Other fascinating things that occupy my thinking a lot are RGB LED's. When a child, I always loved switching around the colored C7 bulbs on the Christmas tree. The standard colors were usually red, orange, green and blue. There was white also, but eventually, we only used that for the star. Yet, when I would see other decorations and windows elsewhere, (including pine garland, wreaths, etc.) with all white lights, it looked kind of nice too. (And I once had all white 2.5v bulbs in my bedroom window, and later years would put both that string on the tree with the regular colored C7 strings, and saw it lit by itself; and it was nice). Or white and red. Or the Christmas colors red and green, of course. Or even red and blue. Or all blue. Or all red. Or all green, or green and white. I also wondered what a "cool" white (non-yellow, fluorescent or mercury vapor style, now made possible by LED's!) would look like in a tree or other decoration. And then mixing that with other colors. Just about any color or color combination! I wanted them all!
All grown up now, when I saw that LED's offered the possibility of color changing bulbs (whenever they would have them with all three primary chips); the first thing I envisioned for them was color changing Subway end route signs. The R110A test train came equipped with a new LED sign in which each LED had both red and green dies. So it could instantly change from (2) to (4) (red, for the Seventh Avenue line, to green for the Lexington Avenue line). By mixing both colors, you would get yellow. The yellow line was on the BMT, where this IRT car would not be running. Still, it was nice to be able to change from red to green. If the 2 is rerouted down Lexington, as often happens, you could make it green, helping alert people of the change. It was this sign, plus other similar ones appearing with text inside stores and waiting rooms, and even larger ones with graphics on the outside of buildings at the time, that really sparked my interest in LED's.
The missing color, of course, was blue; which would complete the primaries, allowing full color, like a TV screen. The test train for the BMT/IND, which has the blue coded 8th Avenue line, got an old fashioned roller curtain sign, as blue was not out yet.
Still several years before the Internet; it was very hard to find information on it. But I did hear it was in development. Finally, in the late 90's, they begin slowly appearing individually in Radio Shack bins. (I still did not know what the color looked like when lit at that time). Then, as indicator lights, on the then still emerging DVD players. Then, finally, display signs, perhaps the oldest being the triangle paneled "Bud" sign on 1 Times Square, which had a tipping bottle. This I first noticed in early 1998, and since removed and replaced by newer full color signs. The following year, was the globe-shaped outside of the Panasonic Theater auditorium in the new NBC Style Store. Finally, that fall, the new Good Morning America marquees in Times Square (which have recently been redone with even finer resolution. I was there the first day, and managed to get in somebody's picture of new tennis star Serena Williams, posing inside the window).
Afterwards, full color signs like these, using separate red, green and blue LED's (SRGB) completely took over all of Times Square, replacing nearly all Neons and incandescents, even!
In all of these displays, the green was also richer and less yellow than the previous.
So the full color age had finally come upon us, and entering the new milennium, white and full color RGB LED's (with all three colors in one LED) would eventually appear. This even appeared on the backs of many subway entrances, but were after awhile replaced by improved and now larger LCD's, because of some thermal issue where the three chip LED's cannot be too close together, requiring a wide pitch (space between rows and columns), and limiting visual resolution and thus, usefulness on small close range signs. Hence why they are not seen as much as SRGB or RyG, still).
As for the trains, because of the cost, and probably also visibility concerns, they have gone with all red on the new front signs (and amber for the sides). I have been suggesting a white LED letter, and making the circle or diamond only RGB (below). Buses in other cities, and our own Grey Line double decker tours are using SRGB however. Side-mounted (below the windows) ad signs using RGB's did appear on a few of our articulated buses in Manhattan, however. They are flat enough to not stick out much further than the old framed ad signs used before stickers became the norm.
The second thing I envisioned, and which would be more personally useful, could be called "mood Christmas lights". A string of lights using the full color LED's with each bulb being individually addressable. You could change the color of any or all lights with a push of a button. So maybe there's too much of one color, and not enough of another color on this part of the tree; you can change it without having to be screwing bulbs in or out.
