We use a program called Xlights to program each of the songs. More information for this program can be found at their site www.xlights.org. But what we can tell you about it the software is completely free and only asks for donations to help the developers as they spend a lot of time evolving the software.
The Sequences (The Music you hear and the lights you see)
Each sequence takes 40+ hours to program. Some sequences are professionally made. But we won’t tell you which ones. (wink, wink). We pick songs that have we feel are family-friendly and that we like and ones we think that you and your family enjoy.
The Props or Decorations
Props are usually purchased from a company called Boscoyo. They specialize in corrugated plastic and have a CNC machine that cuts the specific prop out and the holes for the pixels. We also have a 3D printer where we design and print some of the props in our display. The snowflake was purchased and I designed and 3D printed the middle clip to attach to PVC. But many different vendors make props. Boscoyo is just one of my favorite ones.
The Hardware – Controllers
Our entire show is controlled by Falcon controllers they are made by a company called Falcon you can learn more about them at www.pixelcontroller.com. They are based out of Falcon Colorado. Again just like the prop vendors, there are many different controller vendors and Falcon is our favorite.
The Lights – (Pixels)
We use 12V WS2811 RGB bullet pixels for everything. In 2020 we had over 2,600 pixels in our show (7,800 channels). You can create any color you want and can control each pixel. Each pixel has a power, ground, and data cable.
We have to purchase each song we use from places like Amazon Music, Itunes, or other places that sell music. We play it over to our radio station using a small radio transmitter that anyone can purchase. We just had to find a frequency that was not being used by an actual radio station. So it may change from year to year.
How it looks
This is a preview of our home in Xlights we have to generate a model for each one of our decorations that contains lights and each strand of lights. Then we need to make sure they are connected to the right output on our controllers and tell the software how many “pixels” are in each prop/how it’s wired.
Running the Show
We run the entire show off an old laptop that runs a program Xscheduler which is a part of xlights. It sends all the packets out to the controllers to tell each of them when the show starts and when it ends and what songs to play over our transmitter, as well it tells the outputs on the controller what color, what pixel, and how each pixel should function.
If you want to learn more, or thinking that this might be something you would like to try, shoot us a message on Facebook, and would be more than happy to discuss in more detail.