Building the Tree!
The Sledge Hammer model I built during the last off-season had been sitting for months after calling it quits. With the hype up for Winterfest at Wonderland this year and seeing images from other parks, combined with my usual tradition of trying to come up with some sort of Christmas project, it just kinda hit me: Make the Sledge model into a Christmas tree!
Literally the day after Wonderland closed for the regular season, I ordered a WS2812b LED strip from Amazon. For those who aren’t familiar with these kinds of electronics, the LEDs on this strip are individually addressable, meaning that I can change the colour of each LED individually while only using one data pin on the Arduino (basically the computer running the lights).
Before I could even touch the LED strip, I had to prepare the model. I built a platform around the tower. At first I thought I had built it too high because part of the tower was sitting underneath the level of the platform… but then the paint I applied on top made it sag, bringing it down to the exact bottom of the tower.
I made this thing that would sit on top of the model where the light strips would hang down from. It’s spaced out evenly so that the light strips would hang down inline with each arm.
It’s my first time using these kinds of strips instead of cheaper quality individual LED modules I’ve used in the past. Using the strips made the construction so easy.
Even before testing out the LEDs, I was already happy with the way everything looked at this point. Outside of adding a decorative topper (because I couldn’t decide on what to make for it), I don’t think I would have done anything else differently if I were to do this again.
I was actually surprised by how well it turned out, particularly with the platform LEDs. I had envisioned those to light each gondola but it ended up lighting up the tower so perfectly. I especially enjoyed how each LED can shine different colours without blending into each other, which gave me the ability to do some fun effects with it.
Watch the Shows!
“Sledgehammer” by Fifth Harmony was the first song I programmed the set to… I figured the song name made it a good choice.
It was a chance to familiarize myself with Vixen programming software which I had never used before. In the past, I’ve programmed projects like this all with code but having an actual GUI to play around with made programming much more faster.
“Jingle Bells” by Gwen Stefani was the other song I programmed the set to. Since I got a little more used to Vixen at this point, I personally think it’s the more polished of the two.
Thanks for Watching!
This was a fun little project that I hope you enjoyed watching as much as I had putting it together! It was meant to be temporary so the light strips will be coming down so they can be reused in another project.
It kept me busy right up to the debut of Winterfest at Canada’s Wonderland next weekend! Stay tuned for my first trip report from the Winterfest season soon!