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Did you know?
  • The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine. A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on that day.
  • Santa Claus's sleigh is led by eight reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder (variously spelled Donder and Donner), and Blixem (variously spelled Blixen and Blitzen), with Rudolph being a 20th-century inclusion.
  • Outdoor Christmas lights on homes evolved from decorating the traditional Christmas tree and house with candles during the Christmas season. Lighting the tree with small candles dates back to the 17th century and originated in Germany before spreading to Eastern Europe.
  • That big, jolly man in the red suit with a white beard didn’t always look that way. Prior to 1931, Santa was depicted as everything from a tall gaunt man to a spooky-looking elf. He has donned a bishop's robe and a Norse huntsman's animal skin. When Civil War cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly in 1862, Santa was a small elflike figure who supported the Union. Nast continued to draw Santa for 30 years, changing the color of his coat from tan to the red he’s known for today.
  • Christmas 2018 countdown has already begun. Will you be ready???
  • Why do we love Christmas? It's all about the traditions. In this chaotic world we can miss the "good old days." Christmas reminds us of that time.



Everything posted by Mikeymatic

  1. Mikeymatic

    Painting a blow mold without a spray can

    I often use spray paint with a brush to paint small areas of my plywood cutouts, seems like you can't find gold or copper color paint in small cans, and there is no hobby store selling bottles of model paint here in our small town, so i just spray it into the cap that comes off the spray can. Those caps are made out of some sort of plastic that doesn't dissolve and will hold the paint. Also small glass baby food bottles work well for storing small amounts of paint for a few days. Here's an idea for painting the lollipops if you have a bunch and they are mostly flat: 1.take a photo of the best one you have 2. print out the photo on card or cover stock 3. cut out pattern to be painted with razor blade or exacto knife, now you have a re-useable stencil that you can use to spray paint your lollipops. just use painters or masking tape to hold it in place and use several "mistings" instead of heavy coats so the spray won't creep under the stencil. Maybe this will work for you. good luck!
  2. The Devils are in the details, you got me very curious... Here's what I could find: A company called Kokomold Plastics Co. made these in the 1950's and they were sold as plastic halloween candy containers that came full of candy according to a post on pinterest. There was also another company, Rosboro Plastic operating at the same time, not sure if they are related to Kokomold. I bet Mel Fischer might know something about these manufacturers as the trail of crumbs seems to dry up on the internet. Maybe they also sold some of them as wired lit up lanterns as the one in your last photo definitely looks like it is factory wired. Here's a few more pictures of the red satans:
  3. Some collectors will pay big bucks for those fabric coated wire sets, especially if they are still in the original boxes. My dad had a load of these when I was a kid, unfortunately they ended up in the trash years ago. The most sought after ones have the "red beads" on the wire to secure the lights to tree branches and contain the old swirl style GE or Westinghouse mazda bulbs which were a full 9 watts (instead of the 7 watts that you get now in an incandescent C9 bulb) and ran really hot to the touch. Its strange that the manufacturers of the new "ceramic style" LED retrofit bulbs haven't come up with this retro "swirl or flame" shape yet. I like the LED C9 retrofit bulbs, old school yet high tech. Here are a few pictures that I found of these old light sets...
  4. A little electrical forensics... These look like they may have been DIY wired many years ago with part of a 1950's-60's vintage NOMA 7-light C9 String. These strings came with a "potted" plug that couldn't be easily taken apart and re-used so someone had to cut it off and remove the C9 light sockets (easily done by twisting the metal tab that held the two halves together) to string the wire through the holes in the decorations, afterwards re-installing the sockets. Its too bad that the sockets aren't visible in the photos to confirm this hypothesis. Another note of interest is that the two sets in the two pictures are wired in a different order with different makes of old "live front" plugs. This does not seem consistent with something produced in a factory. These old live front replacement plugs typically used a cardboard insulator (which often fell off and got lost as in the case of one of the pictures you posted) to prevent loose strands of wire from arcing out on metal outlet plates. Live front plugs were banned for manufacture and sale by the national electrical code back in the 1970's I believe. I have included pictures of the red and black NOMA string and some of the old live front and the new dead front plugs and old outlet plates that were damaged by shorting. The C9 lampholders on this old NOMA string could be easily removed and re-used. Note these black bakelite lampholders were actually rated for up to 75 watts! Left To Right: live front round plug with paper insulator, modern dead front type plug, live front plug missing insulator, another modern dead front type plug. Below: damaged outlet plates out of a 1950's era school caused by live front plugs shorting out on the grounded plate.
  5. Mikeymatic

