In order for website visitors to control your Christmas lights, they must be able to "find" your outdoor webcam (to see your lights) and the Raspberry Pi running Falcon Player (to control your lights). Your Internet provider provides a unique IP address that allows people to find you. However, this IP address changes to a different number from time to time, depending on the whim of your Internet provider.
In order for website visitors to find you, despite a changing IP address, you can do two things. You can purchase a "static IP address" from your Internet provider, an IP address that does not change. But if you want to save money, you can setup a "Dynamic DNS Service" (DDNS). This associates a domain name with the IP address assigned by your Internet provider. When your IP address changes, the domain name points to the new IP address. That way, website visitors "find" you through the domain name which never changes.
There are lots of different ways to setup a DDNS service. Some are free, some incur a cost. I chose the "free" route. My favorite is www.no-ip.com. Here is how it works:
- Create a free account account on www.no-ip.com
- Choose or create a hostname (domain name) that will be used for visitors to find you on the Internet. I chose itwinkle.ddns.net
- Download and install the Dynamic DNS Update Client (DUC) on your home computer (not the Raspberry Pi). This program watches the IP address provided by your Internet provider. If the IP address happens to change to a different number, the DUC client updates the hostname in Step 2 to point o the new number.
- On your webpage that visitors see to control your lights, you use the hostname to access to the Raspberry Pi running Falcon Player and the outdoor webcam. More information about setting this up is in the "Setup a webpage that allows visitors to send commands to the Raspberry Pi, playing chosen animations" page on this website.
- That's it!
Even though www.no-ip.com is a free service, it requires you to verify your account once a month. This helps them ensure that you need and are using their service. Once a month, you will receive an email to verify your account. Simply click this link to do the verification. It's easy and just takes a minute.
If you would rather not bothered with monthly reminders, there are paid Dynamic DDNS services available through other companies, but I have not pursued this.