Smartpixels.app Project history


We present the entire history of the project from the beginning to the present day


The beginnings of the app date back to 2007. It was then that the 12-year-old Tomasz Siroń (author of the project) - posted the topic on the komputerswiat.pl forum: "Robot a little problem". This project involved controlling a small vehicle via a USB port. The knowledge that Tomek had at his disposal at that time was not sufficient to complete the project. After all, the statements of other users and the descriptions and suggestions they made in the topic gave Tomek hope that in the future he would create a fancy application that allows you to control devices using a computer. One of the users gave him hope, who suggested using another port (eg LPT) as an alternative. On the other hand, another of them suggested deepening the knowledge and getting to know the topic better with the help of the elektroda.pl electronic forum, to which Tomek agreed with enthusiasm.

Frivolous topic? Take it easy - you never know what may result from it. Screenshot from forum.komputerswiat.pl
Frivolous topic? Take it easy - you never know what may result from it. Screenshot from forum.komputerswiat.pl

Despite the slim chances of success, Tomek did not give up. Originally, the control was carried out by means of LEDs - it did not seem anything spectacular, but the goal is to be achieved in small steps.

Prototype diagram of the first LPT controller
Prototype diagram of the first LPT controller

The project started its first attempts at crawling in 2008 (June 8 to be exact). Initially, the LPTek program by Adrian Gewartowski.

I'm glad that something fresh/web was created on the basis of this programming spontaneity. The program was created in the times of Windows XP where the protected mode began to reign (no direct access to I/O devices, system.io library, as I remember correctly, it did the trick). I was approaching my 18th birthday. I was thinking with my electrician/electronics friend how to make my party different than all the others. Then the concept of 230v relays coupled with LPT port (simple port without additional drivers) was created, which controlled a set of colored light bulbs mounted above the stage. I was passionate about Delphi and a prototype with LED diodes in an ice cream mold was created, and after some time it turned into a fully functional "disco set" controlled by this LPTek. Pure self-interest, which I remember to this day. The set was used at several events at friends.

LED flashing with LPTek program
LED flashing with LPTek program

The breakthrough came in December 2010. Tomek, using a computer, designed the electronic system in the Eagle program - an 8-channel relay card. It was his first project of this type. Thanks to the help of colleagues from the elektroda.pl forum, it was possible to construct a really promising layout. Nevertheless, light control was still too little interactive. It was the computer that played the role of the clock and the effects generator.

Project of the first version of LPT driver
Project of the first version of LPT driver

At the same time, Tomek started working on the project of a WiFi vehicle, which was to be fully autonomous. For the purposes of the project, a software was developed in which the control was carried out with the LPT relay card from the level of the website (appropriate PHP script running the program in Delphi).

WiFi Vehicle Prototype
WiFi Vehicle Prototype

Taking advantage of the car's success, in 2011, the aforementioned relay card was used to control the lighting. It was the first such approach and along with it came the idea of making control available via the Internet.

Due to the experience we already had and the devices built so far, starting the lights controlled online was not a difficult task. An analog surveillance camera and a USB image recorder were purchased for the initiative.

Tomasz on the roof, during the preparation work of the project
Tomasz on the roof, during the preparation work of the project

Meanwhile, lighting control topic posted in Elektroda.pl has become very popular, and the control itself was of great interest. Since then, the design of the lights has been developed and expanded independently until 2015.

It is not a very complicated project, I would rather call it a warm-up before more advanced constructions. It was a typical hobby project created for entertainment and educational purposes. This project is based on an old computer with Windows XP and LPT, a relay card of my own production and an appropriate PHP script. In addition, in front of the house I have a camera installed, which is connected to the DVR card with about 30 meters of twisted-pair cable, and the card to the laptop. Both the computer and the laptop are located in the basement. They are located in a ventilated, closed room. The cost of this project is about PLN 500. However, it is not a reliable sum, because I had some things at home and I bought some in installments. In general, I am 100% satisfied with the project, only what I would like to improve is the durability of the lights. After the whole time of the project's operation (from Christmas Eve 2012), many sets do not work.