The first LED Christmas lights were battery operated little strings of bare red, orange, amber and yellow-green LED's, you could find at K-Mart. This was before blue and the new "pure green" LED's (both based on Gallium Nitride technology, and white being made also from the blue) were widely available.
Then, a company called Forever Bright came out with sets that added blue, and encased the lights in C6 sized faceted plastic bulbs (slightly smaller than the standard C7, and were push-ins, rather than screw based). Soon, white strings, and pure green color, and brighter bulbs were added.
I had to go out to Harrows in Long Island at first, for these. This started a tradition of travelling through that area to see all the decorations on the homes. (And it's fun to find homes and even whole yards increasingly done in LED lighting! One gem I found out there was, basically, their own "Rockefeller Center"; a little plaza and skating rink in front of one of those "mirror glass" faced office buildings, called "EAB Plaza", now "Rexcorp Plaza"; which had a tree bigger than Rockefeller Center's!)
The next step was individual RGB bulbs that cannot be controlled. They just cycle through red, green, blue, yellow (R+G), cyan (B+G), magenta (R+B), white (R+G+B); but each bulb cycles at slightly different rates, so they are almost always different colors. The first ones appeared single, as night lights that could be bought in K-Mart, or other stores under different brands. Soon, there were similar bulbs made specifically for Christmas decoration manufactured by Carpenter Decorating, and called "Intellishine" (they also have single color bulbs). These are only 6 volts, and about $6 each, so I got an extra 6 light string from my mother's model railroad Christmas villages, and hooked it up to a 6V transformer.
So eventually, fully addressable RGB strings finally start appearing! But these were not consumer Christmas tree lights, but rather high-end display sign pixels, that basically cost $10 per light. So a string of 50 is $500! Then, the DMX controllers and software would push it up into the thousands!
The first one I discover is Color Kinetics' (Now Philips Solid State Lighting) iColorFlex (http://www.colorkinetics.com/ls/rgb/flex. These are the strings of color changing lights that line the ceiling of the FAO Schwartz store in Manhattan. The cost is of course out of reach. (Also, it uses a 619nm orange as the primary red, throwing some of the colors off).
But the following year (2005) I find a similar product, LED Effects' DingDotz. These are the lights on that colorful panel that forms the background of the Sony sign on the lower level of the Toys R Us in Times Square. A string of 50 is basically the same price as the iColor Flex, but they also offered a "Demo Kit" of 10 lights with a preprogrammed chip, for $100! That was in reach, and I squeezed and got it! It is a facinating display of vivid LED colors. It even simulates incandescent color! (LED Effects also had a showroom right on 23rd St. so I got to see them before buying, plus all of their other products, including some nice incandecent white only LED's, made by adding some red to the yellow phosphor coating the blue LED chip. These are just now starting to be sold by others).
The following year, As the Fall approached, and I began looking for the latest lights, I found Triklits, which were an even better deal, at 24 lights for $100. And not only that, but you can choose between dozens of preset displays (color combinations, chase patterns, etc). But as soon As I had the money, and sat down to order them, they were pulled due to some defects, and have never come back. :-( So 2007, the options were to go for more DingDotz (individual lights can be added on for $11 a piece). There is also now a new updated version called CoolDotz (You can see all of them here: LED Dotz;now they're all called "X8 Dotz" or "X16 Dotz") Demo Kit for same price, and they have an advanced chip with a higher Color Bit Depth, Gamma Correction, and color adjustability (for down the line when colors start to fade).
Another option was a controller and software so I can make my own color combinations and light show. But I'd have to get a new string, as the Demo is not designed to be expanded.
Here's a tree with fully controllable lights:
The only new products I had found for 2007 was the Color Stream String Light. But this is an OEM (Original Electronics Manufacturer) product, and not a consumer item yet. I was told it would be released to consumers 2008 by one of the LED brands, as a string of 30 for under $50! But it has yet to show. (Also, since Philips owns ColorKinetics now, and Philips has been selling LED strings for a few years now, you would think they would come out with a marketable product based on the iColorFlex. The merger is still recent, so I was told maybe 2008, they will merge their product line).
