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Discussion Starter #1
EDIT: Looks like you may still be able to buy these for $49 from Lowes Hardware at local stores--but not online. Get 'em while you can if they're worthwhile. And don't trust reported local stock availability--call first before you drive. One local store reporting an availbility of 1 unit this morning, I know they have zero since I bought the last two. Unless they got a return. I've found more than once that, generally speaking, online inventory numbers for inventory in local stores, from a variety of Big Box Retailers--Best Buy, Hardware Stores, etc--often aren't accurate. Moral here is *do not* drive very far without calling in advance and having someone In Store visually confirm availability for any product of interest.

Lowes Hardware product link:
http://www.lowes.com/pd_585445-84523-W10I0001_0__?productId=50264225

*Not* my video:


Official manufacturer's product link:
http://www.ishowtree.com/showbox/

I saw the following 6 grounded outlet (6 channel) light controlled at Lowes Hardware; evidently it operated via WiFi from a specific app you download (IOS or Android). I'd noticed it earlier in the season but paid little attention to it till someone at work who's seen my displays told me I should check it out. Especially for tuning the snow machine(s) on/off. While he had no technical knowledge of the unit, I found two of them at a Lowes a few days ago--original price $100, knocked down to $50 each. On speculation, I purchased them both. An employee there was surprised there were any left, since a lot of people, employees included, evidently waited until after Christmas for them to go down in price.

Now, we Halloween Haunters Think Differently. And somehow, I suspect this may not be the el Cheapo 6 channel grounded Light-o-Rama unit of my dreams. The app may not allow individual on/off power control to the sockets, e.g. possibly no way to design one's one detailed light show.

So...

1) Anyone have one or considered grabbing one?
2) If so, what are its limitations?
3) Have you found a work around to those limitations?

Wish it was IR controlled. Then it would be relatively easy, I suspect, to decode the controlling signals.
But this unit operates on WiFi. Suspect it has a wireless router built in, where the Smart Phone is the connecting client.
And so could be much more difficult to accomplish a Showbox hack / Showbox mod, where you gain full control of the unit.

The Gemmy Light and Sound Show 6 channel pre-canned unit got me started decorating for The Other Holiday. So I was hopeful someone out there has already figured out how to mod their Showbox unit.

Again, if it was IR controlled, I bet it wouldn't be to hard to get an IR transmitter module for a Raspberry Pi or Arduino to hack or mod the Showbox for both Halloween light shows and Christmas light shows.

Which, as I'm typing this, leads me to this (to me anyway) intriguing challenge--how about finding 6 of those 80 ft line of site grounded outlet remote control sockets / power strips; looking for units having 6 separate IR "channels". Then using a Raspbery Pi or Arduino with 6 IR transmitters to run the show? Does this seem more feasible than modding a Lowes Showbox unit for anyone familiar with the device?

I'm a "Buy On Spec and Keep All My Receipts" kinda guy. Better to be disappointed by lack of expected functionality, and getting my money back locally, than to miss out on a super deal on a unit that might be "persuaded" to do my holiday decoration bidding.

Happy New Year everyone! I have tons of small cool purchases that I've not gotten round to taking photos of. I was in Orlando all week, checking out artificial snow machine set-ups in the area, e.g. Celebration, FL community, the Dolphin hotel behind Epcot, etc. Got some interesting ideas suitable for a separate thread.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Am I a "Very dangerous. You go first" pioneer here with the Showbox for Halloween?

Am I a "Very dangerous. You go first" pioneer here with the Showbox for Halloween / The Other Holiday. Sorry, just an Indiana Jones movie reference (Salah to Indy on descending into the map room in the first Raiders film). Has no one else seen or considered it? I was at a way out-of-town Lowes the other day I'd never been to before. Looking for any lingering discounted Christmas merch. Saw a display unit--manager said he wasn't authorized to knock the price down on it; I was looking for a new-in-box third unit to have in reserve for use if this thing knocks my socks off.

The manager said he thinks he only got a total of three of the Showbox units in this season; and that perhaps the vendor didn't do a good job of marketing the unit, setting up a good display showing it in use. You know, coming in and giving a demo to staff, etc.

