How many lights do i need for an outdoor tree


The Omni Calculator computes how many lights to put on Christmas trees.

How many lights should go on a Christmas tree?

This question gets asked so often during the holidays that everyone from retailers like Lowe’s to publications like Real Simple and Better Homes & Gardens have tried to answer it.

“A good rule of thumb is 100 lights for every foot-and-a-half of tree,” according to Lowe’s. But Better Homes & Gardens recommends using three 100-light sets for every foot of a tree’s height. And Real Simple suggests 100 lights for every foot.

Since there’s no consensus about just how many lights is right, trimming a tree can be daunting for novice decorators. It’s even given headaches to mathematicians like Troy Henderson, a professor at the University of Mobile’s College of Arts and Sciences in Alabama. Last year, he developed what he describes as a hack to perfectly light a Christmas tree. By thinking of a holiday evergreen as an inverted cone, Henderson used the mathematical concept known as the conical helix to determine the right number of lights for his tree. He explained:

“Our Christmas tree is 3½ feet wide at its base and 8 feet tall. When using 75 feet of lights, the vertical spacing between rotations is about 7 inches. This ensures that if we begin wrapping the lights in a conical helix pattern beginning at the bottom of the tree and vertically space the lights by about 7 inches between successive rotations, the strands of lights will terminate precisely at the top of the tree.”

Henderson has made his Christmas tree light-spacing formula available to the public, and Dominik Czernia and Álvaro Díez, physics doctoral candidates studying in Poland and Turkey, respectively, have expanded on the mathematician’s work. They feature their approach on a web tool called the Omni Calculator. The free calculator factors in tree lights and ornaments and provides users with step-by-step computation and visualization. To use it, you’ll need to know some basic information, such as your tree’s height and bottom diameter, the length and spacing of the light strands, and the diameter of the ornaments you plan to use.

So who’s most likely to use a Christmas tree calculator? Is it designed for the math-and-science crowd or for anyone who wants a perfectly decorated tree? I interviewed Czernia and Omni Calculator Project founder Mateusz Mucha about the tool.

The Omni Calculator can help you figure out how many lights your Christmas tree needs.Omni Calculator
Nadra Nittle

Who knew that decorating a Christmas tree even stumps physicists? What prompted you all to develop a web tool that could simplify this process for everyone?

Dominik Czernia

We had been wondering how many lights and ornaments make a Christmas tree so beautiful. To our surprise, it was impossible for us to make at least some rough estimations. With the help of Dr. Henderson’s formula, we developed our intuitive tool with visualization of your perfect tree with lights and baubles. The best thing about it is the simplicity — all you need to enter are your tree’s dimensions.

Nadra Nittle

The conical helix is the key to the calculator. Can you describe how this pattern works in more detail?

Dominik Czernia

We surely can all agree that when we look at the Christmas tree, its shape reminds us of a cone, a pyramid with a circular base. So what does the conical helix have in common with a cone? Imagine you’ve got a ribbon that you attach to the top of a cone. Then start wrapping it around the cone, moving downwards until you reach the base. The curve formed by the ribbon is a conical helix.

Nadra Nittle

Using the conical helix pattern, it’s helpful to look at a Christmas tree from the top while decorating it. Why is that?

Dominik Czernia

One of the aesthetic factors that please most people is uniformity. The best way to check it is to look at a Christmas tree from the top so you can see every single ornament on it. Do they look uniformly distributed from that point of view? Perfect! That’s what we’re aiming for. This is another unique feature of a conical helix; it gives us excellent uniformity.

Nadra Nittle

An efficiently decorated tree might even help cut down on electricity costs. That’s amazing.

Dominik Czernia

It surely could help. The larger number of lights naturally translates into higher power consumption. However, we don’t want to resign from the lights entirely; they’re one of those things which bring a magical Christmas atmosphere. What we can do, though, is plan in advance how bright our Christmas tree should be to buy light strands of appropriate length.

This allows us to avoid the situation in which the light strand is too long, and we hide it somewhere in the tree foliage or leave it trailing on the floor. But still, these redundant lights will use electricity and generate costs! A well-decorated tree has uniformly distributed lights around; thus, it looks as pretty as we wanted, and simultaneously, the length of strands is perfectly adjusted to the Christmas tree’s dimensions.

Nadra Nittle

Who’s the target audience for the Omni Calculator? Is it mostly math-and-science types, or have normies expressed interest?

Mateusz Mucha

Omni Calculator is used both by geeks and people who aren’t as confident with math, but it’s actually the latter group we think about the most. People have thousands of decisions to make that they should base on numbers. But they don’t think in terms of math formulas, don’t have the time, or just don’t feel like making this effort. And they end up making bad decisions. It’s our goal to make this process easy, fast, and kind of fun so that people are more likely to do the math.

Nadra Nittle

On the Omni Calculator site, there’s a funny gif of Monica from Friends. She turns a Christmas tree around to show off her expertly decorated side of the tree and to hide the very messy side her friends decorated. Do you think Monica would use your calculator?

Mateusz Mucha

Sure, but it’s actually Joey and Rachel who could get the most value out of it. Chandler suffers through Excel every day, so he’d be capable. Ross would somehow make the tree about dinosaurs, and Phoebe would try to save the tree and homeless squirrels instead.

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How to Wrap Trees With Outdoor Lights

By

Lisa Hallett Taylor

Lisa Hallett Taylor

Lisa Hallett Taylor is an expert in architecture and landscape design who has written more than 1,000 articles about pool, patio, garden, and home improvement over 12 years. She has a bachelor's degree in Environmental Design and is certified in fine and decorative arts appraisal.