Also, late in the game, appeared a bunch of strings and prelit trees by Cosmo Lighting. http://www.cosmo-lighting.co.uk/shop...se?shop_param= I saw them in the window of a deli at the north end of Rockefeller Plaza. It was closed, but then I find that the distributor has set up shop on the second floor of the Manhattan Mall. In the window; I had seen what looked like pale cyan LED's on one of the trees, and you could see that there were actually the three primary color dies lit. It was steady at that color, and the deli was closed so I couldn't ask about them. Instead, in Manhattan Mall, and I see a store with all these LED decorations inside, and I go in, and it is the same trees! They also have the strings by themselves! (very thin. Those might be more of those Shenzhen strings I used to see on alibaba.com! The picture looks just like it).
There is a control knob that allows it to do 8 different patterns. $30 for a string of 144 color changing (the string used on the smaller tree), and $60 for 264 (used on a larger tree). The tres themselves are $hundreds! The single color lights, including the ribbon encased ones, are less.
I was tempted to try to get it, but I don't know. The colors are poor (that dull cyan is apparently supposed to be "white"). Nothing like the DingDotz! The 8 patterns don't look like much, some chases and I think different color combinations, but it's hard to tell. The colors seem to be mostly blues and greens. The red is in there, but you don't see it much by itself, and you don't seem to see any yellows or true white either.
Then, I saw passing by a Grand Central Terminal salon, a prelit tree, incandescent based fiber optic with 7-color changing LED plastic flower lights, and a six pointed star on top with the color changing LED's in the points. Most of the lights used the standard "pure" 525 as the primary green, but a few of them used the 565 yellow green! (actually, the first rgb's using yellow green I have ever seen. I knew they they existed (Ledtronics has had them for sale as long as rgb's have been out). One color I saw some of them making was a very good imitation 2700 incandescent. I don't know if that was simply the "white" of the ones with the yellow green, or it was a specially mixed color). These I eventually find are sold by Michael's, a chain we don't usually hear about, but has a store in Queens. (It might be by Polytree of Hong Kong, which distributes most of Michael's trees).
What's of special interest, is that this tree has some sort of remote controller. I didn't want to bug the sales person so much on the phone, which is why I was trying to find out the manufacturer; so I could see what patterns and stuff can be done on that one.
I use all of these lights in the windows, BTW. The white Foreverbrights when behind the blinds at night, make it look like a snowy daylight outside. Nice when playing Johnny Mathis' or Manhattan Transfer's version of "Let It Snow" or "Snowfall"!
I also found a rare seven color RGB belt buckle. Problem is, it eats up the 2032 Lithium button cells in a half hour. There are rechargeable Lithium Ion cells, but these are 3.6V instead of 3 Volts, so I don't know if that would be harmful to them. There are others sold online that have USB connection to the PC, and can display more then one color at the same time as well as graphics. But these are on Chinese wholesale sites like alibaba.com. They also have RGB strings on there as well. I have no idea how to get that stuff. (One of the Chinese LED light companies; Shenzhen Viss, which had a dome-lensed string nearly identical to one of the iColor Flex options, has just begun distributing it through the US company Wiedamark. I found this out too late for 2007).
A must see is the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, with its 3D CGI animation sequence of Santa flying in from the north pole (through the 3D effect snowfall), lighting the Rockefeller Center tree across the street, and then landing at the hall, and later giving a tour of the area leading to Central Park and finally Times Square. The screen this is shown on is a huge RGB display that forms the back wall of the stage. It was also used for the backgrounds of the show's segments (such as a continuation of the props used on stage into the distance), and it often looked so real! I had never seen CGI animation on an RGB LED screen before, and with the higher resolution of using single RGB units, instead of SRGB arrays like most other signs, it was truly like nothing else you see. I wonder when movie theaters will begin using them. And if Radio City itself uses that screen whenever movies are shown there.
