Some Christmas lights projects

I haven’t even put my tree up yet, but lots of you have been very busy with the Christmas decorations and your Raspberry Pis. Here are some projects you’ve still got time to emulate before Santa comes. take the whole Internet of Things idea seriously, and have wired up their office with a positive welter of fairy lights and a networked Raspberry Pi. They invite you to come and turn the lights on and off, watching the torment of their employees over a live feed. I took this screengrab from the feed from their office yesterday, and I don’t know whether to feel deep pride or terrible, terrible shame over the fact that these poor people are being subjected to this visual horror in their office courtesy of a Raspberry Pi. Nice job with the hats, guys.

A quiet moment. You should visit the site (click the image) – pretty much everything in that room has something you can make flash attached to it.

If you aren’t a sadist wanting to inflict misery and migraines on the working day of three people in a tiny room, but still want to turn some lights on and off, there’s a similar setup in a UK living room, where tree lights can be turned on and off, which was highlighted in this month’s MagPi. (The tree is turn-on-and-offable in the daytime too, but it’s much more fun at night.)

A screen grab from the live feed. This is a gentler, less guilt-inducing scene than making someone’s office flash: but you can still make these lights blink on and off like the dickens. Click the image to visit the site.

If you’re looking to do something a little less flashy, but still useful, here’s an easy one, which I found linked to from our forums. This timer turns your outdoor lights on and off according to the local sunset and sunrise times. Outside the holiday season, there are plenty of other applications you could use this setup for. You can find software and a shopping list for the hardware you’ll need, alongside helpful diagrams and photos to get you set up, at Savage Home Automation.

A very easy piece of GPIO wiring! Click the image to read more.

Finally, I found this lovely little decoration on Flickr. And assumed it was the sort of thing you buy for vast sums in expensive home interiors shops. But no! It’s a Raspberry Pi hack – just one with fewer protruding wires than we’re used to seeing. This gorgeous little object from Rumtopf  (who has some other amazing projects in his Flickr stream – the candy cane and cookie windmill that powers LEDs is my current favourite) incorporates Cheerlights, which are synchronised with other Cheerlights all over the world according to social networking trends. There’s an Arduino and an XBee radio in the box, talking wirelessly to a Raspberry Pi in another room.

Rumtopf: you should sell these. You’d make a mint. (And I want one!)

Rumtopf has made code for making your own available at Github. Let us know if you make something similar yourselves!



Mirko Tocchella avatar

Hi, i made a xmas project for my son, too. Its a installation which tells the xmas story. with servos, doors, lights and a narrator. all a fire and forget solution. just press the button and it plays.
my 3 year old son likes it ;-)
Sorry, that the narrator only talks german ;-) But at the end of the movie you can see pictures of the installation in detail.

regards Mirko

liz avatar

That’s lovely! You get a million Dad points for that – what a lucky little boy!

alex avatar

ConsiderIt photo link just links a photo, but the xmasforall one is brilliant. Just had a play with that :) Utterly bonkers – love it.

liz avatar

Oops. Sorry. Fixed!

CIT-Stuart avatar <– There you go Alex :)

alex avatar

That was great fun – a chatroom too :)

winkleink avatar

Rumtopf – my new parenting hero.
If you click for the Cheerlight have a look at the gallery.
Very imaginative and not just electronics.
Some amazing constructions with paper and coffee stirrers.

Fran avatar

This is our one, it has a web interface (Not online at moment), the interface controls what music it plays, how the lights on the tree react and also live streaming of the webcam connected.

Here is a video of of in action: It is flashing to the music it is playing.

If anyone is interested I will enable external access

Ron avatar

This is our RPi operating as a light organ for Midi. We found a 8-plug outlet and modified it to house all the required components. It plays about 75 xmas songs and syncs the lights. No outside access yet, but in the plans. Very fun!

Merry Christmas

Mark Pepper avatar


Stupid question I know but I am trying to catch up with Python on the RPi… How do I install the Serial and Request modules for Pyton on my RPi please? I have been looking at this project and another Rpi-Arduino-Cheerlights project and can get everything working except the Imports of the Serial Module and Request Modules. Obscurely I can get this running on the iPad (with out serial) but not my RPi.

liz avatar

Head to the forums – there are hundreds of people just waiting to help out!

Sam avatar

Hi Guys,

I fired up the Pi again this year. Log in and control the lights and train on my tree and watch it via a web cam, bit of fun for Christmas :)

Sam avatar

lol should put the link in clearly!!! have a look, love watching the lights change :P

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