Learn more about The Spruce's Editorial Process

Updated on 10/12/22

The Spruce / Nanor Zinzalian

In This Article

  • Tips for Hanging Tree Lights

  • Frequently Asked Questions

Project Overview

Trees decorated with light strings always look festive for the holidays, and they can be just as fun and magical any other time of the year. During warm weather, there's nothing more inviting than a comfortable outdoor space bejeweled with twinkling lights.

Lighting is suitable for most types of trees, including evergreens, deciduous trees, palm trees, and even yucca. Often, bare leafless trees provide the ideal framework for hanging lights, especially horizontal-spreading varieties. Palm tree trunks wrapped with white or red lights show off their vertical, upright forms, drawing the eye upward toward the night sky.

The best outdoor lights to use are LED lights. LEDs are not only 75 percent more energy-efficient than standard incandescent bulbs, they also last many times longer. LED lights cost quite a bit more than incandescent, but because LEDs cost less to run, they pay for themselves long before they burn out.

We Tested the Best Outdoor Solar Lights to Illuminate Your Property

For the color of the lights, warm white LEDs provide a nice, warm glow reminiscent of the incandescents that everyone loves (and with which so many traditionalists have trouble parting). Cool white offers a bluish glow, and colored lights are either multicolored or one color. White is universal and is suitable for any time of the year. Colored lights usually are best for the holidays. In any case, it looks best if you choose the same lights in each color, such as all warm or all cool whites.

Watch Now: How to Wrap Trees With Outdoor Lights

Equipment / Tools

  • Ladder
  • Outdoor-rated extension cord
  • Cardboard (optional)

Materials

  • Outdoor light strands
  • Twine or plant tape (optional)
  1. Choose the Trees for Lighting

    Select the tree or trees you would like to light up. Start with one that creates a natural focal point in your landscape. Ideally, it will also have an interesting form and elegant branches that will look especially striking when illuminated. Odd shapes of branches and limbs can become magical in the evening when electrified with twinkling lights.

    A very large tree can have a lot of "wow" factor, but the bigger (and taller) it is, the more lights it will need. What you don't want is a big tree that is sparsely lighted, so choose the right size for the amount of lights you have or are willing to buy.

    The Spruce / Nanor Zinzalian

  2. Test the Light Strands

    Test each strand of lights by plugging it in and making sure all of the lights are working. It's important to do this before hanging the lights, especially if you won't have the lights on while you work. You don't want to put up all of the lights only to discover that a strand in the middle is on the fritz.

    If desired, connect multiple light strings (after testing them) by plugging them together end-to-end. Wind the resulting long string around a flat piece of cardboard. This makes it easy to handle a long string without having to fight a tangled mess.

    The Spruce / Nanor Zinzalian

  3. Lay Out the Cord

    Extend an outdoor-rated extension cord to the base of the tree. Because the cord will be outdoors and may get wet, it must have GFCI (ground-fault circuit-interrupter) protection to protect against shock hazards. To ensure protection, plug the cord into a GFCI outlet or use a GFCI-protected outdoor cord.

    Decide where the visible base of the tree is—this is the point where the tree becomes visible from the street or from the house. In addition, tall grasses, rocks, and other landscaping features might cover or obscure the very bottom of the trunk. Walk to the curb or out to the street, and make a mental note as to where the trunk is visible. Position the cord end at this point. If desired, you can wrap the cord around the base of the tree to secure it.

    Plug the first strand of lights into the extension cord. You can plug the cord into the outlet, if desired, or wait until you're finished.

    The Spruce / Nanor Zinzalian

    Use the Right Extension Cord Gauge for the Job

  4. Wind Up the Trunk

    Begin wrapping the lights around the tree's trunk, moving upward with each winding. To ensure even spacing, check the distance between windings with your hand.  Use about four fingers to get consistent spacing between each wrap around the tree trunk. Aim for uniform spacing to make the finished project look its best.

    The Spruce / Nanor Zinzalian

  5. Run Up and Down the Limbs

    Wrap the lights up each limb or large branch, making sure you have several extra feet of string. Space the wraps about two hands (eight fingers) apart. When you reach the end of the limb, reverse direction and wind the string back down, winding between the upward wraps so that the resulting spacing is one hand width.

    The Spruce / Nanor Zinzalian

  6. Use a Ladder

    Use a ladder to reach high areas. Never climb a tree to hang lights. You can use a freestanding stepladder for relatively low heights, but for higher areas, use an extension ladder. Always follow standard ladder safety procedures, making sure the ladder is evenly supported at the top and bottom and that it angles at about 75 degrees (15 degrees from vertical). If you need to climb more than about 6 feet high, have a helper hold the base of the ladder and to "spot" the lighting from the ground while you're up on the ladder.

    The Spruce / Nanor Zinzalian

  7. Secure the String

    Secure the end of the light string, as needed, to complete the installation. You can simply tuck the end into a crook of branches to keep it from coming loose, or you can tie the string to the tree with a piece of natural twine or planting tape. Don't use metal wire, which could create a shock or fire hazard if the metal cuts through the light's wire insulation. You can also use a plastic zip tie, as long as you remember to cut it off before long. A strong zip tie could girdle the tree and cause damage if it's not removed.