And wondering when the Rockefeller Center tree would ever go LED, I was surprised when its conversion was also announced for 2007 (also its 75th anniversary) just a few days before the lighting! It now has six colors (up from 5) with both orange and amber (in addition to red, green, blue and white). The white is 3500K. This is inbetween "soft" and "cool" white; roughly the color of the original Philips "earth light" compact fluorescents when they first tried to emulate incandescent color, and called it "warm white". When the color was finally improved to a truly incandescent "soft white" at 2700K, it kept the name "warm" white. Now, the new inbetween color is spreading, both in CFL's and LED's though again, LED Effects had the more incandescent looking 2700K LED's for a few years now.
The tree was the first large multicolor decoration I have seen to use the new "warm white" facsimiles. So the tree does not have that sharp "icy" kick to it that other trees and decorations with more bluish white LED's have. It actually looks quite natural. It's not as bright as with the incandescents. It has almost no glare, and you can't even tell it's on from around the corner. But of course, it is so much more colorful. There was always just too much white before, and the tree was always overall pale, though bright. Now, the white is not overwhelming everything else. The bulbs are C9 faceted.
The smaller trees lining the plaza, (including the small pines beneath the tree, and in the walkway exposing the tree to 5th Ave), which have always had smaller white incandescent bulbs, got white "raspberry" shaped LED's, as well. (either the 3500K, or slightly less yellow, probably in the 4000's K). A small replica of the tree (with the same color LED's) and surrounding buildings was constructed as an exhibit in the concourse space directly below the tree (between the windows to the rink), showing the new solar panels on the roof powering the tree. Also, there weren't as many blues on the side of the tree facing the building (away from the rink). Never seen the colors out of balance before. That section of the tree with less blues kind of resembled the overall color of the tree with incandescents. The incandescent blues were always not as bright, and being not as saturated, were not as prominent. Now, blue was dominant. When you moved your eyes, so that the colors all blur together, the overall color looks like the same pale fluorescent electric blue or periwinkle as other multicolor LED trees.
The sister tree in Long Island, which went on two days later still had incandescents, with the pale white dominated mix with the old transparent stained red, green, blue and orange. In 2005, however, there were a couple of Foreverbright type C6 strings near the bottom of the tree, (which could be noticed from across the parking lots, almost to Hempstead Tpk!) so it in a way had actually gotten the jump on the Rockefeller Center tree, though this was no where near enough to change the overall appearance of the tree.
2007 is also the year that the New Years Eve ball went completely LED! It too has graphic light patterns on it, with the triangle panels being able to change to different colors from one another. I saw it on display at Macy's weeks before its first New Years! White LED's also line the lines making up the triangles. Nicer than I would have ever thought; doing similar color combination displays as the ones I have envisioned for RGB light strings. (red/green; blue/orange, etc.) For '08/9, they have also made the ball even bigger, and it stays up and lit all year round! (I also found that it is visible from sections of the Williamsburg Bridge, between the buildings of midtown!)
Other big LED news at this same time was the conversion of a NYC bus interior lighting to LED! (Flyer DLF40 #870, out of the Jackie Gleason Depot in Brooklyn).
Here's a photo and link to post with several pictures and video.
I wondered when this would happen. Now all of a sudden, here it is! Eventually, new buses in Long Island, and a test being done on one set of R160A2's use LED's behind an opaque [translucent, actually] cover, which diffuses it so much you can't even see the individual "dots" of light. (The fluorescents were using ribbed transparent covers). So it's hard to tell (except that there seems to be a slightly bluer "atmosphere" on the bus or train), but if you can see in the crack where two covers meet, then you can see an individual LED. Since the LED's are said to not emit UV, hopefully, the covers will no longer yellow over time, and it will look like new.
