show, 160 houses, it's been quite a year!

    That's amazing. I do 4 houses in my neighborhood and am questioning my sanity right about this time of year.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Columbus, Oh
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    Default Re: First year show, 160 houses, it's been quite a year!

    Quote Originally Posted by ben&bobbi View Post
    And i struggle getting one house running - Wow for sure! Where are you located?
    Thank you! We're in Delaware, Ohio. Just north of Columbus.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
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    Default Re: First year show, 160 houses, it's been quite a year!

    Hey...Iím in Powell. Iíve got to come see this!!!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
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    Default Re: First year show, 160 houses, it's been quite a year!

    Address or neighborhood name?


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Default Re: First year show, 160 houses, it's been quite a year!

    Wow, this is amazing. Don't think I've ever seen that many houses linked in a residential setting. A must see!
    [SIZE="4"][COLOR="Red"]ROPELIGHT RULES!!![/COLOR][/SIZE]

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