Tag Archives: Christmas tree

Only a true Maker has a Christmas tree like this

Zach Burhop’s Trinket-powered piece is complete with 3D-printed ornaments and a custom LED star.

Two years later and Zach Burhop’s Christmas tree is still spreading some holiday cheer. Back in 2013, the industrial designer by day and Maker by night may have built one of the most geeked-out decorations of all-time. And with December 25th quickly approaching, we figured what better time to reminisce about the amazing tinyAVR-powered piece — complete with 3D-printed ornaments and a custom LED star.


“I was very disappointed in what you can buy — mostly just classical decorations. I saw the ornaments and had started playing around with the LEDs and thought this would be an awesome mashup,” Burhop explained.

In terms of electronics, the engineer (who happens to be a huge Adafruit fan) had some NeoPixels and Trinkets (ATtiny85) lying around. A two-meter LED strip was driven by the tiny MCU, and ran through the center of the tree, fading out through the branches. Another Trinket was tasked with controlling the 3D-printed tree topper’s animations. He also picked up an AC brick at a local thrift store, which handled all of the necessary power requirements for the 120 or so lights.


What’s more, you’ll notice that Burhop selected a white tree, which proved to be the ideal backdrop for the flickering, addressable RGBs and colorful DIY ornaments. Trust us, you’ve got to see it in action.


Controlling a Christmas tree with tweets

In just 140 characters or less, anyone with a Twitter account can illuminate the lights on this interactive Christmas tree, developed by New Jersey-based Oxford Communications.


Simply tweeting any of a pre-defined set of hashtags to the aptly dubbed @Oxmas_Tree will not only activate 1,000 LED lights on the nine-foot installation, but will turn on both its star topper and accompanying menorah. For instance, using the hashtag #snow will trigger a white light, #comfort red, #wish blue, and #joy green. Looking for an extra tree-t? Tweeting #secret will provoke a special light embedded inside a reindeer ornament, while #brilliant will enable all of its features at once.


In an effort to spur even more engagement, the team has been unveiling a new hashtag each day, which is configured to control additional portions of the tree. Each of the 1,000 lights are strung around on the installation and are connected to an [Atmel based] Arduino housed inside a wooden box at its base. The Arduino communicates to the web through CAT 5, and pulls responses based on what users are saying on Twitter. A customized code then transforms these tweets and hashtags into electronic impulses, which emit each of the respective lights on the tree.

Watch it in action below!