Another big story, that the Brooklyn Bridge is going to get LED bulbs! At first, the reports mentioned "more environmentally friendly", or something like that; the term we had just heard about regarding the Rockefeller Center tree's recent conversion. But I didn't think it could mean LED bulbs, because I didn't think they were bright enough for that yet. These are those bright mercury's outlining the span they are replacing. But afterwards, the reports said it would be LED's. I imagine these must be some expensive high end ones for them to be bright enough to actually replace HID's, and on such a landmark structure, of all things. (I did recently see LED replacements for HID's under the overpasses of the bridge approach over Cadman Plaza East).
New blue LED emergency alarm lights continue to be tested on parts of the 8th Avenue line, and now a section of while LED bulbs (~5-6000K) are being tested in the tunnel near Hoyt-Schermerhorn. (In the old incandescent fixtures).
For the 2008 Rockefeller tree, there would be more whites, creating an overal brighter and less bluish appearance (even when you move your eyes). So it looks even more natural, and a bit closer to the old incandescent lighting. A slight blue deficit would now be located toward the bottom of the tree. The white lights on the trees lining the plaza are now notably dimmer for some reason. At the same time, the Rexcorp tree finally followed suit with LED, consisting entirely of Foreverbright type faceted C6's in red, orange, yellow, green and blue. Since these strings do not mix the colors with white bulbs, there were now no whites in the tree! (Except for the star, which uses the familiar pure white LED's). So it was even dimmer than the Rockefeller tree was the previous year, and from a distance, the colors blend into an almost ghostly violet glow (and without even having to move your eyes). You can barely see it through the trees in the parking lot.
2009, The trees lining Rockefeller Center continued to get dimmer. I saw the little trees on the rink level directly beneath the big tree using "cooler", 6000K white before the tree was lit, but then with the warm white again after it was lit. The glass elevator sheds, which were lined with small incandescent clear "globe" bulbs now got the same-shaped opaque cool white LED bulbs (which can also be seen on the LOFT store in Times Square). I was wondering when those would make the transition, and what they would be replaced with. The only incandescents left in the plaza now are the lights on the angels. The tree itself now seems to have a slight greenish prominence, which could even be detected on TV. The green bulbs appear to be brighter.
Many of the other white-only decorations in the area made the switch to LED, including many of the fixed trees (with no leaves in the winter) around the buildings across Sixth Ave; which now have a very bright warm white. (A few are still incandescent). You also started to see 2700K in places. In decorations, these kind of have a more "golden tan" look than the warm white.
I decided to take Macy's up on their 24 hour opening two days before Christmas, arriving at 2:47AM. The LED's on the garland lining the central aisle on the first floor was warm white LED's. (But only on the 6th Ave. side). There were also a lot of bright warm white LED spotlights. (Which are sold at Home Depot for $69).
And outside, on the marquee of a sealed up exit was a large tree of 7 color cycle RGB's (with blinking whites thrown in as well). It's the first large RGB tree I have seen. I always wondered how that would look, and if it would be too "wild" or something. It actually looks quite like any fixed [multi-]color LED tree at first glance, except that you see this twinkling going on all over it. When you get closer and take a good look, you'll see that each light is changing colors. (Some of the twinkling was also from blinking white only lights scattered throughout).
So I wonder when Rockefeller and Rexcorp will make the jump to this. 40,000 RGB's are probably still way too expensive. (Wonder how long it will take for them to get the fully controllable DMX ones. THAT will sure be something! The tree would become a graphic and video display in its own right!)
I also then ran over to Rockefeller Center to find that the tree is turned off at night. The entire plaza is closed off, and guarded.
The Long Island tree now got the same type of lights as Rockefeller Center (with the six colors), except that the white is the typical "pure/cool" 6000K type. This to me looks nicer; like a modern LED display should look. So now, from a distance, it is a whiter, brighter purplish glow. I got to see the lighting this year (which is usually on Saturdays, and I don't get out of work early enough), because they decided to go "low key", after 2008's big, broadcasted celebrity performance bash (a là Rockefeller Center), and have a small celebration in the middle of the week (when I'm off), with just some area high school singers and orchestra (who played inside the indoor atrium with the tree as the backdrop), and I could be right next to the tree when it was turned on, with basically no crowds at all. (The skating rink was supposed to be open, but appeared to be closed. Perhaps it was because of the heavy rainstorm earlier in the day; but that had pretty much dried up by then, and it was actually a nice, mild evening). Nice alternative to camping out all day and being corralled like cattle in the crowds for the Rockefeller tree.
