An Interview with Alek about his Halloween Lights


Alek Halloween Lights Interview

We’ve got a bit of a special today, an interview with Alek Komarnitsky, who’s famous for his interactive Halloween and Christmas light displays. As tonight is witching night it only seemed appropriate to publish this interview today. So without further ado let’s hear what Alek had to say.

Hi Alek, firstly I’d like to say thanks for agreeing to this interview with Coolest Gadgets
Thank YOU Al. As perhaps is obvious, I’m always on the lookout for cool
gadgets, and your web site is a nice resource to find ‘em.
As we’ve already posted about here on CG you have a bit of a light fetish, what made you first start decorating your house like an airport runway.
I live in a neighborhood that is really into the holiday season and has a lot of kids, so I figured it would be fun to do. Needless to say, it has been very well accepted, and people start asking months before the holidays “OK Alek, what are you going to do THIS year”

I started in 2000 with Christmas – 12,000 lights. The peak was in 2002 with 22,000 lights, but I was “Burnt Out” in 2003 so only did 3,500 lights. but I was back in 2004 with 17,000 lights. I started doing Halloween in 2002, and the HULK came along shortly there after and has been a big part of that display.

With over 6,000 lights on display how long does it take you to put them all up.

It’s actually a bit over 7,000 and took about 20 hours to setup spread out over a couple of weeks.
Having done this a few times, I’m getting pretty efficient at it … ;)

I really like your idea of letting the world interact and control you display, did you find many difficulties in using X10 for this
X10 is cheap and easy, so I have used it for years to turn my lights on at dusk, and off at dawn. So it was natural to use the same power-line control technology for the holiday lights. However, having bazillions of people turn your lights on and off via the Internet is a pretty intense application of X10 technology.
Some difficulties are that X10 takes 1-2 seconds to respond to commands, it not always reliable, and it is a one-way protocol. I’ve also burned out a few SR227 Super Sockets from continual use – needless to say, this usage is outside of warranty coverage.

The web front-end has a “rate-limiter” so that requested changed are limited to one every couple of seconds, since that is as fast as X10 can handle.

Let me know when Coolest-Gadgets.Com uncovers some type of power-line control technology that has millisecond response time, uses a two way protocol, and has 99.99% reliability; I’d love to implement it!

I’m sure lots of people enjoy your lights on the website, how far and wide do your site visitors come from
I’ve had people from all 7 continents come by including Antarctica – the guys at Bernado O’Higgins base
wrote saying they liked it – almost as good as their Penguin Cam
Your decorations obviously get a lot of publicity, what is the strangest place you’ve seen mention of your creations.

My wife works for an adventure travel company and one of
her clients told her that while on a boat off of the Galapogoes Islands in the middle of basically no where, the daily two page radio’d FAX of news they get included a blurb about my holiday lights.

Looking at the pictures of your Halloween displays they are very impressive, do you have any secret plans for your Christmas display that you’re prepared to let slip.

Sorry Al, no scoops for Coolest-Gadgets.Com, I’ve already disclosed my plans for Christmas 2005 with the biggest
news being that after doing it as a simulation since 2002, it will be REAL this year
Does your wife Wendy encourage and help with setting things up or does she think you’re a bit bonkers
Thanks very much for talking to us Alek, I’m now looking forward to seeing your Christmas Lites even more.

Your welcome Al, and I look forward to checking Coolest-Gadgets for
the latest neat stuff that may have application to my holiday lighting!

More Halloween Lights

3 reviews or comments

Halloween Gadgets and Decorations » Coolest Gadgets Says: October 12, 2007 at 3:51 am

[…] friend Alek has again created an insane user controllable Halloween decoration display, this year you are able to control […]

R/C Christmas Lights and a Chance to Help Win $1,000 for Charity » Coolest Gadgets Says: December 17, 2008 at 8:51 am

[…] a year my friend Alek does his bit for charity (and his Electric supplier) by creating absolutely awesome and totally OTT […]

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