About / Frequently Asked Questions

How much does your electric bill go up?

Not enough to really notice!  The lights we use are low voltage (mostly 5v, some 12v) and run off of computer power supplies.  Our entire display fits onto a standard 15AMP household circuit.  On average, the show draws fewer amps than a space heater.

How long does it take to set-up your display?

It takes about a month to set everything up.  Physically placing the items is quick – for example, the lights on the rooflines are mounted to 1/2″ EMT pipe hanging from eye hooks under the gutters and go up and come down easily.  The more time-consuming part is setting up the cabling/networking.

What kind of lights do you use?

The lights are called ‘pixels.’  A pixel contains 3 LEDs – Red, Green, and Blue which are mixed together to create any color.  Inside each pixel is also a microchip allowing it to be individually controlled by a computer.

Where do you buy lights and other equipment?

How did you mount a TV into your window?

It is actually a screen made up of panels called P10s.  P10 panels are traditionally used in outdoor billboards and stadium scoreboards.  Each panel measures about 1′ by 6″, we have 25 of them laid out in a 5×5 matrix.

What software program do you use/how do you get the lights to move to the music?

We use a free program called xLights.  To start, we upload a picture of our house and then draw all the shapes/elements on it.

We then select a music file and create timing marks to help track things like the beat, melody, or any change in the music that we want to note.  Effects are then placed on those time marks.  Lights are combined into groups such as Snowflakes, Windows, Rooflines, etc.

What computer do you use to run your show?

Once the sequencing is done, the file is saved to the main show controller, a Raspberry Pi miniature computer.  It then connects to our FM Transmitter which allows you to listen from your car.

The main RasPi communicates to one of our two controllers out in the yard that the light strings connect to.

 

Where can I get more information about running a pixel show?

Do It Yourself Christmas is a great resource to get started.