Arduino Light Display With Vixen




Introduction: Arduino Light Display With Vixen

I will show you how to create your own computerized light show!!  If you have any questions or comments feel free to post.




  A few options are;

  • LOR ( Light-O-Rama
  • Vixen Lights
Most of these light shows have a big setup cost for the software and hardware. However they are a much easier setup. The vixen lights is free but will take some foot or should I say finger work but if you are up for it it will be well worth it. I chose to use vixen lights and I have already done all of the searching and will share all of this with you in one spot. So grab some snacks and a drink and get ready to learn. I decided to use the arduino as the hardware controller, but there are many supported hardware options. 

Step 1: Things Needed

  • Vixen lights program
  • Arduino ( I'll assume you know how to use one )
  • Relay board or if you choose to build one click here  for my build info
  • Female cord ends ( I found some on ebay ) But the ones on LoghtORama web site are longer.
  • Plastic enclosure (see pic)
  • Computer

Step 2: The Software

Vixen lights software;

First things first. Download the software from here I am using version Now keep in mind some of the sequences will not work across different versions.  On the link above be sure to read the page and what to install first and so on. After download is complete extract files and check the box that says " show extracted files "  to a location you will remember. When the extracted files appear right click on the vixen deer and select send to desktop. ( This will allow for fast access ) 

Step 3: Set Up a Sequence

Set up a sequence, This is how the show is created!

Click on the vixen deer icon, you will see a grey screen with a tool bar on the top. ( it may ask if you would like to upgrade, answer no )
  • On the top left tool bar, click on SEQUENCE, then NEW EVENT SEQUENCE, then VIXEN STANDARD SEQUENCE.
  • A window will open ( New Sequence Wizard )
  • Click next,( Event Period )
  • then next again, ( Profile )
  • Click on Profile Manager button. A new window will open ( Profiles )
  • Click on the blue (+) new window will open ( New Profile )
  • Type the name of your choice and click OK. A new window will open ( Edit a Profile )
  • Chose how many channels you wish to have. ( for this instructable choose 16 and click add ) on the left side
  • Click on the box with 4 color square,  new window will open ( Channel Colors )
  • Click new color a new window will open ( Color ) here you will select 16 colors of your choice.
  • On the  ( Channel Colors ) window you can drag the colors on the right to the channels on the left of your choice.
  • When done click OK.
  • on the  ( Edit a profile ) window click on Output Plugins. New window will open ( Sequence Plugin Mapping )
  • Select Generic Serial from the left menu and click on use.
  • Now click on the Generic Serial in the box on the right then click on ( plugin Setup ) under channel numbers.
  • A new window will open (Setup )
  • Select a com port that your arduino uses and a baud rate of 9600.
  • Click on OK.  
  • Then Click done.
  • Then done again. ( New Sequence Wizard window)
  • Click on the  NONE drop down menu and select the profile you created.  
  • Then click Create  it.  
  • A ( Save as ) window will open.
  • Type the same profile name here. 

Step 4: Create a Sequence

We will now build the show! This is where you can get as creative as you want.
  • Open vixen
  • Click on Sequence (top left)
  • Choose " open an event sequence "
  • Click on the one you created ( sequence will open )
 Once the sequence opens you will see all of the channels open.

Add Music

To add music;
  • Click on the box with only a music note ( top of page )
  • Click on Assign audio 
  • pick through your audio files and select one of your liking
  • Click OK
Now all you have to do is play the audio and click on the boxes till they turn the color you choose for each channel.
An empty box means this channel will be off. A colored box means this channel will be on. You can select several boxes and right click and choose on. This will make things a bit faster. 

Be sure to save your work often in case it crashes. 

Step 5: Schedule a Show

With vixen open;
  • Choose " Programs " from the tool bar
  • Select " Manage " a new box will open ( Program Management )
  • Under the " Programs " section click on the blue +  a new box will open
  • Enter a name of the new program
  • Click OK
  • Select the program you just created ( in the middle box ) it will turn blue
  • Click and drag sequence(s) from the far left menu ( available sequences ) to the far right menu ( program event sequences )
  • Under " Test " make sure the " use program's plugin setup " is selected
  • click ok ( box will close )
Time to Schedule;
  • Click on " Programs" on the tool bar
  • Click on Schedule ( Scheduler will open )
  • Choose the view you prefer 
  • Pick a day and double click ( Timer will open )
  • Chose " Select Program " ( chose program you created )
  • chose the " Execution start "  you would like ( day and time )
  • Click " repeat "  ( if you want this option )
  • Under " Recurrence "  choose your preference ( how often, then start date and end date )
  • click OK

Step 6: Hardware

The arduino: Keep in mind that when using the arduino with vixen that the channels will be off by 2. Example channel 1 in vixen will operate pin 2 on the arduino. This is due to the fact that pin 0 and pin 1 is a TX RX and will not work with this set up. It's best to make a note to put with the equipment so that you will remember this.

There are some choices on hardware. I chose the most simple option to get started. A regular relay board I built. The only down fall is it's just a on/off option. Vixen can do fading but this will require a more advanced relay board. This may be in my future and will add info here when ready.

You can see my relay board layout on my other instructable.  The arduino sends the on off signal to each relay that in turn will make the lights go BLINKY BLINKY.

I used the same method but a more narrow board so I could fit it the the box I chose. I used and orbit outdoor sprinkler timer box. It's rigid and the size I needed. 

Step 7: The Arduino Code

The arduino code is very simple. This current setup uses 15 channels but to add more is very easy. I actuality tested a arduino mega and ran 52 channels with no problems. 

You can use more than one arduino. All you have to do is add the same exact code to both arduinos. Then in vixen add a second controller to your profile section. Then open each controller and choose which channels you want to go to each arduino keeping in mind each arduino will need to be assigned a different com port.