    The Spruce / Nanor Zinzalian

When determining how many lights or strands of lights to use, don't follow the old saying, "A little goes a long way." It just doesn't apply in this case. Depending on the circumference of the trunk, each wrap can easily use up 20 or 30 lights. And a tree that is wrapped only partway up its trunk simply does not look festive or complete. Plan and budget for lights accordingly. You can always start small and add more lights each year.

Do it yourself. City Christmas tree / Habr

Strange as it sounds, but:
Prepare a Christmas tree in the summer ... something like this you can remake a well-known saying.

Using the example of creating illumination for a rotating Christmas tree, I will show that it is not difficult, and after reading the article, any electronics engineer will be able to blink a large or small Christmas tree in his city, as well as make a beautiful New Year's ball. The article presents the stages of implementation of several New Year's projects, schemes and programs for the operation of devices, tells about various pitfalls. Any scale - from space to a point.
I hope that the article will help novice electronic engineers not to be afraid, take into account the accumulated experience and create their own interesting lighting solutions that people will like.

Motherland, Happy New Year!

It all started a long time ago, when there were real fir trees, and incandescent lamps.
According to tradition, every new year the main New Year tree is set up in the cities.
If it is easy to cope with a small spruce in an apartment, then it is difficult, troublesome and expensive to deal with huge spruces in the squares.
Wealthier cities use heavy equipment and police escorts to deliver a big, fluffy tree from any forest, or organize a Christmas tree to fly through the air using a helicopter.

But one day a crisis and a transitional moment came - there is no way without a Christmas tree, but there is not enough money.
In addition to financial reasons, there were other reasons:
- "concern" about the environment;
- it is not easy to find a fluffy beauty in the nearest district;
- it is difficult to ensure transportation to the city center without damage;
- problems in the ideal fixing of illumination;
- uneven transparency and distortion when displaying lighting effects.

Living spruces began to disappear from the New Year's squares and tree substitutes appeared, which, logically, should reduce the price of the New Year's holiday, but it is very difficult to believe that this is so.

Lyrical digression - Christmas tree in childhood.
Decorating a Christmas tree with illumination has been instilled in me since childhood. My father flew as a flight radio operator in a helicopter, and always made a beautiful New Year's holiday in the distant 60-70s. Garlands were assembled from 26 or 13.5 volt light bulbs, insulated with a PVC tube, the balloon was covered with several layers of zaponlak. Flasher on the RES-22 relay, if memory serves. That sound of clicking contacts will forever be remembered. The highest chic is the production of a rotating Christmas tree with illumination. Aircraft electric motor with gearbox, carbon brushes. And it was the same as a child.

The spiral has made another turn, and it's time for me to take care of the Christmas trees.
On one of the New Year holidays, there was a transitional moment between real spruce and a substitute. They brought a Christmas tree from the forest, in which almost all the lower branches were broken. After installation, it became clear that something terrible had happened. But the craftsmen found a way out: they attached pipe sections to the trunk, and small Christmas trees or branches were inserted into them.
The next year, the whole tree was already hedgehog-like: a dead trunk - a pipe with tubes welded along the length, into which small live spruces were inserted to form a crown.

A more advanced modern ersatz Christmas tree is a frame covered with spruce branches, on which various light-dynamic emitters are placed.
Depending on the wealth of the city, the structures differ in size and type of installed lighting. Prototype competitions can be seen on the search engine “pictures of a Christmas tree in the square”.

I suppose that the further evolution of city Christmas trees will lead to the fact that only a blinking cone will remain from the former greatness, for which there will no longer be a need to make large and heavy structures. The cone can be formed with inclined laser beams, and with the help of projectors and a small artificial fog, any fantasy can be projected onto it. Already in the era of the last real Christmas trees, the idea appeared to leave the Christmas tree as it is, and mount the illumination on cables and stretch marks that form a cone around the spruce. Using this technology, any pole can already be turned into the center of a holiday by dropping several cables from the top point in a circle and covering them with fabric. To project the light from the lamps onto the matter from the outside or from the inside. If pipes or a slender house are used instead of a pole, then cables with lamps are enough.
In principle, the idea materialized in a different form - the project "Magic Ball" with a diameter of 3 meters. In it, the Christmas tree is the central element, and the circle is filled with multi-colored light bulbs, symbolizing that the whole Earth revolves and revolves around the Christmas tree on New Year's Eve.

The structure is installed on the roof of the building, and every year it flashes its lights. Automation "Magic ball" is a clone of one of the blocks of the central tree of the city. The magic ball can be easily repeated: the program of work and the effects embedded in it.
All photos - both of the ball and everything related to the New Year's project, are in the album “Zelenodolsk. City Christmas Tree 2006”. The ball project can be used in different designs - but this is not the ball that was mentioned at the beginning of the article, it will be later. Only use lamps with a bulb painted inside, they give a beautiful rich color. Tsaponlak in our time no longer rolls. Particularly impressive on this ball are the overflows of colors that resemble an iridescent gem. In this case, the transparency of the design was beneficial.

Several times they were involved in the creation of New Year's flashing lights on city trees, at first small and real, where one block is enough, and then . ..
As is customary with the city administration, they start searching for a person or company that will ensure the blinking of the installed light bulbs in the last days of November or even in early December. Delivery of the object is usually from 15 to 25 December. Therefore, if there are no developments, then it is almost impossible to have time to do something, if these are not ready-made purchased blocks.
This time, a very interesting and grandiose task was received. Almost the same as what my father did in my childhood, only many times higher and more powerful. There is no time for reflection: on December 1, the task was received, on December 25 everything needs to be launched. Therefore, a day was spent on a preliminary sketch and calculation of costs, on December 2 they shook hands and a New Year's nightmare began to spin ...
Thoughts that haunted until the very launch of the Christmas tree: if I have time - I don’t have time, it will work - it won’t work, how will all this work at such huge powers and in conditions of strong interference, will the effects be beautiful?
Now you already understand that even spaceships sometimes fall, but then throughout the whole work there was a huge responsibility and experience for the result of the work. I had no idea what would happen if any unit failed.

