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Christmas Light Show Meets Guitar Hero December 15, 2009

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Zoinks! Dig this kids Christmas style. Christmas lights meet Guitar Hero!

Dr. Z


What do you get when you mix a Christmas Light show with Guitar Hero? Christmas Light Hero! A real game you play with a wii wireless guitar controller. Optional TV screen is available if you get in trouble, but if you use the screen, you don’t get your name in the high score lis


The History and Mystery of Christmas Lights! December 14, 2009

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Merry Chrizzmazz! Did you ever wonder where the tradition of hangning christmas lights came from? Well the folks at Gizmodo have laid out the history in the brief article below! Enjoy!



Thomas Edison was known for his wacky publicity stunts, but during the Christmas of 1880 he went for the sentimental rather than shock value. That year, instead of electrocuting an elephant, he brought us the first electric Christmas light display.

The Wizard’s Light Show

By the time 1880 rolled around, Edison had his incandescent light bulbs pretty well figured out, and was on the lookout for a way to advertise them. To display his invention as a means of heightening Yuletide excitement, he strung up incandescent bulbs all around his Menlo Park laboratory compound, so that passing commuters on the nearby railway could see the Christmas miracle. But Edison being Edison, he decided to make the challenge a little trickier by powering the lights from a remote generator 13km away.

Two years later, an Edison crony named Edward Johnson displayed the first electrically illuminated Christmas tree at his home in Manhattan. The then-impressive 80-light display girded a very unimpressive Charlie Brown Christmas tree (I mean really, look at that thing). And as you might expect, Johnson’s feat was also intended as an advertising tool.

The tradition of stringing electric lights may have started as a Christmas thing in the Western world, but now it’s a global phenomenon used for all kinds festivities. It’s a practice we take for granted – come December, they’re everywhere. The evolution of the Christmas light parallels that of the light bulb, with some remarkably ornate – OK, tacky – variations. But regardless of how they look, one thing’s for certain: They’re a much better option than sticking a candle in a tree.

In the Beginning There was Fire

Today we look at Christmas lights and think, “Oh, those are pretty.” But the tradition of lighting lights didn’t start off with aesthetics in mind. December is the darkest month of the year with the shortest days (if you live in the northern hemisphere). People living without central heating in the 12th century were understandably unhappy when the sun went down and plunged them into the cold depths of night. Way back during the winter of 1184 was the first recorded lighting of the Yule Log [PDF] in Germany. The burning log was seen as a symbol of the sun’s promise to return. It probably didn’t hurt that a big burning hunk of wood makes for a pretty good heat source.

The Christmas tree has a whole story behind it that we won’t get into here. (Fun fact: They were originally hung upside down from the ceiling — hilarious!) Long story short, Christians had lights, they had trees, and in the 17th century, they decided to put the two together.

Unfortunately, the only way to add Christmas lights to a tree back then was with candles. Obviously, this was a pretty bad idea. So bad that, unlike today, the tree would only be put up a few days before Christmas [PDF] and was promptly taken down afterwards. The candles would remain lit only for a few minutes per night, and even then families would sit around the tree and watch it vigilantly, buckets of sand and water nearby. It’s kind of like the old-timey equivalent of deep-frying a turkey: People knew it could burn their house down, but proceeded to do it anyway.

By 1908, insurance companies wouldn’t even pay for damages [PDF] caused by Christmas tree fires. Their exhaustive research demonstrated that burning wax candles that were loosely secured to a dried-out tree inside your house wasn’t safe. At all. Electric Christmas lights were becoming a viable option for some. They weren’t perfect – incandescent bulbs can get plenty hot, and sparks from malfunctioning strings can still light up a dry tree – but it was a much safer option than lighting multiple fires so close to their favourite fuel.

Keep in mind that by “some”, I mean the extremely rich. In 1900, a single string of electric lights cost $US12 [PDF] – around $US300 in today’s money. It would take the magic of mass manufacturing to create the Clark Griswold-esque neighbourhood light displays that would become a Western tradition.

The Dawn of Tacky Lights

In 1900, eight years after General Electric purchased the patent rights to Edison’s bulbs, the first known advertisement for Christmas tree lights appeared in Scientific American magazine. Like I said, these suckers weren’t cheap. They were so expensive that the ad suggests renting lights for a holiday display.

Twenty-five years later, demand was up. There were 15 companies in the biz of selling Christmas lights, and in 1925 they formed a consortium called the NOMA Electric Corporation, the largest Christmas light manufacturer in the world.

Even though NOMA was formed three years prior to the Great Depression, their appeal was great enough to pull through, becoming a juggernaut that was synonymous with Christmas lights from the Depression clear through to the US Civil Rights Movement. NOMA didn’t just further Edison’s vision, though. They worked hard to bedazzle, giving birth to the bubble light – arguably the first great mass-produced tacky Christmas decoration.

