- It used to be December 1st. However, we
now turn them on around the 2nd week of December.
How much electricity is used?
- When the lights are all on, we can easily
draw 30,000 watts of power. Because it's computerized, approx. 1/2
the lights are on at one time, meaning we draw less than 15kW/hr on average.
How much is your electric bill?
- The electric bill is roughly $400 for the
month (computerization helps cut energy costs).
What kind of lights are used?
- The roof and grass lights are 5 watt C7
strands (we need these to melt the snow). In 2004 we phased out all our
7 watt C9 strands. In 2005 we began phasing in LEDs and now have
more than 60,000. All our lights are coloured.
Why aren't all your lights LEDs?
- We are gradually phasing LEDs into the
display. Though they aren't as bright as incandescent bulbs, they are
being improved every season. The only disadvantage to LEDs is their lower
light output, the string lengths can't be customized, and they are about
2/3 more expensive. They also don't melt the snow, meaning the entire
display would be hidden if we receive significant snow accumulations.
Who pays for all of this?
- Currently, myself (Martin) and Andrew invest
in the display and have some sponsorship assistance.
Do you collect money for donations?
- In 2002 we began collecting money for local
How do I donate?
- When the lights are turned on, in
December, there is a charity box at the side of the road where money/envelopes
can be delivered.  In 2003, we introduced an option to donate online.
Click on the "donations" link for details.
Why do you do this?
- Good question! A sense of self satisfaction, making people smile, proving our capabilities and being able to help local charities.
Who designs and installs the display?
- Myself (Martin) and my brother (Andrew)
design the electronics and controls used in the display, while Jasmine
and Angela help with some of the displays.
What makes the lights flash?
- A simple desktop computer. It basically sends a bunch of 1s and 0s out, which turns the individual light strands on and off.
What's an I/O card?
- An I/O card is also known as a data acquisition card. It plugs into a computer slot and allows the computer to interface to the "real" world by sending and receiving digital or analog data. Currently, we only use the output of the card to spit out "on" and "off" signals to the Xmas lights.
What is a channel?
- A channel is a single output from a computer that switches a set of lights on and off.
How many channels control the display?
- We now have more than 360 channels running.
How is it automated?
- A program on the computer tells the display when to start and stop and also controls the sequence of light flashes.
How long does it take to program?
- Programming can take a long time,
because there are at least 360 channels to edit. To add 15 seconds
to a program can take about 5 hours of programming.  The 2003/2004
musical sequence took about 30 hours to program, while the 2005 sequence
took about 50 hours to program. The 2006 sequence took about 60 hours
What software do you use?
- We run WindowsXP and custom made lighting software to control the light sequences.
How do you get the lights so high on those trees?
- We climb all of them!
Is it safe?
- The entire display is monitored by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters which monitor the safe distribution of electricity. The wiring installs and products used, follow the Ontario Electrical Code. We inspect all the cabling before it is put in use and old or damaged electrical parts are discarded.
Where do you buy your lights and supplies?
- Many different stores: Canadian Tire, Rona/Revy, Home Depot, Walmart, etc.
Do you design/install displays for others?
- This is a common question as many of our neighbours have requested our services. Because we dedicate all our spare time into this display, we are not able to install displays for others, though we'd love to do it!
How did you get started?
- Every since we've been kids we've been involved with electronics. This is just another project that progressed throughout the years that really began when we discovered data acquisition, which is essentially controlling real world controls via computer.