Some Fast Technical Facts about our Display:
- Part of our display is static, meaning the lights stay on all of the time. We like incorporating “old fashioned” yard decorations alongside the latest computerized technology, and it just doesn’t make much sense to blink baby Jesus on and off to the beat!
- We use several different computer/electronic control mechanisms to drive our display. You can learn about them further down in this page.
- Our display incorporates a video projector to show multimedia during the show. Roughly half of our musical sequences have custom-edited video synchronized to the music and lights, specific for each song. The other half of the songs incoroporated “speech bubbles” for our Linus Shares the Gospel display, which is one of our oldest and most unique displays, and originally used a slide projector to project the “speech bubbles” to make Linus “talk”.
- Finally, our display gets music from our own FM transmitter. This transmitter broadcasts our lighting program from the computer which controls our lighting.
How It’s All Controlled
Our display is entirely controlled by computer. We use several different technologies to control the display. Click the picture or links below for more information on each technology.
Light-O-Rama: The heart of our display is software by Light-O-rama. It sends out all the commands to control the lights, plays the music and video, starts and stops everything, and keeps the show running mostly automatically. Most of our standard light controllers are Light-O-Rama hardware as well.
Pixels: Pixels are pretty incredible light strings. Imagine a string of Christmas lights that you can not only tell each bulb individually to turn on or off at any given time, but also what color it should be, and how bright. That’s what a pixel does! We introduced pixels into our display with our newly redone Mega-Tree in 2012, and have added additional projects since. We use controllers by Falcon and SanDevices to control our pixels.
DMX: DMX is an industry-standard lighting control protocol. If you’ve ever been to a rock concert, theater production, dance club, or stadium, you’ve likely seen DMX in action. And if you have seen our display, you have as well, as DMX is the backbone of our control network. Our show computer puts out a variant of DMX called E1.31, which allows us to stream many channels of DMX data over an Ethernet connection. Our pixel controllers then use this data to directly control pixel strings, and use some of it to convert to a standard DMX signal which controls all of our non-pixel lights. This includes our Light-O-Rama controllers.
Z-Wave: We use Z-Wave home automation technology to control the static portions of our display. This replaces an older automation protocol we used for many years called X-10. For more on these technologies, click the link.
Home-grown Standalone Control: This was our first foray into electronic control, and became part of the display at our old house in 1999. This controller controlled our large Merry Christmas sign up through the 2007 season. It was based around an Atmel AVR microcontroller. For more information on this display, click the link above, and you will be taken to the Merry Christmas Sign page.