2001 2002 2003 2004-2007 2008-2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023

Christmas Projects

We have one of the largest private Christmas displays in northen Cincinnati with over 41,535 RGB bulbs that are individually controlled by a computer and synchronized to to over 30 minutes of music. Viewers become part of the display by voting for the next song, selecting the next snowman, and including their names in the show. The links in the menu provide more information about individual elements in the display. You can find us on Google Maps.

A Little History

Both of us are big on Christmas. Mary likes the shopping, baking, and interior decorating, and Greg always wanted a big outdoors Christmas like his grandfather's displays. Once we purchased our first house in 2001, Greg got a chance to work on that display and experimented with animated displays that are controlled by a computer. That year Greg built two parallel port controls that could control 8 circuits each. These were simple to build and control, but didn't provide much growth potential.

Video History of our Display

For 2002, Greg started in January trying to find a design that would allow us to control many more circuits without purchasing expensive Digital I/O Boards that were used by a few others around the United States. After a bit a searching, he found Hill Robertson's design for a 320 circuit device that could be controlled by a parallel port and spent much of the year building our own version At the time, the device was rather amazing and allowed for up to 320 AC circuits to be switched on and off using a single Parallel port on a PC.

In 2008, we purchased some Light-o-Rama CTB08 controllers. Although each device only controlled 8 AC circuits, they were the first solution we ever had that allowed for dimming. This opened up a complete new world as we could cross fade between colors in the display. Although LOR solutions are a bit on the expensive side compared to other Do-It-Yourself (DYI) solutions, the LOR solutions remain a great way to get started on your own animated Christmas Light display. (Greg, being who he is, refused to purchase the LOR software, and instead reverse engineered the protocol and continued to run custom software.)

By 2014, it was finally time to retire the 320 Controller. We invested heavily in DYI DMX and E1.31 solutions. As we moved to this new technology, we also started making the conversion to Pixels allowing each individual light to be individually controlled bring a whole new world of possibilities. In 2016, we retired the last of the LOR Controllers. 2016 also marked the year we converted from custom software to using XLights. This is a great open source project created by the holiday lighting community. 2016 also marked the year Greg finally gave into the family demands and started synchronizing the lights to music played over a low power FM transmitter. (Mostly because xLights was so easy to use that both Mary and the kids could help with programming the lights.)

Our display is located at 6656 Devon Drive in Liberty Township, OH near a number of other enjoyable holiday displays.

Some References

Trying to locate impressive holiday displays near you? CoolDisplays.Net is a great tool for locating holiday displays across the United States.
This has become our de facto source for keeping up with others who do Computer Controlled Christmas light displays. The forums on this site are a great resource for learning about the hobby.
These are other community based websites with good information for those interested in different aspects of Computer Controlled Christmas displays.
Really interested in creating your own animated displays but don't have the technical know-how? If so, then check out these vendors. These sites offers both the hardware and software you need to control your lights and set them to music. There are many other vendors in the space (some of which probably have lower prices), but these are the vendors we have primarly leveraged in the past and are known to be reliable.
The original home of computer controlled Christmas lights! The site isn't as popular as it once was, but Chuck Smith was the father of Computer Controlled Christmas lights and and was a key driver in this becoming so popular.

The Star

The odd looking object on the right has been passed through the Hormann family for generations. Now matter which direction you look at it from, you can always see a 5 point star! Made entirely of copper and colored glass, this one of a kind decoration weighs a ton. The Star was designed and built by my great-great uncle and given to my grandfather to be hung outside their Fort Wayne home where it was placed every Christmas for many years. Upon his passing, the Star was given to my father who presented it to me in 1998.

My grandparents always hung the Star outside on the porch until the year it disappeared while my grandparents were attending church. After placing articles in the local paper explaining the family significance of the star, it mysteriously reappeared a few days later. Since that incident, the Star is now proudly displayed every Thanksgiving through New Years in our front window.

Our Display

See the following links for all of the different displays we've done.
2001 2002 2003 2004-2007 2008-2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023

Our Favorite Light Displays

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