Family Christmas Display


2020 Implementation Details

You're reading this information on the public web site for the Display, new for 2020. This allows me to publish the presence of the Christmas Display on the web sites of local news and publication organizations which will then direct visitors to the Brinkman.Christmas web site where they can get complete information including directions, dates/hours of operation, etc.

The public web site is backed up by the Master unit that operates the Display, which has its own local WiFi-enabled web site. Reachable only when the visitor is within 1 block of the Display, the local web site shows the list of songs being played and which song is active at the moment. Visitors can watch the information in real-time on their cell phones. This information was actually available in 2019 - but without the public web site to communicate its presence visitors were not aware.

A small display of lighted Christmas packages was added to the Display this year:
[Picture coming later]

This year I intended to upgrade the Master unit and any additional Slave units that might be built from Arduino Mega processors to ESP32 processors. The ESP32 has some very compelling reasons to consider upgrading:

Unfortunately, there were some challenges that I was not able to overcome in time for the 2020 deployment. In summary, the ESP32 operates at a lower (3.3V) voltage than the Arduion Mega (5.0V). it appears that the ESP32 could be vulnerable to "switched" power supply technology that is commonly used to power applications like this - specifically power "spikes" that may sometimes be generated.

The result was that the circuits would not operate dependably - unexplainable symptoms would come and go. The test circuits were implemented on a breadboard, so intermittent or unreliable connections in the breadboard could also be the culprit.

It is possible that the test ESP32 processor or other components were damaged during test; if so, if I can detect the damaged components and replace them the update could get back on track.

In any case, I will try again in 2021 - or maybe will even solve the mysteries during the 2021 Christmas season and deploy the new design mid-season.