14 December, 2012

Geeky LED Christmas Tree Ornament

I've been feeling a little 'Christmassy' lately and I decided to build myself a geeky Christmas decoration.

The idea is to build a wooden Christmas tree that has little blinking LEDs to represent a string of lights.

To this end I set about researching a suitable circuit which I redesigned to make it absolutely minimal in terms of complexity. The wonderful tool I used to do this is Fritzing. Think of Fritzing as a CAD package for circuits. It's free and it's great, I cannot recommend it enough.

So here is the Fritzing sketch of my circuit

Fritzing is just superb!
Designing it first in Fritzing helps you get your head around the design. So then I buit the circuit on a prototype board.

Sorry for the nasty mobile phone camera photo! :-/
My prototype board is a little small for this project, so I only wired three LEDs and not the ten that will be part of the actual circuit.

Next I cut the tree from 18mm MDF freehand on my bandsaw, painted it and glued it to a simple stand. You can see it here beside the prototype circuit for scale.

Feels like Christmas already!
With the prototype circuit copied onto a more permanent stripboard version of the circuit, I drilled some holes in the tree and threaded through the LEDs.

The LEDs 'twinkle' like little Christmas tree lights. Ho-ho-ho! Just in time for Santa Claus!