How It Works
The driveway arch uses three 50-bulb strings of G.E. Color Effects lights. One string forms a tall arch over the driveway and the other two strings are runners along the sides of the driveway. The base of each string connects to extension cords to terminate to the GECE light controller inside the house. This same light controller manages the GECE lights on the house, too.
How To Build It
The design is simple, but was a fair amount of work. For the runner strings on each side of the driveway, I pound rebar stakes at regular intervals down the driveway. I attach the strings to the poles with zip ties, allowing the strings to droop a little between poles, forming nice, half-oval curves.
The house-side runner string is easy to terminate to the light controller; it enters the house through a basement window. The opposite-side runner string needed to cross the driveway to get back to the house. To do this, I placed an extension cord in a 1/2" or 3/4" black pipe, then shallowly buried the pipe across the driveway. My driveway is crushed concrete, so this was easy to do.
For the driveway arch, I dug and concreted two PVC pipes on either side of the driveway. I place screw-on caps on these pipes between Christmas season. To build the arch, I used 1/2" black pipe for the arch sides. At the top of the pipes, I bent 3/4" PVC pipe into gradual quarter-circles and attached these to the pipes. Where the PVC pipes meet in the middle of the arch, I used a screw-on PVC junction. This way the arch can be separated into two halves and stored between Christmas seasons. I cut the 50-bulb string in half, then attached to each half of the arch with zip-ties. At the top of the arch, I attached male/female connectors to the cut string ends, allowing the string to be connected during and disconnected after Christmas for arch storage.
The two driveway runners strings and arch string use 16AWG extension cords to connect to the GECE light controller inside the house. These strings connect to data pins on the light controller's Arduino. There is also a network board attached to the Arduino, allowing the it to receive DMX commands to animate the lights.