The architect of this Christmas tree was an interesting person and came up with a design that allows you to create many beautiful effects using a variety of lighting fixtures. In addition, all lamps were real incandescent lamps, which gave a beautiful, bright and warm light in the literal and figurative sense. Not like modern LED Christmas trees that shine beautifully, but it’s dark under them.
The total power of lighting fixtures that need to be automated on the Christmas tree and the square was approaching 70 kilowatts. Never had to work with such power.
Structurally, the Christmas tree was a structure with an initial height of 24 or 27 meters - several tiers of 3 meters each. But due to various problems in the manufacture, transportation and installation, the number of tiers decreased, and finally the height became 21 meters. Five tiers (the top one is slightly higher than the rest), a 2-meter crown and top bulbs, as well as 3 meters of elevation above the ground. But even with a shortened design, there were often problems finding a lift to service the upper tiers. I can imagine how difficult the installation of Christmas trees in 2013 in Kazan - 41 meters or in Yekaterinburg - 46 meters, but they were motionless.
The main feature of our Christmas tree is that it rotated !
To do this, the axis of the Christmas tree is installed on a mechanism that sets the multi-ton structure in motion.
The drive was located in the dungeon, where the company was a goat-type heater, it was always dry and warm with it.

The rotating tree was powered by a pair of current leads located on both sides of the copper bus. From the bus, the three-phase voltage rose to the first tier, where there was an input shield and three automation units that controlled the lighting fixtures on the Christmas tree.

A bearing was mounted in the upper part of the tree axle, the outer race of which was fixed with cables and held the structure in a vertical position. Above the bearing, the axis of rotation continued and a top in the form of a hedgehog from numerous light bulbs was installed on it. Judging by the fact that the lamps of the ball were blinking, the axis in the upper part is made of a pipe.

Structurally, 8 ribs and gutters are made along the entire height of the Christmas tree. Powerful searchlights were placed at the bottom of each gutter, which “pierced” it almost to the top of its head. The gutters pasted over with a mirror film were also illuminated by directional mirror lamps.

Four-channel running lights lamps from pre-assembled blanks are mounted on each rib.

Huge colored stars with internal illumination are scattered all over the height of the spruce. Some of them were two-tiered and, accordingly, two-channel, where a small illuminated star was located on top of the same illuminated large star.

In addition, on the square, around the spruce, free-standing metal structures about five meters high were installed - pillars with pipes bent at the top, in the common people - palm trees. The crown of each palm tree was connected to the crown of the main spruce by a three-channel cable with lamps, the same cable through all the crowns encircled the perimeter of the square. We called all these lamps among themselves rays. There should have been 12 tall palm trees around the main spruce, but some of them were not installed, and the pediment of the house of culture was used instead.
This is how the upper part of the palm tree looks like

There were no drawings on lighting engineering. To understand the scale of automation and understand how many light sources are installed, I had to draw the location of all lighting equipment in my favorite CorelDraw:
- Christmas tree, side and top view;
- rays on the square.
Verbal descriptions are always difficult, so I drew everything that could be useful for understanding the work. I tried to maintain the project documentation in the proper form, but it is difficult to keep track of all the changes, so something may differ slightly from what was actually installed.

The main Christmas tree is a huge work of many people. The final result depends on the contribution of each person, and a hitch at any stage can lead to sad consequences.
Everyone works on the Christmas tree - administration workers, architects, artists, schoolchildren. Numerous creative teams are preparing, since the Christmas tree is also an occasion to gather for a festive concert, where there is often a real fireworks display. For the good cause of celebrating the New Year, large working groups are involved, usually free of charge, that is, for nothing.
The master plans for the constructions on the square were held by the developers of the holiday - the main city architects and artists. They always knew what and where to put, so that it was beautiful and according to Feng Shui.

The designer of the frame of the main Christmas tree and lighting equipment was a visiting architect. According to rumors, every year he launched a new version of the Christmas tree design in his city and now he got to us.
I got the creation of control blocks for all this power - the development of electrical circuits, the purchase of components, the assembly of blocks and their installation at the facility, writing the script and programming microcontrollers. Now, seeing such a volume of work, I would not agree for any gingerbread, but then ... Looking ahead, I will say that the developer of the Christmas tree was satisfied with the result, and even presented a book of his poems with a dedicatory inscription. Apparently, he was talented in many areas, as he often talked about medicine, pyramids in the country and a lot of interesting things from different areas.

The frame of the Christmas tree was made at a large factory that produces ships. They did it so well that the multi-ton structure could be rotated by hand, walking around the stage and holding on to the lower tier ...
Electricity: lamps and wires, calculated, purchased and installed the city electrical network. If now the enterprise has been divided into several independent organizations, where it is difficult to understand who is responsible for what, then everything was in the hands of one director, which is very convenient. These are people with excellent knowledge and experience, as well as specialized high-altitude equipment. I had to work especially closely with one very competent engineer at the stage of calculations, load distribution and installation.
Figures for the Christmas tree were made at an art school. Even the chief artist of the city was wielding scissors with might and main, making another masterpiece from reflective paper.
Someone was assembling the stage, the road builders brought mountains of snow for the ice slides, firefighters were running around with hoses - they were rehearsing actions in emergency situations. There was enough work for everyone.
Lighting equipment from duralight on the MAF - small architectural forms (then I heard this term for the first time) was mounted by emerging advertising companies.

