2015’s limited display
2014 showWelcome to PacificaLights.info, a web site devoted to the notion that a guy with no real background in electronics could build a blinking, flashing set of Christmas lights set to music.

Unfortunately, real life got in the way of the 2015 show, which now would be more accurately called a “display.” The lights around the windows were damaged in storage last year and when I found out how badly they were broken, there just wasn’t enough time to fix them or build new frames. Without those, there was no real reason to attempt to mount the full show. So, what we have this year are about half the lights that were out in 2014, and rather than set to music broadcast over the radio, we just have a show where the lights move sedately through the color wheel.

Nonetheless, the technology remains the same. There are a variety of commercial systems available on the market to handle the chore of synchronizing lights to music, but PacificaLights is a home-brew affair: each of the many light controllers (as well as the computer-to-lights interface, an electronic sign and even the strings around the windows) were built in the workshop; the software includes a number of freeware applications and all the electrical was done by a guy with a liberal-arts education.

Admittedly, a large community of do-it-yourselfers from around the world helped out: some controllers were designed by electronics geniuses in Florida, while others were plotted out by soldering-iron wizards from Australia or Canada (even Minnesota). You can visit these fine folk at the web sites Do It Yourself Christmas and DIY Light Animation, where all the gory details are at hand.

The core of the display is the sequencing software, Vixen. Without it, there would be no show. You can learn more about Vixen here and here.