my Christmas lights project

99% of the content I post here is about Configuration Manager, Intune, Microsoft in general.  This post will be different.

A month or so ago I purchased the Raspberry Pi 2 Ver B package that included Windows 10 IoT and some hardware to play with.  I loaded the Win10 OS, played with a few of the python scripts and hardware items that are included in the kit, pretty cool stuff.  However, my goal was to quickly put together a solution that would manage my outdoor Christmas lights display.  This has traditionally been a very static display with no automation, no music, etc.  My goal for this project was to control the lights via the RasPi and add music. Again, my goal was to quickly put this together and I began looking at code that others had built that I could leverage.  There wasn't much available yet for Windows 10 so I focused on running Raspbian Jessie as my OS.  Hopefully I will have more time next year and can move this to Win10.  Raspbian, coupled with a  great product called LightShowPi, helped me complete in a couple weeks what would probably have taken me months to develop myself.

Here is a video of the first run thru of the final product, details on how I got there to follow:

The Hardware:

I am using the Raspberry Pi 2 model B ( The original Pi works also but I wanted the extra goodies the Pi 2 has, so that it was I bought. Also this is not part of this year's project but I also purchased the official Raspberry Pi LCD display (OFFICIAL RASPBERRY PI FOUNDATION 7" TOUCHSCREEN LCD DISPLAY) Note that this item is highly backordered currently so very expensive. Wait a few months and it should get back to $60 price. 

I am using the Sainsmart 8 channel solid state relay ( to control the power. You could use the mechanical version but you are going to hear a lot of clicking and also I understand it may not hold up to the rigors of running holiday lights.

I purchased various packs of M-F, M-M, F-F connectors, here are some I bought Female to Female Solderless Flexible Breadboard Jumper Cable Wire 40 Pcs

I am broadcasting the MP3 audio via FM radio so that people can tune in their car radios and hear the music in sync with the lights. Lightshowpi includes PiFM that could possibly perform that task but it's pretty buggy on RasPi 2, seems to work better on the original RasPi. As a result, I just purchased a low range FM transmitter and transmit on 95.5FM SainSonic AX-7C FM Transmitter Mini Radio Stereo Station PLL LCD with Antenna - Fashion Black 

Each of the 8 channels on the SSR can support 2 amps so you need to make sure that the lights you are plugging into that channel do not exceed 2 amps. You can guess how much power the lights use, you can read the manufacturer's info (which may not be accurate) or you can test it. I use this for every light string I plug in: P3 International P4460 Kill A Watt EZ Electricity Usage Monitor

There are many ways to connect the light strings to the channels in the SSR. I went with extension cables, more on how that gets connected later Etekcity 10 Pack Power Extension Cord Cable Strip, 16AWG/13A, UL Listed, 2015 Upgraded Version

You will also need a variety of extension cables, the lights themselves (I'm using mostly LCD), etc.