Development of electrical circuit.
On the main Christmas tree, in order to evenly distribute power over the three phases of the supply voltage and eliminate phase imbalance, I decided to make three blocks (one for each phase) with 32 control channels (96 channels in total). It was necessary not to make a mistake with the correct definition of the number of channels, since the customer's violent fantasies went off scale and constantly changed.
Wiring diagram for connecting blocks and channel distribution of the main tree.

Chose a PIC18F452 controller in a DIP package that was mounted on a socket. There was no laptop then, and how to work with it in the cold? Spare controllers help, which, in case of an error, allow you to return the working version to its place.
The power element is a triac. If in previous designs I used TS122-25-12, then for a huge number of channels something more modern was required. I used BTB24-800BW with MOC3023 optocoupler control. The controller does not draw such a number of optocouplers, so I had to add the ULN2803A. Two controller outputs are used for the communication line with the master controller, one for the phase start clock signal for phase brightness control. There are no two outputs for quartz, so I used an external SG531PC generator. Channel switches and at the same time short circuit protection are S231 circuit breakers for a current of 10 amperes. The input machine had a rating of 63 amperes. Even with speed class C, the automata saved the triacs from damage several times during startup after mounting the garlands - a huge number of connections when connecting lamps are difficult to make without errors. The result was a simple electrical circuit and a simple one-sided printed circuit board. The advantages of developing and writing programs by one person - you set the signet the way you want.

In addition to the Christmas tree, there were 12 more blocks to control the beams and contour on the square. Each block has three channels, for a total of 36 channels.
I drew an electrical diagram, a printed circuit board describing the principle of adjustment and a wiring diagram for connection.
When the power is connected, these 12 blocks on the poles are also “scattered” over the three phases.

Procurement of components.
Before buying, you should always think: what and how much to take. It is impossible to make a mistake both in type and in quantity, any oversight, in addition to monetary losses, can lead to fatal consequences - there is no time for correction.
I don’t know how it is now, but earlier, in the new year, something unimaginable was happening on the lighting and flashing lights market, so anyone who wants to have time to do everything needs to start work in the summer.
In those years, I had to visit the nearest city to buy radio elements, and more than once - order / pay, then pick it up. Running takes a lot of precious time.
Now, with the purchase of radio components, it has become much easier and more convenient: ordering via the Internet is brought directly to your home or to the nearest post office. Therefore, before buying, it is necessary to draw up a clear and final list of parts with the possibility of replacement with analogues and a small stock of key elements.
Another of the problems of a radio amateur is the case. Many do it on their own, but it is not always possible to achieve a decent look. Therefore, I decided not to save on the body and ordered industrial boxes for the Christmas tree: RH552 cabinets with IP65 protection, in which all the equipment is comfortably located. The box was gorgeous, it had a thick plate for mounting, which, after a little refinement (insulation with ceramic bushings from the case), served as a radiator for the triacs.
I developed the printed circuit board before purchasing the case and planned to place the triacs around the board. But in boxing it was not possible to do this and the triacs had to be placed away from the board. A simple plywood fixture helped to install the wires inside the block, making the bundles twin brothers.

Delivery of triacs was on the verge of all admissible terms, but I was lucky that year.

Scenario and program.
In addition to hardware, the main part of the work in microcontroller devices is occupied by writing programs that actually “revive” this hardware. And the program needs a scenario for the operation of the equipment, or, in our opinion, an operation algorithm.
Before starting work, I assumed that I would go to the developer of the Christmas tree, he would write what and when should be turned on, I would transfer this to the microcontroller, and then it was a matter of technology. For this conversation, he drew the layout of lighting equipment.
But everything turned out to be worse ...
Attempts to ask and understand the control algorithm led to the fact that only one thing became clear - writing the script was given into my hands. At first I did not fully understand this point. There was even a balancing act on the verge of breaking up relations, but short time frames and responsibility reconciled the parties.
I had to become a screenwriter-programmer for a while.
Writing a script is extra time, fantasies and sometimes mistakes in choosing effects. You can spend a lot of time writing a complex effect, but it looks so-so. It is difficult to foresee this on the layout, everything is revealed only on the Christmas tree, which is not yet ready. And it will be ready on the day when it is necessary to hand over the work.
As a result, I threw all sorts of fantasies, based on such thoughts:
- the Christmas tree was an impressive rotating structure, and the effects should be smooth, solemn, without sharp jerks;
- the Christmas tree rotated, so the duration of each effect must be chosen so that viewers located at any point can see the effect in full;
- the design is opaque, and the viewer is at one point, so you can duplicate the effects on the other half of the Christmas tree;
- show all the variety of existing lighting equipment and demonstrate the effects that highlight emitters in a favorable light;
- it is desirable that a large number of elements be turned on at the same time, since light light causes positive emotions;
- use alternating speed of change of effects and direction of movement;
- effects should be understandable and not leave the audience indifferent.

