Empire State Plaza fireworks, 2020 Edition

So I’m submitting this awesome 2020 fireworks photo from the Empire State Plaza’s 4th of July celebration.

And you’re looking at me as if I grew a second head.  “Chuck Miller, don’t bullshit your readers,” you say to me.  “Everybody knows that the Empire State Plaza 4th of July festivities were cancelled this year, due to COVID-19.”

Well, yeah, the real ones were cancelled…

So I just made a 2020 fireworks image of my own.  Nyah. 

Years and years ago, I modified an old drop-changer phonograph by adding sound-activated lights to it.  Well, by “adding” I ordered two sound-sensitive light modules from an electronics company and attached them to the phonograph.  And lo and behold, the lights worked.

Since then, I’ve dabbled with electro-luminescent wire projects – mostly my neon sign recreation projects that later became successful art sales at Historic Albany Foundation’s BUILT charitable auction.

So I wanted to build another one, and this time I wanted to integrate sound-activated lights in it.

Step one – build the light modules.

I ordered two modules – one assembled and one disassembled – from a company called CanaKit.  I figured if I could actually BUILD the module, I’d use the built one as a reference point.  And if I couldn’t build the module, I’d simply modify the one that IS built.

Nice to have options.

I also ordered some solder (60-40 rosin core) (you soldering experts know what 60-40 rosin core is, for everybody else just assume it’s something important), some solder braid, a solder sucker, and some other solder-related materials.  My old trivia buddy Jeremy dropped off his soldering iron and charging station, so if I have to make it through this COVID-19 sequestration, I’ll have the necessary tools.

After several trial and error attempts, I was able to get this one put together.

See that little circle on the lower right of the module?  That’s a microphone.  Once this unit is plugged in, any sound will cause the starburst pattern to illuminate.

Okay, so let’s try this Raspberry Pi thing that all the computer techies are geeking out about.  😀

Okay, now that I have the module built, I need to find a good photo to incorporate the images – and wouldn’t you know it, ten years of photographing fireworks at the Empire State Plaza has played into my strengths.

Boom. Nikon Df camera, Irix ultrawide lens. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Somehow, this picture still survived the Great External Hard Drive Crash of 2020.  This photo has a great view of the Plaza, it has an awesome view of the Egg and the Corning Tower, and there’s more than a few skyward booms and blooms in this picture.  Yeah, it’s got a little sensor dust in it, but for what I have planned, the sensor dust won’t matter.

At the same time, I ordered little plastic Christmas lights – the kind that you stick into the holes in ceramic Christmas trees.  Once the picture arrived, I marked holes in the big firework bloom, and drilled holes in various spots in the firework.  Then I installed the little Christmas lights, and used some E6000 bonding compound to keep them in place.

Next little trick … take the module and screw it into the back of the board.

Plug it in.

Film the results.


Empire State Plaza Fireworks, 2020 Edition. Shot with Nikon Df camera, Irix 15mm f/2.4 lens, a few dozen plastic Christmas lights, and a Canakit LED module.

So it works. Now I would love to hang this on a wall, but unfortunately with the module and the case holding it, the artwork is too heavy and won’t work on a wall. So I’ll need to get some plate feet or something, some sort of a stand, so that the item can be properly displayed.

Hey, look, I’m already building items with lights and flashing sounds. At this rate, I could design a Hallmark ornament, you don’t know…

Besides, I’m going to need to get a base for this BUILT at some point in the near future.

Because it, along with this item…

Mohawk Drive-In Speaker. Constructed with vintage Simplex speaker, decals, spray paint, plastic knob, and internal speakers and wiring. Will come with wireless Bluetooth amplifier.

Oh, and this other item…

Dream Window 23: A Dazzling Nipper. Queen Anne window, acrylic beads with E6000 bonding compound. Creation (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

Those three have been accepted into the 2020 BUILT charitable auction. BUILT is still happening, it hasn’t been cancelled by COVID. WHEE!!

Yep, one Nipper, one Empire State Plaza, and one item from a Central Avenue cultural icon that no longer exists.

In other words, a typical trifecta of Chuck Miller entries. 😀