How to Sync Your Christmas Lights to a Radio Broadcast

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A synchronized light display can center around a single home, or include a whole neighborhood.
A synchronized light display can center around a single home, or include a whole neighborhood. (Image: christmas lights image by Cindy Haggerty from Fotolia.com)

Creating a light show that is synchronized to music was once a major production with high-tech gadgetry. Modern electronic programming, however, allows the average homeowner to create a major display to be synchronized with a local radio station. With the correct equipment and a little hard work, you can create a radio-synchronized light display for others to see and enjoy. However, be prepared: Creating and operating a large display for radio synchronization can run up a costly electricity bill.

Things You'll Need

  • Lights
  • Surge Protector
  • Light Control Box
  • Audio Cable
  • FM Radio Transmitter
  • Speakers

Build your Christmas display. All your Christmas lights must be attached to one another. For large displays use a surge protector both to protect your electronics and to connect multiple light strands.

Plug the surge protector, or the end of your terminal strand, into a light control box. This box is what will synchronize the elements of your Christmas display to the music. The light control box must be a musical light control box with synchronization programming.

Plug a radio into the light control box's "Audio In" port. The radio should plug in using an 1/8-inch audio connection cable.

Flip the audio switch on the light control box to "Audio In." There should be multiple position switch or a toggle switch for the audio options. Switching to the "Audio In" setting will program the lights to the radio, rather than the music that is programmed into the light control box itself.

Turn the radio to the station you want to synchronize your lights to. Tune the radio as exactly as possible to get the best sound quality.

Tips & Warnings

  • Post a sign in your yard that tells viewers what radio station to turn their car radio to. Otherwise, they will just see flashing lights, rather than a synchronized show.
  • Add speakers to play the radio station in your yard. Speakers plug into the "Audio Out" port on the light control box.
  • Test your light show before you begin showing it to others. Turn on all the display elements and watch for several songs to make sure the synchronization is working.
  • Read the packaging carefully when you are buying your programming box to make sure you get the appropriate kind. If it is not a musical control box with synchronization technology, it will not work.

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