Austin writes in…
GE Color Effects hacking! At this rate, I need to buy a few more Arduinos.
As a last-minute Halloween decoration, I added 25 pairs of blinking eyes to the bushes in front of our house by using a string of GE Color Effects lights being driven by an Arduino Uno. The whole thing took about half a day, including a lesson about both needing to mark fried microcontrollers and the raw hubris of gluing shut enclosures before testing the components.
Also, anyone who haven’t seen Robert Quattlebaum’s excellent documentation of the internals and protocol of these lights, this page is definitely worth a look: http://www.deepdarc.com/2010/11/27/hacking-christmas-lights/
The entire implementation took half a day, with the hardest part being that I didn’t realize the first Arduino I grabbed was fried from an accident a couple months ago (it’s now marked by bending the headers to make it look like a dead bug).
I was a little skeptical when I first started work on the code, but within half an hour, the state machine for the eyes and population-control really came together!
Also, I used the clips that come with the lights to mount them in 25 pairs. They worked out surprisingly well.
Now, will the whole thing withstand lasting into the dead of winter…