Make any Christmas Tree Fabulous

We’ve all been there. It’s Christmas time, and there’s a push to be “festive”. Get into the Christmas Spirit with this handy tutorial. (note: You should only ever mix Isopropyl Alcohol and electronics. You should never mix Isopropyl Alcohol and Coke. Iso is *not* a suitable vodka alternative.)

First, start with a £5 Christmas Tree from B&Q (Other stores are available, and cheaper trees are also available). As you can imagine, a £5 tree alone looks quite sad for itself. No need to panic – we’re going to make that sad looking thing and absolute bad boy! to get things going, you will need the following items:

  • Arduino Uno (Get one from Amazon)
  • Arduino Power Supply (Get one from Amazon)
  • RGB LED string (Get a string of 50 from Amazon)
  • Mini Baubles (Get a pack of 24 from Amazon)
  • Clear Acrylic Unicorns (I got mine from B&M)
  • Thin tinsel (Get some from Amazon)

Wrap the tinsel around the RGB LED wires to make them a bit more festive. Now, wrap the LED string around your tree.

Now place your decorations on the tree. Note: If you use unicorns, they are very much the Diva of Christmas decorations! They come with very specific lighting requirements. Each unicorn will require two RGB LED’s pointed towards them. Failure to do this will cause great upset.

Now you’ve dressed the tree, it’s time to hook it up to your Arduino.

  1. Connect the RED wire to the +5v port on the Uno.
  2. Connect the BLUE wire to the GND port on the Uno.
  3. Connect the GREEN wire to the Clock port (4 if you use the example sketch)
  4. Connect the WHITE wire to the Data port (5 if you use the example sketch)

Download the Arduino IDE (available from the Arduino website), then download the Adafruit WS2801 example library from GitHub. This should be unzipped into the Documents/Arduino/Libraries folder on your computer.

Now, connect your Arduino to your computer using the supplied USB cable and load up the Arduino IDE.

  1. From the File menu, choose Arduino, Examples, Adafruit WS2801 Library, strandtest.
  2. Change the Data and Clock pins (dataPin = 5, clockPin = 4)
  3. From the Tools menu, change the Board to Arduino / Genuino Uno
  4. From the Tools menu, change the Port to the discovered Arduino Uno
  5. Fromthe Sketch menu, select Upload

Once the sketch has uploaded, your RGB LED’s should start displaying a series of patterns. If not, try switching the Data and Clock connections around. Some strands seem to use different colours for these pins.

Once it’s running, you can disconnect the USB cable, and power the Arduino from the seperate power supply.

Merry Christmas, from Two Up IT!

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