After programming your own LEDs, you might find that Christmas lights from the department store just don’t cut it anymore.
They can be generic and boring with the same set of blinking light patterns that you see everyone else with. And while it’s convenient to purchase ready-to-go, you can do so much more using just a microcontroller and a few extra bits.
Luckily, there are some incredible DIY lighting projects out there just waiting to dazzle you and we’ve rounded up some of the best.
1. Raspberry Pi Christmas Light Sequencer
Christmas lights often accumulate over the years in a box marked for the festive season. Instead of putting up the same design this year, let’s put them to better use. For an over-the-top DIY light show, you can start by connecting your lights to a Raspberry Pi.
The Raspberry Pi connects to eight AC outlets. In turn, these outlets are connected to a set of eight standard Christmas lights that are later sequenced to music. While they are single-colored, the guide on Instructables also includes how to program a 25 RGB LED star—a dynamic touch to top it off.
Fortunately, the plans for this design have been available for years now, meaning parts have improved (and likely dropped in price). Originally, this project used an original Raspberry Pi Model B and an additional USB Wi-Fi adapter. In place of this, you can set up Wi-Fi on a Raspberry Pi Zero W for easy remote programming.
2. Alexa-Powered Christmas Tree
Imagine, you’re sitting around the tree on Christmas morning with a hot cup of coffee in hand. Without moving you say, “Alexa, start the show”. Just like magic, without pressing any light switches, your Christmas tree starts to light up to the merry sound of Christmas tunes. If you’re a coder, this one is for you.MAKEUSEOF VIDEO OF THE DAY
To build the software end of this project you will need an AWS (Amazon Web Service) account and an Amazon Developer account. These are used to set up a custom Alexa skill and communicate with the lights via Amazon Cloud. The main hardware required is an Arduino Yun with Linino OS and a couple of WS2811 LED strands with 50 LEDs each.
While requiring some experience with the Amazon Cloud ecosystem, this satisfyingly wireless Christmas light setup is the perfect festive season project for programmers. The code and detailed instructions can be downloaded from the GitHub page.
3. Gaming Christmas Tree
The bright glow of Christmas lights will keep spirits up during the cold winter months. But to create an even greater mood-boosting light show, how about making them interactive? This Christmas you can sit down to play a game on your Christmas tree—yes, you heard right.
Jordy Moos, the creator of this brilliant design, lists the use of a Raspberry Pi, Teensy 3.2, Teensy OctoWS2811, a Raspberry Pi camera, and WS2811 12mm LED lights. His tutorial on YouTube explains his DIY Christmas game tree using the example of Tic-Tac-Toe. But the video of the Snake game is definitely superior, and presumably functions with the same setup.
Related Link: How to Play Almost Any Video Game on a Raspberry Pi
Over on the GitHub page, you will find the software you need to operate this circuit. This includes some code for the games (including Snake), and installation for the Raspberry Pi OS, Teensyduino, and OpenCV. In light of console shortages around the world, this DIY gaming Christmas tree will be a sweet replacement this year.
4. YouTube Christmas Ornament
One of the joys of Christmas time is basking in the nostalgia of your childhood. Watching Christmas movies from when you were a kid is exactly the sort of thing that you want to do. You could sit down to watch it on your laptop, but for a much more special experience, you can build this beautiful little TV ornament.
Its 3D printed design is taken from The Simpsons animated TV show and fits all the necessary hardware. The components include a Raspberry Pi Zero W, a 2.2” TFT LCD screen, a MAX98357 Class-D Mono Amp, a PowerBoost 1000 LiPo charger, and a speaker. With these parts, the ornament is completely wireless and doesn’t need to be wired for power or communication.
The design, which can be found on Instructables, is quite fantastic. The Python script for it uses a library called PyTube. Run it, then simply add the video ID to the end of the IP address of your Raspberry Pi in a web browser to remotely play any video off YouTube. Whether you use it to play old Christmas movies or festive commercials from the ’90s, this special build is a pure DIY gem.
5. Digital Christmas Counter
After working out how to build DIY electronics into your Christmas this year, all that’s left to do now is wait for Santa to come… or so you thought. Counting down the days to Christmas can be just as fun as Christmas Day and there’s a DIY project for this too: a digital Christmas counter.
This small project uses a Kuman 3.5” TFT LCD, an Arduino Mega 2560, and a DS3231 RTC module. You can combine these components to fit inside a small box and wrap it up just like a Christmas present. Plug the circuit into a power supply and place it under the tree to begin the countdown.
With this final addition to your DIY Christmas, you can get your family, friends, or even your office mates truly excited for the holiday! Find all the project requirements over on Hackaday.
A Merry Electronic Christmas
Everyone knows that homemade decorations make for the most special Christmas and the same goes for electronics.
Buying Christmas decorations is easy, but nowhere near as beautiful or fun as making your own. You can program your own Christmas LEDs or build your own ornamental TV to play ’90s Christmas commercials on repeat. You can even program your Christmas tree lights to play games!
If you are after some gorgeous DIY Christmas projects, these designs are it. They will light up your winter season with some unforgettable Christmas circuits.Deck the Halls With These 8 High-Tech Christmas Decorations Read NextShareTweetShareEmail Related TopicsAbout The AuthorGarling Wu(39 Articles Published)
Garling loves exploring creative uses for technology. With a background in music, she spent many years hacking computers to make weird and wonderful sounds. When not making music, she writes about the best DIY electronic projects.MoreFrom Garling Wu
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