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Dec 31 / Greg

Computer Controlled Christmas Lights

You know it was inevitable…I can’t help myself.

I already had a ck1610 serial relay controller…as well as an old junk laptop…so I married the two together for Christmas this year.


This is a serially controlled 8 relay 2 opto-isolated input device. You throw a serial command at it and it will kick on a relay. Throw another and it will turn the relay off…pretty simple.

What I did was wire a common 120V cord into the relays and ran each relay to a separate electrical outlet. This way I can selectably power on 8 different strings of Christmas lights. These relays are rated for 120V 15A, which is FAR more amperage than I need for my LED Christmas lights.

Each leg wired into a relay


Wirenutting everything together.

You can see that I wirenutted the original cord end back on. I plug the wall wart for the relay module into this port...I'm oh so crafty.


Individually labeled outlets wired in.


All of the outlets hooked up.

IF THE VIDEOS DON’T SHOW UP, HIT REFRESH.
Here’s a video of me testing the unit:

Once I got done testing I put the serial device into a NEMA enclosure to keep little fingers out of it. I then dropped the whole thing plus the laptop into a rubbermaid tub in my garage. And awaaaaay it goes.

Here’s a video of my “Random Lights” program running:

I wrote a program to do some random control. What it does is randomly pick a number of strings to turn on: 1 to 8.
It then randomly choose which strings will be the ones to turn on.

RandomRelays Code:

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#Region ;**** Directives created by AutoIt3Wrapper_GUI ****
#AutoIt3Wrapper_UseX64=n
#EndRegion ;**** Directives created by AutoIt3Wrapper_GUI ****
 
$RelayNumber = 0
dim $NumberOfRelays[9]
$NumberOfRelays[0] = 0
$com = ObjCreate ("NETCommOCX.NETComm")
 
_OpenCom()
 
 
while 1
	;turn all relays off
	$NumberOfRelays[0] = Random(1,8, 1)
	$NumberOfRelays[1] = 0
	for $x = 1 to $NumberOfRelays[0]
		;this creates a random number of relays to enable
		if $NumberOfRelays[0] == 8 Then
			$CheckIt = 1
		Else
			$CheckIt = 0
		EndIf
		while $CheckIt = 0
			$tRelay = Random(1,8,1)
			$foundMatch = 0
			for $y = 1 to $x
				;make sure the same relay wasn't selected
				if $tRelay == $NumberOfRelays[$y] then
					; match so we have to do it again
					$foundMatch = 1
				EndIf
 
			Next
			if $foundMatch == 0  Then
				;we have a new value
				$CheckIt = 1
			EndIf
		WEnd
		$NumberOfRelays[$x] = $tRelay
	Next
	_RelayOff()
	_RelayOn()
	;random number generate, then kick on those relays
	sleep(2000) ;sleep for 1 second
 
WEnd
 
func _OpenCom ()
$com.CommPort = 1
$com.PortOpen = True
$com.Settings = "9600,N,8,1"
$com.InBufferCount = 0
endFunc
 
func _RelayOn ()
	if $NumberOfRelays[0] == 8 Then
		$com.Output = "N0" & @CRLF
		ToolTip($NumberOfRelays[0],0,0)
	Else
		$justatemp = $NumberOfRelays[0]
		for $x = 1 to $NumberOfRelays[0]
			$justatemp = $justatemp & "-" & $NumberOfRelays[$x]
			$com.Output = "N" & $NumberOfRelays[$x] & @CRLF
			sleep(5)
		Next
		ToolTip($justatemp,0,0)
	EndIf
 
EndFunc
 
Func _RelayOff ()
	$com.Output = "F0" & @CRLF
	sleep(5)
EndFunc

RandomRelays Binary – RandomRelays (911 downloads)

The RandomRelays program also requires the NetCommOCX program from here.

I ran short on time this year, but I have some interesting plans for this next year, so until then, enjoy the randomness 😉

2 Comments

leave a comment
  1. Jacob Bertling / Jan 12 2012

    You really are amazing dude. I usually just go sit at home and eat chips and watch super hero cartoons with my son, but not you. You are the master tinkerer, a modern day willy wonka.

    Have fun!

  2. Greg / Jan 12 2012

    @Jacob
    You my good sir, are ridiculous.

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