Christmas Stuff

Christmas decorations has been my most favourite part of the season for as long as I can remember. From motorised cardboard displays in the supermarkets, through towns covered in tinsel and props and going on drives to see all the decorations from Santa in a chimney with extravagant light displays to boot always brings a smile to my face. In 2021, I assembled my first genuine Christmas Lights display of a different kind - one synchronised to music. A series of blog posts on how my 2021 show was built is available here.

This landing page contains various resources freely available for you to do what you want with them. In that sense, it's all unlicensed so knock your boots off if you want to get into this hobby.

Getting Started Resources

The great thing about building your own display is that you don't need to be an expert in any one field, rather you need to be able to learn things as you go. Whether you're a carpenter, a CNC operator, electrician or electrical engineer, software developer, artist, lighting producer, musician or whatever, you will be able to accomplish great things. These resources below were a tremendous help in getting started.

  • AusChristmasLighting's 101 Lighting Manual PDF - You'll need to sign up to the forum / wiki combination to access the PDF, but it's well worth it. It's a great start particularly in the different 'terminology' used, but I'll warn you - don't read it like you're getting an exam afterwards and instead treat it like a dictionary. I found it especially useful in my first month when looking at other resources below - e.g. 'what on earth is a NULL pixel? do I need one?' or 'what's the IP rating numbers mean for waterproofing?'.

  • Tom BetGeorge's Christmas Lights 2020 Show and Christmas Can Can - Tom BetGeorge is a bit of a guru when it comes to sequencing. The simplicity in the layouts, the flow of the sequences are fantastic. I've also put up the Christmas Can Can as it was the one that had me saying "wow! I could do this too." so very good for inspiration on what your house could look like.
  • xLights - Now that you've read the document above, all the fun starts here. xLight's is the free sequencing software of choice that runs on Windows and Mac. The Wiki section will take you to several documents on how to get started and often in the form of YouTube videos. I do tend to find more information on YouTube by searching for "xLights <insert thing I want to do here>", and heaps of seminars on setting up basic effects. You can buy sequences online of course, but where's the fun in that.
  • Falcon Player - The software companion to install on your Raspberry Pi or BeagleBone that will allow you to schedule and play your xLights Sequences.
    NB: In May 2022, FPP made a licensing change requiring you to 'pay per output' for '3rd Party' capes (e.g. ones not made by PixelController LLC or Kulp Lights) - unfortunately HE123 Mk. 2 and the RPi-28D+ from Hanson Electronics are considered '3rd Party' capes and require licensing. There is a somewhat convoluted process for getting a license if you want to use all 48 ports on your BBB controller, it's going to cost you around $45 AUD at the most. Information about licensing is available here. You can also run Falcon Player 5.5 which does not have the same licensing restrictions.

Buying / Shopping

You probably need some lights right? This list is very much tailored to an Australian audience and I've had very positive dealings with these ones.

  • Hanson Electronics - An awesome supplier of solid controllers for both the BeagleBone boards and the Raspberry Pi. Also has lots of accessories to help get your show off the ground. My 2021 year had several Raspberry Pi's running the RPi-28D+ controller, the 2022 show will use the HE123 Mk. 2 controller. There are simpler controllers around that are far more expensive, but if you're keen on tinkering about, these are solid.

  • Light it Up LEDs - This guy is awesome and can save you a lot of headache of importing Christmas Lights from Ali Express. When it comes to pigtails for your light fittings, WS281x lights and Meanwell power supplies, this guy does it at an awesome price and always happy to help you out.

xLights Sequences

The following list of sequences are available for you to do whatever you want with them. I consider these ones largely original, but may contain spots where lyrics tracks have been used per the xLights Share Drive. No MP3s are being provided with these so you'll need to source them elsewhere.

<coming soon>

3D Printing STLs

The following list of STLs are available for download. These represent 'props' or 'tools' that I've built with varying success on an XYZ Da Vinci Pro printer (200mm x 200mm bed). I exclusively print in ABS due to it's higher melting temperatures given our summers can get quite hot at times, and melted props aren't going to do much for the bulbs that are attached.

<coming soon>