■ PHOTO 2.
■ PHOTO 3.
at the article link shown here.
With the second version of the hardware
and software, the user can control morning
and evening timers, and program the running
sequence and speed of the routines. In
addition to these programming features, the
user can also test the different strings on the
tree, as well as the colors. As seen in Photo 2,
the Spectrum-ACE 2a, interface board, LCD,
and keypad all plug together very easily, and
then can go into whatever box the user wants.
The last sub-assembly for the tree is a junction
board for plugging in the 16 plugs from the 16
strings of LEDs. For the first prototype, this
board was handwired, but a quick-turn PCB
was much nicer for the finished project.
BUILDING THE TREE
Construction is pretty simple, but it does
take some time. I built a simple jig from a
piece of 12” x 12” perforated board for making
up each string. Once I got the procedure
down, a string could be built and tested in
about 20 minutes. In Photo 3, the fixture is
shown with a string being built. Photo 4 is a
completed string. Each string is made up of a
total of 16 LEDs: four red, four green, four
yellow, and four blue. I chose to use clear LEDs
so when the tree was off, it would appear to
just be a centerpiece on the table. I used five-pin Molex connectors on the end of each
Once all the strings are built and tested,
the next step is to build the framework for the
tree. The framework was made from 1/16 inch
brass rod. The top of the tree is made from a
small round piece of PCB material with 16
small holes for the rods to go into and then be
soldered into place. (The same piece of
perforated board used for the jig is used to
build the frame of the tree.) Once the frame is
built, heat shrink tubing is put over each piece
of the brass rods to insulate the strings from
the rods. Then, with the frame built, a final
piece of brass rod is soldered completely
around the base to help support the frame.
The next step is to mount each string on
the frame. This is done with a combination of
hot glue and small zip-ties. Once the tree is
completely assembled, all that is needed is to
load the software and you are good to go.
Photo 5 shows a completed tree. The final
touch will be to add garland around it to give a
finished look. The operating tree only
consumes about three to four watts, depending
on how much current you run through the
LEDs. Once your tree is up and running, set
back and enjoy the show!