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dirknerkle
09-06-2010, 09:30 PM
I got this idea from mmulvenna earlier this summer when he visited Minnesota... I just took it in a slightly different direction.

The idea is to affix lights to a flexible form and then wrap the form around the trunk of a tree. This is in lieu of physically wrapping the tree with lights -- which can be a royal pita because you then have to unwrap them later on. Mike's idea was to mount the lights onto plastic fencing. The change I made was to use green wire garden fencing since it seemed to have more inherent integrity and therefore easier to affix the lights to it while later, since it's wire, it might conform to the tree better.

I selected the garden fence material at Lowe's, fairly inexpensive for a 50' roll that was 24" wide. After measuring the tree trunks I wanted to light, I determined that a 24" width would encircle about 70% of the trunk, which is fine because all that's necessary is to see the street-side. I'll be able to wrap them around, affix them at the back with wire ties and essentially "wrap" the tree in minutes instead of an hour or two.

Here's some photos of the build and a link to see what it will look like. You'll have to use your imagination a little insofar as these show it laying on the floor and it's supposed to be wrapped around a tree. I cut down 100-ct strings into a pair of 50's so I could animate them while still saving on the total current draw. I have a couple more wraps to build. BTW... these are wireless (of course) and the transmitting Ren-W is already up in the garage just waiting for the season to start. I fire it up from my workshop whenever I want to test something....

Link to the short video: http://dirknerkle.clubdata.com/video/wrap-5.wmv

Matt_Edwards
09-06-2010, 09:44 PM
Make me wish I had a tree in the front yard. Might need to send this one to my next door neighbour.

it looks great. Are you going to put on a tree and put up another video?

dirknerkle
09-06-2010, 09:49 PM
Make me wish I had a tree in the front yard. Might need to send this one to my next door neighbour.

it looks great. Are you going to put on a tree and put up another video?

Yes, I need to make one more and then I'll haul them outside and shoot another video. I'm anxious to see what they'll look like, too! ;)

Greg in Canby
09-06-2010, 09:52 PM
Your BOTH geniuses.

budude
09-06-2010, 10:24 PM
Dude... You're making us all look lazy bums! I have a fruitless Mulberry (fairly common tree around here) that I typically wrap with lights but get dizzy getting the job done. This might be a great way from keeping me at least a little less dizzy...

The tree was the center of my show two years ago but fell a bit behind with my new Midi Tree last year. This year it should be a centerpiece again and this may help make it easier to set up.

dirknerkle
09-06-2010, 10:57 PM
It's Mike Mulvenna's idea not mine -- I just tweaked it a little...

XmasInGalt
09-06-2010, 11:29 PM
Dave (and Mulvenna), great idea!!!!! I wrapped my tree 2 years ago but ran out of time to add it to the show and I didn't bother in 2009. This will allow me to prep it now and save a lot of time later. My son will be very very happy with this idea as he's the one that really wants to include the tree in the show. Thanks again.

Reddy_Kilowatt
09-07-2010, 12:42 AM
Matt Stemple also did something a little like that. He called it Light Fabric.

It starts at post #6.

http://www.doityourselfchristmas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1842

The missing video is here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqLvip5nEQs).

-Craig

rjchu
09-07-2010, 02:36 AM
I was thinking of something similar for the 5 tall palm trees out front but using pcv pipes but like this a lot more. The one thing I'm looking for specifically though is how are you planning to tie/fix these to the trees? I'm looking for a way to pseudo-wrap the trees from the ground so I'm not having to get on a ladder or cherry picker (which my neighborhood rents to put lights up).

Great idea, thanks!

-joni-

dirknerkle
09-07-2010, 10:59 AM
Probably bungee cords along the back-side of the tree. To keep higher ones from sliding down, I may need to put a single nail or screw in the tree, but it may also work out just to loop a bungee over a branch. It'll be a piece of cake either way.

Palm trees would be cool, but if you were going to go very high, you'd certainly need to rent a cherry picker or something to get up there. Theoretically, you might be able to stand on the ground and slide them up into position with a long pole, but that would depend on how smooth the palm bark was... up here in Minnesota our palm trees are... well... artificial ;)

dmcole
09-07-2010, 11:21 AM
You know, before I got into Christmas lighting, I thought duct tape (or "duck tape," take your pick) held the universe together. Now I am wiser: it is zip ties (or "cable ties," take your pick) that keep the universe from spinning out of control.

