Christmas may have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still stunning light displays to check out. After all, if there is one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that the holiday season is all about lights. In the case of the “Maker” Tree created by Kurt Rooks and the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub makerspace, that’s 1,200 lights that can display video animations. In his Instructables tutorial, Rooks explains how they built this masterpiece.
The tree is really a cone constructed from two hoops with plastic strips running vertically between them. Mounted on those vertical plastic strips are 24 strands of individually-addressable WS2811 RGB LEDs. Each strand has 50 LEDs, for a total of 1,200 across the entire tree. Those LEDs are synced by three Adafruit FadeCandy LED controllers, which in turn receive animation information from a Raspberry Pi.
The Raspberry Pi has Raspbian installed, which runs a FadeCandy server. It can accept any video with a resolution of 96×50, and a Python script is used to scale that down to the 48×25 pixels that the tree actually has. A hefty 5V 60A power supply is used to power it all, and all of the components are enclosed in waterproof cases. The result is a dazzling light display for the public to enjoy, and a fun holiday project that Rooks and his makerspace got to tackle.