My two Showbox light controller units are still in-box and unopened as I try to put away and inventory my Other Holiday Display stuff. I keep thinking perhaps I'd be better off building a Raspberry Pi and/or Arduino based line-of-sight light controller using those remote control IR sockets you see during the holidays for turning holiday lights on / off remotely. Many claim a range of up to 80 feet if you have line of sight.

I'd need to find some affordable units that have receivers accepting different IR signals to get at least the 6 channels of power I'd like. This would be a great help in providing power on / off to the now two grounded plug fake snow machines I possess.
 

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My neighbors bought one for Christmas lighting last year, also used it for this past halloween, and christmas again. They are horrible units. They told me there's no way to "program" it to synch with lights. Now, they aren't the most tech savvy people, and hardly ever read directions, so I dont know how true that is. What I can say is it "auto synchs" horribly. I'm guessing it's more like a light organ, flashing to a certain musical frequency. Bottom line is I considered purchasing a unit, but after seeing it in action, my money will be better spent elsewhere.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
My neighbors bought one for Christmas lighting last year, also used it for this past halloween, and christmas again. They are horrible units. They told me there's no way to "program" it to synch with lights. Now, they aren't the most tech savvy people, and hardly ever read directions, so I dont know how true that is. What I can say is it "auto synchs" horribly. I'm guessing it's more like a light organ, flashing to a certain musical frequency. Bottom line is I considered purchasing a unit, but after seeing it in action, my money will be better spent elsewhere.
Thanks Icepick. Sorry to hear about the results they got. I'm tempted to return the two units without having ever unboxed them. Been making a lot of decorating purchases this season and could use the $$$ back if this unit is a functional dud.

Perhaps best to just start researching Raspberry Pi and/or Arduino IR transmitter control to different "channel" IR receiver remote control sockets. So far, only seen grounded units like this in either Home Depot or Loews that are sold in four different "channel" receiving models. Pretty sure they are Line or Sight IR devices vs. RF. Lots more effort on my part since I've never used either RaspPi or an Arduino.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Return Showbox unit since it's unliked that there will be a hacked Showbox?

Interest has seemed tepid in the Showbox light show box; so I don't expect a hacked Showbox / Showbox Mod that would allow remote control of individual sockets via WiFi. Wish someone more technical than I would crack open a Showbox, see what type of wireless router it contains, and advise on being able to create an app that would control it. A Win7 PC desktop app--or Linux shell script (or Python)--would be nice.

Nearly the first time ever I've carried a credit card balance / not paid off in full each month. That's due in part to going a bit overboard on Halloween / Christmas decorations.

Want to be able to return the units within the time frame and lower the amount I know if the situation seems hopeless.

Don't think many people in general bought a Showbox this year--I'm certainly the only one on these forums. Do others on any other Christmas forums know what the buzz is, if any, on hacking / modding possibilities for the Lowes Showbox?

Thanks.
 

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I think I saw something similar to that being sold at BJs. Is it just a box where you can control the outlets with a smartphone app? That video wasn't very helpful.
Anyway, when I saw it I knew I already had the Gemmy Light Show Box (which works great for me)and I DON'T have a smartphone.
So I passed on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I think I saw something similar to that being sold at BJs. Is it just a box where you can control the outlets with a smartphone app? That video wasn't very helpful.
Anyway, when I saw it I knew I already had the Gemmy Light Show Box (which works great for me)and I DON'T have a smartphone.
So I passed on it.
Well, yes and no. I believe you primarily control the outlets with a free, downloadable app. There may or may not be any "show" control access on the unit itself--probably so; I forget.

I only got a Smart Phone about a year ago--an old Samsung Galaxy Centura for $50 @ Best Buy. No contract. No BS. It's an Android phone that runs on the Verizon network (good coverage for me everywhere I go) via TracFone pay-per-use cards. Meets my needs perfectly. Some pay $50 to $100 / month on smart phone plans. I probably don't break $150 in TracFone cards per year; possibly less. And that's checking email when I want, browsing Amazon and making the occasional purchase, and mostly just checking-in briefly on HalloweenForum.com. I keep the 3G data mode off most of the time, preferring free WiFi in stores, coffee shops like Starbucks, McDonalds, etc. Screen of phone is much smaller than current models--but that's TracFone's biz model--offer "nobody loves me" slightly older phones for a song (my first TracFone was a decent flip phone--$15 @ Staples). Since people are going GaGa right now over "Phablets", I'll have to check-in to see if TracFone offers a larger model of the Galaxy Galaxy. Very frustrating for me to peck out messages and posts on that tiny screen...

