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Lessons learned from my pixel tree's star


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I'm building a pixel tree this year (360°, 24x50), so I determined that it should have a suitable star. I did what I usually do and that is take inventory of what I have lying around and see how I can use it. In hindsight, I see that I did not make the best decision, but the result still looks good.


I had a string of 12v RGB bulbs, purchased from Ray Wu a couple of years ago because it looked good. Also from Ray I had a 27-channel DMX controller made to drive 9 RGB lights. I built a 6-RGB-channel star with the channels going from the center out. I planned this without considering that I would have to make 316 splices!


Here's the completed star:



The DMX controller:


Notice that I removed the bulky XLR connectors and replaced them with an RJ-45 that has both DMX and 12v in one cat5 cable (using black cat5 to make it not visible).


Here's the back with the splices visible:



And here's some evidence of the splices:



A close-up of the back:



...and the front:



And what it looks like with power:






So what is my lesson? That I could have done this much easier, and using less wire and hardware, by using smart pixels. Using smart pixels would have given me 50 RGB channels instead of 6, allowing more effects (although I think 6 RGB channels is plenty for a star).


I also got really good at splicing 24-gauge solid wire to 22-gauge stranded wire. (Stick the solid wire into the end of the insulation of the stranded wire, wrap the stranded wire, solder, then use 1/16" heat-shrink.)


But I'm still happy. It worked correctly the first time, it's not too heavy, it has very little wind load, and it's going to look really nice when it's dark.

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Great Job Steven. I made the seizure star last year and it was a show on its own. I know the splicing is a pain but well worth it. Great job again and post some video's please sir.



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It looks really good. Time consuming, but nice and neat construction.

Curious, how are the channels set? I thought 1 for each point, but that would only be 5.

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Curious, how are the channels set? I thought 1 for each point, but that would only be 5.


Here's channel 1 (purple):



Channel 6 is the outer points (5 bulbs). Channels 2-5 have 10 bulbs each. The bulbs of each channel are the same distance from the center of the star.


I could have used 1 channel for each point, and this would have made it a lot easier to connect, but the only effect possible would be a spinning (or flashing) star. The layout I used allows a bursting or pulsing star, or a rainbow star from the inside out, or a circle with 5 points, which are all nicer effects, IMHO.

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