I had also heard that the number in the year was going LED that year as well. Going to look at it New Year's Day at night, it does look different; same color, but more like CFL than soft white LED, which again has more of a yellow tint to it. Perhaps it went CFL, or it was just said to be going "green" (energy efficient), and I assumed LED's? (2011, a news clip said they were LED, and a closeup shot in fact revealed the ribbed heat sink base characteristic of LED bulbs!)
This was overshadowed by the news of the all new ball, with more patterns. (I thought the previous ball was nice enough, and would be the final one for awhile). A brilliant text sign with [individually flashing] cool white LED's in red neon outline appeared on the car wash at Fulton @ Pennsylvania Av. in Brooklyn. That could have easily been used to light the year sign.
In November '09, the first small RGB signs, and the first using yellow-green as the primary [I've seen anywhere], began appearing on corner store Lotto machines, advertising the jackpot amount. These are Adaptive Micro System "BetaBrite Prism" signs.
Because of the yellow-green, the colors are off, with the "white" as a sort of lavender. (Between the "S" or "E" and the flag stars and stripes in the example; which do have a pinkish tint, these colors might be distorted by the photography and computer screen. And the "A" is the real-life looking primary green). This off-white is the result of adding blue to the reddened "amber" (the "O") made by shining the red and green at full intensity (FFFF00). White is made by adding blue to pure yellow (FFFF + FF), and pure yellow on signs using yellow green is made by adding red at half intensity (80 + FF), so then white is obtained by turning the red down. These signs have half-intensity capabilities. (For a total of 26 colors plus black; 3³).
The lousy phone camera video quality totally distorts all the colors. (Though notice, all the opaque object colors look fine!) I really don't even know which is which there. I know I saw the three primary colors, red (635 or more nm), yellow-green (565), blue (470?), and then magenta, lavender, amber and a pale cyan. It was probably supposed to be the basic 7 colors RGB's often display: RyGcBmw, though again, the white is lavender and the yellow is amber. In this video, lavender, magenta, cyan and blue all look like the same cyan shade, and I'm not sure whether or not the green is also one of them, or the paler amber. The deeper orange has to be the red!
Looking at one again, it does seem there are two ambers; one more reddish and another less so, as well as orange (Yeah; I did notice the orange before. Forgot). So this sign does have half-intensity capability, and the less reddish amber is supposed to be the "pure" yellow. Some RyG signs were like that. It might be a stronger red or weaker green. So when this yellow mixes with the blue, it just makes a whiter looking lavender. So [so I thought; see below] unless other units of these signs have the red and green calibrated differently, you won't see a true white on them. (which would be something like 40FFFF or maybe 60FFFF). The colors also seem to display randomly, so it was hard to count how many it displays.
The pitch is a little bit smaller than other RGB's, but still a bit wider than other LED signs.
Feb. 2012, I finally get one of my very own!
I happened to check Amazon, and they had a used for for $69!!! The cost for a new one is about $339! The remote was not included, so I got that from an Amazon seller for $40.
Even with the camera of my other new gear, the Samsung Galaxy S2 (My first OLED phone!), the whites all look like blue.
Because of the color offset, described above, what would amount to full white (FFFFFF) is pinkish, and the pure white (remarkably similar to a 6000K phosphor white LED, with a few LED's being a bit more bluish) is called "Light Aqua: [LAQ], and basically 00FF80 (green with a little blue added, and no red). Looks truly stunning in person, but it comes out cyan in the picture.
I used a color called "Light Cyan" [LCY] for the L line's gray, and brown by itself looks like just a burnt amber, but next to the other colors, fts the J line's brown pretty well.
I didn't even use a thick font for the opening sequence. The picture conversion process did that somehow.
