Happy Holidays! (Arduino Christmas Light Show 2016 Debut!)

Enjoy the Show!

Build Notes

A Rough Sleigh Ride

It’s been a strange ride these past few weeks developing the show. It’s gone from this elaborate idea of servos, LEDs, fountains, and more Christmas-themed props to a very simple stage. With that, there’s a feeling of the show being unsatisfactory… but I’m still satisfied anyway.

From the original four pan and tilt contraptions I had built, it dwindled down to using just two… and then a big fat zero. The two constraints were the small stage size which was too small to fit four, and the FastLED library didn’t seem to play nicely with the Servo library. I didn’t do much testing to determine whether it was this or too much current draw for both at the same time, but each library behaved properly when the other was removed.

Again with the small stage thing, there wasn’t much space to fit in the fountains or any props. (The big workbench is out of service, for reasons.) There was also the mess I made with some experiments that didn’t get my hopes up very much. It would have been nice to continue on with fountains for Christmas again… there’s always next year.

Despite all of the compromises and cuts, I can’t honestly say that this wasn’t a good project though. I’ve learned and will move on to something bigger and better.

Press Play on the Holidays

capture

One of the highlights of this project for me was creating a Visual Basic program to control the show. I used to manually sync the music while I was programming the show by basically giving my best guess as to when to hit play. With the VB program, starting the show with synced up music was as simple as hitting play.

There were a few problems I encountered. One was that I didn’t know how to stop the show mid-way if I needed to. I thought about interrupts and all that but I felt like time wasn’t on my side to figure that out. With my current setup, I could only stop the show from playing anything else after the sequence was done.

Another problem, although not one cause by the VB program, was that the sketch size became to big for all of the shows to be in one single sketch. I think it may have to do with the size of the FastLED library but I’m not certain. Since I couldn’t have all of the shows on one sketch, I couldn’t play them back to back through the VB program. I’d like to experiment with programming the show in the Visual Basic program itself so that the lengthy show code is saved on my computer as opposed to the Arduino.

Want the code?

Check out my GitHub for both the Arduino sketches and Visual Basic files!

Thanks for Visiting!

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and best wishes for the new year!