How It Works
The tune-to sign is a 16-foot box that displays messages in a ticker-tape fashion. It displays random Christmas messages throughout the evening, such as "It's the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year", "Santa Claus is coming to town", etc. When people are controlling the Christmas lights from the Internet (via the www.itwinkle.org website), the marquee will indicate the area and country where the people are from with a message like "Lights are being controlled from Paris, France".
How To Build It
The brain of the tune-to sign is an Arduino with an attached network board. This allows the tune-to sign to retrieve a fresh list of random messages from www.itwinkle.org. Therefore changing the messages that are displayed is as easy as updating a file on the website.
The tune-to sign uses eight strips of WS2812B lights, allowing 8x5 characters to scroll along the strips. The enclosure are two 8-foot sections joined in the middle. To enlarge the individual LED pixels (to form larger letters and words), I created a diffuser from interlocking cardboard strips, similar to a honeycomb. Cardboard was the wrong material, as the moisture from being outside quickly deformed the strips. The front of the marquee is covered with a plastic diffuser used in ceiling lights.
When the tune-to sign is powered on, it first contacts www.itwinkle.org to obtain a list of messages. Then it displays the messages in a random order. Between messages, it checks the www.itwinkle.org website to see if people are controlling the lights. If they are, the marquee obtains their location and displays it. After this, the marquee goes back to displaying random messages again.
The tune-to sign works independently of the light show; it is not controlled by xLights nor Falcon Player. The tune-to sign needs an Internet connection upon power-up, then periodically accesses it between messages. The original inspiration for the tune-to sign started here: