Tabletop Tree Lights

Posted on Feb 6, 2014

A cheap garland tree and fill it full of blinking LEDs. The tree shown is a cheap garland wrapped plastic frame from Walmart. It could easily be made, but I didn`t feel like taking the time to do so. Besides, I got in on clearance, so I might not have been able to make it as cheaply as I bought it. Plus, what would I do with the left over materials They`d probably make a nice a dust collector.

Tabletop Tree Lights
Click here to download the full size of the above Circuit.

On its own, this tree is a wonderful splash of bright color in our drab camper, but it could definitely be improved. I mean, what kind of Christmas tree doesn`t have lights on it Even before electricity was invented, people lit candles on their trees to illuminate them. This seemed like a perfect project to get rid of some older LEDs I had to make room for new stock. It would also be a good use of my ever increasing pile of scrap wire pieces. All it would need is a battery, switch, and some LEDs, but of course that isn`t all I did with it. I wanted the LEDs to blink, and I wanted to control the speed. The resulting circuit is far from perfect, but it was a great first attempt at bringing a bit of Christmas cheer to a pair of nomads. I really wanted as random of a blinking pattern as possible using only a few components I had lying around. The obvious choice for controlling the speed would be a 555 timer IC in combination with a potentiometer, the challenge was creating a simple randomizing circuit. To start, I went with a 74393 counter IC to split the 555 output into varying speeds. I knew an easy way to create a lot of outputs would be to use some type of decoder, but using standard binary counting would create somewhat logical patterns. To create the seemingly random blinking, I ran the counter outputs into the inputs of a 7447 BCD to 7 segment decoder. This chip combined the abnormal BCD count with the strange outputs...

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