16 November 2017
BUILD IT YOURSELF
By Craig A. Lindley
The NeoPixel LED Tree:
• Is beautifully made from laser cut 3 mm Baltic birch
• Is powered by a NodeMCU Amica ESP8266 32-bit
Wi-Fi enabled processor.
• Has 93 individually addressable NeoPixel LEDs,
allowing for a large number of display patterns.
• Is remote controllable from any browser on your
• Has 50 display patterns built in, including some with
a Christmas theme.
• Has an Auto mode which randomly selects display
patterns so you get a taste of every display pattern
the tree has available.
I cannot take credit for much of this design because I
basically merged things I found on the Internet together,
and with my knowledge of the ESP8266, the result was
this project. Specifically:
• I came across the mailable laser cut Christmas tree
card project on hackaday.io.
• I found a rather inexpensive set of NeoPixel LED
rings (93 LEDs in all) for sale on Amazon.
• I found software that designs laser cut flex boxes. A
flex box is used for the base of the tree.
• I found a NeoPixel special effects library for the
ESP8266 that provided most of the display patterns,
and an example program from the same library that
was the basis of the tree remote control program I
• I used the ESP8266 WiFiManager library to allow
the tree to connect to any Wi-Fi network without
having to hardcode Wi-Fi credentials into the
program. This is very handy when you move the
tree between Wi-Fi networks or locations.
• I used the ESP8266 ArduinoOTA (OTA stands for
Over The Air) library that allows the tree’s software
to be updated wirelessly without having to
physically connect a USB cable. This helps prevent
damage to the tree because updates are hands off.
Links to all the stuff I found on the Internet are
provided in the Resources section.
Build a NeoPixel
Just when I thought I was done building LED
“blinky” things (my house is filled with them), I
see something on the Internet that catches my
eye and off I go again building something new.
To my friends, this is now a standing joke and
they, in fact, call me “Mr. Blinky.” Oh well, I could
be called something worse.
In this case, many things caught my attention,
and the result is the NeoPixel LED tree described
in this article.