Though NOMA is no more, these psychedelic bubble lights are thankfully still in existence. These colourful round plastic cases hold an unseen bulb, while a candle-shaped vial of clear liquid protrudes upward. As the bulb heats up, the liquid – usually methylene chloride, a chemical with a low boiling point – also heats up, so that the vial would bubble, flickering like the candle it was supposed to replace.

Alas, in 1968 the NOMA Electric Company stopped manufacturing lights, and the bubble lights became more of a novelty, soon to be joined by a host of ridiculously shaped Christmas lights, including chili peppers, flamingos, beer cans and a miniaturised version of that leg from A Christmas Story.

With NOMA, the tacky Pandora’s box had opened, and even people who didn’t spring for bubble lights or their Tex-Mex successors have done wonders with the decidedly more standardised sets we all know today. Once they were weatherproofed for outdoor use, it was only a matter of time before they were stapled to every square inch of house, hearth, tree, even truck.

The Lights You Know and Love

Incandescent lights are the ones that started it all. Even though they’re well over a hundred years old now, the technology largely remains the same. The shapes and sizes of the bulbs, on the other hand, have been in constant flux. Now we’re left with three major types of incandescent Christmas light bulbs:

The Mini/Fairy Light: This is the big kahuna. If you haven’t seen one of these by now, then you’ve probably never seen Christmas lights. Traditionally, the set is wired in series, hence the age old problem where if one bulb goes out, the rest won’t light. But it’s not hard to find sets that are wired in parallel nowadays.

These guys also have a lo-fi twinkle method built in. That little red-tipped bulb that comes with each set is made in a way that as the filament heats up, it rises and breaks the circuit. That, of course, shuts off the rest of the lights. When it cools down, it falls again to complete the circuit, and the lights (wait for it…) come back on. Physics 101.


C7: Again, an incandescent light that comes in a different-sized glass housing. These are about the size of your thumb, and work in almost exactly the same way as a mini light.


C9: You get the picture by now. Same shape as the C7, but slightly bigger.


LED lights have been growing in popularity for the past few years. Regardless of what you think of their light output, there’s no denying that they’re much more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, and they give off less heat. And who knows, maybe someday they’ll match the colour temperature of good-ol’ tungsten lighting. Until then, here’s what you’ll be looking at:

5mm: These are the LED equivalent of incandescent mini-lights. They’re small LED bulbs in a plastic enclosure. Usually the “white” level is waaaay off from the “white” of incandescent lights.


G12 and G25: Just like with incandescent lights, you’re going to find a whole lot of the same with LEDs, just in different shapes and sizes. These are globe-shaped plastic enclosures, G12 is pictured.


C7: You’ve seen these before, except this time there’s an LED inside.


You’ll find a bunch of crazy light designs out there, but 99.9 per cent of them are just plastic enclosures that are illuminated by these types of bulbs.

A Long Way From Candles

The basic foundation of the Christmas light, the incandescent bulb, hardly changed for nearly a century, and is only now undergoing its first major revolution as we start replacing our old tungsten lights with energy-efficient LEDs. Yet in that same time, we’ve gone from sticking burning candles in a tree to creating massive, computer-controlled – and completely excessive – light displays like this:

One thing’s for sure: No matter what the technology at hand, no matter what the reason to celebrate, the human desire to light up trees and houses in December will forever be a source for amazing – and often hilarious – innovation.

taking down christmas lights..Safely! December 4, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in Uncategorized.
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Zoinks! Christmas is or going to be over soon and you need to get those lights down! Here are a few tips I got from writer Dave Donovan of ehow.com. I would like to add my own 8# No EGGNOG.
Dr. Z

Things You’ll Need:

  • Brown paper lunch bags
  • Zip ties
  1. Step 1

    The first thing you have to avoid doing is pulling on the wires when you are taking down your Christmas lights. This is the primary reason for wires being pulled out of their sockets.

  2. Step 2

    When removing Christmas lights from your Christmas tree, use the following technique:

    In one hand, keep coiling the lights while the other hand is maneuvering the string of lights from the point at which they enter the tree. More than likely, the strands of lights have gotten tangled with each other or within the branches and it may be tempting to tug on them to get them out. Rather than pull, get your hands in there and move the branches to gently untangle the wire.

  3. Step 3

    The same applies to taking the lights down from the ceiling or any other difficult-to-reach place, like a rooftop. When you decorated your home, you took as long as you needed to make sure that the Christmas lights were solidly in place, so don’t cheat now when you’re taking them down. Get the ladder out or get on the roof (ice permitting) and take down the lights, so nothing gets damaged.

  4. Step 4

    When storing Christmas lights, I take the cheap approach (it IS after Christmas). I wrap up each string of lights individually, so they are not a tangled mess and keep it assembled by using a zip tie (be sure the zip tie is not too tight, just tight enough to hold the bunch together). Then I place it inside a brown paper bag, the kind used for sack lunches.

