The Beginning

Since I moved into my current house in 2006 through 2008, I always felt I put on a nice static display. It wasn’t anything terribly fancy, but I always felt the house looked nice. Every year we would add something small to it. In 2007 we added the spiral trees and in 2008 we added the deer with moving heads. I did however have a bit of technology involved. I had the static display spread out on three circuits, but hated the idea of having it on three separate timers, because inevitably one part of it would be on before the other parts. So I used three X10 modules, one on each circuit, and an X10 Power Flash module hooked up to a 12V power supply. This supply was on a timer so that when the timer came on, the 12V would make the power flash sent out the command to turn on the three circuits. When the timer turned off, the power flash sensed the lack of 12V and sent the command to turn off the circuits. Worked rather well.

I’d seen computer controlled Christmas displays in the past, but for some reason in 2008, I really became drawn to them. I think it was a combination of more people doing it due to the popularity of products like LOR and more people putting videos on YouTube and the like.

I started seeing a lot of videos that featured “leaping arches” and in early December, 2008, I had one of those “I HAVE TO HAVE THOSE” moments. Then I came across Richard Holdman’s display and I KNEW I was at least going to have leaping arches like his. I began researching what it would take to make one or two. I found several excellent tutorials (one being on Richard’s site) on building arches. I then started looking at controllers. I was first drawn to Light O Rama. They seemed to have the nicest stuff, but I just couldn’t seem to justify the cost. I had myself convinced I was going to buy one 16 channel controller when they had their “secret” sale and that would have to do for this year.

After lurking around on Planet Christmas, I came across Computer Christmas and Do It Yourself Christmas. I began reading about building do it yourself controllers, and I thought “I can do this”. I figured I might as well put all those EE classes at Ohio State to use.

The more I looked at it, the more I realized I could build my own controllers for a fraction of the cost and have fun doing it. I instantly threw my model train hobby away (it was going nowhere fast anyhow) along with my renewal cards for Classic Toy Trains and Model Railroader, and I subscribed to Nuts and Volts.

Now, Here I am today, with a site/blog dedicated to my new hobby and I absolutely enjoy it. I’ve learned so much since I began the hobby. I also find that it is a great stress reliever. I can concentrate on building and making things and forget about the troubles of the day.