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Mega Arch

NON-GFCI-TRIPPING PVC MINI TREES

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Here's my latest project – I'm adding (8) mini trees this year. I'm 95% LED, so 20,000 lights is only about 20amps. I still have my show split out onto 9 separate GFCI circuits, which helps with the “leakage accumulation”. I typically don't have issues tripping GFCIs myself. However, I read and read and read that many of you have problems tripping GFCIs, some of which can be traced back to tomato cage style mini trees. So I've been searching and researching how to best, & inexpensively, build a non-metallic mini tree. I saw a video with a guy using PVC and a hula-hoop (link at bottom). I liked the idea a lot and so I modified his plan somewhat. Instead of screws that can cut the light strands, I'm using tie wraps. Instead of a hula hoop, I'm using plumbers PEX pipe. I think they turned out just perfect.... 

Cuts & shopping list:

Cut (5) 1/2" sch40 PVC x 36" long

Cut (1) 1/2” PEX x 48” long

1/2” x 1/2” straight inside coupling

bag of black tie wraps 3/16” x 8” long

couple of 3/16” x 11” tie wraps

can of flat black spray paint


 

Tools needed:

PVC cutter (or hacksaw)

5/8” rotory rasp for drill

11/64” drill bit

 

Here's the raw assembled mini tree.

mini%20tree.jpg_zpsuacbpbmp.png

 

Painted it flat black. Cuts down on glare and just plain looks better.

mini%20tree%20black_zpscnpgfjn8.png

 

Final tree with (4) colors LED; RWB-G. Could use pixels, or even those old style suck-you-dry-incandescent lamps.

mini%20tree%20lit_zpsni54mwqt.jpg

Even if you don't think LEDs are worth it for energy, I won't break these stacking them in off season and my blues stay blue for years... not weeks.....

 

And as disclosed above - I modified an idea from someone else. Don't know him, but here's his video - in case you wondered, pondered, or just plain wanted to watch it.

 

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Nice to see a good DIY writeup. They are few and far between.

Thanks for sharing

JR

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wouldn't  isolating the cage from the ground solve this?   A short PVC stilt Base

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1 hour ago, TheDucks said:

wouldn't  isolating the cage from the ground solve this?   A short PVC stilt Base

It would solve the problem of the GFCI tripping.  What isolating a metal cage from ground does NOT do is keep the cage from becoming electrically hot.  What is so often forgotten is that in this situation the GFCI is not mis-behaving when it trips, it's doing it's best to protect you and your visitors from death.  It has no way of knowing if the current leakage is from hundreds or thousands of tiny capacitors created when energized wires are really close to the metal cage, or a place where the insulation on that wire has been compromised and is now in direct contact with with the metal cage.  The GFCI won't trip in the latter case if you isolate the cage from ground, but the metal cage will be fully energized until you or one of your guests touches it, and then their life may depend on the GFCI tripping.

Think about it this way.  If you were to attempt to get a UL rating for an exposed metal cage with lights wrapped around it and intended to be plugged into an AC outlet, in all probability you would be REQUIRED to ground the cage and use a three wire cord and plug it into a grounded outlet.  Same concept as your washing machine which comes with a three wire cord.

Personally I think this is a great project idea.  Thanks for sharing Daniel.

 

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2 hours ago, TheDucks said:

wouldn't  isolating the cage from the ground solve this?   A short PVC stilt Base

I used 2X4's under my cages and they tripped this year. (We had 2 monsoons). Prior to that no tripping GFCI's. I know the cause of one was the ext cord ziptie broke and the cord fell in direct flow of water. The connection was full of mud and debris. This coming year I am going to try those waterproof cord connection covers from Lowes. I am adding 16 more mini trees all wire frames.

Edited by dibblejr

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I just leave a 2-3 space at the bottom.  Snow doesn't seem to bother it but the occasional rain/ice storm does.  IMO it appears that snow is insulating more than "wet".

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The GFCI will still protect the user that touches a (high resistance) energized cage.  The leakage is cumulative and distributed.

I keep all my AC connections off the ground  or in those weatherproof cord cages.

I did buy some rubber Plug seals to try that slide over the prongs and supposedly keep rainr from entering between the plug and cord socket

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2 hours ago, caniac said:

....Snow doesn't seem to bother it but the occasional rain/ice storm does.....

And we're a little further south - so it's occasional snow - but definitely have to plan for rain & ice.

