Simulating and controlling GE Color Effects Lights with Arduino

Posted on Feb 5, 2014

This project builds a Christmas lights controller for the GE Color Effects lights allowing programmed control of up to 8 sets of Christmas lights. Furthermore, it provides a function specific language for programming patterns for these lights and an emulation environment for testing the programs requiring the lights to be built or hung. Arduino -

Simulating and controlling GE Color Effects Lights with Arduino
Click here to download the full size of the above Circuit.

If you have never heard of an Arduino, then I suggest you check out their site. They design and sell an open-source microprocessor platform which is great for building programmable electronic gadgets for those with limited electronics experience. GE Color Effects - These have to be the coolest Christmas lights ever for the hacker. Each bulb contains a red, green and blue LED and can be controlled individually or as a group by sending instructions down a single data line. For a description of what they are and how they work, checkout this article which also provides basic control information that Robert Quattlebaum (darco) reverse engineered. While you are at it, do some Youtube searching for some very cool demos of what can be done with a microprocessor and a set of these lights (The ten string Christmas tree has to be seen to be believed). The first program is the firmware which runs on the Arduino Mega to control the lights. It does this by reading a set of instructions which are expressed in the form of an array of short integers for each string of lights which tell the firmware what patterns to generate with the lights. The firmware can also be cross compiled and run on the PC where they can do the same job but control a lights emulator. On the PC, I use the express version of VC+ to compile it. The second program is the lights emulator. This will emulate one or more sets of lights arranging them on screen according to...

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