The MTA has been putting up new arrival time signs, but these are all the ones without blue. I really wish they would get these.
Around this same time, LED bulbs are really taking off in the subway tunnels. They just started on 6th Ave. between W4 and 14th on th elocal track (both directions). These are now 3500-4000K "warm white", and others are appearing all over the IRT.
For 2010, I finally got my next LED Christmas light; Engineering Solutions' RGB Nodes (http://response-box.com/rgb. These are the ones in the "Feliz Navidad" video, above. I was so astounded by that. It was exactly what I was looking for.
Here are a bunch of them on a house:
And once they were released for sale, the prices were a total steal compared to everything else. Designed as Christmas lights (unlike the Dotz, iColorFlex and the rest of those types of strings), they sold at $105 for a string of 42 (basically a quarter or more of the value of the others; that was basically the price of the DingDotz ten light demo!) plus, they sold the controller for $185, and a third party power adapter for $24. I also had to buy a DMX interface to hook it up to the computer. The cheapest one I found was the Enttec Open DMX, for $60! The more deluxe "DMX Pro" was $150. I was of course trying to spend as little as possible; and was also in a rush.
It is incredibly hard to find these DMX interfaces in stores. Not even Sam Ash and other such stores had them. so I had to call the sites listed by Enttec as "dealers", and found a store in the city that sold both, but had run out of the Pro. It was actually the Tribeca Lighting outlet on Canal st, which was now sharing the space with Lites On NY, from whom I had years ago gotten my first close glimpse of the iColorFlex, back when they were still up on Third Ave. (So I had been to this new location a couple of years ago, as well).
So I took the chance and went over there and got it. Total cost (minus shipping): $374! Still sounds like a lot, but then this is for everything, where just the lights themselves usually cost more than that, and you still have to get the other stuff.
I then had to find the software to even be able to light them, and then teach myself DMX technology (I was trying to avoid anything DMX, figuring it was expensive, and that someone would eventually come up with a self-contained programmable string. But now five years after the DingDotz, I could no longer wait for that).
I first tried LightShowPro (60 day free trial, take me right up to New Years), but I could only use eight channels, and hence, light no more than the first eight lights. So I found Vixen, which is completely free. Each LED light (the diffused, 10mm "jumbos" in fact!) is three sub-channels, called "tracks", since they consist of red, green and blue dies, which are essentially separate lighting units. So I had to set it to 126 channels. With them, I can mix any color and any pattern I like.
The show I'm starting with is the one that has floated in my mind for years: different combinations of the basic colors (red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue, purple, magenta, and soft and cool white), and a few other colors, such as powder-puff pink, wintergreen, baby blue and lavender.
I do not know where the person who did the video got those C7 covers from. The manufacturer doesn't make or sell them. But with the translucent bases which glow along with the LED, they look almost like full bulbs anyway.
The red is a bit orange, but it seems all RGB strings are that way, for the increased brightness (many SRGB modules use two reds to compensate the lack of brightness).
Engineering Solutions' site also has videos of other customers, who have used multiple strings to decorate the whole house! (Think "Deck the Halls" movie!) Can't wait to run into this somewhere. I wonder if any of these people is in the NY area!
Here are more of them, on a tree, and as the outline of a house (seems these purchasers are all in Australia!):
Now, there's an app for mobile phones, where passerbys can actually control people's RGB dislays with the Vixen software! I thought it was just controlling any set with a phone, but you have to give your exact location and hook up to their satellite network. Nice didea, anyway.
In 2010, LED's continue to take over cars, including headlights (some consist of lines of individual white LED's). You can also see more appearing at Home Depot. (both bulbs and spotlights). Many have ribbed metal heat sinks on the sides, making them heavy for a bulb. you would think LED's would be cooler, but since the electricity is not being converted to heat the way tit was for incandescents, all that extra energy has to be dispersed. A lot of interesting LED devices (including RGB strips and varieties of bulbs) are appearing in other light bulb stores (like the ones in Chinatown).