Thanks to linking the controls Christmas lights by Niebezpiecznik.pl, the 3rd edition of lighting was very popular. At that time, Tomek was contacted by those interested in the topic, one of them was Krzysztof Styc.

Facebook post published by the Niebezpiecznik.pl
Facebook post published by the Niebezpiecznik.pl

Krzysiek suggested sharing hardware resources for video streaming. The proposal was passionately accepted by the Originator. Thanks to Krzysiek's knowledge of control, new technologies were also used, including the introduction of control using DTMF codes.

DTMF relay card
DTMF relay card

Initially, Krzysztof was only supposed to deal with the issue of image transmission, but over time he also turned out to be helpful in terms of the application code. His help made it possible to introduce corrections in the written code and implement new solutions in the project. During the control season (holiday period), numerous activities were undertaken to promote the website, which resulted in considerable media coverage.

"If we can cover an elephant, than house also can be covered." Tadeusz Siroń - Tomek's dad said in a speech for Panorama Lubelska ;)
"If we can cover an elephant, than house also can be covered." Tadeusz Siroń - Tomek's dad said in a speech for Panorama Lubelska ;)

Since then, the duo of Creators have jointly implemented the project of lights, sharing both knowledge and responsibilities in the design work.

Tomasz presents the operation of the Smartpixels.app website using a smartphone in Teleexpress
Tomasz presents the operation of the Smartpixels.app website using a smartphone in Teleexpress

Boys managed to establish cooperation with many companies and organizations. The company Kradex, which always provided free plastic cases for the project. Also cooperation with Dipol, Lispol and Bootland has resulted in a strong development of the project through discounts or free items.

During this period, the project also participated as one of the exhibitors in the Martian robots competition - European Rover Challenge.

Smartpixels.app ex aequo Kamil Wroński win first place
Smartpixels.app ex aequo Kamil Wroński win first place

After its media successes, Sterowanie24.pl (Smartpixels.app) gained more and more popularity, thanks to which the project also gained the support of a larger group of people. The undertaking was supported by Mateusz Józefczyk by donating electronic equipment to it, and Przemysław Kasza joined, who showed incredible help in working with the networks.

"This is the house from the Internet!" From the left: Krzysztof Styc, Tomasz Siroń
"This is the house from the Internet!" From the left: Krzysztof Styc, Tomasz Siroń

Przemek appeared in 2015, interested in Tomasz's design and solutions that allow you to control lighting using a computer. It prompted him to expand his knowledge of electronics and building automation. In the following year, he became an exhibitor of the project. He was the first to use Tomasz's innovative solution, i.e. a WiFi relay card.

WiFi relay card
WiFi relay card

The scheme was designed by Tomek in KiCAD, the printed circuit boards were prepared for free by Merkar. The controller was based on the ESP8266 chip and Krzysztof prepared the firmware for it.

WiFi relay card - electronic diagram
WiFi relay card - electronic diagram

Przemek initially offered his knowledge in the field of administration of IT systems and computer networks. In further stages of the project, he was the administrator and architect of IT systems adapted to cloud solutions. This knowledge had a large impact on the development of the project and the rest of the team, contributing to the use of cloud solutions in current editions of control.

Przemek's Garden
Przemek's Garden

In the 2016/2017 season, the team acquired Wiktor Jezioro. Initially inspired by the project, he built his own interactive lighting and boasted about it on the wykop.pl. He was directly invited to cooperate in August 2016. He was invited to cooperate. Initially, Wiktor was only an exhibitor on his property.

In my case, there was a movable shed and Christmas trees outside (several thousand lights in total). The OrangePi One and RaspberryPi B minicomputer is responsible for the operation of the control system. The operating element of the system are relay cards: two cards with 16 channels each and one 4-channel. The relay cards are powered from the 5V line from the ATX power supply.

In 2018, he dealt with the issue of rewriting the page with the entire backand backend.

