Permanent Outdoor Lights (Christmas lights)

@gspitman and @niget2002, as well as @Synthesis inspired me to get this done. No cnc or printing on this project. But it is aligned somewhat with the projects here. Here’s what I did:

First, yes. I started installing these two weeks after Christmas. They are permanent, and should be up for next year. I ordered them mid December and bought them on the slow boat from China. Here are some stats:

  • 976 LEDs. About 6.5m total. The top line is 420LEDs.
  • Individually addressable RGB.
  • WS2815B, which are 12V with a backup data line.
  • There are 4 separate strands. No extra power, just 12V at the start.
  • QuinLED-Dig-Quad board with esp32.
  • Running WLED (currently the github version so I can run multiple outputs).

I am using the C channel Geoff’s video recommended. I have a 12V PSU in a sprinkler box in the garage. I replaced all the connectors with direct solder to the wire and I covered the joints with hot glue and heat shrink.

I even managed to make the plastic hug around an outside corner.

I was a little nervous about working on the second story, but I borrowed a good ladder and it was fine. I did as much prep work as I could on the ground. Especially measuring everything and presoldering and prepping the joints inside on my electronics bench. So much easier.

But when I did the final install, there was an intermittent wiring issue. Of course, on the very top.

Flashy flashy

But I made a little patch and it was replaced pretty easily.

The whole thing is controlled from a web page on my lan. I have hooks to turn it on with home assistant. It is pretty darn slick.

Just one problem though. I dont get to see it. I hope my neighbors enjoy it.

8 Likes

All the holidays…and birthdays are going to be a little more fun now.

I think it will make Halloween pretty slick as well some sort of orange slow random fade (and lots of bags of candy). A lot easier than a haunted house but nearly as festive.

1 Like

That looks FANTASTIC!

Now if you want to do different effects and such, look at xLights, and this piHAT controller. You can even coordinate to music!

2 Likes

xLights works with WLED. I tried it out when it was just a few spools in my living room. I think the WLED presets actually work pretty well. But if I end up doing more, like an LED tree or wreath for special occasions, I think it would be awesome. There is also something called ledfx that can also control them over the wifi via DMX. I need to read up on that too.

Something about having the upper and lower lights coordinated in X,Y space is really appealing though. I will definitely try it again at some point.

We have a birthday in the house this week, so they are yellow, blue, and red. I am looking forward to having people over again so they can enjoy them too.

2 Likes

Looks really good.

I’m in the process of using xlights and vixen to create some more sequences for different holidays throughout the year.

I’m also setting up a static display with just a few of the LEDs on. Our house doesn’t have house lighting on the front of it for landscaping. I’m going to use LEDs on the peaks and corners to produce a similar effect. It should provide just a soft glow to the front yard if I set it for a low brightness and a yellowish-white light.

3 Likes

I would be curious to see what you come up with. I like making the tools and then when it comes to creating the patterns, I am all thumbs.

1 Like

Something about having the upper and lower lights coordinated in X,Y space is really appealing though. I will definitely try it again at some point.

That’s why I love the xLights concept. I guess I used the piHAT idea since I was already using rpi for mine. Having all the lights on the house coordinated in the same grid, regardless of controller placement, number of controllers etc. is just so cool to me! Right now I still just have the one strand over my garage, there’s a little space that’s truly 2 stories over concrete that I just haven’t convinced myself to do, and if I don’t do that the rest will look dumb! :smiley:

1 Like

I believe xlights has a link to a Google drive where people share their sequences. You can download pre-made shows, figure out which parts of the show fit with your props and link those props to your display.

I think I mentioned this, but I use fpp on a raspberry pi for streaming the sequences to the controllers.

1 Like

I have seen FPP mentioned. That makes sense too. I was running xLights on my laptop and I don’t want to do that every night.

Definitely something to play with once I get a bit more miles on these.

My favorite pattern in WLED right now is:

Effect: Blends
Color Pallette: *Colors only
Colors: Yellow, Red, Blue

It is for our birthday this week.

I also like a sort of ice/winter feel with:

Effect: Sinelon Dual
Color Pallette: *Colors only
Colors: light blue, dark blue, cyan
With several segments to break up the long runs.

Fire 2012 is neat with those colors too.

Well I guess this is now going to be a new hobby. Lights ordered. Need to settle on a controller. Any suggestions? I’m leaning towards a QuinLED Dig-Quad whenever those come back in stock.

1 Like

I went with the espixelstick but only because I could order it from Amazon.

I think all of the controllers behave pretty much the same using the E.131 standard for receiving updates.

That’s the one I bought. They had a link to a Chinese manufacturer and I ordered mine from there. I suspect that is easier for the designer anyway (since they recommended it). It took a sort of beta release of wled, but I think it will be the stable version soon enough.

Hey guys,

Well it’s getting to be that time of year again and I wanted to try this out. I was planning on doing it last year but I was too late to order and all of the boards were out of stock.

So I have a few questions for you guys after having used them for some time now.

  • Would you still go with the espixel sticks or is there a better alternative?

  • I’m leaning towards the 12V lights. Would you still recommend that over 5V?

  • Is WLED still the recommended route?

  • Did you ever tie this into your Home Assistant system?

I still like my pixelsticks.

I’m considering switching to wled. Some nights I don’t want to run a full sequence and wled has better built in options.

I’d recommend 12v lights.

I do have home assistant turning my system on, but I don’t have it controlling it.

1 Like

I am just building a second system for my mom’s house. I did the same solution as the first time:

12V power supply
5V wall wart
5V relay to cut power to big 12V PSU
Quin digi quad led (weird name, but it googles well. It takes a long time to get from China but shipped out quickly).
WLED firmware
WS2815 (12V, with 2 data lines and they handle the max current a little differently). I have one 5m span and at least 3m of cable to get to the start and it just barely reaches the far side for that. IIRC, I adjusted the voltage on the PSU up a tad to get it to not flicker.

I do have them as integrations in my home assistant. I have these automations:

  • Turn the lights off at 10pm. This stays enabled all the time in case I leave them on.
  • Turn the lights on to a preset at sundown +30mins. I change which preset and I fine tune the pattern in the wled interface. I could also do a “playlist”, but I haven’t messed with that yet. I disable this automation if it isn’t a season to turn them on.
  • I have an NFC tag near the front door. If I scan it with my phone, it toggles the lights to just solid white. I use it when I’m taking out the trash or someone is walking to their car or something. I bought a sticker one and stuck it to the back of the nearest light switch cover:

Picture of my control box:

2 Likes

@niget2002 & @jeffeb3 thanks guys! I’m leaning towards the pixelsticks right now to see if I can make Halloween but I still need to do a little more research before I pull the trigger. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks again!

1 Like

@Bigchepin @niget2002 @jeffeb3

So these are a little bit spendier, but now they have strings pre-made in silicone diffusers.

And a prebuilt/pre-flashed ESP8266 that is completely plug and play. Give it 5v and it will power itself and the string. I understand the journey can be more fun, but if you’re looking for a generally easy mode solution, this is it for sure.

2 Likes

The diffuser is kinda nice, but you still need some way of mounting the LEDs to the house. The channels I bought have the diffuser on it. Not sure if it’d work well with two diffusers. The diffuser also helps hide the power cable that runs in parallel with the LEDs.

@Bigchepin @niget2002 @jeffeb3

I forgot, these are a perfect fit:

I did some of the aluminium channels the first time around and they work great, just a lil more work.

3 Likes