Picture of DIY Christmas Lights Set To Music - Choreographed House Lights
DIY Christmas Lights Set To Music - Choreographed House Lights

This is NOT a beginner DIY. You will need a firm grasp on electronics, circuity, BASIC programming and general smarts about electrical safety. This DIY is for an experienced person so I will not go into detail about how to solder or how to read schematics etc. Sorry, it would take way too long to write an instructable that included schooling in electronics.

Here is a DIY to make your house christmas lights Choreographed to any song you want. It's not easy but if you're good at electronics YOU CAN DO IT!

Step 1: The Components

Picture of The Components
To get started you'll need 16 MOSFETS, 16 Relays rated at 9V 10A, blank PC board, Cat5 wire, hot glue, a transformer rated to drop down 110V to 9V a bridge rectifier and Capacitors from Radio Shack.
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FreddyJ12 months ago

here is my email could you email me the word doc with the program codes. Thank


Ram15004x45 years ago
This is the best.  I do have a question though.

I have read everything I can find on the Basic Stamp 2 Microcontroler. But I can't find anything On how to flash The Music and the code to the chip. Even in their forums.

Can you shed some light on this or tell me what book or books I need to read because I really want to build one of these.

Keep up the great work.


Ps. love the Basketball

@RAM This is exciting stuff! Checkout http://doityourselfchristmas.com

There is an awesome wiki as part of that community as well here: Do It Yourself Christmas Wiki

I stated out in 2005 with my own build, it was hard, time sucking and buggy!

Then I had success with Vixen software and the DIY Renard64 hardware with SSRoz boards. Its all in the wiki on how to get started and what it is all about.

prabbit22m (author)  Ram15004x45 years ago
It's been a while but I'll try to remember.  You can get the parallax software for free I think.  After you write the program in that software you can click a button at the top that says RECORD or WRITE or something like that.  If you get the CD that comes with the chip it will tell you how to flash the program.

The music is totally seperate from the light control.  I just started the lights and the music manually at the same time.  There's not enough room on those chips for music.  The big chip barely has enough room for the program. 

The Arduino is another great stamp module and it has a ton of support.  If you get the MEGA version it's got a ton of outputs. 

Good luck!
fujosamu5 years ago
what mosfet should i use?
Its Wizards of Winter by TSO (Tran-Siberian Orchestra) not wizards of light!
mathieulj5 years ago
Simply awesome. One of the first projects on my list when i get a home. What is the song playing? Custom? kind of sound like nightwish to me but I don't know.
chipmonger5 years ago
Great project. But for those who are not comfortable with 120 vac electrical wiring, here's a safer and simplier alternative: http://www.powerswitchtail.com