    Need advice

    I have no problem uploading pictures, I copy them from my camera to the hard drive on my desktop and use microsoft office picture manager to compress them into smaller size files. The program gives you several size options, I compress the pictures for "documents" which knocks down the size quite a lot but keeps the resolution good. You can also rotate those pesky sideways and upside down pictures and then either overwrite the original file or save the modified picture as a new file. My software isn't the latest and greatest, I am using office 2003 with windows XP and it works like a charm.
  6. Mikeymatic

    Mega tree power

    I use 12 lengths of clothesline with snap hooks on the bottom and carabiners on the top to make "master strands" each containing a 70 count string of of Red, Green, Blue, and White LED lights plus a string with 3 C9 randomly spaced sockets for strobe lights (not shown in this older picture) and three of the 12 strings also contain an extension cord to feed the three channels of the star on the top. The 3 LOR 16 channel controllers that make up the 48 channels that feed the LED's in the strands mount on the mast pipe with 12 multiconductor cables with 4 circuit outlet boxes on the ends to power the strands. The tree is almost 30 feet high and the bottom ring is made of 4 - 10 foot lengths of 3/4 PVC conduit fitted (not glued) together so it can be taken apart for storage. The stand itself is telescopic and collapsible. For the past few years I now have it mounted on top of the shipping container. Here's a few older photos of it. I now use a triple star made with led ropelight on a welded frame.
  7. Mikeymatic

    Newbie Seeking Help with LED Rope Light

    LED rope light unlike the old incandescent rope light needs to work on Direct Current (D.C.). The power cord for LED rope light contains something called a rectifier bridge (usually hidden in a plastic "lump" in the cord) which turns the Alternating Current (A.C.)from your wall plug into the Direct current to power the LED's in the rope. The LED's in the rope must be connected in the right polarity (plus and minus like a battery) to the D.C. Power cord in order to light up. if the two pins or barbs on the power cord are stuffed into the end of the rope light the wrong way around, it won't light. Try pulling out the power cord from the end of the rope light and reversing the position of the two pins (thus reversing the polarity of the connection) and see if the LED's light up. Also many power cords have small glass fuses hidden in the plugs, this is also something to check...
  8. Mikeymatic

    Singing Pumpkin Face Design

    Here is a link to one of my favorite Halloween singing pumpkin displays that I have seen on Youtube... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLcC7PS9CJI There are more videos of this display at http://www.creativelightingdisplays.com Hope this helps!
  9. Mikeymatic

    Just got these today and friday

    I wish my two angels were as nice as the ones in Mel's pictures! Mine were rescued from somebody's curbside spring cleanup pile years ago that was destined for the dump. I picked up the brass candle holders at a yard sale recently, I know they are far from the originals but with the addition of a section of brass rod will hopefully somewhat resemble a horn. The tops screwed right off the candle holders which are actually solid brass and had "Taiwan" cast into the underside of the bases in small letters. Hopefully when i come across some brass rod i can carefully thread the end to mate with the candle holder. Another option may be trying to find some brass tubing that would slip right over the stem and be soldered or glued in place. My angels also require some repainting and I might try and duplicate one of the nicer original color schemes in Mel's Photos.
  10. Mikeymatic

