After a very busy summer and autumn preparing the show, everything went live the night after Thanksgiving. As mentioned in the lead-up to this season, the new elements have been added to the display, new songs are being included, and a website has been launched.

Website

As promised, a new website for the show was launched just a few days ago. LightsOn14th.com is a very minimal site that provides the location of the display, driving directions, show schedules, and some pretty pictures and video.

The design is, of course, awful. My design skills, as everyone knows, are non-existent. Please judge the content, not the presentation. If I get enough interest, I’ll hire a proper designer for a refresh.

A late addition was a “Guestbook” when viewers can leave notes about their experience for others. I think it’s natural to integrate Facebook/Twitter here, but I’m not sure if it’s appropriate.

Mega Tree

This Year's 17' tall Pixel Mega Tree

No doubt, the mega tree is a big hit. It’s 17 feet tall, and has about 1,400 nodes in total, including the star on top. The 14 strings are spaced close enough for me to display images and videos on the tree with pretty good resolution.

About being up for a few days with no issues, the first serious cold front of the season brought strong winds that broke the guy wire ring and toppled the tree. Nothing else was damaged, but I replaced the puny ABS plastic guy wire ring with proper, through-pole eye bolts. It’s not moving anymore.

Information Board

The year the the inaugural one for the dynamic “matrix”. This is composed of P5 panels and driven with e BeagleBone Black with an OctoScroller. This element is linked to the rest of the show network wirelessly and displays variaous information about the show.

At the start of each sequence, the board displays the song title and artist as a lead-in. During the sequence, a “Tune To 91.5” message scrolls indefinitely. Outside of active show times, the panel says when the show will begin again.

For Geeks

For the developers out there, the site was built with React using two different back-end APIs. The first API is on-server with a Node/Express instance running to handle the “Guestbook”, and the second is actually piped to the show network itself.

The “Guestbook” component is pretty straightforward. A Node process exposes a very simple REST API that’s backed with a MongoDB instance to store guestbook entries.

This second “Show API” is proxied to the house’s IP and port forwarded to the Falcon Player(FPP) “master” node. FPP serves up data about the current sequence, playlist schedules, the song that’s playing, etc. I use this to display real-time information about the show on the website. If for some reason the schedule changes, the website will automagically interpret the data and displays appropriate messages based on status.

Please Enjoy

If your in the area, please stop by. If you visit the show and see me outside tweaking things, please say hey. I’m happy to give a short tour and explanation of how everything works. I’m also giving out stickers, so if you have kids, please flag me down!

Merry Christmas!

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