Behind the scenes of Lights on Display, with projects, tips and relevant links.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Simple Snowflake roof stand

In 2007 I added a combination of sixteen large (31') and small (21") illuminated snowflakes to my rooftop, powered by one sixteen channel controller. They were a great addition, and also added some extra height to the display. 

The problem was, the roof has a very shallow pitch, which means the snowflakes could not be seen very well from the street when laid flat on the roof. The solution was to create simple wooden stands to elevate them. Two different size stands were needed to accommodate the large and small snowflake patterns. I was able to make them very easily and inexpensively with some 1 x 2s, drywall screws, cable ties and Black paint. 

First, you need to determine the pitch of the roof so the snowflakes will stand straight up. This is easily accomplished by laying a small scrap piece of 1 x 2 on edge on the roof running top to bottom. Place a level along the 1 x 2 and mark a level line on the board. Cut on the line and save this as a gauge for use in the construction of all your stands. 

Notice the dimensions on the attached photos. Both the large and small stand dimensions are included. Cut the stand pieces, and don't worry if they are exact, or if you need to shorten one a bit to accommodate your wood supply. The upright and it's brace contain the angle determined from the roof gauge mentioned earlier. Use the gauge block to mark the necessary angle for cutting. 

Layout the boards as seen in the photos. Drill some starter holes with an 1/8" drill bit, and then drive some short 3/4" drywall screws (locations marked with triangle and dashed lines) to attach the pieces together. Next, prime the stands with some outdoor rated wood primer, and then paint them with a Black outdoor latex paint. The large stand upright almost runs the full length of the snowflake for support, while the short upright stops short of the center opening on the small snowflake.

The snowflakes are easily attached to the stands using large cable ties. Place the snowflake against the stand, centering it over the upright. Be sure to allow enough space for the power card to exit at the bottom of the snowflake. For the small snowflakes, three cable ties, top, bottom and centered, should be enough to safely secure it to the stand. For the large, four cable ties spaced equally across the upright should be sufficient. Wrap the tie around the snowflake center's rope light, and around the 1 x 2 and snug up the tie, leaving the coupling along the back edge of the 1 x 2.

I found the simplest and cheapest solution for securing the stands at the landscaping department of my local Home Depot. I bought concrete scalloped curved edging to hold the stands. For extra safety, I also purchased some Black nylon twine to prevent the assemblies from sliding down the roof. I attached the twine to the stand and block, and the secured the other end to a secure structure on the roof, such as a vent pipe or chimney. I lay the curved landscape edging over the center rail, one for the small stand and two on opposite sides for the large.

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