Some consider the days following Thanksgiving To be the official start of the Holiday decorating. Jonathan Rohlin, an Athens resident, started work on his own illuminated display about four months ago.
Why it’s worth posting: For the fifth year in a row, Athenian resident Jonathan Rohlin, aka the “Elf Electrical Elf,” has transformed his home on River Bottom Road into an entertaining light show for all ages.
The River Bottom Road screen, which Ruhlen says attracts a few hundred spectators each December, features 13,000 lights and 45 bars synced to holiday tunes, movie scenes and game-day classics.
“I’ve always done the Christmas lights,” he said, “but not always in sync with the music.” “This was the next level.”
The tradition began five years ago after a friend showed Ruhlen All in one device which syncs the lights to 20 pre-programmed holiday songs.
“I wanted to do something like that, but I didn’t like that I didn’t have enough control over what was going to happen,” Rohlin said.
After some research, Ruhlen realized that more advanced equipment comes at a high cost—increasing from $1,500 to $3,000. With With no prior programming experience, he decided to take matters into his own hands and turned to YouTube to learn. from there, The “Electric Elf” is born.
Ruhlen shares his tips on how to make “the lights shine well” on a budget.
Know your options
First, select the right metric for you and your portfolio.
“There’s no judgment of ‘electric goblin,'” Rollin said.
If it means adding a light show, think about how much control over the music and lights you’d like to have. Smaller sound and light systems tend to be easier to use but do not allow as much creative freedom.
Shop after the holidays
To save money, Ruhlen usually waits until after Christmas to upgrade and buy new lights.
He said, “Don’t buy this year’s lights, this year’s.”
Decide which lights you’d like to add and search through different stores to find the best deal. If the store still has plenty of inventory, Rohlin suggests waiting a little longer.
When shopping at these sales, Ruhlen always buys the number of strands he needs, plus one extra. If any lights go out, he can use the lights from the spare tape to refill.
“With it being a half, it saves a lot of money and I’m able to keep it for five to 10 years,” he said.
Maintenance is key
Properly maintaining bulbs during the off-season will prevent you from having to buy replacements. Many homeowners make the mistake of presumptuously throwing out faulty lights, Rohlin says.
“Since I’m removing all the lights, I do a maintenance check to make sure they are all working before I put them away.”
That way, should any bulbs go out next year, Ruhlen knows to check for loose bulbs rather than throwing away the entire strip.
Help around every corner (digital)
Don’t let a lack of experience deter you from trying to take your decorating skills to the next level.
“There are a lot of resources out there. You don’t have to be a programmer at all to be able to do this,” Rohlin said.
By watching several detailed YouTube videos, Ruhlen was able to learn everything he needed to get started, from wiring tutorials to explaining the boards required.
“There’s something called an Arduino board that connects to all these relays and I had to put code into that in order to make it work,” said Rohlin. “That was a bit of a struggle.”
When he struggles with coding and can’t find answers on YouTube, Ruhlen turns to various online chats and forums for first-hand help.
Change your point of view
Once you’re done programming, it’s time to start decorating. For Ruhlen, the decorating process can take about 20 hours over the course of five days.
“There’s work involved, but it’s the joy it brings to people and the joy it brings to my daughters that definitely makes it worth it,” said Rohlin.
With the aim of pleasing others, it is important to understand how your lamps will appear to visitors and passers-by.
He said: “Go out into the street and put a chair next to the street.” “This will be kind of at eye level of where someone is in the car so you can see from that perspective.”
This month, Ruhlen’s light show will run from 6-10 p.m
Isabel Manders is a Journalism and Biology major, with an emphasis in Marine Science.
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