Sometimes it got to the point that the developer, realizing that the deadlines were really very short, said: "Make it so that only something blinks at all."
But the possibilities of lighting technology are very diverse, so I wanted to squeeze the maximum possible. There was a dangerous game between "getting anything done at all" and "getting pretty effects." There was not enough time to write the program, but we managed to make not only a simple lamp switching, but also the effects of a smooth change in brightness, as well as color flow.
I will note the moment of turning on the Christmas tree. To increase the service life of the lamps and prevent their failure in frost, the filament was smoothly heated when power was applied, which is not done even in most indoor lamps. The trouble-free operation of the lamps showed the correctness of such a decision, and now the first effect is always a smooth increase in brightness.

While the components were missing, it was necessary to debug the program first on a three-channel layout,

and only then on a large Christmas tree simulator, which was a set of lamps with a power of 40 W, with enough to fully load all the channels of one of the three blocks.

Lamps were a source of bunnies, light and heat. It is impossible to leave them on for a long time, and as soon as the smell of burnt cardboard appeared, turn it off and write a program. To reduce the impact of pulsed light on the eyes, a sheet of paper had to be used, covering the lamps with it. But all the same, debugging strongly sits down eyesight.
It is difficult to use a lower lamp power, since there is a parameter - the triac holding current.
When writing programs, the problem of overheating of the voltage stabilizer at 5 volts was revealed (it was installed without a radiator). It was possible to solve it by a sharp decrease in the current consumed, giving out voltage to the control optocouplers not constantly, but only for a moment, sufficient to turn on the triac.
First, the program was written for one block, then for the second and third. The idea of ​​​​what a simulator lamp looks like on a real Christmas tree develops a rich imagination.
The day began at five or six in the morning and ended with the appearance of galleys in the eyes, when the bunnies no longer disappeared after the unit was turned off. So that squirrels do not appear along with the bunnies, he went to bed.

Taste and color…
It's hard to predict which effects will look good and appeal to the majority of viewers, and which won't.
Various overflows looked beautiful: inside the bunk stars and between different elements.
Flickering is interesting - when all channels flash for a fraction of a second at random. For the “randomness” task, I wrote the number of each channel on a piece of paper, threw it into a hat, stirred it, and pulled it out in turn, writing down the order in the work program.
People liked the “starfall” - the stars rush down with acceleration, and when they fall, the spotlights at the bottom of the Christmas tree flash and the lighting of the gutters turns on, simulating an explosion.
There was also a reverse effect called "fireworks". The stars flew up, the ball flashed, simulating an explosion, and then the flickering began, reminiscent of fireworks. Unfortunately, it was not possible to catch the moment when there was a real fireworks display with twinkling and the “fireworks” effect on the square in front of the Christmas tree.
Also interesting was the breathing of the Christmas tree, when the brightness gradually increases and then decreases, increasing the rate of increase / decrease with each period.
And of course, the classic, running lights, but complemented by overflow, when the light smoothly “streams” through its channel.

Assembly.
There was more than work on making blocks and writing programs, so he rarely appeared on the Christmas tree. I came to the installation, and there they changed something in the lighting structures, and they didn’t tell me. Naturally, all script work loses its meaning. To a fair remark to the city architect - why didn’t they say? A dissatisfied answer followed - we are mounting here in the cold all day long, and you are sitting there in the warmth!

In an artificial city tree, automation is installed inside in order to reduce the length of the conductors. Therefore, often the favorite question on the phone: “Where are you?” I had to answer: "In the Christmas tree." This is how the panorama of the insides of the first tier looks like.

Electrical installation in the cold, that's another story. Usually they wait for the weakening of frosts, then this will not work here. The Christmas tree should have been burning yesterday, but the frost is not weakening. If you can install a spotlight inside the spruce that both shines and warms (garland assemblers always warmed their hands and electrical tape on it), then there is nothing on the poles with rays. The catalytic heating pad saves. I still have left from the service, and I always regretted that I didn’t buy two then - so that in each mitten. When connecting numerous wires from garlands to the blocks, a special stripping helped to expose the ends of the wires. Electricians did not have this in their arsenal, but I bought it for installation work - it saves a lot of time and nerves.
I gave it to installers - in the cold it is an excellent help instead of a knife and wire cutters, you can work without taking off your gloves.
Since the board with the controller is built into the top of the box, when you open it, it is not visible and everyone asked, what controls the lamps? Only automatic protection devices were visible, occupying almost the entire building.

Even the chief designer of the Christmas tree was surprised. So far, he has launched many different designs, but he has never seen such a compact unit with such capabilities. He said that huge control cabinets were installed on previous Christmas trees (apparently, these are simple garland switches with relays or starters, as he admired the effects of a smooth change in brightness and color flow). For me, these blocks seemed huge after numerous rearrangements and editing.
Probably, here lies one of the answers to the question - why was the order so late? Making a simple garland switch is really easier and faster.

Christmas tree inside.
Each tier of the Christmas tree has a wooden floor with a hatch through which you can travel almost to the top of the head.
Unfortunately, due to lack of time, it was not possible to go upstairs, but the first tier is a permanent habitat for the installation and debugging of the program.
On the first tier, you can clearly see the gutters.

Ribs covered with spruce branches

Ladder leading up

And of course three control boxes entangled with numerous cables. Judging by the width of the block, which was 500 mm, the spruce trunk at the base was made of pipe DN 325.