Anyhoo I'm not a programmer. But I *am* co-located with a bunch of web developers. They do a lot of Raspberry Pi Linux automation. Maybe they could figure out what makes the Showbox tick. My dilemma is when to return the two units to Lowes within the range of what's allowed.

Not sure if it can even do *precise* on / off / specific duration control of each outlet. If it's natively unable to do that, app or no app, the two Showbox units are going back to Lowes... perhaps as early as this weekend. Or, I could keep one just in case to open up and see if I can't figure some of it out on my own.

Heck, the Gemmy Light Show box you, I and many of us have--some guy online modded it to accept MIDI signals (a standard for computer controlling synthesizers / keyboards). So maybe there's a way to repurpose the Showbox for precise control. Hell, I'd pay someone to do the work for me.

I'm still resisting Light-O-Rama---must be my frugal "yankee" nature. :) Or just having fun being resourceful in doing things On the Cheap. BYOP, but also BYOC (Controllers)? Or at least think out of the Light-O-Rama box.

Could have spent several hundred bucks on commercial grade lightning effect boxes (FireFly and iZombie). Instead, I got precisely the effect I wanted with two $40 Perfect Storm units ship-to-store from Walmart. I was so proud of myself and the neighborhood kids and parents *loved* it. Great feeling to hear all the "awesomes" from kids. :)
 

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I've thought about getting into the Light-o-Rama in the past. You can save money by buying the kit and soldering it together yourself. (That is, if you don't mind doing that.) It sounds like they have very good customer support for the kits.
But, I think I'm kind of burnt out on the "lights-to-music" thing after doing it for so many years now. I think it's old hat to the neighbors, too.
So, I'll probably take a break from it next Christmas.
 

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getting into the RGB scene myself, much better controllers out there for cheaper. Needs some DIY love though, which I know these forums have in spades.
 

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I've thought about getting into the Light-o-Rama in the past. You can save money by buying the kit and soldering it together yourself. (That is, if you don't mind doing that.) It sounds like they have very good customer support for the kits.
But, I think I'm kind of burnt out on the "lights-to-music" thing after doing it for so many years now. I think it's old hat to the neighbors, too.
So, I'll probably take a break from it next Christmas.
Gonna be a new hat for me and my neighborhood. A township right down the road from me does a pretty large light o Rama display every year, and does it well. So as to not try to copy him, I'm thinking about keeping ng my projection stuff too, with complimenting with lights. Led will choice of lights (strips and pixels), due to the nature of the lights themselves. The strips I have seen have a 120 degree viewing angle, so I can direct them away from shining onto my projected surface, while still making them viewable for the visitor.

Maybe keeping your ur light show and incorporating a projection will "refresh" your show.
 

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Yea, I did do the Virtual Santa projection (actually called "Santa's Visit" DVD) on Christmas eve and it was a big hit. So, I will continue to use that in my display.
My wife prefers the "always on" look of Christmas lights, so that's part of the reason I figured I'd skip the music next Christmas.
Your whole house projection is really coo, but I doubt I have the ambition to ever do that kind of projection.
Thanks for the tips!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
So, any current thoughts on whether I should keep or return the two Showbox units I have and hope someone mods the app or hardware? They were "only" $50 each; but that's $100+ tax I could get credited back to my account. Hard to know what to do until I have time to experiment. If I do my own experiments, I'd want to keep both units so I can open up and see if I can determine what Makes It Tick. It is WiFi controlled after all--must have its own wireless router. I would love WiFi power on / off control of 6 grounded plugs for my fog and snow machines, etc. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I returned one of the two Showbox units for a refund. Still haven't had time to test. But figured it was worth holding on to one for the $50 price.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I returned one of the two Showbox units for a refund. Still haven't had time to test. But figured it was worth holding on to one for the $50 price.
I'm pretty much coming up against the deadline to return the last Showbox I have. Since I've seen nothing about hacking the Showbox to control the individual outlets, I'd rather get my $50 + tax back (even though retail price was $100). I think I like my idea of using a RaspberryPi IR transmitter and some off-the-shelf holiday remote control outlet devices; ones that work on different IR codes. Assuming you really do go instant on / off power response--which is what I'd need for effects / a light show. Or to try to fashion something that operates on Radio Frequencies.

