Sometimes the best display ideas just fall into place. Our Arch Fence falls into that category.
Prior to the arch fence, the front of our display was flanked by a Candy Cane Fence. The candy cane fence worked well and was a nice display item, but it had the drawback that it was largely not illuminated. The canes themselves did not light up, and only the lights strung from the large canes did. This made for somewhat of a ‘dark front’ to the display, even though the LED Rope Trees helped to brighten things up.
Also in 2006, we found both a display on the internet, and a second local display, which made use of what they called “lawn arches”. These arches went along the edges of the display, and could change colors, etc. via computer control. At the same time, another display on the internet came up with what they called “leaping arches”: large arches made up of several segments, each one individually computer controllable so it looked like little spurts of light were floating along the arches.
The idea came to us to try to morph these to concepts together. As we were considering this, two things fell into place. First of all, a fellow decorator from California decided to downsize his display, and we were able to get a really good deal on two 16-channel LOR controllers. We also had a 16-channel board that we had purchased a few years earlier but hadn’t yet used, so this gave us a total of 48 new channels available. At the same time, we were able to get in on a group buy on some LED lights. As it turned out, we had to buy them in sub-cases, which were 12 strings of lights each.
Why is all this important? Because the plan just fell into place. We would create 12 arches. Each arch would have two individual colors, red and green. We were just starting to adopt the then-new LED lighting technology, so we would use these on the arches. And each arch would contain two of each color, so that we can animate them by “half arches”. So each arch would contain two channels of red, two channels of green, and there are 12 arches, which gave us 48 channels of lights, and 4 cases of LED’s would be needed to be ordered. Later we measured things out and 12 arches almost perfectly fit across our yard. It just worked out.
We should have taken pictures of the construction of these arches, but we were concentrating so much on getting them made that we didn’t. Each arch is about 11′ of grey 1/2″ electrical PVC pipe. The red and green LED’s are wrapped around the PVC and wire-tied in place. Each arch has two plugs at each end to hook into our computer control system. By using 11′ of pipe we can bend them slightly and have them be 10 linear feet when “arched”.
After completing the arches, we made some wiring harnesses to more easily connect the 48 plugs into the 48 channels of control. The computer sequencing can do a lot of neat effects on these arches– having them change between red and green, having string of arches “chase” down the yard, having a red arch “pour itself” into a row of green arches, etc. It was a lot of fun to watch them in action the first time once everything was connected and running.