Also, a lot of RGB and SRGB strips continue to appear in store windows, basically replacing neons.
While I'm getting my new string, the GE Color Effect string appears on the market, but I didn't know about it. I see a string of faceted color changing C9's in the window of a store on 6th Ave near 34th St. It seems to consist of preset patterns. They tell me they got them from the K-Mart in the area (Penn Station). When I check the discussion I started on Candlepowerforums about the RGB Nodes, someone then posts a link to where someone took this new GE string and engineered it to be completely controllable like the RGB Nodes (by adding a controller of their own).
I find it is all sold out at all the stores that were listed as carrying it, except for one tree-shaped sculpture version with crystal shaped bulbs left at Lowe's.
So this is similar to Triklits or the strips used in windows, with 8 or 14 different patterns you can select from a built in controller. Since I've already "surpassed" this with a fully controllable unit, this would just make a nice side addition to my collection somewhere.
Also for 2010, the 2700K soft-whites have finally caught on, and I got my first set (K-Mart "Trim-a-Home" lights shaped like the old 2.5v incandescents, with the little ball-point, and you see this shape in other places, like the ones sold by Duane Reade), and you see the color a lot elsehwere. Like the pine decorations in front of Lord & Taylor, and it is hard to tell them from incandescents. Inside, they have soft white faceted C6's in the ice designs on the columns. A few of the off-whites in the Rockefeller Center tree appear to be more soft white as well. The elevator sheds now got new faceted globe shaped cool whites (replacing the translucent ones from last year), and these look crisp and bright, as a better replacement for the old incandescents. (If only now they'll ever replace the other trees, that still have the ever-dimming raspberries from 2007).
The Trump Tower has both cool of soft white LED's in large bands on the lower front over 5th Avenue. (Next to the whites, the soft white looked yellowish). A building further down 5th Ave. has even lower color temperature LED's, that look "copper"-ish, and resemble the color of the high pressure sodiums.
The nice cool-white LED decorations in the area of Grand Central no longer appear. (They seem to have gone back to plain incandescents).
The color changing LED tree on top of the marquee at Macy's was also replaced by all white LED's in the soft white color (seem to have a bit of a greenish tint, but this is probably from them being brighter LED's, an in the green tree). The inside decorations on the first floor (both ends of the building now) are using those inbetween whites that are almost cool, but still with a tint of warm white. (The Men's Dept. on the 7th Ave side adds red LED's to this as well). The LED spotlights remain on the 3rd and 8th floors near the 7th ave elevator bank. Remodeled Stop & Shops used these bright four-LED soft white spotlights in the ceiling over their fruits sections.
Looking out for color changing lights on houses (RGB Nodes; Color Effects, or otherwise) I saw one DMX-style color decoration on a house; off of Old Country Road between Roosevelt Field and Mineola. It seemed to be displaying some sort of text message.
In a last ditch effort to light a new small tree we got; I got my first purple (magenta) LED's in a GE ribbed C4 string of red, amber, blue, green, purple.
2011, the small trees around Rockefeller Center finally got the old faded 2007 warm whites relaced by new crisp, cool white (6000K?) raspberries (same color the elevators got the year before). Now that's the way the rink area is supposed to look. Crisp and cool!
Across 6th from the plaza, almost all the trees now have soft whites. There are a few cool whites visible blocks away. The Macy's marquee got the same warm white tree again, but I did see one single (!?) 7 color cycle RGB on the west side of the tree, midway up!
GE Color Effects are appearing everywhere! May get a set of these sometime. Perhaps they'll become cheaper and even more flexible. I did get a set of glistening clear (not faceted or frosted) Philips cool white C9's. And left them bundled up to light, for the middle of one of the windows. (These also come in multicolor)
For 2014, finally, a commercial fully addressable string (controlled by a phone app), and just for $109:
So it looks like RGB is finally catching on! I just wish Transit would catch on to them!
See also Color mixing and perception; Math & Science page.
Blog version (more updated: http://erictb.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/my-chronology-of-color-leds/
Why I'm so into this?:
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