Last call if anyone's heard about hacking this device. With my luck, I'll return it, only to find out a few months later someone has nailed a Showbox mod. Oh well, can't wait on hope. And I could use the cash + reclaim the space in my Seasonal Room. Made a lot of other purchases in the post Xmas season--not just the HM stuff, that I haven't posted yet.
 

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I have done a bit of discovery with this box and have captured codes to control it. It looks like some automation can be done, if you have the skills.

I have no instructions for this, so very experimental.

I found you can connect to the access point "ShowBox" to get to the device. It gives a dhcp address in the 10.10.10.0/24 range. The default gateway, and IP of the device is 10.10.10.254. The app also uses 10.10.10.254 to send commands to the box, regardless of what wifi you connect to. Connecting to the wrong wifi, not showbox, wont work, but you can still see the commands over the network(may be able to get to the showbox via the wifi that showbox connects to, but I have not gotten that far yet).

Once in the box, you configure via web page: 10.10.10.254. You can select what wifi the box will join. I think this is to be able to stream music to it.

Once connected to the box via smart phone, and the box is connected to your home network, the box will act as a proxy and forward traffic from your smart phone to the wifi the box is connected to...kinda weird, but allows your smart phone to still operate normally and send/receive data.

Here is the network connectivity, as I understand it so far:
smart phone -> (via wifi to "ShowBox") ShowBox -> (via wifi) your home wifi -> Either media server (for streaming music) or internet (to allow your smart phone to still send/receive data).



so, what I did is connect my smart phone to a wifi, and setup a sniffer/packet capture to grab any packets intended for the showbox. with that, I was able to capture the commands my smart phone is sending to the showbox.

communication is via port 4567 outgoing and 48899 inbound UDP.
commands are as follows:
to turn on plug 1:
FFAA RELAY 01 ON BB
plug number can be 01-06 and the state can be ON or OFF

Change timer:
FFAA TIME 00 BB
time can be 00-04 and corresponds to the timers of 1hr, 2hr, 4hr, 8hr 12hr. IE: FFAA TIME 03 BB would set the timer to 8 hours.

Change function - pre programmed plug control. (I dont think the pre-set patterns are changeable):
FFAA MODE CHOICE 01 BB
choice can be 01-10.

To shut off the showbox:
FFAA MODE STOP BB

To turn on the showbox:
FFAA MODE START BB

I have not figured out the streaming bit yet. Also, I'm not sure if the showbox can be controlled via the wifi it connects to as I believe it is expecting to be controlled by connecting directly to it.

Will post more once I can actually control the showbox without the app.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Damn, thanks for all the tech info and sharing your discoveries. :) Unfortunately I returned both my units to Lowes long ago. Good luck in your future experiments and keep us posted.

I have done a bit of discovery with this box and have captured codes to control it. It looks like some automation can be done, if you have the skills.

I have no instructions for this, so very experimental.

I found you can connect to the access point "ShowBox" to get to the device. It gives a dhcp address in the 10.10.10.0/24 range. The default gateway, and IP of the device is 10.10.10.254. The app also uses 10.10.10.254 to send commands to the box, regardless of what wifi you connect to. Connecting to the wrong wifi, not showbox, wont work, but you can still see the commands over the network(may be able to get to the showbox via the wifi that showbox connects to, but I have not gotten that far yet).

Once in the box, you configure via web page: 10.10.10.254. You can select what wifi the box will join. I think this is to be able to stream music to it.

Once connected to the box via smart phone, and the box is connected to your home network, the box will act as a proxy and forward traffic from your smart phone to the wifi the box is connected to...kinda weird, but allows your smart phone to still operate normally and send/receive data.

