Announcing the holiday LED competition for students from EE Times, Innovation Generation, and Parallax
If you like Christmas lights, you need to visit Austin in December. I am fortunate enough to live here. Sadly, due to budget constraints, the city will not stage its annual “Trail of Lights“ this year at Zilker Park, however the huge Christmas-lights-only tree will be illuminated at the park as usual.
The big Christmas light attraction in Austin is 37th Street, which is totally staged and funded by the homeowners who reside on the street. This started in 1980, when each homeowner tried to outdo his or her neighbor with their lighting display. In typical Austin fashion, there is no neighborhood committee, nor any organization coordinating this event. Everyone is on their own. Some light displays are religious, some are secular, some are political, several are funny, and several are just plain weird. Several light displays are stretched across the street - which I am sure must violate some city code. Virtually every home on the street participates, in a big way. This occurs in a middle class neighborhood, and these are not wealthy people.
During the weeks before Christmas, so many people go to 37th Street to see the lights that the city occasionally closes the street to automobile traffic on Friday nights. It actually becomes so crowded that it is difficult to walk in the street. Several homeowners allow tourists to walk through their property to see the backyard lighting displays as well as the front. I do not think this phenomena occurs anywhere else in the US.
Here is a short video on 37th st at Christmas:
If you watch the video, you will see one Christmas display homeowner‘s electric meter spinning wildly. Electricity can get expensive. Running all those colored incandescent lights is not cheap. But it could be a lot cheaper if the homeowners used LEDs! (This is the graceful segue to the Holiday LED contest.) This contest is formally named the Parallax and iGen Student Holiday LED Challenge and it is sponsored by Parallax, EETimes, Innovation-Generation (iGen) (EE Times' new website for students) and Digi-Key.
Open to students age 24 and under, the competition aims
to inspire middle-school, high-school, and undergraduate students to
work with microcontrollers and electronic components to create their own
LED holiday projects.
Students under18 years old will need a parent’s written permission to enter the contest. (There is a Parental Consent FAX form on the Contest Registration website.) This is a relatively short term contest, with the winners announced by the end of January, 2011. There will be a total of nine prizes, ranging from six $250 Honorable Mentions up to a $1,500 Grand Prize. A total of $4,500 will be given away. Get full contest details.
Register now. Don’t dawdle. A kid you know may be $1,500 richer by the end of January!