Christmas lights

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Every December, we see Raspberry Pi Christmas lighting projects appear on the web, but this year the crop has been bigger and better than ever before. If you haven’t set yours up yet, here are a few ideas, tutorials and displays to get you started.

Let’s open with the Johnson Family’s Dubstep Christmas Show for a look at what can be achieved with a Raspberry Pi and an awful lot of festive elbow grease.

We think this is the largest and most impressive Pi-based Christmas light show we’ve seen so far: let us know if you’ve seen bigger and better! You can read more about the Johnson’s setup (all controlled by a Pi) at their very detailed webpage about the project. Matt Johnson also has a behind the scenes video for you to goggle at.

Frankly, the Johnson’s effort is an outlier in its size and complexity. But there are elements of a light show like this that you can make at home and use without scaring the neighbours.

Andrew Oakley has kept his Raspberry Pi Christmas lighting setup compact: one LED matrix displayed in a window. For all that it lacks in size, its ability to play animations and the project’s low price make this a great option.

Andrew has a really thorough tutorial and build diary (we love Andrew’s write-ups) available at his website, along with the animations he’s made and all the code you need to make your own.

Lights are not just for Christmas. Here’s a giant animated menorah, built by Ben Forta and family for Hanukkah 2015. There’s a full description of how the animation was made in the video.

Don’t want to share your lights with the neighbours? No problem! Here’s Anderson Silva’s Son et Lumiere Christmas tree.

Anderson says:

I have 8 channels running 800 lights. I also modified the LightShowPi‘s configuration to customize the lights a bit more. I am running all songs in 4 channels and mirroring the other 4 channels, this (IMHO) makes the lights a little more fun with a lot less ‘blackouts’ from unused channels during certain songs.

You’ll find a very, very thorough step-by-step breakdown of how to build your own, written by Anderson, at Open Source World.

If you need more inspiration, there’s an amazing online community dedicated to LightShowPi at G+, where huge numbers of people using the Raspberry Pi in indoor and outdoor displays swap hints and tips, and showcase their work. (If you’re reading this, G+ community members, a big, flashy hello and merry Christmas to all of you from all of us at Pi Towers!) Head on over for friendly help and advice – and if you’ve made a seasonal display you think we should know about, let us know here in the comments!


AndrewS avatar
Liz Upton avatar

Not yet – we haven’t got to the Christmas gifts post yet this year!

W. H. Heydt avatar

Apparently, the latest “thing” in Xmas lights use lasers. Some people don’t line them up correctly, and there have been “laser strikes” on aircraft from them. Be careful with your Xmas lights.

Obo The Hobo avatar

I think the laser thing is cheating.

Les Pounder avatar

I’ve recently written a guide on how to use Twitter to control your Raspberry Pi powered Christmas lights, cheekily called IoTree (groan). I’ll be live streaming, and turning over control of the lights to the public for two hours next week. Monday 14/12 20:00UTC–iotree

Kevin Roche avatar

Great Ideas from all these families. Makes what I have done with my Pi look very basic.

Obo The Hobo avatar

Wow… I’m new with the Raspberry Pi, so this is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen!

Scot Dobson avatar

I don’t know if it was Pi powered, but my neighbor did something similar last year. It was definitely bigger, there wasn’t an inch of the house that wasn’t covered in lights. They also set up a radio tower on their roof, which they used to broadcast Christmas music through the neighborhood! I wish I had gotten a video, it was awesome.

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