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LORi P

Wire Trees - Does anyone build their own 'sturdy' ones?

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Like many of you, I use wire trees similar to this in my display:

pic of wire trees

 

I have used them for two seasons.  But with the stress that RGBW superstrings puts on the thin, pliable limbs, I fear they will not last through another season.

 

I have been trying to come up with a more sturdy design that I can build myself that still would preserve the look of having individual branches, rather than tomato cage trees where the lights are only on the 'outside' of the tree.

 

And the trees need to somehow fold or dis-assemble for easy storage.

 

I have thought of a couple of ideas for designs but I thought I'd see if anyone else has a solution... Why 're-invent' the wheel if I don't have to.

 

Thanks in advance for any help!

 

 

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I was thinking something along the lines of a fake christmas tree.  You have a center support then the branches attach into that.   Shorter branches up top, longer as you go down the tree.  I bet Wireframes can build something sturdy and yet easy to take down out of steel.  The superstrings do look good on these trees, but again this is where Im heading a 60/m pixel strip dumb would ease the weight and allow for endless colors.

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I've been toying with making that type of wire frame trees to sell to support my "Habbit." But figured no one would pay what it would cost to scratch build them when you can get flimsy ones that "Kinda" work from China for a whole lot less. Its cost vs quality. Am I wrong on this assumption? What is your acceptable price point for a well made 5 foot tree?

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I've been toying with making that type of wire frame trees to sell to support my "Habbit." But figured no one would pay what it would cost to scratch build them when you can get flimsy ones that "Kinda" work from China for a whole lot less. Its cost vs quality. Am I wrong on this assumption? What is your acceptable price point for a well made 5 foot tree?

for me it would depend on the cost, I am all for spending extra on something that will last awhile.  The problem with the "China" stuff is you get one season maybe, two tops and it is on the way to the dump.

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With materials, time, and powder coating.... probably $140-175 per tree, for a five foot by five teir tree... possibly. Powder coating would be the big question. I powder coated for two years... and I know a twig styled item would drive a painter nuts trying not to miss the nooks and cranies. It would also depend on ease of construction. the complexity of a fold up system for each branch, I'd have to work on. I need to get my first fold up wire frame package done first. But if folks are interested in a high quality fold up tree in that price area. I'll definitely start working on a prototype tree too.

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.... What is your acceptable price point for a well made 5 foot tree?...

 

I'll have to give that some thought.... When I started this thread, I had it in my head to make my own trees.  But I know that anytime I go down the road of making something myself, it always costs way more than I ever thought it would.  So... if I take that into consideration.... maybe I can think about how much it is worth to me..... hmmm.....

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Sorry, LORi I had not intended to hijack the thread.  I simply/usually think by doing.  I also get excited about challenges.   Several months ago I too looked at some "China Made" trees that I snagged from a garage sale free pile....  But I've never used them because of just how flimsy they are.  I thought about rebuilding them better, stronger... faster.... Da dah da dah daaaaa...  But had no incentive, so didn't do it.   I love to work with my hands and love a challenge, so that's why I jumped/volunteered at the chance to build something.  Sorry about that.

 

Being a shop rat, when I make things that move/function, I first think about the design.  Things like that are difficult to communicate through words, what you really need is a set of blue prints.  If that is all you are looking for, that I can provide.  I could also give you a parts and tool list of what you would most likely need to finish the job.  Without a mill, however it might be more difficult to make something that folds.  Most likely the easiest design to build on your own would be one that breaks down, but doesn't fold.  So you'd be looking more at wedding cake style with one tier stacked on another.  I'll see if I can work on a quick design for that and I'll email it to you. 

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With materials, time, and powder coating.... probably $140-175 per tree, for a five foot by five teir tree... possibly. Powder coating would be the big question. I powder coated for two years... and I know a twig styled item would drive a painter nuts trying not to miss the nooks and cranies. It would also depend on ease of construction. the complexity of a fold up system for each branch, I'd have to work on. I need to get my first fold up wire frame package done first. But if folks are interested in a high quality fold up tree in that price area. I'll definitely start working on a prototype tree too.

would the cost be the same for 3 footers?

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Sorry, LORi I had not intended to hijack the thread.  I simply/usually think by doing.  I also get excited about challenges.   Several months ago I too looked at some "China Made" trees that I snagged from a garage sale free pile....  But I've never used them because of just how flimsy they are.  I thought about rebuilding them better, stronger... faster.... Da dah da dah daaaaa...  But had no incentive, so didn't do it.   I love to work with my hands and love a challenge, so that's why I jumped/volunteered at the chance to build something.  Sorry about that.

