Engineer lights up the town

Caleb Otto used his engineering background and love of holiday tradition to set up a musical light display at his family home.

By McKenzie Burns January 8, 2019

The Ottos hold reign as the winners of the annual Light Up Sabetha House Decorating contest, and programming and network communications knowledge helped. Caleb Otto, also known in the small Kansas town for growing an 800 pound pumpkin, and his wife, Emily, have won the contest for the past three years with their animated light display coordinated with a local radio station. The lights are set to “dance” along to approximately 30 minutes of music that passersby can access through their car radios when nearby.

Caleb, a project engineer at NorthWind Technical Services, accredits his ability to set up such an entertaining display to his programming knowledge.

“It’s not the same type of programming, but knowing how to program in general helped,” Caleb said. “Also, setting up the different communication protocols came from my learning at work.”

Preparations for the light show begin months in advance of actually setting up, which takes the family around three days with the team of Caleb, Emily, and their three young daughters all at work.

“A lot of the times comes from coming up with an idea in your head and listening to the song, then setting up and programming the lights to do what your idea was for the song⸺picking out the sounds that you hear or a beat and what you want to do with it for the display,” Caleb explained.

The light display remains up at the house until late December, weather depending, and the Ottos encourage people to stop by to see it.

“We have heard people say they didn’t know how long they could stay and watch, so they only stayed a few minutes,” Caleb said. “Feel free to watch as long as you are enjoying the show!”

NorthWind Technical Services is a 2019 System Integrator of the Year.

McKenzie Burns
Author Bio: Production Coordinator, CFE Media