    Just got these today and friday

    I also have a set of two of these angels missing their trumpets. One of mine still has the upper half and trumpet breakage seems to be a common problem with these particular blowmolds. I did see an intact one a while ago and noticed the trumpet was quite long but I don't remember where. I would love to know the total length of the original trumpets as i have a set of cheap brass candleholders that i could cut off the candleholder part and extend with brass rod to make very similar replacements.
  11. Mikeymatic

    Just got these today and friday

    Nice Find, So Cool! I was looking at something online similar to these a year or so ago, but like you said the price was prohibitive and then there is the shipping costs to where i live in the north. Curious about how they light up, I think the ones I looked at were battery powered LED. (Battery powered stuff doesn't stay lit very long at the freezing temperatures we get up here at Christmas time, and is not Lightorama 120-volt friendly)
  12. Mikeymatic

    Just got these today and friday

    These pictures may help identify some of the blowmold candles you have. The ones in the center of your picture look familiar like the 38" tall ones I have that were originally made in Canada, and then it looks like TPI bought the mold, and started producing them in the USA changing the "Canada" to "USA" and adding their logo. Years ago a company in Quebec Canada called "Produits Electriques Universel Inc" Made a Cat# 215172 40" tall candle that used a medium base socket and was rated for a standard 25-watt bulb. Years later probably because some people would put 100-watt bulbs in them and melt holes the yellow plastic flame part, they changed their design to replace the medium base socket with a C9 socket to "mitigate this fire hazard problem" . I remember then that some years later these larger diameter candles were discontinued in our local stores and replaced by a newer 38" tall version that used a C7 socket with spring loaded "wings" to hold it onto the flame globe just like the ones I spotted in the middle of your photo. I can't say for 100% sure but according to the exact match of the holly leaves on the bases of both size candles, the original mold for the newer 38" ones may have also originated with "Produits Electriques Universel" I have included some forensic photos of blowmold candles from my collection for you to examine. I would love to find out further information from Mel Fischer or anybody else about these Canadian/American blowmold candles ! Two newer candles and the older style one. I painted the "Noel" white and installed threaded aluminum anchoring plates in the bottoms of these candles.
  13. Mikeymatic

    New Winfield pattern, a helicopter

    Pretty Cool! Has anyone built one yet? I wonder how much it weighs... It would look nice suspended in the air with aircraft cables to make it look like it is flying. Also the addition of a red bulb to rudolph's nose, a couple of small floodlights in the instrument panel to light up santa and rudolph. It would look really neat with the addition of a few C9 strobes and bulbs for proper clearance and navigation lights!
  14. Mikeymatic

    Plywood Santa

    I picked up an old overhead projector that was auctioned off from a school, fixed it up and bought a few quartz bulbs for it. I make lots of plywood cutouts and use transparencies printed off on my old HP laserjet printer as patterns and then trace them out on the plywood with one of those large lead pencils made for kids. You can take almost any good picture of a cut-out and print it off on a transparency to get a pattern. Use a pencil to mark the plywood, if you make a mistake while you are tracing, you can erase it. I learned the hard way about not using marking pens to trace out patterns as the ink comes back to haunt you when you start painting the plywood.
  15. Mikeymatic

    Best blow mold light?

    For years I have been using 15 watt candelabra base incandescent emergency exit sign light bulbs instead of regular C7 bulbs in my blowmolds. Physically they are a little longer than the standard C7 bulb but are a bit smaller in diameter so they fit through the holes in most of the blowmolds with room to spare and light them up much better that the 5-watt C7 without the excessive heat like you would get from 25 watt chandelier bulbs. Especially good in candles and lanterns... You can pick up these bulbs from most commercial electrical suppliers.
  16. Mikeymatic

