Introduction: Christmas Light Show Synchronized to Music!

About: I love all things programming from making a Led blink on a arduino, to controlling a whole Christmas light show from my phone with raspberry pi and other hardware. If you'd like to see the light show, check ou…

In this instructable, I'm going to show you how to make a Christmas light show synchronized to Christmas music using RGB pixels. Don't let that name scare you! It's not too hard to learn how to do this. I will warn you though that this can be quite expensive to build depending on the size you want your light show. In the video above, that light show cost around $600 including everything you need. I will not give you every last piece of information needed to build a light show or we would be here for days reading this 100,000-word instructable! I will however give links to other Instructables going into more detail about how to do the certain step your on when building the light show. This is just going to be the basics on how to build a light show. I'm trying not to overwhelm anyone who wants to build a light show with every piece of info needed. I will put a supplies list down below, but you may or may not need some of the stuff below. It all depends on the size you want your light show to be.

Incase the video above doesn't work (which it has been doing recently) here's a link to that video sarajevo 2020 xmas light show


1 or more computers (raspberry pi, beagle bone black, windows 10, etc.) $50 - $200

1 or more 120/220v ac to 12v/5v dc power supply. link $29.50 apiece

RGB pixels (the lights) link $17 for 50

A pixel controller link $200

18/3 wire (25 - 200 ft, depends on the size of your show) link $0.23 a foot

speakers or FM radio transmitter. (more about these later)

Some tools, ethernet cables, and other things.

Step 1: What Are RGB Pixels

RGB pixels are LEDs that can each change any color, any time, 40 times a second. Each bulb has 3 LEDs inside of it, a red one, a green one, and a blue one. That is how you get RGB (red green blue). You can mix the colors to make any color you want (white, pink, purple, orange, yellow, etc) or you can just use the red, green or blue LED. You can also change each bulb at any time. So the whole strand of lights can be pink, but the last one can be blue. Or you could have a pattern of red yellow white going down the strand. You could even have every bulb change it's color every 25 milliseconds. You think of a pattern, they will do it. Pixels require special data that is made by a pixel controller (more on that later). You can't just plug pixels into a 120v/240v outlet and have them turn on (they would actually break if you do that!). They either need 5v dc power or 12v dc power. The most common pixels are 12v dc. For more about RGB pixel basics, visit this instructable I made here.

Step 2: Where Do I Get Power and Data for My Pixels?

Like I said above, you need 5v or 12v dc to power your pixels, but where do you get that power from? Well, you could connect 8 batteries and plug them into your lights to make 12v. But that would be impractical because they would die in minutes! What most people do is buy a 5v or 12v power supply depending on the voltage of your pixels (link in supplies list), then you take a short extension cord and cut the female end off and strip the wires on that end. You then screw the load or hot wire, neutral wire, a ground wire into the power supplies proper screw terminals. After that, your left with 6 other terminals. 3 that say v+ and 3 that say v-. These are your 12v or 5v dc terminals to connect to your pixels.

Now that you have power, where do you get the data from? The controller that I showed you above in the picture is what most people use to control your pixels. They take data from a computer through an ethernet cord and convert it into pixel data. You then plug your pixels into the controller and they light up when the computer tells them to. I will not go over how to set up the controller cause it takes a long time, but I will put a video here on how to do it. I will however briefly explain how to set up the computer in the next section.

Step 3: How to Setup the Computer to Give Data to the Controller

The first thing is you obviously need a computer. You can use a raspberry pi 2, 3, or 4, a beagle bone black, windows 7 or newer, or a mac. Most people will use a raspberry pi 3 or 4. But you can use any of the following. I will only be explaining the raspberry pi computer setup though cause that''s what I use. A beagle bone black is basically the same setup so you can follow along with that too. However, a windows or mac setup is completely different and uses other software that I don't know how to use. Basically, the way you use a raspberry pi is you put falcon player software on it via the sd card slot, then you configure the pi through its network interface. You will need to configure it to allow to output data from the ethernet port, when to output the data, when to stop outputting data, and many other things that would be a list a mile long. Here's an instructable that goes from a to z on how to set it up: falcon player setup

Step 4: Finished

That is basically everything you need to do to have a light show. Here are all the Instructables that go over the topics to run a light show: rgb pixels basicPrograming the pixelssetting up falcon player

Here's a website to buy pixels, power supplies, wire, and more: wired watts

Here's my youtube channel if you would like to see more videos of my lights: Bridgeport's Brightest Lights Here's my Facebook page if you would like to see the light show in person: Bridgeport's Brightest Lights Facebook page

And finally here's a youtube channel by Jeff Lacey for more info about RGB pixels: Canispater Christmas

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