Folks have been asking what we have been up to planning for this coming season. The answer is – quite a bit!

We have finished installing a new high definition camera system for our display.

There are 3 new songs that will be added to our display this year. The first is Last Christmas by Glee, which we tested out the end of last season, but now has all of the display items included in the sequence. We are finishing up Dominick the Italian Christmas Donkey. The third song will be one of Pentatonix’s songs, not sure which one yet. If time allows there maybe a fourth. All will feature our singing bulbs which folks seem to really enjoy.

We are adding 4 new items that will be pixel based, and sequenced. You will just have to come and see what those are. There are still a few parts that haven’t been shipped yet, although I have the basic electronics designed, assembled, tested and ready to go.

We revamped the 2 way communication system with our Bruce the Spruce audio-animatronic interactive display item. After install, and seeing how well it worked we were surprised to see the tree’s mouth not moving when he “talked”. That led to a complete tear down of the tree and it’s control systems, removing it from its protective enclosure, bringing it into the house to allow for troubleshooting.

After 2 full days of troubleshooting all of its circuits we found the trouble was caused by a poor solder connection in the tree itself. In light of that I did a rewire of just about everything, so I know the connections will be solid going forward, as I don’t want to go through this time consuming exercise again!

To give you an idea of just how Bruce runs, he uses a 24 volt motor with an actuator switch to open and close his eyes, a servo motor (like those seen in radio controlled aircraft, and boats) to move his eyes back and forth, and a solenoid to open and close his mouth as he speaks.

Here is a shot of the tree:

Here’s a shot of the sign that includes a motion sensor to activate Bruce when folks are present:

Here’s a shot of the wireless microphone system that allows Bruce to talk to our visitors:

Here’s a shot of the electronics that include a box (with its top off, in the lower left hand side of the picture) housing the main power supply with a single relay to control the eyes opening and closing. The second black box (with its top off, in the upper left hand side of the picture) has 2 relays- one to control activating the eye movements, mouth, and pre-recorded message, the other to override the programmed system and allow for live control by the operator. The third box is grey, and is located in the lower right hand side of the picture. It contains controls for audio volume and mouth movement (sensitivity). The 4th box is black, and is located in the upper center of the picture. It contains the prerecorded audio on a SD card, and has a programmed sequence of how often to open and close the eyes:

And yes, all of the above, including the wiring has to be installed in the protective enclosure with the tree when everything is finished and checked one last time.

We will let folks know when our 2019 family night event when Santa and his North pole characters visit our display will be held, once we get the availabilities of the (8) volunteers necessary for that night. It will either be the first or second Saturday evening in December, based on the volunteers’ schedules.

We wanted to provide folks with an update on our preparations for what we believe will be our best year yet!

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