Control Your Tree From Anywhere

We honestly never thought we would see an internet controlled Christmas tree before, sure maybe a remote controlled claw or online soccer robots, but a tree? Regardless, team [Schwippy] did just that. 5 separate sets of lights are connected to 5 individual x10 modules. The x10s are listening over the household’s AC lines for commands from a server in the other room, with its own x10. At about 12$ a module, the project can get expensive quick, totalling over 200$ for [Schwippy’s] setup. Just to control a tree, but anything to spread the holiday cheer, right?
[Thanks Yon]

22 thoughts on “Control Your Tree From Anywhere

  1. It’s Back! They have had that tree up for a few years, and they are very active on their chat. If you are nice enough, (and regular enough), they might even put up a sign or something else sweet.

    It is even more entertaining when their cats show up.

  2. I’ve got an X10 home automation setup at home. It’s expensive unless you find the modules for $2 on clearance, or find some holiday savings bundles.

    The X10 interface I have uses the heyu program under Linux and I’ve wrapped it into a web-based (in need of another re-write) interface. Back in the 486 days I had a friend in Tokyo turning my living room lights on and off. X10 is good easy to use fun.

  3. X10, thats so 1995, and so crappy. If you are serious about home automation and PLC check out Insteon which can address > 256 devices, has security built in and overall is a nice product with a well thought out protocol.

  4. Hey guys! Im the owner of the tree.

    Just thought id chime in on the use of X10. Yes, it would be better to use some SSRs and a parallel port breakout… and I actually plan on doing so in the future.

    But until I get the time to get that setup working, I already have the X10 modules from years back, so why not use them, right? :) They still work just fine.

    This is the third year we have put the tree online, and in the years to come, Im planning on doing some live control of the lights in time with music, so thats where the SSRs will be needed.

    Thanks for the post!
    aka Schwippy Brian

  5. Insteon is nice, and I’ve looked into it, but at the moment I have more X10 modules than I really need, both my parents are using X10. If I suddenly lost all that and had to start from scratch, I’d sure start with Insteon.

  6. Sooo… We develop a system, run a server, and consume electric power to remotely light a Christmas tree that we aren’t around to actually look at?…

    Let me guess, there is an iphone app that allows you to remotely view a remotely-lit Christmas tree…

  7. What $200???
    I riged a single AC outlet to be controlled over a server for $10 –$8 for the relay and $0.13 for the chip I had rigged to my parallel port that was on my old 256MB 700MHz compaq laptop. Plus add an Apache server, it worked great, but I did not know how to do a live video feed(Bandwidth was a problem too).
    I think they could of easily done this for, AT THE MOST, $50 and still have some money left over to go to Dairy Queen for a couple of blizzerds.

  8. Nave
    Check out
    About halfway down he has a project cost section. Only about $63 was spent on controlling it, the rest was the actual tree and lights. It probably cost a bit more than it could have, but its also a more polished solution than if he had just “rigged” it (not that that’s a bad thing).

  9. As a matter of fact, there is at least one other web-enabled christmas tree. Via the Internet Archive I was happy to find an archived version of where my ISP ( has shown their web controlled christmas tree for the past 9 years (click my name for the link). Judging from what I can see they had 8 different lights to control and drive their staff crazy with (the tree is in their office). As far as I can remember they had some sort of parallel port construction to control the lights but its a few years since I looked. My ISP is awesome :-D.

  10. Great until you realize x10 is c.1978 technology and they prolly didn’t mention having to be careful with compact florescent and halogen lights in the same room as well as maybe having to get a supressor to keep the plasma tv from turning off the lights when commercials came on. The relay time for this would be better with an arduino, especially due to their reported cost.

  11. I remember doing this in ’95 with the parallel port, SSR’s, Quarterdeck Web Server!, and Visual Basic 4 code….it may have been a Win 3.1 box, I don’t think NT would have let me talk directly to the parallel port.

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