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While I appreciate the folks who have asked if they can donate/PayPal to cover the costs of the lights and (wind powered!) electricity, I've never asked for donations and don't plan to change that. It is a bit of work to put up all the Halloween stuff, but I enjoy doing it for the neighborhood kids and the web site is just my way of saying "Happy Halloween" and "Merry Christmas" to folks around the world. If you feel compelled to make some sort of donation, my kids have celiac disease so make a donation toward medical research - tell 'em Komar.Org sent 'ya! ;-)
BTW, for the actual night of Halloween, I have "HULK SMASH" audio playing really loud. So when the kids come by, I ask the smallest (and scare'dest one) kid to tell the Hulk to "Shut Up". It requires a little prodding, but eventually they will say "Be Quiet Hulk" ... and I, of course, hit the OFF button on my wireless X10 remote in my pocket and 'lo and behold, the Hulk is quiet ... since the speaker's power is toggled off. Always get a great response and that kid then feels pretty good! ;-)
Circuit Layout & Electrical Analysis for Halloween 2011 Circuit X10-Zone Amps Lights Description 1-Balcony 1 1.3 400 Upper Roof Icicles and Purple Orb 1-Garage-E 1 6.0 2,300 Garage Icicles, Driveway RIP's & Graves, Lighted Arch 1-Panel-1 1 7.0 2,000 Upper Roof Icicles, Purple Orb, Snapping Spider, Halloween Tree, Bubble Lights 2-Balcony 2 3.0 400 Bloody Hands, Pirates, Skulls, Witch, Hulk Light, Lower Alien and Frankenstein 2-Garage-E 2 1.4 300 Inflatable Grim Reaper and purple rope light 2-Panel-2 2 3.4 400 Inflatable Grim Reaper on Motorcycle, Witches with purple rope light 3-Balcony 3 1.7 250 Roof Pumpkins and Frankenstein, Balcony Inflatable Pumpkins, SpongeBob SquarePants 3-Panel-3 3 2.8 200 Inflatable Pumpkin and Pumpkin Patch 3-Window-U 3 0.7 350 Upper Window Decorations 4-Balcony 4 1.5 400 Blue Rope Light around Skulls, RIP, Spider 4-Garage-W 4 0.7 100 Inflatable Headless Horseman 4-Panel-4 4 1.0 300 Inflatable Giant Green Skull and lighted Skulls 5-Garage-W 5 0.8 100 Inflatable FRANKENSTEIN 5-Panel-4 5 0.7 200 ON 6-Garage-W 6 0.8 100 Inflatable Homer Simpson - D'OH! 6-Panel-4 6 1.1 400 OFF 7-Office * 1.1 300 Various stuff in the Haunted Office! ;-) 1:Toggle Brain Dude 2:Rainier Beer Sign 3:Smilin' Pumpkin 4:Groovy Lava Lamp 5:Skull/Hulk Lamp 6:Light-Up/3-D Cube TOTALS 17 35.0 8,500 TOTALSA question often asked is how much does it cost to light the holiday display - the electrical meter does spin a bit faster. That's easy to calculate - with all 8,500 lights ON, the current draw is 35 amps. Multiply by 120 Volts and divide by 1,000 to get 4.2 KiloWatts. The electricity cost in Colorado is about 10 cents per KiloWatt-Hour, so to run the display continuously for an hour, it costs 42 cents/hour - not much! But remember that Internet Surfers are turning the lights on & off ... so divide that by two and then multiply by the 4 hours/day it's active, and the electricty costs 84 cents per day. Multiply that by 31 days and for $26, a whole month of holiday fun is provided to people around the world ... plus some awareness and thousands of dollars in donations for Celiac Disease Research!
2011_09_25: As noted at the top of the page, the Controllable Halloween Decorations for Celiac Disease raises awareness and encourages people who enjoy the light show to donate to the University of Maryland. My two kids have Celiac so this is personal for me. Read more here and consider adding to the over $60,000 raised so far.
2011_09_26: I continue to use Wind Power for my electricity - wonder how many times I'll be asked this year where the windmill is on my property! ;-) What actually happens is you pay an extra surcharge (about $1 per 100 KWH) on your electric bill which goes to Colorado wind farms. My electric meter spins pretty fast when my thousands of holiday lights are on, so I hope those windmills can keep up! ;-) Along those lines, the holiday display will again be carbon neutral (Al Gore would be proud!) to offset the estimated 2 MegaWatt-Hours of electricity that will be used.
