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University of Akron Will Demonstrate the Christmas-Light Display Getting International Attention

photo of Christmas lights

A house in Doylestown is getting international attention for its Christmas lights. WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports on a holiday display that anyone can control online.

Tom Hammond manages the Wayne College MakerSpace, a lab that features 3D printing and other high-tech, small-scale manufacturing devices. His contacts – including Keith Westley, Barry Romich and Rod Steinbach -- in what’s known as the “maker community” have helped him put together an animated Christmas light display for the past three years.

This year, though, he changed things up by connecting the light controllers to the internet, allowing anyone who logs on to iTwinkle.org to decide which animations play in Hammond’s front yard.

“The website itself actually logs who's been changing the light pattern. So I’ve had people from West Virginia, California and Denver, Colo. Then it goes to Great Britain and France and Russia. So, people are finding it and enjoying it.”

Hammond explains that he uses a small computer (a Raspberry Pi), and a light controller known as an Arduino.

“It goes from their computer into my house. So, if they choose the rainbow effect, it goes into the Raspberry Pi, and then the Pi says, ‘I’m going to stop what I’m doing, and I’m going to play this different animation instead.’ From there it goes from the Pi to the Arduino, and the Arduinos know how to turn the lights off and on.”

The display is viewable at the website through a series of webcams, every night starting at 5 p.m. Hammond will be demonstrating and discussing his light display this afternoon from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. at Bierce Library at the University of Akron.