HOW DO YOU DO IT?!?
Christmas In Boonton Township is a computer controlled light show which utilizes over 20,000 channels of computer controlled outlets that are synchronized to music. This is done by networking several micro-computers to over a dozen controller boards placed around the yard close to each group of elements. The display several months to prepare and set up (we generally start in May designing and preparing, thanks to family and friends that volunteer their time), but even before the setup, it takes hours of building frames, parts, wrapping lights, and building microcomputer controllers beginning as early as January each year.
In addition, my wife, brother & Sister-in-Law and I spend hours creating the light show. For each music selection the channels must be synchronized to the music, and using special software, we must program each of the elements and determine how bright or dim that individual light is at each instant for EACH SONG to achieve what you enjoy. Our light show lasts roughly 20 minutes.
Lights are sync’ed to music, which we broadcast on low power FM stereo 103.3 MHZ, so you can listen in the comfort of your car, rain or cold. Although we do pause the show for heavy inclement weather to ensure we do not damage any of the computer controllers.
How Many Lights are there?
For 2018 we are at just about 35,000 lights. We also have several thousand ‘pixels’ which we can address individually and choose any color we like. (Yes that’s more lights than in the movie Christmas Vacation)
How many extension cords do you use?
A LOT! We use a lot less than we used to, but we still do use a lot. We build many of our own extension cords due to how many we use and the varying lengths. This years show consists of over 2 miles worth of copper wiring.
How Many Controllers / Channels do you have?
The 2018 show consists of about 20 controllers in total. Some of these controllers are actually build off of micro-computers like the Raspberry Pi or the Pocket Beagle bone. Other controllers are built for a single task and simply control our incandescent lights allowing us to turn each element on, off, or even the brightness.
Here is a picture of an assembled controller.
What Software Do You Use To Sequence The Lights?
I use an open source software product called Vixen 3.
You must have a ridiculous power bill, how much does it cost to run your show?
Each year is a bit different, depending on elements and total number of lights. However being that none of the lights are actually on for very long we actually don’t consume as much energy as you would think.
THANKS FOR WATCHING!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
Be sure to check out our friends.