Christmas lights ideas

Here’s a cool hack to get you in the December holiday mood! Time to set up some Christmas lights, maybe even computer controlled LED lights.

First idea to try: Arduino controlled Christmas lights!

How about this Gemmy Lightshow LED Christmas Lights

Or a Pedal Powered Menorah

Other videos:
2012 Christmas Lights Show (GE Color Effects lights running on Arduino
How to Control a Ton of RGB LEDs with Arduino & TLC5940

DIY Lighting, Christmas, Vixen Software, Arduino, Behind the Scene

Cheap Arduino Lighting/Christmas Lights/Outlet Controller

Arduino Mega: Christmas Tree Light Show

My Homemade Gemmy Lightshow LED Mega Christmas Tree


  1. Tomi says:

    Flying Spaghetti Monster Display

    [Anthony Liekens], one of our favorite hackers from Belgium, recently completed this large (and awesome!) Flying Spaghetti Monster LED display!

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    There’s a problem with Brighton’s Christmas lights

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    LEDmas 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

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    You’re not seeing double: RGB Christmas trees

    [mrpackethead], created this monster of a tree. As shown in the video, it’s capable of showing animations, patterns, and potentially video. The 6m tall creation is studded with 2000 waterproof RGB LED modules. Software for the tree was written in Apple’s own Quartz Composer and integrated into Madrix, a piece of software designed with the purpose of controlling LEDs. The 600W system is 100% Arduino-free

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ATtiny44 drop-in replacement for Ikea Dioder’s stock PIC controller

    The Ikea Dioder is an LED light sold at the big blue and yellow building that lets you mix your own colors using a simple button and wheel controller. [Marco Di Feo] looked at all of the other projects out there that alter the controller and figured out that the IC can be directly replaced with an ATtiny44 microcontroller

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The PiDioder

    Finally the long awaited tutorial to turn your Ikea Dioder and your Raspberry Pi into an awesomely sexy computer controlled LED component!
    Apart from many other Tutorials you can find in the internets (sic!) this does not need any deep electrical knowledge or similar.

    The Materials you need:
    - Voltmeter
    - Some cables
    - Soldering Gun (and accessories)

  7. Matlog says:

    Amazing ! Recently I had a lot of request for such gears, including music mangment. A bit harder but really nice to perform too. One of my customer did an install like this and will send vids to me. I’ll drop one here when I get them

    Thnaks for sharing ;)

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Arduino Xmas Tree Shield

    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.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Fixing Christmas Lights And Shocking Yourself Silly

    As [Medhi] was setting up his Christmas tree, he found a string with a few broken lights. Because he’d bought a cheap string of lights wired in series, of course one bulb was burnt out, rendering the entire string useless.

    he came up with a way to fix a broken string of lights.

    When a bulb burns out, the filament breaks creating an air argon gap between the two electrodes. By sending a huge voltage down the string, it should fire an arc through that gap, illuminating the burnt-out bulb for a brief time.

    Hackaday head honcho [Mike] just got this method of finding dead Christmas lights to work, replacing 14 bulbs in a string of 100 lights. This leads us to an interesting question: why isn’t this simple method of fixing a string of Christmas lights common knowledge?

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Disrupted Christmas – A live Installation by Holler

    Advertising prides itself on disruption. But what if you could disrupt advertising?

    This Christmas we got in to the holiday spirit by creating a live, and interactive installation allowing the public to do just that.

    We hacked an Electric Muscle Stimulation units and hooked them up to the internet via IP cameras. Key members of our agency were connected to the EMS unit and the Internet via a live stream.

    The public could watch our day, and disrupt it at will with the click of a mouse. The user simply needed go online, choose a stream, click the ‘Disrupt’ button, and watch as the EMS instantaneously zapped the volunteers. Momentarily interrupting their ability to continue the task at hand.

    For each ‘disruption’ we donated a $1 to The Factory, a local community centre with a long history of engaging artists in community development projects.

    The EMS hardware is bespoke built to be controlled via MIDI protocol

    To control the device we built a patch in MAX/MSP, designed to receive the “trigger messages” sent from the internet.

    Our ‘disruption’ web interface was built with Backbone.js for view rendering and UI interactions and switching video streams. It connected to the server via to listen to broadcast events (zap), and to trigger a zap.

    We used a Single node.js server hosted on Heroku to manage queues and handle connections.

    Once a message was received, the socket server converted it to OSC format in order to communicate with MAX/MSP, and transmit that message over UDP protocol to MAX.

