Tiny Tree Is A Thermometer For Christmas Fever

Tired of the usual methods for animating all those RGB LEDS for your holiday display? How about using trendiness in a non-trendy way?

[8BitsAndAByte] caved in to increasing holiday madness and bought the cutest little Christmas tree. A special tree deserves special decorations, so they packed it with NeoPixels that turn from red to green and back again one by one. Here’s where the trendiness comes in: the speed at which they change is determined by the popularity of “Christmas” as a search term.

The NeoPixels are controlled by a Raspberry Pi 3B+ that uses PyTrends to grab a value from Google Trends once an hour. The service returns a value between 0 to 100, where 100 means the search term is extremely popular, and 0 means it’s probably the dead of January. Each NeoPixel is wired to the underside of a translucent printed gift box that does a great job of diffusing the light.

You know how Christmas trees have a tendency to stick around well into the new year? This one might last even longer than usual, thanks to the bonus party mode. Press the arcade button on the box cleverly disguised as a present, and the lights change from red to green and back at warp speed while the speaker inside blasts the party anthem of your choice. Be sure to check out the demo/build video waiting for you under after the break.

How could this little tree get any more special? Well, a rotating platform couldn’t hurt.

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Don’t Hang Christmas Lights, Embed Them

Finding it hard to get into the holiday spirit this year? Maybe you just need a timely project to light up the evenings until Santa (or Krampus) pays your house a visit. Whoever visits this season, delight or distract them with a 3D printed tree featuring embedded RGB LEDs.

[MakeTVee] printed this tree in four stages to make it a little bit easier to wire everything up. Each stage has six LEDs embedded in a 5mm transparent layer at the bottom. The top stage has a second color change to make a tree topper that holds a single LED. The color change feature in PrusaSlicer 2.0 made it easy to pause the print, insert the wired-up LEDs, and resume seamlessly in green filament. There’s a hidden base of what appears to be appropriately delicious cinnamon filament that holds the Trinket M0 and the power switch.

This lil’ tree looks great, especially considering how fiddly and nerve-wracking the wiring and assembly must have been. [MakeTVee] made it easier on himself with a printed wiring stencil that holds the LEDs in their star formation while he solders them up with magnet wire (a solid choice in our book). He thoughtfully included that stencil in the files which are up on the Prusa site. Dim the lights, grab a hot beverage, and check out [MakeTVee]’s build video after the break.

If you want a holiday hack that people can play with, invite them to paint your addressable tree.

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LED Tree Brings Gravity To Christmas

Here’s a fun entry into our coin cell challenge. The power source is the actuating force in [Frank]’s blinky LED Christmas tree, which takes advantage of the physical structure of coin cells and our old pal gravity to roll out some holiday cheer. Talk about forward voltage!

We love the concept, and the circuit couldn’t be more simple. A coin cell is released at the top of the tree and rolls down a series of angled foam board railings covered with 1/4″ copper tape. As the coin cell travels, the negative terminal shimmies along the face of the tree, which has corresponding ground rail tapes. There’s no microcontroller here—all that’s needed for blinks are breaks in the negative rail tape.

The challenging part of a project like this is the execution. Getting a coin cell to ride the rails without falling off required angle experimentation prior to and during the build. Now that it’s done, keeping the tree tilted back against the wall is key. [Frank] explored several options for returning the coin cell to the top using a camera motor and the gear assembly from an old inkjet, but for now, his six-year-old does the job without complaint. Check out his work ethic after the break.

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LEDmas Tree

led christmas tree

[Nick] is a bit of an LED fanatic. So when his boss asked him to help make an LED Christmas tree for work, he jumped at the opportunity!

It’s a beautiful build, making use of laser(?) cut plexiglass disks, wooden “trunks” made using a lathe, and a TON of RGB LEDs. Unfortunately—because it turned out so nice—the company is thinking of selling it as a product next year, so [Nick] isn’t allowed to divulge much more information behind the build. Regardless, it looks fantastic , and we’re sure you could hack your own.

He was allowed to take a video of it though, so check it out after the break! He also has a ton of other very cool LED projects on his blog at www.hownottoengineer.com

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