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BackyardBellagioFountain

For the 2012 holiday season, West Richland resident Scott Schneider wanted to do something extraordinary with his yard light display. Inspired by the famous musical fountain at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, he decided to build his own knock-down version, complete with computer-controlled water jets and colored lights synchronized to music. In fact, he was originally shooting for the 2011 holidays, but planning and development for the project eventually stretched out more than a year and a half! The finished fountain, though not much to look at during the day, is a sight to behold once the sun goes down:

MF14BA_Badge-01The reservoir consists of three 8′ × 1.5′ plastic kiddie pools holding 400 gallons of water apiece. Each pool is equipped with five water jets, and each jet has independent power and color lighting control. The jets can produce sustained sprays up to 9′ in height, and bursts to 15′. A home PC running open-source software controls the show via DMX and MIDI protocols, with help from some custom electronics designed by Schneider himself. Rather than irritate the neighbors by blasting music to accompany the show, Schneider broadcasts a short-range radio signal carrying the soundtrack so visitors can tune in on their car or personal stereos. A sign on the porch gives the frequency.

Schneider puts the cost of parts used to build his fountain at just $700.

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and makezine.com. My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.


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