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Halloween Lights Demo (v2.0)

2140 Views 13 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Xpendable
Here's a short 1+ minute demo of my computer-controlled Halloween lights. I'm using Insteon home-automation technology for control. I'm sending commands to 6 LampLinc modules and 3 ApplianceLinc modules from a USB PowerLinc Controller hooked up to my computer. For Halloween, I'll actually be controlling every light in my house in addition to the lights in this demo. I'm using my own home-grown software that allows me to script various lighting effects to occur while playing an mp3 file. The soundtrack you hear is just something I created using SoundForge. Let me know what you think! :jol:

http://darkpixel.dnsalias.net/HalloweenLightTest3aHi.wmv (hires version)
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Here's the script file I actually used for this scene. The first part of each event record is when the effect should fire (in seconds from the beginning of playback), the 2nd part is the effect number, and the 3rd part is just an optional comment.


event=3.0|15|Glow Ramp Up
event=8.0|130|Hands On
event=13.0|131|Hands Off
event=15.0|61|Scream (red floods)
event=22.0|16|Glow Ramp Down
event=25.9|62|Ghost Moan (flash green lights)
event=31.0|130|Hands On
event=32.0|60|Thud (flash blue floods)
event=33.9|60|Thud (flash blue floods)
event=36.6|60|Thud (flash blue floods)
event=39.0|131|Hands Off
event=43.0|15|Glow Ramp Up
event=50.056|130|Hands On
event=61.0|131|Hands On
event=62.0|16|Glow Ramp Down
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Thanks! I'm looking forward to having it all setup for Halloween. Since these modules work by powerline communication (they send data over the AC current), I can plug them into any outlet in my house (inside and outside), and my computer will still be able to command them. This is nice because you don't need to run cables between the computer and the modules.
Do you have software that allows you to map each module to a point in the music or did you have to time the music and have your script kick on/off a module at the times you noted?
Do you have software that allows you to map each module to a point in the music or did you have to time the music and have your script kick on/off a module at the times you noted?
I created the soundtrack first. My program starts the soundtrack and the script simulatenously. Then I listen to the soundtrack and determine where I want a lighting effect. I click the stop button roughly where I want the effect, and make a mental note of the rough time index. I then add a line to the script for that time index and the effect number that I want. Then I click the restart button and the script and soundtrack are automatically reloaded and restarted. Sometimes I have to adjust the lighting effect forwards or backwards to get it perfectly timed. I usually have to play it and adjust it several times before I get it tweaked just right.

Next time I'll probably just load the soundtrack into SoundForge and put the cursor at the beginning of a sound effect and note the time index. It would probably be faster. After Halloween, I'm thinking about making the program more advanced. I want to show the waveform of the soundtrack on the screen, and have a number of lighting tracks. To add an effect, you'll just drop an icon on a track and drag it to where you want it. I'll add the ability to turn off tracks to isolate effects.
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www.lightorama.com produces quite a number of products for controlling lights. Mostly used by the Christmas show crowd, but certainly applicable to Halloween.
They are pricey though. The lowest end is an 8 channel controller than can drive 2 amp/channel for $110. You'll also need the starter kit that includes the software, some Cat5 cable (you'll need more) and the SC485 connector (converts a standard 9 pin serial connector to a 485 connector) for $100.

Evidently, the software includes all the stuff you need to synchronize your lights show with sound. On, off, Dimming, a slew of options.

Yeah, I'm fully aware of lightorama. I already had the Insteon switches and had already written software for Insteon (like my web interface for controlling my lights via the internet). So I figured... why not try to use Insteon to enhance my Halloween display?
Very, very nice Xpendable! I'd like to know more behind the scenes of your setup.

Can you post a link to the modules that you used?

Would your script file work directly with SoundForge, or do you need your software?

The script file will only work with my program. It's just a text file that tells my program what to do when, and what sound file to play. I only used SoundForge to mix my soundtrack. It's not needed. Any .mp3, .wav, or .mid file will work.

The modules I'm using are as follows:

Insteon starter kit: http://www.smarthome.com/2490.html
This is $99 and includes a desktop keypad, the required 2 RF SignalLinc power phase couplers (for bridging your Insteon signals across both power phases in your home) and 2 LampLinc modules. They have other starter kits available that include different switches. You could also just buy the 2 SignalLincs in a package for $69.

PowerLinc Controller:
$59 for the serial version: http://www.smarthome.com/2414s.html
$69 for the USB version: http://www.smarthome.com/2414u.html
Note: If you want to do your own software development, then get the SDK instead. It comes with a LampLinc module and one of the controllers above. Hmm, weird... it used to cost $99 but now it shows it at $199. Yikes.

I'm using 6 additional LampLinc modules:
$29.99 http://www.smarthome.com/2456d3.html

And 2 ApplianceLinc modules:
$29 http://www.smarthome.com/2456d3.html

Note that all of these modules can be ordered slightly cheaper at http://www.automationoutlet.com. The LampLinc and ApplianceLinc modules are $5 cheaper there.
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What did you program the software in?

Basic, C++, Assembly, or ???
I programmed the whole thing in VisualBasic.NET.
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