The Blue Forest

Almost Christmas, and time to do the wacky outdoor lighting thing.  I had this idea that it might look nice to put up some strings of blue lights all along our VERY LONG driveway (100 yards long).  I first pictured stringing them above the driveway, horizontally about 20 feet up, but then I modified the plan and decided to have the light strings hanging down the trunks of the trees on either side of the drive.

Here are some elements of the plan:

1.  Use LOW VOLTAGE!  I really didn’t want to get fried on the ladder while hanging silly Christmas decorations.

2.  Low voltage = LED lights.  No problem.  But, as it turns out,  strings of LED lights cost TEN TIMES the cost of regular (cheap imported) 115VAC lights. Hmmm – I still think LED lights might be cheaper than a funeral!

3.  I’ve worked in electronics for MANY years for various companies, used lots and lots of different kinds of wire, never thought too much about what wire costs.  Let me tell you, they’re not giving that stuff away!  I finally settled on a 1000 foot spool of 16 gauge speaker wire.  Fortunately, I got out for only $65 on that item.

4.  Regarding the source of the required 12 volts DC to operate the lights:  there are WAY too many options there, and I wasn’t real sure where to start shopping for that item.  I wound up buying a computer power supply (for an XT computer) from Tiger Direct for about $11.00 – not too bad.  It has lots of various voltage outputs, and I might be able to use it for some other project after Christmas is done.

So, assembly time! ( Let me say now, Kate was a lifesaver on this project!  She helped me in so many ways, from helping me carry the extension ladder and assisting with many of the other tasks involved.  She’s a hard worker and really helped make it all happen.)  The assembly itself was nothing technically challenging, it was easy enough to keep the polarities straight on the speaker wire, and for the most part it was just moving the ladder, climbing the ladder, splicing wire and using fencing staples to attach to the trees.

The last picture (didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped) will give you *some* idea of the finished project.  I’ll try to get a better picture later.

Anyway, that was our big project for December 2011.  So, Merry Christmas to all, and I hope you enjoy the Blue Forest when you come visit during the holiday!

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