    Options to fix snowman frame

    I have seen this "bulb dipping paint" advertised on the internet, they advertise a set of 6 colors in small bottles. It is specifically for painting glass light bulbs, i have no idea if the powerful solvents in it would dissolve the plastic in rope light or not. I haven't seen it for sale in any North American websites, here's the link: https://www.conrad.com/ce/en/product/723000/Bulb-Dipping-Paint-Red-Yellow-Green-Blue-Violet-Orange A simpler but time consuming solution may be to use colored permanent markers like jumbo sharpies to color the clear rope light. this wouldn't peel off but might look a bit sketchy close up.
  17. Mikeymatic

    Wireless timers

    Just a thought, If all of your light circuits are supplied from the same electrical panel in your house you could have an electrician install the contactor box next to your panel which would only require a couple of extra feet of house wire. You could get him to install a light switch in another box next to it to bypass the photo control for daytime use of your outdoor receptacles.
  18. Mikeymatic

    I can't figure it out!

    Both Santa and the GFCI receptacle were over 20 feet off the ground. According to our Canadian Electrical Code a GFCI protected receptacle is not required over 8 feet high (are there gfci breakers on your outdoor lights over your door...) Here's the actual code and i suspect the NEC in the U.S. reads the same... Receptacles for residential occupancies 26-710(n) except for automobile heater receptacles provided in conformance with Rule 8-400, all receptacles installed outdoors and within 2.5 m of finished grade shall be protected with a ground fault circuit interrupter of the Class A type
  19. Mikeymatic

    Adapter no longer working

    Put the adapter on a hard surface such as a workbench and use the rounded end of a ball peen hammer to tap it all around the seam where the two halves are fused together cracking the glue joint apart. It will open up like a walnut exposing the switching dc power supply circuit board. Depending on the unit, you may have to go all around the seam several times applying generous force. If you get lucky and catch them early sometimes you can dry them out. I've even fixed a couple by soldering small jumpers where one of the circuit traces was corroded open, and yes, there are usually tiny little glass fuses usually mounted on the circuit board inside and are of the same variety that are used in the plugs of some of the newer strings of Christmas lights. Most of these adapters AREN'T waterproof as advertised and replacements are usually hard to find as they are decoration-specific. Good luck!
  20. Mikeymatic

    Wireless timers

    I would suggest a 4 pole 120volt AC Coil Magnetic lighting contactor. I would suggest 30 amp contacts for heavy duty use. Various mfr's such as Square D, Cutler Hammer, Allen Bradley, etc make them and you can buy them at electrical wholesalers or on Ebay. This is how multiple circuits of outdoor lights on commercial buildings are turned on and off. Use one good quality120 volt photocontrol to turn the contactor on and off. Some contactors come in factory enclosures and some come loose which means you would have to get an electrical enclosure and mount it inside. You could use four short heavy duty 12 gauge extension cords cut in half and wired up to the contactor terminals for the input and output leads to control your four circuits. Here's what they look like:
  21. Mikeymatic

    I can't figure it out!

    This year I had a GFCI tripping problem caused by a 60-watt equivalent daylight dimmable Philips LED bulb installed in a large Santa blowmold that I have. I would plug it in and after an hour or so the GFCI would trip. Santa was the only decoration plugged in to this GFCI and when I would push the reset button on the GFCI he would light up again for another hour or so. Last year I had incandescent bulbs plugged into the same GFCI with no tripping problems. After doing some online research I found out that some brands of LED replacement bulbs cause a lot of electromagnetic interference which can actually trip some GFCI's. As an experiment I brought the Santa blowmold into my garage and plugged it in next to a FM radio. It immediately started interfering with the signal depending on how I moved it around. As the daylight LED looked so good in Santa and he was way up in the air where no one could reach him, I temporarily swapped out a decora duplex receptacle for the GFCI that was "crying wolf" and santa now glows bright with no more problems! BTW I never use electrical tape on my electrical plugs, it causes any moisture that sneaks in to stay around instead of draining out like the plug was designed for. Cover or shelter them to deflect the rain but let them drain and dry out...
  22. Mikeymatic

