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Programming your Christmas Lights

Programming your Christmas Lights. Andrew Konkol Technical Architect at Sentry Insurance Creator/Designer of the Konkols Christmas Light Show. CLAP. C hristmas L ight A ddiction P roblem. Music. Turns flashing lights into Magic Classics, Pop, Rock TSO: Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

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Programming your Christmas Lights

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  1. Programming your Christmas Lights Andrew Konkol Technical Architect at Sentry InsuranceCreator/Designer of the Konkols Christmas Light Show

  2. CLAP Christmas Light Addiction Problem

  3. Music • Turns flashing lights into Magic • Classics, Pop, Rock • TSO: Trans-Siberian Orchestra

  4. Sequencing/Scheduling Software • Ties lighting effects (on/off, fades, chases, etc) to a timeline, in sync with music • Bitmap vs. Vector • Popular Free • Vixen (2.1, 3.0, Vixen+) • HLS • Nutcracker • xLights • Not free • Light Show Pro (LSP) – $100-$400 • Light-O-Rama (LOR) - $50-$400

  5. Computer • Most software is Windows-based • Needed for Sequencing • Needed for controlling the show and playing music during showtime • Unless you are using a stand-alone controller

  6. Power (Electricity) • AC • Traditional incandscents, LED lights from the store • Dimming requires zero-cross detector • DC • Needed for modern LED-based lighting • 5V, 12V common • PC Power supply works well for this • Need to consider total power required (Amps/Watts) • Outdoor = GFCI

  7. Zero Cross Detection

  8. FM Transmitter/Antenna • Gets music into the warm cars of visitors • Low Power (avoid attention of FCC) • Dipole antenna • www.radio-locator.com • RDS (Radio Data System)

  9. Protocols / Interfaces • RS-485-based • DMX • Renard • LOR • PixelNet • Ethernet-based • E1.31 (DMX-over-Ethernet or Streaming ACN) • Pixel protocols • WS2801, TM180x, WS2811, TLS3001, GE Color Effects • Protocol converters • Examples: Etherdongle (takes in E1.31, outputs PixelNet), E1.31-to-DMX/Renard bridges, etc.

  10. Controllers • Takes in information on a protocol bus and turns it into blinky-flashy • Use microcontrollers • PIC by Microchip • Programmed in C or Assembly; flashed with PicKit • Parallax Propeller • Programmed using proprietary “Spin” language; flashed with “Prop Plug” • 8 Cores • Arduino

  11. Controllers – AC • Uses Solid-State Relays (SSRs) • On-board: AC switching happens on the same board as the protocol processing • Off-board: AC switching happens remotely – 5V signal connects SSRs to main board • Fancy power-strip • Examples include Renard SS (8, 16, 24), Renard 64, Lynx Freestyle, Lynx Express, Helix, LOR

  12. Controllers - DC • May either switch a DC power source (using DC SSRs), or provide power directly • Commonly controls RGB floodlights, strips, or “dumb” RGB strings • Examples include Renard4Flood, Ren48LSD, Renard 64, PixelNet Dumb String Controller (DSC)

  13. Controllers - Pixel • Takes input protocol and produces pixel protocols to control “smart” RGB nodes • Provides constant DC power, plus a “data” signal to tell individual nodes to set RGB output levels (providing 256^3 = 16M color possibilities) • Examples include PixelNet Smart String Controller (SSC), PixelNet Zeus, SanDevices E68x series, J1SYS EthConGateway (ECG), RPM Pixel Bridge

  14. Controllers – Stand-alone • Some controllers can run the whole show • No computer needed at showtime • Theoretically could provide a more robust platform (Windows is not a real-time OS) • Files (MP3, sequences) stored on removable media • Just hook up other controllers, lights, and an FM transmitter, and you’re set • Examples include Helix and EtherDongle with Conductor daughter board

  15. Lights! • Incandescent • 1 channel per string • AC LEDs • 1 channel per string • DC LEDs, including “dumb” strips/strings/floods • RGB strings typically use 3 channels per string • Pixels (“smart” strips, strings, modules) • Typically use 3 channels per node, so a string of 50 would use 150 channels

  16. Topology • How does it all connect together? • It all depends! • What protocols, controllers, lights are you using? • Centralized versus decentralized • Data and power connections

  17. Topology of my show

  18. Resources • www.doityourselfchristmas.com – General DIY lighting forum. Renard, Vixen, E68x, Audrino, HLS • www.diylightanimation.com– Lynx, SmartStrings, Etherdongle, LSP, xLights • www.diyledexpress.com– Lots of LED-based products, boards, kits, enclosures • www.holidaycoro.com – Corrugated plastic props, DMX-based stuff, RGB • www.aliexpress.com/store/701799- Ray Wu’s store – lots of RGB products, direct from China (message Ray direct to get a combined shipping quote) • www.lightorama.com – Commercial (non-DIY) lighting control products • www.lightshowpro.com – Home of LSP • www.vixenlights.com – home of Vixen, including latest 3.0 releases • www.auschristmaslighting.com- Australian forum – lots of DC-based stuff (RGB, etc) • Don’t forget to check out the Wikis – most forums have one

  19. Questions? • Andrew.Konkol@outlook.com • https://www.facebook.com/KonkolsChristmasLightShow

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