LED Christmas lights hacked into huge IM status display [Video]

Chris Davies - Dec 13, 2010
LED Christmas lights hacked into huge IM status display [Video]

Christmas lights can be gaudy and distracting, or they can be a force used for good; well, as long as by “good” you mean individually-programmable and capable of showing IM status. Microsoft .NET developer¬†Andrej Kyselica discovered that, after some tinkering, he could get a FEZ embedded controller to individually manage each LED on a string of $60 Christmas lights from Costco.

Video demo after the cut

The lights themselves are the GE Color Effects GE-35, available in 36 or 50 bulb lengths. On their own, each bulb consists of three LEDs allowing for multiple color combinations, with 14 preset patterns to choose from; however, thanks to some judicious hacking of the LED data bus, they can also be addressed by your choice of microcontroller.

Unsurprisingly,¬†Kyselica opted for .NET, and his lights now show the various statuses of each of his IM friends (complete with Post-It notes labelling each individual). Of course, that’s just one potential application.


[via istartedsomething]

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