My show didn't trip with fully iced up conditions.

And we also over-engineer for the weight of said ice.

Can easily triple the weight of the prop.

Tree%20base%20icy_zps0gqds7pk.png

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1 hour ago, TheDucks said:

... I did buy some rubber Plug seals to try that slide over the prongs and supposedly keep rainr from entering between the plug and cord socket....

IMHO, You most likely will only use those one season. Water will get in. That's just what water does. But now you are limiting it's ability to drain back out.

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2 minutes ago, Mega Arch said:

And we're a little further south - so it's occasional snow - but definitely have to plan for rain & ice.

My show didn't trip with fully iced up conditions.

And we also over-engineer for the weight of said ice.

Can easily triple the weight of the prop.

 

That is some Heavy frost on your roof. If  we get frost, it is a film.  Snow? I have to look to the Hills for that and I better do that in the AM

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15 hours ago, dibblejr said:

... This coming year I am going to try those waterproof cord connection covers from Lowes.....

Just like theDucks reply; IMHO, You most likely will only use those one season. Water will get in. That's just what water does. But now you are limiting it's ability to drain back out.

If you are buying the ones I think you are, those are not waterproof - they are weatherproof. If your ziptie fails again, that thing will fill up and will take days to dry out, vs next day drying out if not covered.

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3 minutes ago, Mega Arch said:

IMHO, You most likely will only use those one season. Water will get in. That's just what water does. But now you are limiting it's ability to drain back out.

It is not going to drain until I disconnect and hang the cord with the socket DOWN anyway.  (In use the lights are above the cord)

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19 hours ago, Santas Helper said:

Great idea and project Daniel. Hope to see one at the mini.

Yeah - I can bring one. I'm not trying to change JR's mind, because I've read other posts where he has more cages already stacked up than my local Walmart.

But for about $7 a tree and 15 mins - bamm - it's a PVC mini tree..

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Dan, well if I plant a garden this year, I may build some. They look great. I had 50 last I counted. A deer got his antlers caught in a couple and they were trashed out in the woods. Its a deer that I played with when he was a fawn while he was eating my corn, lettuce and other veggies. I have a video on youtube someplace. He hangs out here now, I keep fresh water available in a wheelburrow and he eats the deer corn from the feeder. Fun to watch, hes about 4 years old now. No longer lets me near him.

I want some of those fancy ones that Chet (I believe) posted on the other thread.

I am still glad you posted for everyone.

JR

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12 minutes ago, Mega Arch said:

Just like theDucks reply; IMHO, You most likely will only use those one season. Water will get in. That's just what water does. But now you are limiting it's ability to drain back out.

If you are buying the ones I think you are, those are not waterproof - they are weatherproof. If your ziptie fails again, that thing will fill up and will take days to dry out, vs next day drying out if not covered.

Both of mine I had to physically dry and clean the debris from the one. I used my air compressor. But it was a pain.

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Nice DIY video.. It was interesting to see how you used the hose. 


I do have a suggestion..   Maybe you could get one of the guys with a 3D printer to print you a topper that has legs coming down at an angle which can be inserted in the PVC pipe at the top and keep them equally spaced..  Won't really change the look of the lights that much at night perhaps, but would put a good finish look to the top during the day................ you know.. when most people drive by.. :P

Good job..

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1 hour ago, plasmadrive said:

Nice DIY video.. It was interesting to see how you used the hose. 


I do have a suggestion..   Maybe you could get one of the guys with a 3D printer to print you a topper that has legs coming down at an angle which can be inserted in the PVC pipe at the top and keep them equally spaced..  Won't really change the look of the lights that much at night perhaps, but would put a good finish look to the top during the day................ you know.. when most people drive by.. :P

Good job..

Always like input from professionals like yourself. 

First off, not my video. Was just a reference point where I started. I didn't use a hose or hula hoops. Just PEX for the base and PVC for legs. They are fairly evenly spaced - touching at top and right at 9" spread at bottom.

My 8 are made, not looking to change design if I add more. Painted black and lights installed looks pretty good as is even during daylight hours. 

I did consider a star topper like this one, but was trying to keep my costs down. I'm right at $7 plus lights per tree. This topper was just more than I was willing to pop onto a low cost mini tree. http://store.3glightingcreations.com/8-mini-tree-star/

I did make a topper for my 8 ft spiral tree as shown below. It needed to stay 100% even as you pointed out. 

