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Author Topic: Christmas Lighting Ideas  (Read 2204 times)
sarahb84
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« on: October 04, 2012, 06:48:37 PM »

Hello all!

I would like to generate few Christmas Lighting ideas for this year and I need your help! Of course I am planning to decorate the tree. But this year I want my husband to help me put lighting outside the house as well.

Running extension cords from the outlets or electrical wiring should not be an issue. What I am wondering is how can I make the lights flash! I already have some static lights for the trees. I am planning to buy for the outdoors.

Is there any device or gadget I can buy locally or order online that can make my static lights animating the way I want? I want to have total control over the blinking patterns or flash!

I am a complete newbie in electronics! So, please help me find a solution.

- Sarah
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KevinIV
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« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2012, 06:33:41 PM »

That's a good question. I've seen those flashing light displays at Christmas time. A specialty store of some sort if you can't find them at the local stores.
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asullivan
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« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2012, 09:24:50 PM »

Good to know about your enthusiasm about the Christmas Lighting! Did you find anything yet? I was looking for similar products few weeks ago and found a few on Amazon. You can try using a programmable power strip from PwrUSB  (pwrusb dot com)

You can hook up the power extension box to a computer via USB and program it anyway you like. It's okay, they provide a bundle easy to use software. So you don't actually need to know any computer language to flash the Christmas lights the way you want Wink

If I am recalling right, you can program PwrUSB to flash the lights every 2 seconds on different power outlets. I was able to create some extraordinary animated lighting effects by putting diverging lighting on different power outlets (there are 4). Give it a try, you will love it!
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astro90734
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« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2012, 07:21:22 PM »

If the lights you have now are static, they will all have to be turned off or on together. Otherwise you will have to rewire each light and that seems to be out of the question for a person new to electronics.  Your best option seems to be to purchase some programable lights from the local store. They are actually quite affordable and have lots of blinking options.
Good luck.
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ChrisInEssex
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« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2012, 01:37:57 PM »

Not really a solution, but an 'observation'

Years ago, there was an electo-mechanical device that used a slow turn motor to turn a spindle that operated cams. These in turn would press against microswitches wired to the electrical items.

I might add the units had no RF suppression, so each time the switch closed the 240V contacts, they would spark and show up on the then RF TV transmissions. Oh for modern technology.

Several years ago, I built a truly random six channel light flasher<(this was the days when you could submit ideas to offline publications, and get paid about $50 per page)

It uses a 556 dual timer, 2x4063 and a 4520 to generate 4 bit "words" which would turn on the A=B, A<B and A>B outputs, (and certain words when they occurred would reset one set of decoders to further randomise output. With 2 channels, it had six outputs, but only two would only be on at any one time. (I've got the final built prototype, but not the schematic, so would have to manually check all the pinouts if I was to publish the circuit)
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KevinIV
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« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2012, 08:06:28 PM »

It seems similar to the device asullivan suggested. Microswitches and motor operated cams today reminds me of a Chistmas hobby. Most devices nowdays use bytes. Programmed devices can use bits which is essential to most electrical interfaces.
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