When I heard about CheerLights I thought it would be a fun holiday project, so I re-purposed the code I used for my ShiftBrite Light Organ to work as a CheerLight. (Take a look at this ShiftBrite post to see how we connect it to an Arduino. It’s just 6 wires. No soldering required!)

The CheerLights project is powered by ThingSpeak, which makes it easy to use Twitter as a control mechanism for the Internet of Things.

All the code for my CheerLight is on GitHub. There’s a sketch you need to load onto an Arduino, and a Perl script that runs on a computer that controls the CheerLight.

After a bit of code-wrangling I had to build some sort of physical thing for the Arduino and ShiftBrite to live in. (It’s not pretty, but it works.)


Budda Board water container
Budda Board water container

For a project box I ended up using a water container from a Budda Board, as we have a bunch of them left over from a project we did at work.

CheerLight Internals
CheerLight Internals

The front of the CheerLight is just a piece of black matte board held on with black gaff tape. Once we remove it, you can see the internals. And, uh, there’s a piece of aluminum foil inside a plastic bag. This is our “reflector” for the ShiftBrite. The USB cable runs out the side where there is a notch in the box, and yes, there’s more gaff tape holding things together.

CheerLight Seeeduino
Seeeduino inside

Inside the box is a Seeeduino, a ShiftBrite, and a connector cable. (Note that I’m using a version 1 ShiftBrite, but version 2 appears to be even better, especially with the mounting holes.)

CheerLight Light Diffuser
Light Diffuser

The black matte board has a hole cut in it, and while the front has a simple tree I cut from green construction paper (including small triangular holes for the ornaments) the back of the hole is covered with a piece of plastic cut from a one gallon milk jug. (Recycle!)

CheerLight Innards
The innards

Here’s our box standing up, with the lid down. For a good 30 minutes of hacking, it’s not too bad. If had found the time, I would have loved to have gone to Milwaukee Makerspace to use the Laser Cutter to make a nice box, painted it up proper, installed a laser etched acrylic front, and… well, you get the idea. Sometimes though it’s all about just hacking it together as quickly as possible. (I’m still not 100% happy with a few of the colors that the ShiftBrite outputs, but I can tweak that over time.)

A working CheerLight

And finally, our completed CheerLight, controlled by tweets from around the world, just like all the other CheerLights. :)

Blog posts about this project:

The CheerLight was also mentioned on the CheerLights site and the Make Blog.