- Behind the Scenes 2010 -
2009 -  Snow machine coin box, Shrek characters, green goo
2008 - Building Arches and Controllers, Garage Before and After
2007 - New Flag, Dr. Dave, The Dude, old controllers, Disney scouting trip, snow fluid delivery system
2006 - Magnolia Strobes, Grinch, Mega Tree Down!, snow fluid
2005 - Light-O-Rama, Ruldolf 2.0 and Christmas Light Convention
2004 - fiber optic simulator
2003 - construction of the lighted candy cane vase
2002 - info on the PC control
2001 - American Flag, Streelight trickery
Click image for hi-res photo
Prototype comparison vs. old icicles.
Dave working on Rudolf and the laptop that controls the display.  Photos Courtesy of Pam Marino  @ www.goodneighborstories.com
Gingy and Rudolf are excited about the new addition.  Material
is Corrugated Plastic (Coro-Plast)
Secretly known as "Project Fred", we felt we needed to leapfrog the competition once again.  Our new icicles are hand made out
of pure white LED strings on white wire.  They are longer, denser, and brighter than anything that can be found in stores.  A
prototype was created in January, quantity calculations were made and we placed the light order in February.   I bought 2x4's in
March and let them dry in for two months before I cut them down to 3/4 thick by 6 ft. plus or minus two inches long.  Andy and I
serialized each strip and put in hooks and eyes for easy installation.  We then painted the strips to match our respective homes.  
When the lights came in I created an "icicle designer" in Excel and generated 26 distinct patterns so the icicles didn't look
Dave wrapping his street light.
New Icicles
Cut to custom lengths, serialized and hooked.
Painted and ready for lights.  These are mine.  Andy's are
300 pounds of lights delivered in August.
Top:  Rita and Jimmie putting on zip-ties.

Right:  Andy building his first strip.
We held an icicle build party/BBQ on Labor Day and knocked out over 50% of the stapling and zip-tie work (there are over 12,000
zip ties for both houses).  Jimmie and Rita (my in-laws) finished them up in the days afterwards.  One advantage we thought we
had over the old design was that we could plug the icicles in end-to-end without the need for a power "backbone" as we did with
our old incandescent icicles.  It turns out there was a problem with doing that.  When we set our LED icicles to low power
settings, we found that the serially connected icicles got dimmer the farther down the line they were.  At 15% power, some of the
ones at the end weren't coming on at all.  So we had to retrofit a power backbone every four strips to solve that problem.

These new icicles have cut our December power bill by 15%, and will get us back to a negative  electricity bill (Severns home only)
even with the nearly 10,000 miles we will put on our
Tesla (electric car) this year.
San Francisco Giants Logo
I was born in San Jose the year that the Giants moved to San Francisco from New York.  I've been a Giants fan all my life, and
have been a season ticket holder since 2001.  I had the plan for a Giants logo for the Christmas Display in 2002, when we should
have won the World Series, but that got scuttled when Dusty Baker and Felix Rodriguez blew it in game 6 (Yeah, I'm still bitter -
but not as much).  So, when we won game 5 to give the SF Giants their first World Championship, I ran out the very next day
(November 2nd) and bought all the half-price orange Halloween lights that I could find.  I got enough for the logo (800), plus
wrappings for all arches, magnolia trunks and street lights.  I then borrowed some orange C-9s from my son, and a couple of
orange LED spotlights from Andy G., and I was ready to put together my Giants Tribute.  Here are some photos of the logo going
I found an image of the logo on-line and then traced it out
using Visio on a 1 x 1 inch grid.  It took 13 pages to print.
After some minor cosmetic changes it's time to punch the
holes with an awl.  It was an awl-ful lot of work...... (sorry.)
800 bulbs pressed through from the back side, wired into two
different channels (S and F) and stiffened around the edges.
The Week electricity usage data shows that we are using 14% less electricity than last December.  Here is an interesting chart from
12/8 to 12/9 (at least I think it’s interesting).  The red is our actual energy use after the solar production is taken out.  The green is
solar (cloudy day with a couple of sun break-throughs).  The blue is what we used or sent back to PG&E.  The chart shows a 24
hour period beginning right before the Christmas Display turns on.  The display (in addition to anything we are doing in the house –
computers, TV, cooking, etc…) peaks at just under 10Kw.  The display stops at 11:00 at which point the Telsa begins charging.  I
only drove it about 30 miles that day, so the charge time wasn’t very long.  Next is sleep time and the house averages about 800
watts.  You can see the refrigerator kick in periodically.  Then, in the morning, we did two loads of laundry.  You can see that the
washer/dryer uses more electricity than the entire Christmas Display.  After that, it’s TV’s, computers, lights etc., until about 3 when
Sharon turns on the oven to bake a cake.  That’s what all the spikes are, the oven turning on and off.  This is what Smart Meter
technology does.  It shows you how you use your energy.  I have a third party system called TED which accounts for my solar as
well.  Smart Meters are getting a bad rap, and I think it’s unfair.  Okay, I’m back down off my soapbox.