Laser Projected Christmas Lights

It’s August, and of course that means that it’s time for retail stores to put up their Christmas decorations! But seriously, if you’re going to do better than the neighbors you need to start now. [Joey] already has his early start on the decorations, with a house-sized light show using LED strips and a laser projector that he built last Christmas.

What started off as a thought that it would be nice to hang a wreath over the garage soon turned into a laser projector that shows holiday-themed animations on the front of the house. The project also includes a few RGB LED strips which can match the colors displayed by the projector. The LEDs are powered from a custom-built supply that is controlled by a laptop, and the program that runs on the computer averages the colors from the video signal going to the projector which lights up the LED strips to match the projected image. This creates an interesting effect similar to some projects that feature home theater ambient lighting.

The only major problem [Joey] came across was having to account for the lasers’ motion in the projected patterns, which was causing the computer to read false values. This and a few other laser-related quirks were taken care of with a bit of programming to make sure the system was functioning properly. After that it was a simple matter of attaching the projector to the roof and zip-tying the LED strips to the eaves of the house.

The projector is weatherproof, has survived one harsh winter already, and can be up and running for any holiday. With Halloween right around the corner, this could be a great way to spice up some trick-or-treating. Check out the video after the break to see this setup in action.

30 thoughts on “Laser Projected Christmas Lights

    1. My main concerns is where to put the projector and how to keep it safe from the weather.

      If a string of lights gets fried it’s a bummer, but losing a laser projector would be a lot bigger blow.

      Joey says he didn’t do anything to weatherproof his. Is that just luck?

      1. Might just be a rugged little unit – it’s a professional stage/club unit, and costs about $3200.00 retail. I don’t think I could ever trust something that expensive to just sit outdoors through major weather…

    2. You would have to use projection mapping to map the laser onto the 3D surface of the house. I wouldn’t recommend it, because the laser would have to be so far in front of the house that it could be dangerous for people walking between the house and the laser.

      We were *extremely* careful in mounting and aligning this, so that the laser cannot ever exceed the boundaries of the roof above the garage. That way the laser never fires into the air, and since it is mounted on the roof, there’s no way for somebody to walk between it and the house and hurt their eyes.

      The LEDs are extremely bright, and can be seen from multiple streets over at night, so that really helped to grab people’s attention.

      Sorry for the duplicate – this was supposed to be a reply to “What would it take to completely replace Christmas lights with a laser projector?”

  1. “But seriously, if you’re going to do better than the neighbors you need to start now.”
    What if i don’t? I’m atheist and I don’t observe christian holidays.

    1. Hey, it takes time to prepare. I have no problem with Christmas stuff going up at the very end of November and not going away until Epiphany. What drives me insane is how it creeps gradually earlier every year. Like, it’s one thing to start stocking seasonal stuff early, but lots of stores have started playing Christmas music a month and a half early. The same ten or twelve goddamn songs repeating endlessly like some kind of musical commercial hell.

      1. I was obviously venting a bit but as you say it’s getting insane with the earlier and earlier and freaking August 1st is just beyond any doubt unacceptable.

        As for the ‘you have to order LED early.’ quip. Don’t HaD readers use LED all year long? So they are always ordered/in the drawer at any moment of the year.

    2. Dude even to do a modest display, you have to put it out around thanksgiving. I mean it physically takes about a week for most people to put their stuff out. Also lights are expensive! You don’t put them out for a week or so, you keep them up from after thanksgiving to at least Jan 1st.

      1. One thing you have to watch out of those is the back is not water proofed very well. I use the rgb version on my flood lights and after 3 years its starting to eats away the copper.

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