[Andrew] shows us one way to reuse all those strands of Christmas lights you used for decoration this year. He had a friend that was helping with stage props for a local musical and ended up using his skills to build a lighted sign with some animation capabilities.
The original plan was to cut out letters for a sign by hand and ring them with white Christmas lights. It is possible to hand cut parts reasonably well, but [Andrew] knew he could get a much better result in less time using a CNC ShopBot to make them. He didn’t know the spacing for the lights so waited and drilled holes for them by hand. Each strand is connected to a relay, then driven by an Arduino. They turned out great as you can see in the clip after the break.
This is a timely hack, because it uses plain old while incandescent bulb strands which will be going on sale in the next few days. Usually you can get them on clearance for a dollar or less so plan ahead and hit the big box store early. Continue reading “One way to reuse your Christmas lights post-holiday”
Most holiday light displays we see this time of year are stationary, or at least confined to somebody’s home. [Marco Guardigli] wanted to take his lights on the go, and thought that a light up winter hat would be perfect for showing off his holiday spirit.
In the winter he sports a sturdy wool felt hat, which was ideal for mounting LEDs. He picked up a basic LilyPad Arduino that uses a small LiPo battery as its power source, mounting it inside the hat with a bit of glue. He wired up a series of SMD LEDs around the perimeter of the hat which blend in quite well in the felt, leaving them nearly invisible to the naked eye when powered off. When he flips the LilyPad on however, there’s no missing the bright blue LEDs nor the music emanating from the tiny speaker he also mounted in the hat.
We think that [Marco’s] display is great, and if we were to build one, we would likely include a copious amount of red and green LEDs in ours. Do any of you take your Christmas light display on the go? We’d love to see them, so be sure to let us know in the comments.
Stick around to see a short video of [Marco’s] hat in action.
Continue reading “Head-mounted light display takes holiday cheer on the go”
They say that the holidays are a time to gather with others, which usually translates into spending time with friends and family. The folks at ioBridge Labs thought that while friends and family certainly are a big part of the holidays, it would be pretty cool to gather together flocks of strangers by using the Internet to synchronize their Christmas lights.
Participation in CheerLights is pretty easy, requiring little more than an Internet connection, some GE G-35 Color Effects lights, an Arduino, and an ioBridge. While those are the recommended components, an Arduino Ethernet shield will handle networking just as well. There really are no restrictions when it comes to hardware, so if you are so inclined, it should be relatively easy to roll your own display using simple RGB LEDs and a µC of your choosing.
The colors are dictated by the group’s Twitter feed, which can be found at http://twitter.com/#!/@cheerlights. Whenever a message is sent to @cheerlights along with a color, all of the light displays listening in will change simultaneously.
We really like the idea, and think it would be pretty cool to see this sort of program rolled out on a neighborhood or street-wide level, so you could see dozens of strings changing colors all at once.
If you’re interested in checking out CheerLights’ current color, be sure to take a gander at their live stream here.
Ah, the end of the 4th financial quarter – the magical time of increased sales, being at work the entire time the sun is up, and holiday parties. For [Andy] at National Instruments, though, things don’t seem too bad. He built a neat Christmas light suit to entertain everyone with his brilliant persona.
[Andy] always loves great Christmas light displays (he even blogs about them), so he figured a wearable light display synchronized with music would be very doable. The build is controlled with LabVIEW to convert .WAV files to power levels and frequency bands. This info is then piped into the Arduino that controls the lights.
[Andy] actually made two light suits, one for him and one for his friend [Richard]. Both guys have two light-up Christmas staffs to wield light mage powers on their coworkers. The lighsuits are controlled by Arduino/Xbee setups – one each for each suit and staff. The result is phenomenal, and should really get everyone in the holiday spirit.
It’s that time of year again where the thermometer drops, the sun sets earlier, and we try to warm our hearts with the solstice festival that is common in our own respective cultures. Of course we all need a few strings of lights, but wouldn’t it be great if we had PWM controlled dimmable lights?
When he started out on his PWM-controlled, AC-powered light box, [Waterbury] immediately realized that relays were not going to be an optimal solution. The best way out of the mess he dug himself into would be via zero crossing. After getting a transformer wired up to a transistor for the detection circuit, a short bit of code was written in the wee hours of the morning and a proof of concept was had.
With the control box complete, [Waterbury] hacked up a quick VB app and piped the output of a WinAmp visualizer into the lights via serial. The Inception demo was great, but finer-grain control was needed. After seeing a Hack a Day post on a nice equalizer chip, the seven band output on IC were converted to UART.
[Waterbury] took his seven-band AC-controlled light box to a Halloween party with his synth and the results looked awesome. You can check that out after the break, but we’re really waiting to see his Christmas decorations this year.
Continue reading “Dimming AC lights the hard way”
[Todd Harrison] took a slew of pictures in his quest to loose all the secrets of the G-35 Christmas Lights. These are a string of 50 plastic bulbs which house individually addressable RGB LEDs. We’ve seen a ton of projects that use them, starting about a year ago with the original reverse engineering and most recently used to make a 7×7 LED matrix. But most of the time the original control board is immediately ditched for a replacement. It’s become so common that you can now buy a drop-in board, no hacking needed. We enjoy the hard look that [Todd] took at the electronics.
The stock controller uses a single layer, single sided board. There’s a resin-blob chip, but also an SOP-20 microcontroller. Since [Todd’s] using several strings of lights on his house, he wondered if it would be possible to improve on the controller in order to synchronize the strands. His investigation showed that the board was designed to host a crystal oscillator but it is unpopulated. Unfortunately you can’t just add those parts to improve the timing of the chip (firmware changes would also be requires). He found that there’s a spot for a push-button. Quickly shorting the pads cycles through the effects, shorting them for a longer time turns off the string of lights. There is wireless control, but it seems that the only functionality it provides is the same as the unpopulated switch.
We enjoyed the close-up circuit board photos, and we like the spacing jig he used to attach the lights to his fascia boards. We’ve embedded a lengthy video about his exploits after the break. Continue reading “G-35 circuit board porn”
[Kyle] was looking for a way to spice up his boring brick-wall dorm room. The Christmasqualizer he came up with brightens up his room and would make an awesome place for a rave.
The strings of lights in [Kyle]’s Christmasqualizer are off-the-shelf Christmas lights. A simple circuit for the 7-band equalizer was built following this article. The build uses an MSGEQ7 equalizer chip takes audio from any source. The volume level of the seven EQ bands are output to an Arduino over a serial connection.
After the EQ chip was connected to the Arduino, [Kyle] needed a way to switch the strings of Christmas lights on and off. A few solid state relays later, and he was in business.
All the code for the Christmasqualizer is up on github. The sketch is pretty simple – connect the EQ chip as per the article, then connect the relays to the output pins on the Arduino. It’s a fun and easy project that really livens up a dorm room.