Christmas: RGB LEDs & 3D print *UPDATED May, 9th – 2015*

Due to my health issues, I started early this year with my Christmas light projects …
Until a few years ago, we decorated our garden with lots-and-lots of lights during the holiday season. But, because of my health issues, we “stopped” this a few years ago. (last year, we didn’t even had a Christmas tree in our house !) This year, we will try to make up for all of this, so that’s why I already started with some Christmas projects 🙂

I started with designing a star in Solidworks (did take less then a half hour, yes, I’m becomming a “master” in Solidworks). These stars have an approx. diameter of 18 cm. (so they fit nicely on a 20×20 cm printbed) Furthermore, I use LED strips with 5050 RGB LEDs, (30 LEDs / meter). The strips I use have individual addressable LEDs (with a WS2811 controller for each LED) You can simply daisy-chain those LEDstrips. You need 4 wires for the hole wiring.
– 1 wire for +5V
– 1 wire for GND
– 1 wire for Data transfer
– 1 wire for a strobe signal.

You can simply shift 24 bits (8bits Red, 8 bits Green, 8 bits Blue) into the first LED, when shifting another 24 bits in, the WS2811 controller shifts the previous 24 bits to the next WS2811. So, if you want to control 100 LEDs, you simply shift the 100x 24bits values into the “string”, and send a “strobe” signal afterwards, to indicate that the LED can use the 24bits is does find in its internal register at that moment …

I also use WS2812(B) addressable LEDs (also called Neopixels). They are essentially the same as the WS2811, except that they only need 3 wires:
– 1 wire for +5V
– 1 wire for GND
– 1 wire for Data

There are plenty of (Arduino) libraries swirling on the internet for both WS2811 and WS2812(B), so don’t make you live hard, grab one for your MCU of your choice 🙂

To get the STL files, you can download them from my Thingiverse page
It does take me about 4 hours to print a complete star. (bottom and top together) – I need a few hundred of them, so a few times a day, I kick my printer, to print a new star 🙂

RGB LED star – demo movie


Update – may 4th – 2015
Last weekend, was a day longer, due to a national holiday on friday.
I start to feel a bit better (and hope to get back to work fulltime on june, 1st).
So I decided to do a bit of soldering yesterday afternoon. (only for a few hours)
I finished the first 10 RGB LED stars !

10x RGB LED star – demo movie


Update – may 6th – 2015
I still didn’t make a movie of my “leaping arch” and “Angel Eyes” …
On June 1st, I will start working again full-time. To “regulate” my biological clock back
to a “regular” rythm, I start to sleep less in the afternoon.
Today, I only slept like 5 hours in the afternoon, still a long way to go till june 1st,
to set this back to “0 hours” – I assume my boss will have me awake at the office 🙂
So, to I found some time to make a movie of the leaping arch and angel eyes …
As usual, you can download the printable STL files from my thingiverse account at http://www.thingiverse.com/Sn00zerman/designs

The angel eyes consists of a printed bottom, where you can glue a piece of WS2812B ledstrip in (with 12 LEDs each – use 30 LEDs/meter strip), there is a hole at the back, to put the wires trough. You can interconnect these angel eyes with simply 3 wires …

The leaping arch (I will need 4 of them by Christmas), consists of 15 pieces you need to bolt together. (4 bolts/nuts to connect 2 pieces together) When the 15 pieces are connected, you can pull a piece of WS2812B ledstrip trough the upper part of the arch.
(78 LEDs – use 30 LEDs/meter strip) Do the same for the lower part of the arch (also 78 LEDs), and connect the Data In, GND & +5V of both strips. When you want to chain a second leaping arch, connect one of the Data Out pins of one of the LEDstrips (doesn’t matter which one), to the Data IN pins of the next arch …
(see picture 4 for a detail of the first section, with the top cover taken off)

Leaping arch with 2x 78 addressable RGB LEDs – demo movie
12x angel eyes with 12 addressable RGB LEDs each – demo movie


Update – may 9th – 2015
The “MegaStar” is also done !
We are planning a “MegaTree” with about 7100 addressable RGB LEDs, and we needed a star, to put on top of this Christmas tree. The result is a star that measures about 50 cm in diameter (19.7″ for my American friends !), and contains 146 addressable WS1812B RGB LEDs. As usual, printable STL files are downloadable from my thingiverse page (printable on a default 20cm (8″) heatbed, pieces connected together with M4 nuts/bolts)

Furthermore, I also started mounting the Adafruit Neopixel stick to the “small” stars … We need about 10 small “sparkling” stars, to put on the inside of our frontdoor. (this is a glass door, with “milky” glass) I found this Neopixel star on Thingiverse, and printed 10 of them … (First 2 are “done”) So, each star consists of 5 of these AdaFruit Neopixel sticks (each stick contains 8 WS2812B RGB LEDs), so 40 LEDs per small star. (only measuring 12cm in diameter – about 4.7″)

MegaStar with 146 addressable RGB LEDs – demo movie
small stars with 40 addressable RGB LEDs each – demo movie

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About Kris

I'm born on april 3th, 1974 in Leuven (Belgium). My love of my life is my lovely Christel Pauwels, with who I'm sharing love, my life, a nice house and lots of mutual hobbies and interests. (electronics / (model)trains / travelling / enjoying life / mechanics etc ...)
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