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Watch: A Light Installation That Makes You Lose All Sense of Space

    For as long as people have been creating art, they’ve tried to grasp how to best convey the relationship between time, space and reality. It’s a mammoth task, and one that’s often best left to physics textbooks. But every so often, artists take a stab at it and come up with some pretty astounding results. A recent project from Paris-based design duo Nonotak attempts to do just that. The studio, made up of Noemi Schipfer and Takami Nakamoto, have long been bouncing viewers between dimensions by using cleverly projected light.

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Addressable RGB LED Coffee Table

    [Alexander] has just put the finishing touches on his Addressable RGB LED Coffee Table and it looks amazing!

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Holiday Light Spectacular’s Gingerbread House

    annual Holiday Light Spectacular

    This year, the show was based on a gingerbread house theme.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Do-it-yourself Christmas electronics projects: LED ornaments, Christmas light controllers and more
    Spark this holiday season with some ingenuity

    Christmas is more or less considered a festive holiday, and like all festive holidays, is an excellent opportunity to harness your electrical know-how to build cool stuff for the sake of building cool stuff. That’s part of the fun in being an electrical engineer or hobbyist; devising and implementing unique solutions.

    LED Ornament
    The LED ornament displays the message “MERRY CHRISTMAS,” across its eight by eight LED arrangement while hanging on a tree.

    Christmas light controller
    Plugging in Christmas lights and leaving them on for hours to consume tons of electricity is something your peasant neighbors do. But you’re not simply one of the common folk. No, your curiosity and ingenuity have turned you into a “Maker,” and as a maker, you will strive to think of creative solutions that establish a more convenient life for yourself. Or maybe you just like building things. Regardless, Zedomax’s Christmas light controller project takes five minutes to set up once all the materials are collected, and uses a programmable logic controller to customize your Christmas lights.

    The essential parts are:
    - 1x CuSB22R from
    - 1x AC power cord
    - 3x AC Connectors from Home Depot (More may be needed depending on the number of Christmas lights you wish to control.)
    - Bunch of wires

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    LED scrolling Christmas tree ornament with built in video game!
    by bradsprojects×8-LED-matrix-Christmas-display-with-built-i/

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Digital Dudz bring ugly Christmas sweaters to life with the help of your smartphone!qsP4W

    As we approach the one time of year when wearing a hideous knitted sweater is not only acceptable but almost cool, one UK-based company is looking to capitalize on this quirky trend by bringing a little technological glitz to proceedings.

    Digital Dudz’ kits let you use your smartphone to bring a little animation to things, including digital wounds embedded within funky Halloween-esque tops, AND a recently-introduced line of ugly Christmas sweaters.

    First up you of course have to procure one of the festive garments, which usually cost up to £40 ($65), but they’re actually half-price at the moment. You’ll then need to download the Digital Dudz iOS and Android app, load up the animation relevant to your particular sweater’s design, and slip your phone inside the pouch.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Grand Central Centennial Holiday Lights

    Grand Central Terminal Lights Up For The Holidays With Harman’s Martin Professional

    In total 354 Martin Professional Stagebar 54s fixtures are deployed on custom rigging, running on 24 full universes of DMX from 5pm to 11pm every night through December 26, 2013.

    “With so many restrictions and requirements listed for this project, we needed to worry less about the physical lighting fixtures and more about the actual programming and installation for a safe and entertaining project,”

    The pixel count of the project is 270 pixels-wide and eight pixels-tall. Media creator and programmer, Sean Cagney, of Amazing Industries, LLC., animated all the elements for Tanaka’s design. “Despite the low resolution, everything was created to the pixel specifically for this animation. You can’t just drop in stock media to fill time,” says Cagney. “Pixel mapping is a symbiosis between video and lighting to create something engaging and fascinating. Some of the elements were created as fully three-dimensional systems with particles to make the correct motion.”

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Hacking a Christmas Tree for Less Blinkyness

    What good is a fiber optic self-lighting Christmas tree if it flashes so fast it will put you into an epileptic attack? The answer is “Not very good”, if you ask [Mads Nielsen] a.k.a [EcProjects]. So [EcProjects ] started a little project to slow the Christmas tree’s blinkyness down to a more reasonable rate. The task didn’t seem too difficult at first but turned into a quality tutorial building a variable frequency H-bridge motor control.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Mega Tree Game Display

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

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Christmas Tree Analyzes Your Tweets

    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.

    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 tweet

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    More Lights for your Presents

    Lights on the tree? Check. Presents under the tree? Check. Lights in the presents? Why not! If your gifts don’t look festive enough and you have a spare inductive charging system lying around the house—though, you could always build your own from scratch—you can brighten things up by installing a few LEDs in the packaging.