2011_09_27: My holiday webcams have been fairly popular over the years, so for the geeks out there, the configuration this year is two dedicated servers running Linux/Apache2/mod_perl. One web server will handle the main halloween decorations webcam (and X10 control panel) with the refreshing of images from the three webcams split between the two servers. Each computer is a dedicated host with a 100 Mbps connection, 4 GBytes of RAM, and is a quad processor Intel P4 at 3.2 and 2.4 GHz. I.e. not quite the latest and greatest ... but HEY, I'm on a budget as it all comes out of my pocket.
2011_09_28: Commenting is turned on for the Halloween Blog.
2011_10_10: With some help from my kids and their friends, most of the Halloween stuff has been taken out of storage and we've started testing/fixing things. Always fun to fire up the giant inflatable Pumpkins, Grim Reapers, Spiders, Witches, Homer Simpson, and Frankenstein - IT'S ALIVE! ;-)
2011_10_13: While I still have a bunch of stuff to put out, I turned on the webcams and X10 controls for a couple of hours tonight, just to get things going and "exercise" the code, etc. A few blips, but everything seemed to work pretty well.
2011_10_16: Just about finished with the Halloween setup for 2011. Most of the leaks on the HULK brothers have been patched (except for one arm on the seam) and I have tossed them up on the balcony today. This is one of the last steps in the setup since it's a little difficult to get around them! ;-)
2011_10_17: One behind-the-scenes new item is an XTB-IIR/III X10 signal booster from JV Digital Engineering. X10 is the powerline protocol that actually sends the signals in my house wiring to control stuff when Internet users click ON/OFF. Because of the large number of circuits, it's always a challenge to the find the "right" combination of TM751 transceivers (on the "right" circuits!) to hopefully maximize reliability ... and sometimes things would just flake out with circuits/zones "stuck" - who turned on the Microwave Oven?!? ;-)
The XTB-IIR/III seems to have addressed most of those issues with a single box in the Haunted Office. While there is still one circuit which is erratic (in the master bedroom), that's easily solved by placing a lone transceiver there. Besides that, everything has been rock solid. If you are an X10 user, I strongly encourage you check out JV Digital Engineering - Jeff Volp makes some great products (the craftsmanship is exquisite) and is a genuine pleasure to work with.
2011_10_18: Wellllll ... after yesterday good news, it was very discouraging that (after 5+ years), Webcam #2 died and doesn't seem fixable ... two weeks before Halloween! :-( Wile I can move Webcam #3 (in the Haunted Office - it has a broken gear so has to be manually pointed) to Webcam #2 (looking at the front lawn) ... but now we're short a webcam and people can't see the Haunted Office and the Instant Messages on the laptop - BUMMER!!!
2011_10_19: I was incredibly lucky to be able to borrow an older D-Link DCS-5300 webcam from Andrew Batson at Brass Key Colorado Real Estate Property Brokers who I had helped setup a webcam for when he built his house. While the field of view and image quality are slightly different than the DCS-6620G (plus the camera forces a timestamp on the image) it works "good enough" so people can watch what's going on in the Haunted Office and the Instant Messages on Laptop. A HUGE thumbs-up for Andrew!
2011_10_26: October has been incredibly warm and sunny ... but we finally had our first cold spell and about 10" of very wet heavy snow came down today, snapping many branches and knocking out power to lots of homes. Fortunately, I wasn't one of 'em ... and after shoveling out the lights and inflatables, they were back in good shape ... ready for the 60°+ temperatures we'll see the next week up to Halloween - gotta love Colorado Weather! ;-)
2011_10_28: Recall just over a week ago that one of my webcams brick'ed and Andrew Batson was able to loan me his webcam for a short-term fix. Jon Wade donated a webcam to help out ... so we back up to "full-res" images on all three webcams. Jon, who enjoys living in Steamboat Springs, Colorado also gets a HUGE thumbs up!
The weather forecast for Halloween night is sunny and 65°F ... so should
quite a few trick-or-treaters. I have 600 pieces (!) of candy for the
little kids and quite a few liquid refreshments for the "big" kids -
hopefully this will be enough! ;-)
It gets cooler the next day and snowing
the following day ... so rather than leave the display up for the day
after Halloween, I'm going to take it down before the chilly weather
comes in - gotta start getting ready for Christmas ... HO-HO-HO! ;-)