Lavernell Lights: History

The 2012 display with its new features will open November 25 at 4:30 PM


     Welcome to the Lavernell Lights Web Site! Lavernell Lights represents years of experimenting with different ways to use computer control. I began experimenting with Computer Control around 1996. There were no real out of the box systems out there to use. Many people posted designs of interface boxes that hook to the printer port on your computer and can control a limited number of lights. Usually this was either 8 or 12 "channels." Each channel was limited by the parts you put in your controller. The more lights each channel could control, the more expensive your controller became. I used relatively cheap components and easy designs because I was not good with soldering, much less designing my own circuit boards. I ended up actually ruining a computer because my controller did not have any protection for the data lines to the computer.

    Around 1998, I found several products that had come out and allowed control of your lights. Unfortunately, the most common of those still involved building the controllers yourself, using plans from the author of the software. The good news is the software was free and allowed you to synchronize your lights to music. This was a very interesting idea, but the cost of production of the control boards made the system a bit too expensive for me. I kept looking and experimenting, in the end probably spending way more money than just buying a board.

    In 2000, I discovered a company called Light-O-Rama. Light-O-Rama manufactures control boards and software for controlling your Christmas Lights. You can buy your boards in various ways. I have tried several of their products, and most recently bought a board in kit form, which I soldered together myself. Check out my "How did you do it" page for information about how my lights got synchronized to Music. For the past 24 years, I have had an animated display which has grown a little each year.

    Looking back, it's amazing to see what's grown out of a few $3 strings of lights...the hobby is addicting and each year it becomes more expensive to support the habit!

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