 

Being a shop rat, when I make things that move/function, I first think about the design.  Things like that are difficult to communicate through words, what you really need is a set of blue prints.  If that is all you are looking for, that I can provide.  I could also give you a parts and tool list of what you would most likely need to finish the job.  Without a mill, however it might be more difficult to make something that folds.  Most likely the easiest design to build on your own would be one that breaks down, but doesn't fold.  So you'd be looking more at wedding cake style with one tier stacked on another.  I'll see if I can work on a quick design for that and I'll email it to you. 

No need for apologies... my goal is to get sturdier trees.  Any ideas that get me closer to that are definitely welcome!

 

I agree that designs can be difficult to communicate.  I have two basic (very different) ideas.  I'd love to swap ideas.  Hopefully we will come up with a 'winner'.  Too bad Oregon and Missouri aren't closer together.

 

I'd also be interested in a range of sizes.... 4, 5, 6 ft

Edited by LORi P

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A few years ago I helped a friend move across the country.  On our trip back we made a little side stop to make phone calls home.  I called my wife and told her I had finally made it to Oregon from Virginia after just a day and half of driving REALLY FAST.  Really we were in Oregon, Missouri.  Close, but not quite.  I've had a bad week, no promotion and now not chance of it at work, and a dead furnace, means I need to blow off some steam.  The best way for me to do that is to cut and weld.  So, if I can sweet talk my wife out of half a day, I'll see if I can prototype one.  It'll also mean I get a chance to finish my other prototype wire frame I'm working on.  I'll keep you all posted on the progress. 

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A few years ago I helped a friend move across the country.  On our trip back we made a little side stop to make phone calls home.  I called my wife and told her I had finally made it to Oregon from Virginia after just a day and half of driving REALLY FAST.  Really we were in Oregon, Missouri.  Close, but not quite.  I've had a bad week, no promotion and now not chance of it at work, and a dead furnace, means I need to blow off some steam.  The best way for me to do that is to cut and weld.  So, if I can sweet talk my wife out of half a day, I'll see if I can prototype one.  It'll also mean I get a chance to finish my other prototype wire frame I'm working on.  I'll keep you all posted on the progress. 

thanks

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Ok, so I've figured out a design for two different styles of tree.  The first will be in a wedding cake configuration.  It will have welded rings of ridged branches stacked on one another with spacers in between.  Both the branch rings, and the spacers will slip over an internal one-piece steel pole for extra rigidity.  

 

The second design will utilize milled aluminum brackets to hold the branches.   I will mill and drill them to allow for branches to be folded up.   It will also have the same rigid center pole with the brackets and spacers slipped over it.

 

I'm also planning on over-building the structure on these trees to ensure really long life and durability. (I'm using .250" diameter round bar for the twigs on the branches)  I want the trees to be able to withstand a fall and not bend or break, because hey as we know, those things WILL happen. 

 

I apologize for not get one of them completed this last weekend, but lost my furnace last week and have been trying to keep a warm house until I could get it repaired.  I'll post some pics of the progress on the trees as I work on them this week-weekend.  Also in the spirit of sharing, when I am sure that the design works, I'll share the design plans with those who really desire to build them themselves.  Or if there is enough interest, I will get a large batch fabbed up and offer them a couple of bucks over build cost. 

Edited by rainyoregonchristmas

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Ok, so I've figured out a design for two different styles of tree.  The first will be in a wedding cake configuration.  It will have welded rings of ridged branches stacked on one another with spacers in between.  Both the branch rings, and the spacers will slip over an internal one-piece steel pole for extra rigidity.  

 

The second design will utilize milled aluminum brackets to hold the branches.   I will mill and drill them to allow for branches to be folded up.   It will also have the same rigid center pole with the brackets and spacers slipped over it.

 

I'm also planning on over-building the structure on these trees to ensure really long life and durability. (I'm using .250" diameter round bar for the twigs on the branches)  I want the trees to be able to withstand a fall and not bend or break, because hey as we know, those things WILL happen. 

 

I apologize for not get one of them completed this last weekend, but lost my furnace last week and have been trying to keep a warm house until I could get it repaired.  I'll post some pics of the progress on the trees as I work on them this week-weekend.  Also in the spirit of sharing, when I am sure that the design works, I'll share the design plans with those who really desire to build them themselves.  Or if there is enough interest, I will get a large batch fabbed up and offer them a couple of bucks over build cost. 

not to worry, we all have things that crop up on us and we have to deal with outside of our "hobby".

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Ok, so I've figured out a design for two different styles of tree.  The first will be in a wedding cake configuration.  It will have welded rings of ridged branches stacked on one another with spacers in between.  Both the branch rings, and the spacers will slip over an internal one-piece steel pole for extra rigidity.   