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    An Even Larger Array of Many LEDs and No Ping-Pong balls

    [George] has gone pro with his latest RGB LED panel. We’ve chronicled [George's] journey toward the elusive land of LED nirvana for a couple of years now. He started with an 8×8 rainbow board of many ping-pong balls. When that wasn’t enough, he upped the ante to a 32×16 array of ping-pong balls. Still not satisfied, [George] has now increased the size to two 20×15 panels, for a total of 600 LEDs.

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    UFO-looking RGB LED RC Plane Lights Up the Night, Uses All the Acronyms

    He used low-tack tape to lay out the LED strips on the fuselage, solder the connections, and test them. Once he was satisfied with the arrangment, he flipped the strips face down so the foam diffuses the light. The lights are powered by a 12V Li-Po battery

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Check out this comic on lights on Christmas tree:

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Controlling Cheap, Awesome Christmas Lights

    [James] was wandering around Walgreens after Christmas and found something very interesting – RGB LED Christmas lights that were individually addressable. At $6.50 for a strand of 15 lights, he just had to buy a few and figure out the control protocol. After all, who can turn down a big, cheap, controllable RGB LED strip?

    After checking out this light with a scope and logic analyzer, [James] realized there was a very, very simple protocol going on.

    [James] wrote an Arduino library to control these strings

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Blindingly Bright Larson Scanner

    This hulking monument to illumination is [DJJules's] 6-foot-long Ultimate Larson Scanner. If you’re scratching your head in confusion, the Larson Scanner is the ever-popular scrolling LEDs seen on KITT (the car) from Knight Rider and on Cylons in Battlestar Galactica (1978), named after the creator of the series.

    [DJJules's] iteration consists of sixteen 10W LEDs, each mounted on a heat sink

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Christmas Tweetball

    The holidays are long over, but we’re still getting a smattering of holiday themed hacks. For this one, the [Han's] family decided to make a Christmas bauble that relays their tweets to them!

    Whenever someone tweets with the hashtag #tweetbal it gets displayed on the 20×4 serial LCD display. They’re using an Arduino Uno with an RN-XV WiFly module to receive and send the tweets to the display. A large white plastic ornament ball houses it

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Butt Lamp: Light From Where the Sun Don’t Shine

    [Trent] is one of those guys who can make things happen. A friend of his gifted him a mannequin derriere simply because he knew [Trent] would do something fun with it. “Something fun” turned out to be sound reactive LED butt. At first blush, this sounds like just another light organ. This butt has a few tricks up its …. sleeve which warrant a closer look.

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    CFL + Bugzapper = Battery Operated Camping Light

    Knowing different ways of generating light is a great skill to have, so go ahead and add this one to your arsenal by combining a Bugzapper with a CFL Light Bulb.

    Sure a CFL(Compact Fluorescent Lamp) works just fine on its own if you have AC mains, but what we’re talking about here is getting the light bulb to work off of a single D battery.

    Knowing that the bugzapper steps up the 3V to about 2000V, he decided to see if that same circuit would run off a single 1.5V D battery and achieve the voltage required to drive a CFL tube.

    It would be interesting to see how this hack compares to the Joule-Thief method in terms of brightness and run-time.

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    microcontrollers, projects
    Pulse Jacket

    This was one of my first Arduino projects. After some near misses with bicyclists while running at night, I decided to get some lights so people could see me in the dark. But why stop at boring plain lights? Wouldn’t it be cool if they could respond to my heart rate?

    I added seven different light modes which increased in speed with the heart rate: rainbow, raindrop, range pulse, color shot, twinkle, circulatory and Cylon. Most of these modes are self-explanatory.

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    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.

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Smokin’ groom-o-cutor LED wedding lights. With shady “repair”.

    If there’s one thing that’s better than a set of dodgy Chinese fairy lights, it’s a set of dodgy fairy lights that have tried to kill a groom on his wedding day. I was sent this set by Phil who got zapped while setting the lights up for his own wedding. The lights also have an LED that has been showing signs of extreme arcing and burning. That’s just the icing on the (wedding) cake.
    This investigation has also made me aware of a rather exciting fault condition that could potentially occur with the longer strings of lights.

  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Poundland lights unexpected feature and USB mod.

    It turns out that the sets of battery operated fairy lights at Poundland have an extra feature not mentioned on the packaging. The way it’s been implemented is “economic” but still seems OK.
    I also used a couple of 10 ohm quarter watt resistors to convert a 120 LED string for USB use. The current is about 100mA which is quite bright and high enough to keep most “intelligent” USB powerbanks awake. This USB mod will work for most parallel LED strings that don’t have the two-wire multi-channel effects (two channels relying on polarity reversal).
    For higher intensity you could use a single 10 ohm resistor, but it would need to be rated at about 1W to keep cool.


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