I cannot wait until Thanksgiving to put up my outdoor Christmas lights. I don’t care if it breaks tradition. Raspberry Pi controlled automated Christmas lights are going up this week. Winter freaking wonderland!
How to Automate your Christmas Lights with Open-Zwave:
Normal warning: Automating your Christmas lights with Z-wave does not draw in the same crowd as the musical choreographed Christmas lights. The protocol focuses on wireless mesh network reliability, stability and status reporting over speed. For me, at least at this point, that is all I want. I want to drive up and have them on and go to sleep without having to worry about shutting them off.
To Get Started, You Need:
1 x 4gb or greater SD card
1 x Aeon Labs Z-Stick Series 2 Z-wave Controller
___ x GE Outdoor Z-wave Switches (you fill in the blank)
1 x Raspberry Pi and power adapter
1 x Raspbian + Simple Automated Christmas Pre-configured image (Alternate Image – Removed some Rasbian Features to make it smaller.)
** DOWNLOAD V0.9.0** The image didn’t come out as clean as I hoped so I ended up spending extra time tinkering with autofixes and easy upgrade features. Please let me know if you have any bugs.
You can run the Simple Automated Christmas application on pretty much any Linux device – but I think the Raspberry Pi is one of the best low cost / low electricity options.
- Have an age appropriate holiday beverage.
- Copy the downloaded image on to your SD card (Here is a guide with screen shots).
- While you copy the image, put up your Christmas Lights and/or plug in the outdoor adapters.
- The Z-stick (the conroller) should come with enough power to do your pairing; but if the light does not come on when you hold the button on the Z-stick, plug it in to a usb port and repeat step 1. Now it is time to pair the Z-wave controller with the modules. This step happens with the Z-Stick unplugged from the Raspberry Pi. Pushing the button in the middle of the Z-Stick will put the Z-Stick in pairing mode. If you do not see a button, try turning the stick over. The blue light around the button should flash. With the Z-Sitck 2-4 inches from the module you want to pair, push the button on the module (GE Outdoor plug in this example). The blue light on the Z-Stick should stay solid for a few seconds and then return to flashing. At this point, you can move to the next Z-wave module and pair it by pressing the module button or you can press the button on the Z-Stick to take it out of pairing mode.
(Alison was kind enough to make the video – I think she was bored.)
- With the Raspberry Pi off, plug in your Aeon Labs Z-Stick, your SD card and ethernet cord (or keyboard and monitor). Some users may need a powered hub if they are connecting multiple peripherals.
- You can leave the defaults and let the Pi take over with the default automation settings or you can type in ‘http://simpleChristmas.local’ and change the configuration settings (on / off schedule) and zone settings.
- Wow – you have automated your Christmas lights! Enjoy step one or take a moment to laugh at the inflatable Raccoons.
At any time, you can still use the switches on the GE Outdoor modules. The automated schedule will continue running.