Deck the Halls with a Raspberry Pi Controlled Christmas Tree

You know the holiday season is getting close when the Christmas light projects start rolling in! [Osprey22] is getting a jump on his holiday decorations with his Christmas Tree light show controlled by a Raspberry Pi. Yes, we know he could have done it with an Arduino, or a 555, but the Raspi makes for a convenient platform. With a WiFi module, code changes can be made remotely. The Raspberry Pi’s built-in audio interface also makes it easy to sync music to flashing lights, though we’d probably drop in a higher quality USB audio interface.

[Osprey22's] Raspberry Pi is running his own custom python sequencer software. It takes an mp3 file and a sequence file as inputs, then runs the entire show. When the music isn’t playing, the Pi loops through a set of pre-defined scenes, changing once per minute.

The hardware itself is pretty straightforward. The Raspberry Pi controls 8 solid state relays through its GPIO interface. 8 strings of lights are more than enough for the average tree. [Osprey22] topped the tree off with a star made of wood and illuminated by a string of 25 WS2801 RGB LED pixels.

Click past the break to see [Osprey22's] tree in action!

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Fubarino Contest: Home Automation and Candle Flicker

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Here’s a set of holiday themed contest entries:

With a home automation system already in place, and considering the time of year, [Thom] chose to use his Christmas tree lights as the contest easter egg. When he uses his smart phone to set the fifth channel of the lighting controller to a 50% duty cycle it causes the string of lights to mete out the Hackaday web address as a series of dots and dashes. You can find the code here (DOC).

[Jacques] offers up a flickering LED as the host of his hidden easter egg. When you short the two leads of the LED for a little bit it forces the PIC 10F200 into a different mode that then flashes our URL in Morse Code. Have a look at the assembly file. His implementation was based on the reverse engineering we saw recently.


This is an entry in the Fubarino Contest for a chance at one of the 20 Fubarino SD boards which Microchip has put up as prizes!

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Mega Tree Game Display

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Christmas may be over, but the holiday hacks keep rolling in, like this awesome interactive Mega Tree Game Display!

[Lior] loves setting up light shows every year (just check out last year’s awesome White Christmas display with music!), but taking them down just… well… sucks! So this year he decided to make a fully controllable non-holiday specific light display that he can reuse it all year long.

It features 12 x 5 meter long waterproof RGB LED strips secured firmly to the front of his house, making a trapezoidal 12 x 150 pixel display. It was originally controlled with an Arduino but he found the USB connection was far too slow for the high frame rates he was aiming for — so he’s using a combination of a Raspberry Pi and a Teensy 2.0 instead.

Now, just making a programmable light show suitable for all holidays is pretty cool we must admit, but as [Lior] puts it, a plain light show is “so last decade”. So he’s gone and made the whole thing smartphone interactive. Yep, you can actually log in with your phone and play a silly game that involves dropping gifts on houses and snowmen. He’s also got a pretty cool Hanukkah display that features a spinning dreidel! Check out the full demonstration video after the break.

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Christmas Tree Analyzes Your Tweets

christmas twitter lights

It’s Christmas time. You have a string of 50 individually addressable RGB LEDs, what would you do? Well, [Barney] decided to try something different. He’s made a Christmas tree that reflects Twitter’s current sentiments about the holiday.

Wait, what? We admit, it’s a kind of weird concept, but the software behind it is pretty cool. As it turns out Stanford University’s Natural Language Processing Group released the source code for their sentiment analyzer. Unlike a normal sentiment analyzer which assigns points to positive words and negative points for negative words, this one actually uses a deep learning model which builds up a representation of entire sentences based on their structure — only problem? It was designed and trained to analyze movie reviews, not Christmas tweets.

Regardless, it still does the trick (kind of), but, it’s pretty slow. [Barney] has his fastest computer running four instances of the analyzer, which pulls Christmas tweets that have been sorted by the Twitter API — it then analyzes them, assigns the sentiment, and places them in a second queue. He’s using beanstalkd for the queuing and a Raspberry Pi to control the lights. The result is a pretty light display whose colors represent the sentiments of incoming tweets — it’s hard to say if it’s actually successful in reflecting the opinion of the tweets, but it’s a pretty cool concept.

Stick around after the break to see the Christmas Tweet Analyzing Tree in action — say that 5 times fast!

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Arduino Xmas Tree Shield

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Nothing reminds us that it’s the holiday season more than an LED Christmas Tree submission. This obviously is not the first of its kind, but [Jose] does offer up a new technique using addressable RGB LEDs.

[Jose] decided to use 20 WS2812B RGB LEDs, which if you haven’t seen before, are RGB LEDs with an integrated controller. Yep, that’s right, just power/ground and 1 data line is all that is needed to control hundreds of RGB LEDs. This LED tree’s design is simple: a custom-etched PCB cut it in to the shape of a Christmas tree. The WS2812B LEDs helped keep everything clean, so the tree lacks any ‘ugly’ ornaments, except for the required bypass cap here and there. For an added bonus, the tree’s LEDs are synchronized to music generated by an Arduino via a piezo buzzer. Why is it a shield?  Well, the whole tree plugs in nicely to a standard Arduino interface. This looks like the perfect starter project to familiarize yourself with addressable LEDs, or at least to get you warmed up before building your own infinity portal.

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LEDmas Tree

led christmas tree

[Nick] is a bit of an LED fanatic. So when his boss asked him to help make an LED Christmas tree for work, he jumped at the opportunity!

It’s a beautiful build, making use of laser(?) cut plexiglass disks, wooden “trunks” made using a lathe, and a TON of RGB LEDs. Unfortunately—because it turned out so nice—the company is thinking of selling it as a product next year, so [Nick] isn’t allowed to divulge much more information behind the build. Regardless, it looks fantastic , and we’re sure you could hack your own.

He was allowed to take a video of it though, so check it out after the break! He also has a ton of other very cool LED projects on his blog at www.hownottoengineer.com

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Arduino compatible Christmas tree

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It wouldn’t be the holidays without an LED Christmas tree, and luckily [Danilo] brings the goods with an Arduiinofied LED Christmas tree (Italian, translation).

In the past week, we’ve seen LED Christmas trees of digital logic and a great freeform circuit version. Unlike these other builds [Danilo]‘s LED tree uses a piece of protoboard masterfully cut into the shape of a Christmas tree. There’s no PCB for this build; just a lot of bare wires and a lot of patience.

Because [Danilo]‘s tree makes use of the PWM pins on his Arduino, it was possible to connect his tree to the Arduino with a few 90 degree headers. This provides a great base for his tree and makes it possible to build a professional-looking enclosure for his project.

You can check out [Danilo]‘s tree in action after the break.

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