This year I decided to do something a little different with our Christmas lights. I have always enjoyed the light shows that are timed to music, but thats been done. In fact they now sell these kits at Lowes and Target. Christmas lights are for people to watch and enjoy. I wanted to violate the fourth wall, and create a display that is interactive with people passing by.
So I put together a little system to control six channels of Christmas lights, but instead of music triggering the lighting sequence I used ultrasonic range finders. Here is a picture of the control panel and circuitry.
I used solid state relays on the digital outputs and six LED indicator lights. Then installed a 9 pin sub D connector to attach the US rangefinders. The whole thing is installed in a water proof box. The outlet boxes are in water resistant outdoor enclosures and plugged into a timer circuit in the garage. One twist of a dial and my wife can run all the lights for about three hours, then it turns it’s self off.
Here is a video of the system working.