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How does this all work?

All the Electonic boards that are used in the display are built by myself and my two sons. They like to play with the soldering gun as much as I do so we have to take turns. An example of the boards we use is pictured below. We are using 304 channels that can be independently controlled. That is a lot of soldering and wiring.


Each controller has a series of “channels” which is either a string of lights, or a single light.  All of the controllers are connected to a master computer that is running specialized software to turn on and off (or dim, flash, blink, etc.) the lights electronically.

To control the synchronization of the lights to the music, we use a piece of software called Vixen Lighting Automation Software.  This software allows us to select when in the song we want to light to be on or off. Believe it or not, this is a manual programming process.  We have to program every second of the song to perform a specific action at a specific time in the song.  It takes approximately two – three hours of programming time to synchronize every one minute of song time.  So, a song that runs four minutes long has taken us about eight – twelve hours to program.Of course you always have to go back and tweek it too.

Once everything is constructed, the controller is secured in a weather tight enclosure to ensure that the elements do not get to the control board.  Electricity and water are a bad combination.  :-)

How is that music playing on the radio?  Do you partner with a radio station?

Our show is being broadcast on 88.9 FM, using a stereo transmitter.  This transmitter is a very short range system that complies with the government’s (FCC) restrictions on hobbyist FM broadcasting.  The transmitter provides very good quality sound out to about a block or two, as the strength of the transmitter is very low power.  

 

 

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