Adding more channels:Read below or see video.

To add more channels simply add the new lines in each section just increasing the line number by 1. you must also change the number of total channels in the 3 sections of command line. You also have to go into vixen open the profile you will be using then choose the controller and change the amount of channels you will be using.

int A = 2;
int B = 3;
int C = 4;
int D = 5;
int E = 6;
int F = 7;
int G = 8;
int H = 9;
int I = 10;
int J = 11;
int K = 12;
int L = 13;
int M = A0;
int N = A1;
int O = A2;

int i = 0;
int incomingByte[15];

void setup()

  pinMode(A, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(B, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(C, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(D, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(E, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(F, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(G, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(H, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(I, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(J, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(K, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(L, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(M, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(N, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(O, OUTPUT);


void loop()
  if (Serial.available() >= 15)
    for (int i=0; i<15;i++)
      incomingByte[i] =;
    }                                       // Arduino pins
    digitalWrite(A, incomingByte[0]);  // Pin 2
    digitalWrite(B, incomingByte[1]);  // Pin 3
    digitalWrite(C, incomingByte[2]);  // Pin 4
    digitalWrite(D, incomingByte[3]);  // Pin 5
    digitalWrite(E, incomingByte[4]);  // Pin 6
    digitalWrite(F, incomingByte[5]);  // Pin 7
    digitalWrite(G, incomingByte[6]);  // Pin 8
    digitalWrite(H, incomingByte[7]);  // Pin 9
    digitalWrite(I, incomingByte[8]);  // Pin 10
    digitalWrite(J, incomingByte[9]);  // Pin 11
    digitalWrite(K, incomingByte[10]); // Pin 12
    digitalWrite(L, incomingByte[11]); // Pin 13
    digitalWrite(M, incomingByte[12]); // Pin A0
    digitalWrite(N, incomingByte[13]); // Pin A1
    digitalWrite(O, incomingByte[14]); // Pin A2



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82 Discussions

I used this tutorial to create a dancing water fountain. Not quite finished yet, but working well!


2 replies

I have since edited the code to contain the script within the arduino only, cutting out the PC.

Works perfectly

I have setup 8ch with the below code, but when I run in vixen, the lights are turning off when I am expecting them to turn on... can you look at the code and see if I am missing something.....?

int A = 2;

int B = 3;

int C = 4;

int D = 5;

int E = 6;

int F = 7;

int G = 8;

int H = 9;

int incomingByte[8];

void setup()



pinMode(A, OUTPUT);

pinMode(B, OUTPUT);

pinMode(C, OUTPUT);

pinMode(D, OUTPUT);

pinMode(E, OUTPUT);

pinMode(F, OUTPUT);

pinMode(G, OUTPUT);

pinMode(H, OUTPUT);


void loop()


if (Serial.available() >= 8)


for (int i=0; i<8;i++)


incomingByte[i] =;

} // Arduino pins

digitalWrite(A, incomingByte[0]); // Pin 2

digitalWrite(B, incomingByte[1]); // Pin 3

digitalWrite(C, incomingByte[2]); // Pin 4

digitalWrite(D, incomingByte[3]); // Pin 5

digitalWrite(E, incomingByte[4]); // Pin 6

digitalWrite(F, incomingByte[5]); // Pin 7

digitalWrite(G, incomingByte[6]); // Pin 8

digitalWrite(H, incomingByte[7]); // Pin 9




8 months ago

Bro, I need your expert opinion..... I made 16ch Christmas lights controller. But the problem is when i connect 240v to the relays, the arduino and the relay board got freeze and disconnected from the computer, so the lights are freeze. So i dont known what to do. Please help me. REPLY

10 replies

Sorry to hear it's not working but can you submit a pic of the relay setup? And the information of the relay board so I can do some research.

i post a link(problem video) but it not appear here.i dont know why?

and this is my sketch


you dont mind, give me your email or any messengers for quick communication. thanks

Can you post the information on the relay board, name and where you got it so I can look it up. I have a feeling there is some electrical discharge that is making it's way back to the controller causing it to suddenly stop.

I bought this from Ebay.

Name"16 Channel 5V Relay Module Board Optocoupler Power Supply Arduino ARM"



Make sure that the controller has it's own power supply, the relay board has it's own power supply. Make sure to connect a ground wire from the Arduino negative to the relay board negative. If this doesn't solve the problem you might have to consider different relays (non machinical type) like a solid state. Like this one . I have a feeling that the relay board being generic may not be suitable for the high voltage even though the relay it self is rated for that. I feel it could be voltage flyback in the circuit causing the Arduino freeze.

I already have separate Power Supplys for both, and common ground. i thing i need to try SSR.

i am try to make this for 2 years, but still its ...

by the way, thanks man.

It looks like the setup is good. I had that same problem at one time. Try moving anything that could induce a electrical field by the USB cable. Like the light bulb(being florescent it produces electrical noise that can be induced into the USB wire) also any power supply like the wall worts. If the data to the Arduino gets interrupted it will just stop working till it's reset. You can also try a shorter USB cable or one with a ferrite bead on it. This can also help with electrical noise. Use my username at Hotmail to contact.


1 year ago

Do you have a diagram of the wiring on the arduino?

1 reply

The relay board in this instructable is the one I built and used in my first non computer controlled display with an arduino. It will give all the wiring details. Just remember to follow the code and arduino pins used on this page. Hope this helps. Let me know If I can help more.

How many channels can I control with Arduino and vixen?

1 reply

Not 100% sure. But I did a test and had 3 arduinos connected individually and ran around 48 channels.

I used this to control my Animatronic Dog! :-) Thanks for posting!