Greetings, from Los Angeles!

Jinxx

New elf
Joined
Oct 17, 2019
Messages
6
Hey everyone!

Longtime Christmas nerd here. Started learning electronics and how to program Arduino and Raspberry Pi earlier this year, and figured Christmas was the perfect occasion to beef up my skill set and merge these two nerdy passions.

Goal:
At least an 8 channel display (ideally 24 channels if all goes according to plan) featuring 90% AC lights thrown about the yard and on the front of a two story house, all synced to music via xlights. Initially, I putzed around with Lightshowpi, but it left a lot to be desired as far as the music sequencing was concerned - xlights to the rescue! Love the software, and have a trial run planned for Halloween with 8 channels synced to music synced already.

Show will play via Falcon Player on the Raspberry Pi Zero W, and an 8 channel, 5v, mechanical SainSmart relay board, wired to some gang boxes with dual receptacles (fuses and all that) to plug in the AC/incandescent light strings, controlled by an Arduino Uno that is connected to the network via ethernet module. My programming skills are definitely not at this level so I am relying on the many contributions from people like you on this forum - Thank you!

Excluding the actual physical set-up of lights outside, I'd say I'm about 50% done with everything to make the trial run happen on Halloween. Cutting it close! If I have time, I have a PIR sensor (3.3v logic) that I'd like to use to make the Halloween light show motion sensor triggered - no lights or sound until someone walks by which triggers a 10 second light and sound sequence clip playing through speakers set up outside to scare the kiddies on Halloween night! From what I've read Falcon Player has event triggers built in to allow this very thing. What can I say - I'm ambitious.

This forum has been immensely helpful so far, any and all input is welcome.
Thank you all and cheers!

- Liz
 

djgra79

My name is Graham & I love flashing lights!
Generous elf
Joined
Dec 27, 2011
Messages
1,497
Location
Cranbourne West
Welcome to ACL!
AC light displays are declining in recent years as people switch over to pixels, but there are some great looking AC displays still around that you can get ideas from.
 

Jinxx

New elf
Joined
Oct 17, 2019
Messages
6
Welcome to ACL!
AC light displays are declining in recent years as people switch over to pixels, but there are some great looking AC displays still around that you can get ideas from.
That is very true, and it has definitely made it more difficult to find relevant information. That said, I felt it would be a good idea to hold off on spending gratuitous amounts of money on new lights this first year in an effort not overwhelm myself with the complexities introduced when using pixels. Thus also allowing me to focus on the other technical aspects involved, such as interfacing all the controllers, software, and hardware without being bogged down with intricate sequencing and effects.

Thanks for the welcome!
 

steeltkb

New elf
Joined
Dec 14, 2019
Messages
3
In an effort to get my son some really awesome "put it all together yourself" practical experience, the above is very very similar to what we're trying to do. Please please point me in the right direction if you found any resources for the missing link - how to set up the Pi to receive the xLights-generated show data over ethernet (E1.31), or even locally via files stored on the SD card, and use that data to directly control a relay board connected to the Pi GPIO pins.

I've searched for weeks and can't find this, beyond several people saying that it's too hard, and to just buy a falcon and drive pixels...

This is actually the only post that comes up when searching "Raspberry Relay Xlights"

Thanks so much for any ideas!
 
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steeltkb

New elf
Joined
Dec 14, 2019
Messages
3

Jinxx

New elf
Joined
Oct 17, 2019
Messages
6
Hi There!


So the way I have it set up, the raspberry pi zero w is running Falcon Player. The raspberry pi is connected to an Arduino Mega via Generic Serial, and I have three relay boards connected to the Mega. The Arduino has a modified version of the VictorPV sketch which you already stumbled upon at the other forum. Xlights sequences (.fseq files) are uploaded to the Raspberry Pi via the Falcon Player web browser interface (fpp.local/), along with their corresponding media files. In order to set the Arduino Mega as the output, go to the "Input Output" tab in Falcon Player, and click on "Other". Here is where you provide the data that will allow Falcon Player (your raspberry pi) to send serial data to the Arduino Mega in order to turn each relay on/off. Make sure the baud rate in your sketch is the same as baud rate you set in Falcon. I have attached a picture of this screen and my settings just in case. Once that is done, you create a playlist, hit play, and you should see your lights start blinking to the sequence you uploaded. I put the Pi, the Arduino and all the relays into a big box, stuck it outside, set the schedule, and now it just does its thing without the need for my intervention. Its fantastic!

Feel free to PM me if you have questions about anything, I'll try to help however I can. Good luck! :)
 

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steeltkb

New elf
Joined
Dec 14, 2019
Messages
3
Thank you so much for that info - now I have a clear path to follow!

Seeing as they mentioned it already has zero-crossing detection / processing set up, I'm going to explore driving a few 4-channel triac dimmers off the mega. I'll just need to see how to interpret/translate the brightness info. And how to set it in xLights - hopefully that can be done for AC lights.

If the documentation isn't clear enough on VictorPV, I'll be hitting you back up for more info.

Thanks so much for the help

....
So the way I have it set up, the raspberry pi zero w is running Falcon Player. The raspberry pi is connected to an Arduino Mega via Generic Serial, and I have three relay boards connected to the Mega. The Arduino has a modified version of the VictorPV sketch which you already stumbled upon at the other forum.
...
 

Jinxx

New elf
Joined
Oct 17, 2019
Messages
6
xLights actually has an "AC mode", which makes sequencing AC lights pretty simple. Using AC mode, you're restricted to simple lighting effects like standard on/off, dimming ramps, and things along those lines. I didn't use dimming since i just used pre-built relay boards so I can't help you much there. Also, I'm not sure the VictorPV sketch allows dimming. There may be a modified version of it floating around somewhere, but thats another thing you may want to check out before becoming too invested in a dimming setup.

Have fun and don't hesitate to reach out if you stumble upon anything that isn't very clear. Cheers
 
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