    LED's that look like Incandescent

    I bought some ceramic C9 led bulbs from HLE this past year and was quite impressed with the quality. I found that the red ones were almost dead ringers for their incandescent counterparts screwed in sockets side by side you could hardly tell them apart. Also their blues and greens had a high light output comparable with incandescents, but I actually like the rich blue of the led bulb more than its incandescent counterpart. I did however find that the orange and yellow leds had a much lower light output than the incandescents and sort of a "milky" look to them. I am really curious how the new SMD ceramic led retrofits compare to these, I would love to see some pictures comparing these to conventional ceramic led retrofits and ceramic incandescents. Also most of my lighting uses C7 bulbs, and i am REALLY curious to see the ceramic C7 SMD LEDS lit up side by side with the C9 SMD LEDS as it appears from the specs that they both use the same .58Watt SMD chip so they should both produce the same light output... According to what little info I can scrape up on the new SMD LED retrofit bulbs they are 33% brighter and use roughly half the power of our present day led retrofits, is this true? I know our local hardware store has a big liquidation sale on their non-dimmable C7 and C9 "consumer grade" LED retrofit bulbs, almost as if they know there is something new coming down the pipeline (SMD bulbs) for next Christmas and don't want their obsolete tech hanging around... Can anyone "enlighten" me on this new tech?
  23. Mikeymatic

    Looking for C9 LED bulbs

    After looking around online the cheapest C9 led retrofits i could find are here. These ones are 5 led non-dimmable clearance price of 13.88 for a 25 pack. They do also offer the 5 led super bright dimmable ones in both faceted and ceramic for under 25 bucks for a 25 pack. Dimmable is important if you are using them with L.O.R. Haven't shopped here yet so don't know what the service is like. https://www.superbrightleds.com/moreinfo/led-decorative/led-replacement-bulb-c9-w-5-leds-15w/450/
  24. Mikeymatic

    Looking for C9 LED bulbs

    I love the LED retrofit bulbs, especially the nice dimmable 5-led ceramic style ones. Only problem is by the time i get them from the US to labrador they cost almost 2 dollars a bulb. I have boxes of good used empty C9 strings here but could never afford to fill them with LED's. They are probably the most environmentally green form of Christmas lighting available as you can recycle your old strings and the good retrofit bulbs are pretty hard to break, last a long long time, and don't suck kilowatts of power like the old incandesdcents.
  25. Mikeymatic

    Mega tree assembly

    Like the neat "pocket anchors" you made with the concrete filled PVC pipe. What did you use to make the green covers? May I suggest you drill a few horizontal/45 degree angle drain holes through your PVC casing right at the top of the concrete in the pocket to prevent ice formation and anchor corrosion. My megatree uses 2", 1-1/2", and 1" pipe also. Two years ago we had a 100km wind storm and the 1" pipe twisted over like a pretzel. I had to replace the top section with 1" schedule 80 galvanized pipe and keep its extension to around 6 feet. so far so good. I am using (3) 1/4" steel aircraft cable anchors attached between the top of the 1-1/2" section and the lifting pockets in the top of the sea container that the tree sits on. I used the large snap hooks from condemned fall arrest lanyards on the ends of the steel cable to attach to the hooks on the 1-1/2" pipe collar to help with quick installation. I cannot emphasize how powerful the wind can be under stormy conditions. Also i am using clothesline as a core for each "strand" with a carabiner at the top to hook into the top ring and a snap hook at the bottom. each of my 12 strands contains 4 led strings plus a string with C9 sockets for strobes and some strands have an extra spt-2 extension cord for the star sections on the top. makes assembly easy and prevents strain on the led strings. I used a floating ring made of (4) 10' lengths of pvc conduit, I didn't Glue them together so i can pull apart the pieces for storage. I attach the bottom ring to two of the anchor cables with hose clamps after everything is up to prevent it from banging around in the wind. Instead of drilling holes through the conduit i used electrical ground clamps and replaced the 1/4" setscrews that clamp the wire with 1/4" threaded eyes.