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How It Works

Our light show consists of multiple hardware and software components to synchronize the lights to the music that is playing.


Hardware

The majority of the hardware is based off several Do-It-Yourself designs and was built and in some cases designed by myself just for the show. The hardware can be broken into two major categories - either AC (120v) based or DC based (typically either 5v, 12v or 24v).

AC

The AC based controllers use small microcontrollers that are programmed to turn on a signal at the appropriate times to turn on a TRIAC, which is a device that turns on/off AC. Through the use of Pulse Width Modulation, the AC can either be turned on or off fully or somewhere in-between known as dimming. Dimming is achieved by turning on/off the voltage very fast so that your eyes see less light than fully on. When it's off for more of the time interval, it appears more dim and likewise when it's on for more of the time, it appears brighter. For my setup, I am using a DIY controller called the RenardSS16. The board allows up to 16 channels or outputs to be driven. The boards can be daisy-chained to allow many channels to be controlled from a single device from the software side.

DC

The DC based controllers can be further broken into two broad categories - either 'dumb' or 'smart' controlled. This just means that the light being turned on either has or doesn't have  control electronics built into it. The 'smart' variety are known as 'pixels' and are individually addressable. This means each and every light bulb can be individually turned on or off and can display a range of millions of colors through the use of Red/Green/Blue (RGB) color mixing.


Software