I've used these things on a number of outdoor lighting projects. The nice thing about it is instead of running ac extension cords back to the control box, I run low voltage cable to the powerswitchtails that are located close to the light strings.
dooj6 years ago
i need to know where you got EVERYTHING, because i am going to build it. and links would help. i like you`re idea and think that contraption would a much better (and cheaper) alternative to Light-o-Rama. there are some other instructables like this, but i think this is the best out of all of them. please respond to it.
tony1126 years ago
AWESOME DISPLAY.....It gives me many, many, many ideas this coming fall!!....thanks!. I had a couple questions, what type of BASIC chip did you use. I am new into PIC. I haven't seen 16 output chips. I am currently using an 8 output 16F84 chip. Any ideas how to multiplex 8 more onto the same chip?. Unfortunately Charlieplexing wouldn't work in this case.......... also, have you had any problems with your relays turning on and off several times a minute/second. Is there any problems of corrosion or arking. Would it be better too use solid state relays instead?? (I know they are terribly expensive though) Please advise, Thanks again for your fantastic idea!!! Take care, Tony
prabbit22m (author)  tony1126 years ago
It's the Basic Stamp 2e By Parallax. I think they sell a 32 output chip too. No I didn't have any problems with the relays. I think the low current keeps them from arcing. SSR's would definately be a better way to go. I would have done that if it weren't for cost. If you search youtube for my screen name, prabbit22m, you'll find one called christmas light CAPABILITIES. You'll see exactly how fast those relays can work. It's plenty fast for any music. The only thing they wouldn't work for is dimming by frequency. -Peter
Considering the size of Rly 1-16, is it possible to mount them with the controller board in the same box or need a seperate box to put them in with the board. Considering the size of the stand offs that would be used, and the possible placement, maybe a larger box be used? I am asking since I am considering making this project, and I am looking at what I am going to get into price wise. Thanks! Love the light show..
prabbit22m (author)  BlackHatCracker6 years ago
Everything fit in the box I made. In fact, there was pleanty of extra room. I would recomment mounting the relays on a board, thay will be much more secure that way. I didn't run into any problems but I was delicate with the box. Had I dropped it there might have been a damaged connection.
I must give you kudos for that light display. My brother and I did one close to that, but it was not set to music a long time ago at my grandparents house... 2 days of working to get the light untangeled, and strung, and connected... 3 months worth of programming, and it was all done on a.... :: Drum roll :: ... C64 computer.. lol... Nice job! I really like it a lot!
RoyalPayne6 years ago
Thanks for your input to my continuing education of Christmas lighting. From your video, I gather that red is not a good color, as it does not show up well unless back lit with a brighter color. Did you use the led lights in this display? As I am a beginner, I will not be attempting this electrical maze, but will turn it over to my husband. Thanks again.
Sandisk1duo6 years ago
I have done this but with only one channel i used a npn and a relay to control a couple Christmas lights i mad the lights dim to bass, so it looks like my system is drawing helza power! the only thing is that it makes a lot of noise when the relay switches the lights on and off
prabbit22m (author)  Sandisk1duo6 years ago
Try using an SSR (solid state relay). You can get them at mouser.com. An SSR doesn't make any noise. -Peter
i was doing the project on short notice, so i couldn't order a SSR or i could use a light dimmer, if i properly tune it
I'm sure you could also pay a small child to flip the lights on and off to the music too... no soldering required.
ya, but he/she can't flip it 150 times a second but i like the creativity!
meh, give em a case of jolt... that should do the trick...
lolz doesn't that screw their brains up? (caffeine at an early age)
yeah, you stunt their growth, and create a dependence... that's how you maintain superiority over the little ones. You have to teach them who's boss...
or you be fair, don't influence them in bad ways, make them respect you i like my idea better
Yeah, but my idea was inspired by Velociraptors.
prabbit22m (author)  jongscx6 years ago
jongscx, There are child labor laws to consider here. Better make sure they're over 18 and remember anything over 8 hrs a day is time and a half.
Actually, if it's a school day/night, I can't report them working over 20 hrs that week... or I think it might even be 16...
prabbit22m (author)  jongscx6 years ago
Naw, the gotsta be over 18 to works the dangerous stuff. But, a little green under the table never hurtst nobody.
well, if it's under the table, it doesn't matter how old my forklift driver is...
yes look with the SCR AND MOS 3010
on my video T.K.

hoop....with triac 6A 400 v Toast
NetReaper6 years ago
wow, so you have to progra everything! No way to just put in an audio signal?
prabbit22m (author)  NetReaper6 years ago
That's right. Program EVERYTHING. That's the only way to get the lights to do exactly what you want. It takes a LOT of time but that's what projects are all about, right.
couldn't you just build your own DMX interface into your relay pack, and then use some lighting control software to build your show? there's a lot of good free programs out there. project looks good though, i admire your dedication
I are very impressed
srilyk6 years ago
A lot of people use those "personal" fm transmitters to broadcast their music and just post a sign out front with the frequency to listen to. Nice documentation!
prabbit22m (author)  srilyk6 years ago
Thanks. Yeah, I figured most people did that. I think here in CA you have to be under a certain wattage and it's pretty low like. It worked well enough.
Yeah, otherwise you'd need FCC (or is it FAA?) approval/licenses... In any case, it'd be better than loudspeakers :-D
The FFA is the federal avation adminstration
prabbit22m (author)  scienceguy6 years ago
I believe that is correct. I don't think I would need their permission unles this contraption was installed on Santa's sleigh.
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