Controlled Christmas Nativity Scene performed by Wiktor
Controlled Christmas Nativity Scene performed by Wiktor

It is worth mentioning that in the 2017/2018 season there was a significant breakthrough, because - in cooperation with the Municipal Office in Modliborzyce and the Youth City Council - we managed to launch the first Internet-controlled Christmas nativity scene in Poland. The undertaking was unique, as it no longer focused on controlling private facilities, but on an installation made available in the public space. It made it possible for visitors to contact the nativity scene directly. Additionally, the possibility of changing the Christmas carols flowing from the loudspeakers placed inside the building was made available (in addition to the existing lighting control option). It must be admitted that it was warmly received both by the residents of Modliborzyce and Internet users, who still had the opportunity to view and choose options via the Internet.

Christmas Crib on the square in Modliborzyce - 1st edition (seen at night)
Christmas Crib on the square in Modliborzyce - 1st edition (seen at night)
Christmas Crib on the square in Modliborzyce - 1st edition (day view)
Christmas Crib on the square in Modliborzyce - 1st edition (day view)

It should be noted, however, that from the very beginning the Christmas nativity scene project is an independent project and not directly related to the Smartpixels.app project. It has its own website, infrastructure and reports to the Modliborzyce City Hall.

In the 2017/2018 season, or rather during it, the next participant of the team was Mateusz Kołoś. This was because he made his own controls available online on Christmas Eve. The show was also held in the Facebook group Majsterkowanie dla każdego (DIY for everyone). On the next day the Smartpixels.app team wrote to him with a proposal for cooperation.

Mateusz's first Christmas lighting show
Mateusz's first Christmas lighting show

At the end of the 2017/2018 season, Tomasz Siroń has largely handed over the command of the project to Mateusz, but he is still an active and main co-creator of Smartpixels.app.

Mateusz's House 2017/2018 edition
Mateusz's House 2017/2018 edition
Mateusz's House 2018/2019 edition
Mateusz's House 2018/2019 edition

The 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 season brought new popularity records. In 2018, we set a record for the number of people on the site, which was over 3,500 people at any given time.

Additional, a new version of the website was created, which was initially developed by Wiktor.

In turn, in 2020/2021, a new attraction was launched under the name of "Mysterious haven". It was a house on a lake, located on the territory of Tomasz's estate, and it also became the theme of his thesis. I must admit that the new facility looked magical in this lighting design, adding the atmosphere of the surrounding scenery.

Tomek's Mysterious Haven
Tomek's Mysterious Haven

General project support (alphabetical)

  • Botland 2017 - currently - Thanks for discounts and free gadgets.
  • Crossan 2015 - 2020 - Thanks for the free internet connection for the lighting installation.
  • Dipol 2017 - currently - Thanks for providing the IP camera for video transmission and for the discounts.
  • Eltron 2016 - authorized distributor of the Kradex company, the founder of the main prize in the Kradex competition for the amateur use of the Z-series housing. The prize was allocated mainly to the development of the project.
  • e-SBL.net 2016 - 2017 - Thanks for providing the IP camera for video transmission and high-speed fiber optic link.
  • FCQ.pl 2020 - currently - Thanks for providing a platform for live transmission of images from cameras and virtual machines for infrastructure purposes.
  • Genway 2016 - Thanks for providing the IP camera for video transmission.
  • Inter3.pl 2017 - currently - Thanks for providing a fast fiber-optic link.
  • Kradex 2016 - currently - Thanks for providing the cases.
  • Lispol 2016 - Thanks for the discount when buying electronic components.
  • Netus 2018 - currently - Thanks for the free internet connection for the the lighting installation.
  • Merkar 2016 - 2017 - Thanks for free professional PCB manufacturing of the relay boards.
  • MyDevil.net 2014 - 2018 - Thanks for providing the hosting space.

In particular, we thank Anna Nowińska with the language support of the web application. We would also like to thank Mateusz Józefczyk and Iwona Mańka for their contribution to the project, as well as institutions: Lublin University of Technology, PZS Bieruń, Upper Secondary School of Communications in Krakow and the Municipal Office in Modliborzyce.