Once again, Dave, thanks for illustrating a great idea.

\dmc

ErnieHorning
09-07-2010, 01:23 PM
Great idea Dave! I wrapped with RGBW super strings a couple of years ago. It went up pretty quick but I didn't like how the lights shown through other colors. Last year I just wrapped individual strings. It looked great but yeah, the dizzy thing.:( This looks a lot better and at least I can string it were its warm and I don't have to stand forever.

Crap, you went and animated it too! Well there goes more channels.:rolleyes: I just wish these kick butt idea's came around January when I'm looking for something to do.:)

budude
09-07-2010, 02:23 PM
i just wish these kick butt idea's came around january when i'm looking for something to do.:)

+10,000...

Keebler
09-07-2010, 05:03 PM
that is an awesome idea!
i have 10 tress that i need to wrap.
and last year it was VERY dizzying.

thank you for a great idea....

i will be using RGBW strings - so we'll see how that works....

DennyMo
09-07-2010, 05:10 PM
Given the failures I've had with store-bought tree- and railing-wraps, this looks like a good improvement for next year. What about storing the now-curved metal tree wrap? Will you flatten them back out for stacking, or just (carefully) nest them in their "relaxed curved" state?

dirknerkle
09-07-2010, 05:42 PM
I plan to flatten them out again and stack them for storage. Mmulvenna's original idea involved attaching the lights to plastic fencing, which is so flexible that he thought he could just take them off the tree, lay them on the ground and roll them up. A very cool idea! He'd bought a couple big rolls of the dark green stuff, and I have no idea whether he's used it yet. When he told me what he was going to do with it I thought it was one of the slickest ideas I'd ever heard for wrapping a tree. But after looking at the plastic fencing which I thought wasn't quite as invisible as I wanted, I gravitated to the wire instead.

The wire fencing isn't quite that flexible as the plastic stuff but ought to be pretty easy to flatten out again, especially if doing fairly large trees (10-12" diameter) because the resulting curvature will be relatively gentle. I think the concept breaks down a little if you're doing a lot of small trees, saplings, etc. since the diamter of the tree might be so small. If I had saplings in the yard, I'd probably just use 3 or 4 vertical runs of lights and zip tie them directly to the tree instead of trying to wrap around it.

BTW... I chose the green vinyl coated wire fence material because it will be virtually invisible on the tree and the vinyl would not only be a bit of an insulator but would also help prevent rust. I believe it comes in 24", 36" and 48" widths and 25, 50 and 100-foot rolls.

Keebler
09-07-2010, 06:46 PM
heard said that this mesh was found at lowes....
any idea how much?

rjchu
09-07-2010, 07:00 PM
Bungee cord is what I was thinking of as well to secure these to the trees and after some quick googling here's what I found that I'm planning on using - unless someone comes up with a better/cheaper solution that is. ;)

http://www.defender.com/category.jsp?path=-1|5948|311443|309311&id=574775

http://www.defender.com/category.jsp?path=-1|5948|311443|309311&id=574781

I'm thinking I'll lean the mesh against the tree, hook this on the top, thread it through from side to side a few times, tighten it like shoe laces and hook it off on the bottom of the mesh.

Thoughts?

-joni-

DennyMo
09-08-2010, 05:02 PM
heard said that this mesh was found at lowes....
any idea how much?
24"x50' - $22
36"x50' - $43
48"x50' - $52

Other options shown here: http://www.lowes.com/pl__4294817820_4294937087_

Keebler
09-08-2010, 08:47 PM
Excellent,
went to lowes and presently surprised - they are setting Christmas stuff out :) yeah

none-the-less, i found some mesh that was 48" x 50 it cost me $17/roll :)
metal welded 1"
i think that this will work very good...
if i get time in between school work and real work i will assemble one and post pics :)
i am using RGBW strings.... so we will see how that works :)


thanks for the heads up

Virtus
09-09-2010, 08:52 AM
Excellent,
went to lowes and presently surprised - they are setting Christmas stuff out :) yeah

none-the-less, i found some mesh that was 48" x 50 it cost me $17/roll :)
metal welded 1"


Please post the SKU number. That is a good find!

mikentn
09-09-2010, 04:02 PM
I plan to flatten them out again and stack them for storage. Mmulvenna's original idea involved attaching the lights to plastic fencing, which is so flexible that he thought he could just take them off the tree, lay them on the ground and roll them up. A very cool idea! He'd bought a couple big rolls of the dark green stuff, and I have no idea whether he's used it yet. When he told me what he was going to do with it I thought it was one of the slickest ideas I'd ever heard for wrapping a tree. But after looking at the plastic fencing which I thought wasn't quite as invisible as I wanted, I gravitated to the wire instead.

