11/7/08

Super Easy Python powered Christmas light controller for $40

There're lots of ways to control Christmas lights. The easiest (but expensive) is just getting a lightorama. I'm not spending $400 on a controller. So I decided to build my own.

Computer Christmas has many articles showing you how to do this. There's a how-to for a 320 channel controller. All I need is 8 channel on/off (no dimming), so a simple parallel port relay box is perfect for me. This how-to tells you how to building one. But actually you don't need to build a relay box yourself, there are parallel port relay kits sold online for cheap. You just buy the kit and connect to electric box.

So Here's how to build a Python powered Xmas light controllers for $40(more or less).

1, get a parallel port relay kit for about $32, for example: here or here. You can get it assembled or in module form for a few more bucks. I didn't want to spend much time assembling so I got a module.

2, get electric box and outlets from Homedepot or Loews for total $8. Again I'm lazy so I just got a power strip from Walmart for $4, but it only has 7 outlets, I couldn't find one with 8.

3, Wire the kit to your electric box.

4, Connect to computer and fire up Python (see my previous post).
Video of testing session.
Here's source code for the GUI program (in wxpython), most of code were generated by wxglade, I just created the event handlers for the mouse clicks. The speed control (slider) is not implemented yet.

4 comments:

Chris said...

How much would you charge for an already built powerbar+controller?

arscan said...

You fit the SSR's inside the power strip? I'm trying to do almost the exact same thing, and I'm not quite seeing where you put the SSR's based on the photos. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Sam said...

Can I use this controller for Christmas lights. http://www.electronics123.com/s.nl/it.A/id.1712/.f

Sam said...

What computer program do you
Use