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DIY USB Powered Christmas Tree...

Well its that time of year again the streets of Lyon are awash with bodies running here and there doing as many errands as they can before the whole country closes up for the Holiday. The local Franprix is packed with people buying booze and food so they can celebrate the weekend with a fuzzy head and a full belly.

This is our first Christmas together and it shaping up to be a great one earlier this week we decided that our home need a tree to give it that holiday feel. We dont have a car or a driving licence between us and we live on top of a big hill (200 steps to our front door, and then some) so hauling several kilos of pine up here would be a pain, we decided to make our own.

Tree 1
Our materials included left over cardboard from Amazon boxes, 12 spare LEDs, 8 meters of copper wire some coloured paper we picked up the day before for different project and an Arduino microprocessor board.

First off we cut the cardboard into the two tree like shapes and adhered the coloured card to it. Then we slotted the two pieces together it was time to apply the lighting and decoration:-)

We pushed the LEDs pins throught the cardboard paying attention to the polarity (The long pin is the positive pin) and soldered wires to the cathode and anode of each.

Then we connected the wires from the LEDs to the Arduino board via 220 Ohm resistors mounted on Breadboard (Breadboard instead of soldering them directly as we intend to reuse all the electronic components). A little more electrical jiggery pokery is needed before you can turn the board on but when you are ready plug one end of the A to B USB cable one end in the controller the other into your laptop, start up the programming environment and write
a little code to make the LEDs flash in whatever pattern and speed your heart desires.

The controller boards are very cheap (22Euro) Make magazine has been pimping them for the past couple of months and they make a wonderful educational project for you or your kids, very useful in home automation or any other sort of automation and they work with Windows, Mac and Linux. There are plenty of Tutorials on their website so even if you are new to physical computing you can just copy one of the examples. The LEDs came from Radionics and everything else was found about the house.

My special lady friend made a few miniature presents and cards for under the micro-tree is well as a couple or other little paper decorations. We discovered that you can have a wonderful time coming up with your own unique holiday decorations and even learn something cool. 

After the new year we will most likely take our little tree apart and use the various bits and pieces for other creations but for now it gives our little French apartment the special touch necessary at this time of year.

Merry Christmas to all and I wish everyone a happy new year.

 

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roadvermin on Dec 22, 2006:

We reuse materials around the flat and make things all the time. This project was to test our micro-controller and participate in the holiday spirit by making a tree.

As for the idea, we're just nerds.

 

-RV & His Girl


benmoore on Dec 22, 2006:

this post is digg-worthy


benmoore on Dec 22, 2006:

this is great!  did you come up with this?  where did the idea come from?


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