Do you have any rough, back-of-an-envelope sketches to share?  I had two design ideas, too.  I think the hinged branch one is proabably pretty similar to yours.  I'm wondering how close the 'wedding cake' one is to my other design.  I am out of town this week, but I can sketch something up and scan it when I get home.

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HOLY PIXELS... The service tech's left my house finally after 8 hours of working, they spent all day leaving to getting parts,  then leaving to get replacement parts for the ones they got etc etc... phew.... what a trial.  There went my hopes of a mega pixel tree.  Well at least we're warm.

 

So the trees.  I did some rod work this morning while waiting on the techs.  Broke out my 3 foot bolt cutters and cut away my frustrations.  I've not yet cut enough parts for a full tree but it won't take me long to finish.  It should be fairly full looking, but will use a lot of steel rod.  Luckily I still have a few hundred feet in my shop that had yet to be dedicated to a project.  I'm looking at 15 foot of rod for the bottom section alone. So doing some rough math we're looking at 100 feet of .250 rod for a five foot tree with seven layers.  I'll hopefully be able to squirrel away a few hours this weekend to weld up one of my other wire projects and then I'll set to welding branches for the trees.

 

This evening I also had a chance to play a little on the mill.  Just roughed out a  bracket in some scrap aluminum for the fold up tree.  I'll have more time tomorrow to add some more features to it.  I can now already see a challenge to the branch design, but I have a solution for it.  I'll share more tomorrow about that. 

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This sounds promising as another "way to go" option for people.

I too am unemployed and starving at the moment, but have a lot of time on my hands.  If you get sketches of the new design done up, I would love to see them as well.  I have a mig welder and tools to fab things up as I do a lot of hand made work on my display as well.

It will be fun to see what you have come up with on this!

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Who shuts a steel shop early on a Saturday anyway?  I have everything ready to weld up, just need to head to the steel shop tomorrow for the center pipes.  For some reason they don't stay open but a few hours on Saturday.  The next closest shop to me doesn't even have weekend hours.  Sigh, when do they think people are going to work on projects?  It's gonna look cool when finished.  I spread it all out, just to have a look at it.  It's really a LOT of pencil rod.  This weekend I also jumped into pixels and put in a presale order.  I'll have enough to mock up a full pixel tree.  I'll post some videos of it all with pixels on it when I'm done.

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Shot some video yesterday of the progress on the sturdy mini trees.  There are a few challenges I need to work out as far as supplies.  The concept works, but the main support pipes and sleeves will be an issue.  To look right it needs a smaller diameter pipe with a thicker wall, but many of those are all special order.  So, working on that.  The video is about 3 min long.  I'll upload it to vimeo tonight when I have time to wait the hour and a half it takes to finish and be ready to post.  I'll also hopefully get a chance to upload some pics of my wire frame folding presents I've been working on.  So stay tuned.

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Here's the video I promised

 

http://vimeo.com/60775188

 

I figured out the center posts.  I'll make the corrections to the design this weekend.

 

-RainyOregonChristmas

 

Great job and very nice design.

 

One very minor suggestion, I think the limbs should be

pointing up a little bit.

 

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Matt, nice design. A few questions.

 

 

1. RGB Pixels or just lights? How would they be strung, Just on the branch tips?

2. Can you finish one or 2 to bring to C.L.A.P? Preferrably with pixels ;)

3. Where were you that there were SHADOWS on the ground in your video? :P

 

For 2013 I won't have the band width to complete anything like this, but 2014............

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Matt, nice design. A few questions.

 

 

1. RGB Pixels or just lights? How would they be strung, Just on the branch tips?

2. Can you finish one or 2 to bring to C.L.A.P? Preferrably with pixels ;)

3. Where were you that there were SHADOWS on the ground in your video? :P

 

For 2013 I won't have the band width to complete anything like this, but 2014............

 

 

Scott, yup was planning on bending them up slightly, but hadn't finished the tree, so hadn't done the finishing touches.

 

Zman, I was designing these trees to be overbuilt and built to last, but the idea was yes, for pixels.  I was thinking of branch tips, and maybe some on the branches themselves.  I got some rainbow pixels I can string up on the trees for CLAP.  I actually REALLY want to

see it all lit up. 

Believe it or not that sunny day was last weekend.  It was t-shirt and short weather.  A balmy 50 something.

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Matt, very nice mock up design!! I really like where you are going with this!!! 

 

Quick question... which pixels are you thinking about using? Strips, modules or nodes??

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With a 100' of rod, is this thing going to be shipable? Why not use pixels, smart or dumb, on the China trees?

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