How It Works
The mega tree uses eight strings of WS2811 lights that run up and down a pole, forming 16 "strands" of lights in the shape of a tree/pyramid. Because each bulb on these strings can be a different color, it is possible to show animations on the tree such as squirls, moving patterns, rotating text, etc.
How To Build It
First, I dug a hole and concreted a 1" length of PVC pipe, about 1-1/2 to 2-feet deep. During Christmas, I insert a 10-foot 3/4" black pipe into this conduit. At the top of the pipe is a wooden head with eight coat hangers attached to it. I also shaped a large, round circle made from heated and bent 3/4" PVC pipe; this the base of the tree.
I then run the 50-bulb strings from the base to the top then to the base again, forming 8 triangles around the tree. This makes 16 "strands" of the tree, as each strand is 25 bulbs. I use zip ties to attach the strings to the base.
Each string runs into the tree controller box, an outdoor box called a "Dri Box" that is protects its contents from the weather. All eight strings connect to an Arduino. To keep insects from seeking the warmth of the box, I scatter some moth balls inside and spray the box's base with bug repellent.
The tree also has a traditional star at the top, simple incandescent mini-lights that run on A/C. I run its power cord to the box, getting its power from the A/C extension cable that runs into the box, too.
The power supply for the mega tree is a standard PC power supply. The WS2811 lights require 5V which is perfect for the power supply.
The mega tree is quite easy to erect and dismantle every year, being just a pole with lights hung on it! The full instructions for building this year are included on this website.