Over The Top Christmas Lights
2013 - Behind the Scenes - Light Wheel

I Used 16 - 3/4" 45s, 6 - 3/4" crosses, 10 - 3/4" Tees, 16 - 2" pieces of 3/4" schedule 40 PVC pipe, 5 - 3' 4.25" pieces of 3/4" schedule 40 PVC pipe, 16 - 19" pieces of 3/4" schedule 40 PVC pipe, 1 can of medium clear PVC glue, 8 - cans of flat black spray paint, 3 - 1/2" 5' long steel black pipe, 1 - 1/2" steel black pipe Tee, 2 - 1/2" steel black pipe caps, 24 - 100 count white incandescent lights strings, 24 - 100 count blue incandescent lights strings, 24 - 100 count green incandescent lights strings, 200 8" black zip ties plus other sized zip ties, about 25' of small gauge wire for support. The frame took 2 - 2x6 10' long pressure treated wood, 2 - 2x4 10' long pressure treated wood, 1 - 2x4 60.5" long pressure treated wood, 4 - 2x3 8' pine framing boards, and box of 3" star screws. The steps are quite complicated and this whole process is not for the normal person. I do not suggest the beginner try this alone. I will tell the basic steps with pictures. If you are interested in building one of these and want more information or details please contact me. Estimated cost using three commercial controllers and 7200 incandescent lights would be about $1500 each.

I laid out the fittings and 2" pieces to form the inside circle. Make sure the Tees open out. Glue all but the crosses. I used baby oil so they could be adjusted later. Then I laid out all outside ring parts and put together tapping in place with mallet. make sure you leave the spokes out of the crosses as they get black pipe through them. Do NOT glue.

Next build frame. Cut 1 - 2x6 in half (60.5"). Using screws attach to the top of the other 10' 2x6 so that the weight of the 2x6 rests on the long 2x6. Then attach the 2 - 2x4s accross the uprights using 8.5" spacing between the two. Use the 60.5" 2x4 as a brace in the middle. Going from the top of the top 2x4 to the 2x6. Measure over and down 1.5" on the 2x6 and drill 7/8" hole for the black pipe to fit through. Put the wheel into the frame and mark where the "down" black pipe meets the 2x6. Remove wheel and drill 7/8" hole in 2x6 leaving about 1/4" of 2x6. This will give the pipe something to sit on and will not go all the way through the 2x6 to the ground.

Place wheel back into frame and check to make sure all fits well. Remove, tap all pipe back into fitting and glue all outside edges of all the fittings to help hold in place. Place wheel back into frame and screw on the two 1/2" steel caps. A little force might be needed to get into place. Paint everything you see flat black.

I cut 2' off each 2x3 cut a point on each 2' 2x3 and painted them all black. The light wheel was then placed where I wanted it and using the 2x3s I make braces to hold up and screws all in place.

I mounted the controllers right on the back of the frame to save additional cords from lights. If the lead to the lights are 2' long you will not need any additional wires. I used 2" screws and made a template as to where to place the controllers. Divide up the wheel into the channels. I used 3 colors 12 channels each for a total of 36 channels (NOTE - next year I will redesign the wheel and add red for a total of 48 channels or a full 3 boxes). The spacings of lights I found best was 4" of pipe on inside circle and 26" of pipe on the outside circle. using zip ties I went from inside the inside circle around the out side circle zip tieing the spaces. Make sure you run all colors at one time for each channel.

It will take about 10-12 hours to place lights on wheel. Once all lights are on, add small guage wire in places to hold all together. I needed to wire from the top to the back of the 2x4 and in the front from the top to the stakes. I also added wire braces in the small inside circle with the crosses.

This is not a one person job and I would like to thank the ones that helped with this process.

Click on a picture to enlarge it.

Using PVC fittings and pipe the inside wheel is formed.

Using PVC fittings and pipe the spokes and outside wheel is formed.

The frame is made using pressure treated wood and the wheel is put in place.

Using steel pipe and fittings gives support to the wheel.

Flat black paint is used to make the wheel hidden when dark.

It is very important to secure the wheel so it will not fall over.

The wheel does not look its size without something to compare to.

If parts are not wired together it will fall apart in the wind.

Pictures were taken as the lights were placed.

Pictures were taken as the lights were placed.

Pictures were taken as the lights were placed.

Pictures were taken as the lights were placed.

The controlles wired and the lights go on.

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