So you’re stuck at work this holiday season, trying to idle away the time and avoiding Facebook where everybody else is posting their holiday pics? Fret not! Build yourself your own little 3D printed LED Christmas tree to keep you company. It’s a simple and fun project!

Parts List

At the very least you need the following:

  • 3D Printed pieces |Design files can be found here
  • Cheap battery powered Christmas lights | Get the shortest you can find, you only need 16 LEDs on the string. Make sure that they are 5 millimetre LEDs.
  • Batteries | Size depends on which Christmas lights you got. Mine used 2 AA batteries.
  • 5 millimetre drill bit (optional)
  • Drill (optional)
  • Superglue (optional)

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3D Printing

The 3D printed parts required for our Christmas tree are very basic and easy to print. I turned on support for the stand in my slicer, but this might not be required.

Don’t have your own 3D printer? Why not visit a makerspace in your area such as BinarySpace , House 4 Hack, Makerstation or The Makerspace Durban.

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The finished prints.

Assembly

Once you have your 3D printed parts and your Christmas lights, it’s time to put it together. Be sure to test your LEDs before starting assembly.

Before you start inserting the LEDs into the tree, be sure to pull the Christmas lights through the hole in the stand first.

Starting at the top; insert each LED into each hole on the tree. Depending on your printer settings the LED might fit too loosely or not fit into the hole at all. If it doesn’t fit, carefully use a 5 millimetre drill bit and open the hole up a bit. If it’s too lose then use some superglue to hold it in place. I superglued all mine in there to keep it in place.

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Once you have all the LEDs in there, turn them on again and test them. When you’re happy that everything is working, pull the wire through the stand (you might need to desolder your wires from the battery enclosure if you forgot to thread them through first (I did …).

When you’re happy that everything works, use some superglue to stick the stand to the tree:

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Congratulations you now have your own little Christmas tree. Turn it on and stare at the glow from the pretty lights

Taking it further

Obviously you don’t need to stop there. Add a relay module and an Arduino into the mix and you can control your Christmas tree from your computer. Or add a light sensor to turn on the tree when it gets dark.

I turned mine into an Internet connected tree that toggles the LED every time someone tweets a tweet with a certain hashtag.

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Tom Van den Bon is the co-founder of BinarySpace and an avid maker. His previous project was Pointr; a smart street sign he helped create for a two-day hackathon.


 

Do you have a maker project you want to show off? Email Clinton Matos at clinton [AT] htxt [DOT] co [DOT] za and have your work featured on the site!