Our display is controlled entirely by computer. Light controllers connect to the computer and perform the task of turning the lights on and off. Up until 2009, we purchased our controllers in kit form from Light-O-Rama. In 2010, we added AC and DC controllers from DIY Light Animation as well as special RGB light strip controllers from Australian Christmas Lighting.
The vast majority of our lights are LED's, which consume very little electricity. In fact, the entire display, including the computer and video projector run off of just two electrical outlets!
A special program on the computer allows you to "sequence" the lights to the music. We currently use a program sold by Light-O-Rama (LOR) to sequence the show. In 2010, I wrote my own program to actually control the playback of the show (play the videos and control the lights). It is called xLights and is available for free.
For one year, 2009, we used a program called Aurora for sequencing. Aurora used to charge for their product, but as of May 2010, it is FREE. In order to switch back to LOR software in 2010, I had to write a small program to convert my Aurora sequences to LOR format. That utility is available here.
The Radio Transmitter
A small radio transmitter is required to get the music from the computer to your car radio. We currently use a unit purchased on eBay.
In the fall of 2008, I built a train for my display. Some aspects of the train worked great, some will definitely need changing in 2009. Here is a PowerPoint presentation I made to the members of Lone Star Holidays on Feb 7, 2009 containing construction details and learnings.
In 2009 we added a video wreath. Click here for an updated presentation containing the full construction details.