Here is the network connectivity, as I understand it so far:
smart phone -> (via wifi to "ShowBox") ShowBox -> (via wifi) your home wifi -> Either media server (for streaming music) or internet (to allow your smart phone to still send/receive data).



so, what I did is connect my smart phone to a wifi, and setup a sniffer/packet capture to grab any packets intended for the showbox. with that, I was able to capture the commands my smart phone is sending to the showbox.

communication is via port 4567 outgoing and 48899 inbound UDP.
commands are as follows:
to turn on plug 1:
FFAA RELAY 01 ON BB
plug number can be 01-06 and the state can be ON or OFF

Change timer:
FFAA TIME 00 BB
time can be 00-04 and corresponds to the timers of 1hr, 2hr, 4hr, 8hr 12hr. IE: FFAA TIME 03 BB would set the timer to 8 hours.

Change function - pre programmed plug control. (I dont think the pre-set patterns are changeable):
FFAA MODE CHOICE 01 BB
choice can be 01-10.

To shut off the showbox:
FFAA STOP BB

To turn on the showbox:
FFAA START BB

I have not figured out the streaming bit yet. Also, I'm not sure if the showbox can be controlled via the wifi it connects to as I believe it is expecting to be controlled by connecting directly to it.

Will post more once I can actually control the showbox without the app.
 

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Damn, thanks for all the tech info and sharing your discoveries. :) Unfortunately I returned both my units to Lowes long ago. Good luck in your future experiments and keep us posted.
Sure, np. Please note that my original post had the on/off commands wrong. Should have included the keyword 'MODE': 'FFAA MODE STOP BB'

I made some progress. I was able to control the unit (except streaming music to it) with a simple perl script using UDP:

#!/usr/bin/perl
use IO::Socket;
use strict;

my $sock = IO::Socket::INET->new(
Proto => 'udp',
PeerPort => 48899,
PeerAddr => '192.168.1.18',
LocalPort => 4567,
) or die "Could not create socket: $!\n";

$sock->send('FFAA RELAY 03 OFF BB') or die "Send error: $!\n";

*the device IP is 192.168.1.18, after connecting it to my wifi.

The code can be expanded a bit, and tied to some other software to trigger events. This would allow the device to be synchronized to music and control props or lighting (stream a scream sound, activate lighting to highlight a prop, and activate mechanics to make the prop jump/move). Lots of possibilities! if you have multiple ShowBox devices, then the possibilities are even better!

Other open ports I found are as follows(all TCP):
23 - telnet
53 - dnsmasq 2.40
80 - GoAhead-Webs embedded httpd
5002 - Boxee rtspd
49152 - Portable SDK for UPnP devices 1.6.17


Best news is that the ShowBox comes with an embedded Linux and even allows login. Telnet to the device and login with 'admin' user and 'admin' password. Once in, there is a lot to explore. WARNING: My unit sat over night, after lots of hours playing around with the linux, and is not working any more. I can power it on, but I cannot see the wifi, or connect to it via my home wifi network...hoping I did not kill it by playing around with it! I will open it up and see if there is any loose connectors, but I doubt this is the issue since I have not touched it at all since I started to play around with it.

I did notice some custom compiled executables, but did not bother trying to decode them. Searching the available filesystems, I could not find any keyword matches to 'RELAY' or 'MODE', so trying to get any further available commands may not be possible.

There is a writeable file system available with 512K of space at 38% consumed. This opens the possibility to customize the device somewhat. There was a 'melody.mp3' file on the device, but I was unable to get it to play via the included mplayer.

I am not familiar with network media device setup, so streaming may be fairly easy. Still unable to capture the command for getting sound to stream to it. If it uses standard protocols for it, then it may be easy enough.

I think that is about all that I can come up with...especially since my box is now dead. If I can get it up again and discover anything else about it, I will update the post.

I know the OP had returned their devices, but I still wanted to document the progress I made, since there is very limited info, and in case there is anyone else out there looking to fool around with some holiday automation.

I was able to get a lot more info, but it is mostly tech stuff related to how the embedded linux is installed, so no point in posting here.

Enjoy!
 

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Great work!
I think I found the manual for the brain of this thing...
Based on the name of the firmware and a little sleuthing I found this:
www=tcp232=net/download/USR-S12.pdf
Replace the "=" with "." - I can't post a link yet:(
Let me know if it helps, and if you want to work on it together. Thing is useless out of the box.:mad:
 
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