  5. Step 5

    Next, I take a sturdy box and line up all of the bags of Christmas lights. I don’t store anything else inside the box, just lights. If you have an excess of space left in the box, just fill it up with extra newspaper.

  6. Step 6

    Label the box “Christmas Lights” and store it some place where a heavier box won’t be set on top of it.

  7. Step 7

    I know this seems like a simple task, but when you’re ready to get your home’s decorating back to normal–or you’re trying to get the decorations down in time for the big game–it can be easy to forget about preserving your Christmas lights for next year. Taking a few minutes now, will allow next holiday’s decorating to go smoother–and you’ll be saving money by having your lights safely stored and ready to go.

Tips & Warnings
  • When taking down your Christmas lights, double-check that all of the bulbs are still attached and unbroken (especially if you have curious cats or dogs in the home).

Are You Dreaming of A Green Xmas? LED Christmas Lights are 10 more efficient! November 30, 2009

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Zoinks! Even Santa is getting the LED out!

Its the Holiday Season and running those Christmas Lights can really jack up your energy costs.. A great solution for this is changing for traditional (incandescent) Christmas lights to LED Christmas lights.

Cherie Jacobs, a Progress Energy spokeswoman, says:

Running 10 strands of 100 LED light bulbs during evenings for the month of December will cost about 70 cents.

• Running 10 strands of 100 conventional light bulbs during evenings for the month of December will cost about $7 — 10 times as much.

The Electric Power Research Institute says if seasonal lights nationwide were replaced with LED lighting, carbon emissions could be reduced by as much as 400,000 tons per year and electricity cost savings would exceed $250 million.




Dr. Z


Thanks to By Ivan Penn, Times Staff Writer for the info


Some Great Tips For Hanging Christmas Lights September 22, 2009

Posted by Dr. Z Bulbs in Definitions about product., How to about lighting, LED Lights, light bulb.
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This could happen to you

This could happen to you

Gadzooks! Its already the time to start thinking about putting up christmas lights! So I figure it would be good to post a few tips on how to go about creating your own little winter wonderland.  Ann Belvins from Better Homes and Gardens gives 13 tips for setting up a dazzling christmas display!

Dr. Z



1. Start out small. If you’re a Christmas lights novice, light just two or three items, such as trees or bushes, to serve as focal points. Add new displays each year.

2. Stay safe. Only use lights with the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) label and be sure you’re using lights designed specifically for outdoor use.

3.Know your lights. When it comes to holiday lights, there’s a type available for every nook and cranny of your house and yard. Whether you want blinking rope lights outlining windows or net lights blanketing bushes, wising up on your holiday light knowledge will help you get the most bang for your buck.

4.Check for burned-out lights. Test light strings and replace any burned-out lights before decking the halls. Burned-out lights drain power from the entire light string, and the other bulbs will grow dimmer.

5. Out with the old, in with the new. Avoid old-fashioned nails, staples, screws, or hooks when mounting your display. Electrical tape is a quick and easy alternative — it won’t destroy your roof, and it’s a good tool for protecting electrical connections. Clips, such as shingle tab or parapet clips, hold lights to surfaces by applying simple, safe pressure.

6.Use a sturdy ladder. Enlist a helper to keep you steady as you hang lights on very tall tree — you’ll stay safe and you’ll be able to reach the branches easily. Attach lights to branches with tree clips or twist ties.

 7. Work your way up. To string trunks of deciduous trees, start at the base and wrap the lights around in a spiral. If you want to illuminate an evergreen, however, start at the top and zigzag lights through the center of the tree, getting wider with the tree’s shape

8. Consider the location. If your evergreen can only be seen by passersby from the front, save lights and work by decorating the tree front only.

9. Add some dimension. Consider ground and stake lighting for extra holiday oomph. Multicolored lights work well for outlining walks, paths, and driveways.

10.Avoid bright light overload. Holiday lights can be dazzling and fun, but be careful not to overload your circuits. Include no more than 1,400 watts on a circuit. If other lights in the house dim when you turn on the holiday lights, your circuit is overloaded.

11.Look around for added sparkle. Find illuminating inspiration in unexpected places. Perhaps a birdbath or decorative porch columns would look pretty with a little extra light. For hard-to-reach spots, or any place you don’t want to use electricity, try battery-operated mini lights.

12.Call in the pros. If you don’t have roofing experience, limit your lights to eaves, gables, and the edge of the roof. Keep lights and cords away from metal. Beware of overheated wires, aluminum gutters, and ironwork decor. If you want more lights on the roof itself, call a professional lighting company.

13.Hit the switch. Turn off outdoor lights before going to bed, and don’t leave them on when you’re away from home, unless they’re attached to a timer with a photocell.