Launch.
The pre-launch went according to plan. Some lamps did not work due to defects in the sockets and connections. Sometimes, when screwing in, they confused the order of the colors of the lamps, which is immediately noticeable with various effects - the albino always stands out. The shortcomings were quickly eliminated with the help of a lift.
There were no comments on the operation of the automation units on the Christmas tree, however, I managed to do some magic with the effects.
And here comes New Year's Eve. Citizens gathered in the square around the Christmas tree. All participants of the work also arrived at the solemn event. The most crucial moment is coming.
The mayor's speech, the command to turn on ... Everything is fine - spinning, flashing! A great weight off one's mind. The participants sighed with joy and went home to finally relax and celebrate a magical holiday.

Disadvantages, where without them.
Among the shortcomings of the design of the Christmas tree and flashing lights, the following can be noted.
- Drive belts for rotation were non-separable and were laid before the installation of the Christmas tree. They were still tearing up. There was a small margin, but after another belt broke, they tried not to twist the Christmas tree and many people did not even know that it was rotating. The drive belt can also be broken by turning the tree by hand on the lower tier. To prevent this from happening, and for many other reasons, there was always an uncle (then) a policeman nearby. In the future, it is necessary to make the drive collapsible and chain.
- No need to chase the number of effects - just do a little, but so that they are AH!
- There was no synchronization between the garlands on the Christmas tree and the rays on the square. The result is a mix of effects. In my opinion, it's better to just turn on the rays on the square, and do the effects on the Christmas tree. But the customer wanted everything to flash around. Moreover, in the process of work, several big stars migrated from the Christmas tree to the facade of the nearest building, and some people from the administration had the idea to connect them to the management, to which they had to answer quietly and briefly - ENOUGH! As a result, the stars just burned. In the future, for synchronization, you can use the radio channel, as the controller on the Christmas tree rotates.
- Sudden change in light emitting elements and their number. If the Christmas tree somehow managed to correct the program of work, then the news that more than half of the 12 planned beams will not be installed on the square came as a shock to me. Few people were convinced by the arguments that at the same time everything collapses in the lighting design. The result was what happened, there was no way to fix it.

Video about the work of the Christmas tree was not very high quality (it was a long time ago, night, frost, dynamic mode), it is not focused enough and does not convey the color saturation, but you can get a general idea of ​​the work done. In reality, everything looked much cooler and more majestic.
At the time of filming, the rotation of the Christmas tree is disabled - the problem of the belts.
I already wrote about the sudden disappearance of many rays surrounding the Christmas tree, therefore, when watching a video, it’s better not to pay attention to the rays at all, since the program was conceived to work in full force, but the result was torn and torn fragments that spoil the overall impression of the work.
Look at the Christmas tree and the effects (by the way, now I would remove some of them). In general terms, the effects are described here.

An unexpected end.
As always, after such a holiday, a lot of ideas for improving work, new effects, and circuitry appear. But ... the lack of payment from the city administration made further cooperation useless.
So people imperceptibly become sponsors and begin to engage in city charity. Maybe even put on the list of honorary citizens?
Officials justify their bad deed by the fact that there is no written contract. But at that time there was simply no time to deal with a contract: either a contract or work, so I believed the words of people in high positions. The words of the officials turned out to be zilch. In fact, the reason lies, most likely, in something else. Breaking off relations with the previous contractor, the customer, represented by the administration, has the jackpot from the next order. There was no rollback option on my end, and they had to look for other performers. According to rumors, the next year the cost of illuminating the Christmas tree was huge. And although many elements were replaced (including control units), the illumination, according to people, looked primitive.
And in memory of those events, there was a book of poems by the designer of the Christmas tree.

Conclusions.
In order for the work to be done with high quality, and the result to please everyone, preparations for the New Year on city Christmas trees must begin in the summer, and even better - after the New Year.
A huge number of people and equipment work on the Christmas tree. To organize their effective work, it is necessary to have a clear work plan and strict adherence to all deadlines.
When working, there are many problems, inconsistencies, changes, which are sometimes not even reported. For their prompt solution, it is necessary to have a list of those responsible for each area of ​​work and notify them in a timely manner of any changes.
Before agreeing to the execution of an order, be sure to calculate the entire scope of work in order to understand whether it is realistic to complete it within the allotted time? Health is more expensive.
Despite the prestige and interest of any work, it should begin after the signing of the contract. This is especially true of the city administration, whose employees "ate the dog" on the deception of the performers. It was these actions that formed their good financial situation on the one hand, but low trust and negative attitude of the residents on the other.
When working on a Christmas tree, be sure to follow safety precautions and installation rules, otherwise, it will turn out like in Aktau, Karaganda, Bishkek or Sakhalin.

Continued work.
For a long time he abandoned flashing lights, but in recent years he slowly continued to introduce ideas, although it is believed that flashing lights are the initial stage in the development of an electronics engineer. For programmers - “Hello, word”, for electronics engineers - “blink an LED”.
Back in the era of city Christmas trees, he came up with different lighting solutions. For example, a ball that changes its color. Inside the white matte ball are three multi-colored lamps, which are controlled by a microcontroller.
I did it, it works well - those who wish can repeat the design: a circuit and a printed circuit board, effects, a program of work. Such balls: many small ones or several large ones, you can hang on the Christmas tree, and this will be quite a sufficient decoration. The ball can be put on the New Year's table.
I didn’t record a video of the ball’s operation in those years, but now the emitters are outside and the video looks like this.

This design option can be used to illuminate the windows of office buildings at night, which are covered with white blinds and act as a screen. Looks spectacular.
Currently, similar LED lamps have been released (all the filling is hidden in the base) and lamps controlled up to the Internet, but large balls are easier to make yourself. Instead of lamps in a ball, you can use an RGB LED strip.

