Christmas Light Animation


Here is a question for everyone. It is somewhat related to the normal discussions around here, as some of the animation software does do X10, but does anyone have any advice or experience with christmas light animation? I've seen several sites that sell boxes for 200+ bucks, and a couple cheaper. The cheaper ones are usually kits, which is fine with me, but I'm not sure if anyone has used one, has any cheap ideas, sites or venders etc? The one I really like is the D-Light which gives you 4 kits with 8 outputs, for 100 bucks, though you do have to buy some other components, they're not every expensive. Much cheaper than 200+ for some! One example of what you can do is here:

Not sure what software or hardware kit he used, but there are several options....I would like to buy one, but I'm not sure which way to go. Thought I'd get some input!
A major consideration using a relay board is light bulb life. (from my exerience)

The more expensive controllers are really dimmers. Dimming the bulb down to 2 or 3% and up to only about 95% or so. Never giving the bulb filament a chance to cool down.

I've seen the link you referenced, several other places as well. An excellent job, using I would imagine, a VERY expensive, pro-quality contoller.
I'm sorry if you thought I meant that it was done using X10, it isn't. But the software that you use to program the board can also control X10 is what I meant. Light Automation Control Software - Extended Versionpad Controls all Light-O-Rama Products plus X.10 and Digital IO is what it says. It is the same price as the regular software on sale right now at which is the software everyone has said to use. The board I'll most likely buy is a kit at there is also and if you want to spend lots of money on a completed board, you can buy from or but the D-Light is supposed to do the same, for a much lower price. I've had a few others bookmarked, but those are the best ones. The LOR (Light-O-Rama) software is what everyone refers to when they buy or use any of the products though. I've got some of the sequences downloaded and it seems like it would be fairly easy, though time consuming to do. I was just curious if anyone else had experience with any of these types of products or knew of others I wasn't aware of. I've used relay boards before, the Kit 72 and Frightmare Forest Haunt Control (FFHC) software that I helped beta test using 2 8 output boards, but these are MUCH better!
You can get up to about 12 channels of on/off using the parallel port, solid states relays rated for 5VDC control voltage, some resistors, and some bit-twiddling software. I've done this, it works fine. For dimming, however, you're better off buying cards to do the job.
Yeah I've seen boards that have 16 outputs, but they're more expensive than these boards are. Those had relays, the boards I'm looking at now do not. They dim, twinkle etc. The boards I have now only have 8 outputs, but being relays they're not as good, you can't do everything these D-Light and LOR boards do.
Probably one of the more extensive Christmas light animation sites is PlanetChristmas. Check out the vendor tab for a big list of Christmas lighting and control related vendors.
Personally, I'm using a CyberResearch CYDIO48 digital I/O board coupled with Dasher v2.0 that I purchased several years ago from The Christmas Cave to control my Christmas lighting display. I'm glad that my old PIII running Win98SE is still useful for something!
I use the I/O board for controlling all the outdoor lights, but the indoor lights are all controlled by Intermatic HA03 Z-Wave dimmer modules and an HA07 master remote controller.
I know this wasn't specifically asked, but the pros use DMX-based controllers (DMX is a lighting control protocol, like MIDI is for musical instruments). You can buy MIDI- or DMX-controllable dimmer packs for lighting along the lines of 4 "channels" for $100 or so. Now, these are typically 10 or 15 amp channels good for large bulbs or many smaller lights.

DMX software is freely available and can be up to 512 channels or more. The hardware interface is a little pricey for computers, but you can build your if you are electronically inclined.

The reason I mention MIDI, is that there are many inexpensive MIDI sequencer packages out there that would allow you to sync the music and the lighting control using just the MIDI software, assuming you have a MIDI lighting controller.

Check out the controllers at some of the DJ equipment places, like AmericanDJ, Musicians Friend, etc.
I dont intent to do light animation, but would like to give my christmas lights some personalization like a dimming instead of just blinking.

This should be a no-brainer using typical permanent-on incandecent christmas light sets. However, I have noticed that now there are plenty of LED christmas light sets in the market. Have anybody tried dimming them using a typical dimmer module like LampLinc or the UPC Lamp Module?