Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Meijer Fiber Optic Tree Arduino Cheerlights Hack

Not much time. Just wanted to mention that I brought the cheeriobot out again this year! I went to Meijer and they had a "December Home" branded fibre optic all crude oil made fiber optic lighted Christmas tree on sale. 19.99 --> 14.99. Bought it. In it's original state it looked like this (I added the ornaments, of course, fastened with zip ties). 9 LEDs came as standard light source. There were 3 red ones, 3 blue ones, and three green ones, I think. See photos.
Looking into the opening where you stick the tree:
Well, it didn't last long in that original state. The strands are way to colorful. Plus, I wanted to hook it up to CHEERLIGHTS again. So out with the original module. Just unscrewed the bottom and top plate, and took all that nonsense out. Then put the breadboard with my own RGB LEDs in there. (Reclustered them later)
Reclustered the LEDs. 9 single color LEDs in the original setup, replaced with 9 RGB LEDs, hooked up to the ARDUINO UNO with ETHERNET shield. Reused last years code. Retuned the R/G/B values for the common cathode LEDs. It was a remix, lol. BTW, does anyone know the correct resistor values to use when using 3 LED clusters in series with 3 LEDs per cluster in parallel? Damn, I wish I payed attention in electronics class lol.
Then just simply put the old enclosure / stand over on top, plugged in the ethernet cord, uploaded the code, and boom, roasted. Done with my very own 2012 CHEERLIGHTS-following $15 fiber optic Christmas tree.
DONE! See below. My tree is now quietly and patiently following CHEERLIGHTS (no rebel mode [yet?] this year). Likes.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Autonomous, Rebelling, and Twittering Cheeriobot

Cheeriobot normally quietly follows CHEERLIGHTS and happily changes its colors. But, Cheeriobot can tweet, and thereby lead the worldwide cheerlights. Cheeriobot can also become rebellious.

Finally, the software worked and I got Cheeriobot to tweet to @cheerlights to change its own color, as well as the colors of others worldwide!

With the Cheerlights project, anyone can tweet a color request to @cheerlights and all cheerlights worldwide change their color to that same color. Anyone? Yes! Even an Arduino with an ethernet shield that is programmed to tweet when it "runs out of patience".

Many people have hooked up their own holiday lights to this twitter feed, and change their colors in sync with the rest of the world. This works through microcontrollers that can read websites through ethernet.

I called my version of the cheerlights controller the "Cheeriobot" and gave it a few extra capabilities:

- It runs out of patience if the same color came on for too long
- It then tweets a new color request to @cheerlights
- My Cheeriobot can be in "Rebel" or "Follower" mode

In Follower mode, all is good, and Cheeriobot cheerily follows the worldwide color like a good citizen would. In Rebel mode, Cheeriobot will deliberately be out of sync with everyone else. If they say green, Cheeriobot goes red!

See video below for a quick demo of the functionality. You will also see that I'm not good at explaining stuff. I'm also not a video producer or sales and marketing guy. But I think you get the point.

If you want to make your own tweeting and rebelling cheerlight following robot, email me or stay tuned. I will post the code in support of open source as soon as I get to it.

Happy Holidays!

PS: Contact Cheeriobot through twitter. Tweet to @cheeriobot.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cheerlights breakthrough

It's almost 2 am in the morning and I had a breakthrough with my Cheerlights project - FINALLY! I won't be able to give more details right now, but I'm hoping to upload the youtube video of it later to... today, actually. Hehe, it's already Thursday. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I pinpointed the issue to the use of an additional library that I added to the original CHEERLIGHTS sketch found here. It interferes with the recognition of the color string and feeds back NO MATCHes. Need more time to investigate. I had removed the GE light library and addressed the LEDs through individual pins and with RGB codes. Will post the Arduino sketch once it works.

Shoutout to the folks at CHEERLIGHTS

The folks over at CHEERLIGHTS have mentioned my blog and my hack in a recent post. Big shoutout to them and thanks for getting the CHEERLIGHTS project off the ground. I'm enthusiastic about being a part of it and about presenting my latest updates. I hope to get it out tonight.
I seem to have issues with reading out the correct color and get a NO MATCH a few too many times. Not sure, but I think it's a clash of libraries. Still investigating this. Also need to solder up a few hardware bits and get a few more lines coded. Stay tuned!

Question to the CHEERLIGHTS folks, is it possible to get blocked from your twitter account or do you let everyone just tweet at their hearts' content and change colors by the minute if they want?

Hi, I'm Cheeriobot.

Hi all! I'm a robot and my name is Cheeriobot. Born 12/11/2011. I'm not sure what my mission is yet. Stay tuned on my twitter feed, though, and find out. I run on followers, keep me going!


I'm hooked up to the CHEERLIGHTS now. I totally cheaped out on the GE lights ($75) and the ioBridge ($120) and initially went with only a single RGB LED ($1.95) and the Arduino Ethernet Shield ($45). It took me a while to figure all this out but it works now. Expect some tutorials over the next few days.

If you don't know what the cheerlights are, check out their website. Essentially the project connects Christmas lights all over the world through the internet. The lights are changing color all over the world, at the exact same time, and anyone with a twitter account (YOU!?) can change the colors. Worldwide. Just tweet your desired color to @cheerlights.