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". The subject was to control a small vehicle via a USB port. Unfortunately, the knowledge that Tomasz had at that time was not sufficient to make the project successful. After all, the statements of other users as well as the descriptions and suggestions posted by them in the subject gave rise to the hope of the young teenager to create the control possibility he dreamed of in the future. He was hoped by one of the users who suggested alternative use of a different port (eg LPT). 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 Tomasz 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 and unfavorable criticism, Tomasz did not give up. It originally controlled LEDs. It was not anything spectacular, however, the goal is achieved in small steps.

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

The first attempts in the project at started in 2008 (exactly on June 8). Initially, the LPTek program was used to control the lighting, authored 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 took place in December 2010. Using a computer, Tomasz designed the electronic circuit in the Eagle program - an 8-channel relay board. 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 circuit. At that time a computer acted as a clock and an simple effects generator.

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

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

WiFi Vehicle Prototype
WiFi Vehicle Prototype

Building on the success of the vehicle, the aforementioned relay card was used to control lighting in 2011. It was the first such approach, and with it the idea of ​​making control via the Internet was born.

Due to the experience we already had and the devices built so far, starting the lights controlled online was no longer 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 designed for entertainment and educational purposes. This project is based on an old computer (with Windows XP and LPT port) and my relay card. In addition, in front of the house I have a camera installed, which is connected by about 30 meters of twisted-pair cable to the DVR laptop card. Both computer and laptop are located in the basement. The cost of this project is about 500 PLN. However, it is not a reliable sum, because some things I had at home, some I bought in installments. In general, I'm 100% satisfied with the project, the only thing that irritates me is the durability of the lights. After the project has been running for the whole time (from Christmas Eve 2012), many sets are not working.

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 proposed making hardware resources available for video streaming. The proposal was eagerly accepted by the originator. Thanks to Krzysiek's knowledge, new technologies were also used in the control (including the introduction of control using DTMF codes).

DTMF relay card
DTMF relay card

Initially, the new participant was supposed to deal only with the issue of image transmission, but over time he also turned out to be helpful in terms of the code app. Krzysiek's help made it possible to improve the code and implement new solutions in the project. During the season, numerous activities were undertaken to promote website, which resulted in considerable media interest.

"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 duties.

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 (Smartpixels.app) was gaining more and more popularity, thanks to which the project also gained the support of other people. During this time, the project was supported by Mateusz Józefczyk by donating electronic equipment to it and Przemysław Kasza, who proved to be extremely helpful 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, first interested in the project and Tomasz's solutions enabling lighting control using a computer. This prompted him to broaden his knowledge in the field of electronics and building automation. He was the first to use Tomasz's innovative solution, 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 of the administration of IT systems and computer networks. In the further history 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 lighting editions.

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. Initially, Wiktor was only an exhibitor in his home - a small nativity scene and a Christmas tree outside.

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 website with the entire backend. Previously Krzysiek dealt with this, but after the 2017/2018 season ended, he temporarily resigned from the project.

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. It was no longer focused on controlling private facilities, but on an installation made available in the public space. It gave the possibility of physical proximity to the nativity scene. Additionally, it was possible to change the Christmas carol flowing from the loudspeakers placed inside the crib (apart from the previous play with lighting). with incredible delight, both the inhabitants of Modliborzyce and Internet users, who still had the opportunity to view and act 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 is subordinate to the City Hall in Modliborzyce.

In the 2017/2018 season, or rather during it, the next participant of the team was Mateusz Kołoś. It happened because he provided his own control on Christmas Eve. The show was also held on the group Majsterkowanie dla każdego (DIY for everyone). On the next day the Smartpixels.app team wrote to him with a proposal of cooperation. As a result of the consent of the new member, from December 26, controlling Mateusz's house was also possible on the website Smartpixels.app.

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 beat the number of people on the site, which was over 3.5 thousand people at one time. The number of people at one moment that the website had to accept , was really impressive.

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 Tomasz's property, which was also partly the subject of his master thesis. Admittedly, the new facility looked both magical and at times spooky.

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.

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.