On the subject of “flashing LED” you can make a lot of interesting designs, everything is limited only by imagination.
For example, my first article on Habré is “Time Lamp” (also a New Year’s design), where you can show the time within the city by blinking the LED. Just in this watch, an RGB LED strip is used. The continuation of the work was a miniature desktop version - "Cube" and projects on a space scale, where the lamp can be placed on the Moon (the most long-range clock),

a spaceship, or in the form of a searchlight, which is visible tens of kilometers from the city.

You can make an original wrist watch that shows the time with a dot. It will be the smallest dot clock in the world, as nothing less can be done.

The Christmas tree came up with the idea to flash a star or the top of its head when a call comes from a cell phone. Then the audience (children, of course) would be able to participate in the blinking process themselves.
In the future, this idea turned into a yet unrealized, but already tested project “Light your star”, where the blinking of an LED can be used to make money on a planetary scale. Some university may well take up this project and launch its controlled supernova into space.

As for city Christmas trees, I like a small, but real Christmas tree, decorated with simple toys and simple garlands - just like in childhood. The main thing is that it should be the center of a memorable holiday, where you can relax and have fun with the whole family.

foam flex toys, large plastic balls, tops for high-rise Christmas trees

A majestic artificial street tree is the main decoration of the festive city during the Christmas celebrations. Decorated with toys and multi-colored alluring lights, it pleases the eye and brings a sense of celebration to the city's snow-covered streets.

In this review, we will tell you how the decoration of a high-rise spruce differs from its interior counterpart and analyze the difference between trunk and frame structures.

The artificial Christmas tree is a special design that has its own installation and storage nuances.

Consisting of:

  • cross metal base with long and short tubes;
  • tiered mounts;
  • branches of a certain length.

Coniferous "bundles" are fixed in pipes, thanks to which the trunk tree turns out to be lush and visually natural, similar to a living one. However, assembling such a system will require some diligence. A separate place is provided for each branch, and it must be collected clearly according to the scheme. When dismantling, it is also recommended to systematize removable elements.

Christmas tree with frame has two significant advantages over its opponent:

  • Ease of assembly. The design consists of a bed and a central trunk, on which rings with small needles are strung like a children's pyramid. When assembled, the frame spruce is just a few identical boxes.
  • Sustainability. The gusts of wind do not pose a threat to the design with sloped rails, which makes the large frame-type tree a leader in safety ratings and is ideal for installation in open spaces.

A frame Christmas tree can be distinguished from a living prototype with the naked eye, but with decorations and garlands it looks very festive and original.

How to decorate a tall street tree

Street coniferous beauty is called high-rise for a reason, because its height can reach from 4 to 45 m. And this means that New Year's toys for the city Christmas tree must be noticeable and large, otherwise they will get lost in thick needles, and besides, they must withstand low temperatures and changes in weather conditions, do not beat and be environmentally friendly. To understand how many Christmas decorations you need for your type of tall beauty, we offer this table:

These recommendations are approximate - it all depends on what result you want to get.

Next, you need to decide on the choice of colors and style, decide how to beautifully arrange the toys on the branches. In order to create a sense of celebration and be remembered, New Year's decor should be colorful, spectacular and at the same time elegant and graceful.

There are many ideas to decorate a high rise Christmas tree, here are some of them:

Types of outdoor toys:

1. Plastic balls

Large plastic balls are a classic, safe and always up-to-date way to decorate outdoor Christmas trees. As a rule, shades combined in color or an ensemble of glossy and matte textures are used. On our site you can pick up Christmas balls with a diameter of 60 to 500 mm, in any color palette.

2. Bunches of balloons

A great idea - bunches of balloons of different diameters, especially in combination with large balloons and large plastic pendants.

3. Beads and bows

To make your fir tree look royally luxurious, complete the decor of fluffy branches with large plastic beads and bows made of soft frost-resistant material. And your Christmas tree will acquire a luxurious and elegant look.

4. Styrofoam toys

These Christmas toys are perfect for outdoor decor. They are frost-resistant, perfectly tolerate bad weather, catchy, light, shiny and inexpensive. In addition, foam flex snowflakes and stars look great in ceiling compositions and decor of shop windows and shopping centers.

You can choose any shape, color and size: snowflakes, bows, trains, sweets, bells, Christmas trees, boots, etc. - the Winter Story store offers the widest range of foam flex jewelry.

5. Lighting

So, we have analyzed in detail the variations of day decoration. After dark, even the largest and brightest toys are invisible. Therefore, it is necessary to separately think over the image of the design for the dark time of the day. After all, it is at night, decorated with multi-colored garlands, that it acquires charm, mysterious charm and a truly fabulous look.

For evening lighting, various types of electric garlands are used: low-voltage garlands-threads, melting icicles (with the effect of a flowing drop), garlands with curly nozzles, for example, multi-balloons or ready-made kits, which are the best and most thoughtful option, because equipped with the necessary devices for connection and various light-dynamic modes.

6. Tops

The final touch in the design of a large Christmas tree will be a luminous top sparkling with bright lights. A Christmas tree with such a crown looks unusually impressive and elegant! It can be a star on a metal frame with an LED filament overlay, or a beautiful plastic snowflake with a metal frame, in which shining LEDs are already mounted.

You can also decorate the top of your tree with a foam flex star. Such tops are simple, bright, strong and budget. We have all sizes and colors in stock.

We hope that our article has helped you to understand the principles of decorating tall street fir trees without much difficulty.


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