 

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OH man.. I rushed to look at the video so fast I didn't notice it wasn't yours.. My bad..
 

What I meant by topper was not a star.. just a thingy to stick in all the PVC pipes at the top to keep them in  place and spaced evenly without wire ties..  (from the video, not your pictures). 

Now that I take my T... i... m... e.. and slow down to really look, I see yours are neater than the video.. but I thought the hose was a cool DIY touch.. ha ha..

Now, as for me being a "professional"... I'm more of a professional trouble maker!  :P..   I'm pretty sure I'm not fooling anyone..  :blink:

I do love to see everyone's DIY stuff.  I think that is half the fun of the hobby.. Hoses, PVC, Pex, HPDE, wire ties, duct tape and bailing wire.. I love everyone's imagination..

I just wish I could draw, would be so much easier to get my points across.. .. sniff, sniff.  I can't draw a straight line with an ACAD system.. ha ha..

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11 minutes ago, plasmadrive said:

OH man.. I rushed to look at the video so fast I didn't notice it wasn't yours.. My bad..
 

What I meant by topper was not a star.. just a thingy to stick in all the PVC pipes at the top to keep them in  place and spaced evenly without wire ties..  (from the video, not your pictures). 

Now that I take my T... i... m... e.. and slow down to really look, I see yours are neater than the video.. but I thought the hose was a cool DIY touch.. ha ha..

Now, as for me being a "professional"... I'm more of a professional trouble maker!  :P..   I'm pretty sure I'm not fooling anyone..  :blink:

I do love to see everyone's DIY stuff.  I think that is half the fun of the hobby.. Hoses, PVC, Pex, HPDE, wire ties, duct tape and bailing wire.. I love everyone's imagination..

I just wish I could draw, would be so much easier to get my points across.. .. sniff, sniff.  I can't draw a straight line with an ACAD system.. ha ha..

I was on the same track when I first saw it. I was going to suggest the small orange cones that you can get at wally world, the ones used for kids or car emergencies. Just before I hit enter my screen loaded the other pictures. Saved!

My wife draws my stuff, except my spider, the legs are basically straight lines.

Your comment reminds me of Clark Griswald and the duct ape he had on his blow molds and lights.

JR

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photobucket is crazy. $399 from me for you to see my old pics!
26ab42b5a1a75d6ddd839e5f2a9925c5.jpg
333d417feb79bdf71e2ba7cffd9bc44b.jpg
d2d1ea53e50cbcdf2c6d9cd6405ca59e.jpg

 

Tapatalk is free, easier and I get unlimited likes.

Photobucket can kiss it!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Edited by Mega Arch

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4 hours ago, Mega Arch said:

photobucket is crazy. $399 from me for you to see my old pics!
26ab42b5a1a75d6ddd839e5f2a9925c5.jpg
333d417feb79bdf71e2ba7cffd9bc44b.jpg
d2d1ea53e50cbcdf2c6d9cd6405ca59e.jpg

 

Tapatalk is free, easier and I get unlimited likes.

Photobucket can kiss it!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Dan - what's that about PB? It's free, I've used it for darn almost 15 years. It has become more "popup-ish" in the past 2 years but I just "X" the popup's and move on.

JR

 

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Dan - what's that about PB? It's free, I've used it for darn almost 15 years. It has become more "popup-ish" in the past 2 years but I just "X" the popup's and move on.
JR
 

Look at page 1. PB removed my original pictures and replaced with:
d40f7d28c950ae8d2287472ce33d25ff.jpg

So I opened my account and it says for 3rd party hosting, they're gonna try to suck my bank account dry...
3f80ca7ad1cc6e1ec5b214659058a517.jpg

This PLUS500 plan to 3rd party host is $399 a year.

So I just posted these 2 free through Tapatalk on my phone.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I don't know why yours is different from mine.

The only message I am getting there are messages "Upgrade Ad Free for $2.49 a month. All of my pics and links are exactly how I have had them since I joined FB.

Do/ did you have some type of business account or something?

Even if I paid $2.49 a month for ad free, it would be close to 10 years for me to reach your $

My links still work here, did have that glitch during the mini but I attributed that to the hotel wifi..

I always told my wife that if the photo storing sites ever wanted to hold us hostage they could easily do it and yours is my case in point. I'd have to find another host for that price or any price.

JR

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