Now that you mention it, I've got an animated dancing snowman that I bought several years back that's made out of led's and attached to a black plastic mesh panel. We roll it up to store it in the box that it came in.

dirknerkle
11-13-2010, 01:04 AM
Here are the tree wraps on the tree -- view from both the front and the back. It started to rain so I didn't get them hooked up yet, but I think you'll get a good idea how easy it is to attach them. I just took an 8' length of SPT wire, split it down the middle and used it to "sew" the backs together at the back side of the tree.

Can't wait to fire it up -- when it stops raining... :rolleyes:

Andy.wpg
11-13-2010, 02:13 PM
Here are the tree wraps on the tree -- view from both the front and the back.

Makes me wish the two trees I have in the front yard were a LOT bigger than 1.5" diameter and five feet high (new house).

Great idea though, I'll keep it in mind for about 10 years down the road! :D

stenersonj
11-13-2010, 02:19 PM
we ahve been using a black plastic mesh that we get from menards or fleet farm stores. i think all hardware stores sell it. it has about 1/2 inch openings and works great for G12 or c7 lights. think it runs about $12 for a 3 foot by 15 foot roll. the lights push through and stay that way. we sue it for all of our lighting frames.

mmulvenna
11-16-2010, 07:19 AM
Hi all, somehow I missed this thread but that's what happens when you get old. The original idea was not mine, toymaker
on PC posted the thought quite a while back.

EDIT: Unlike Dirk, I wrap mine the entire circumference of the trunk/limb.

dirknerkle
11-18-2010, 12:51 AM
Here's a little update for you to view -- it's only a 30-second segment of the first test on my trunk-wrapped tree along with one of my musical selections this year... I don't have a lot of lights powered up yet -- I'm just testing individual items as I get them installed, and later I'll power everything up.

This one starts with a left-to-right wash of the whole display, so you'll see the tree light up at the appropriate time. However, watch as the music gets going and you'll see the animation. About 75 feet to the right of this tree is my megatree and the trunk of that is wrapped in a similar fashion, so that the lights will alternate going up/down. It'll drive people crazy watching them pulsate like that. Wait until you see what I have planned for our old friend, Wizards in Winter this year... that one is really fun to watch!

Anyway, only problems I have right now are a couple pixels out of place, and there's a dark area in the middle of the tree I have to fill in with some hand-wrapped lights. The problem is a very large branch coming out toward the street right in that spot, so some manual attention is necessary.

Up in the tree are some strings of LEDs -- they're the only LEDs I'm using this year and it's a test to see how well they last. Anyway, here's the link to the video... I've deliberately reduced the resolution to make the file smaller so it'll be pretty small on your screen, but you'll get the idea...

http://dirknerkle.clubdata.com/video/test_hallelujah_tree.wmv

Livermore-Dad
11-18-2010, 01:25 AM
YES SIR, YES SIR!!

That is awesome, very cool. Ahh man, love it.

Adding any strobes in the tree?

dirknerkle
11-18-2010, 01:28 AM
I have strobes in a different tree in a different part of the yard.

budude
11-18-2010, 01:45 AM
Nice Dirkster! The tree in my front yard just isn't tall enough to pull that off unfortunately. It's a fruitless mulberry (very common tree here) and you basically cut off all the branches every year (or every other) so they don't get very tall. If you let them grow they get out of hand fast since I think they're really just a big weed...

rjchu
11-18-2010, 02:32 AM
Very nice! How "tall" is each segment of lights? I'm doing the plastic netting for the palm trees and using 8 strings of 100 clear for each tree - 8 segments per tree obviously - but am wondering if they're granular enough or if they'll be too wide a section once installed on the trees.

-joni-




Here's a little update for you to view -- it's only a 30-second segment of the first test on my trunk-wrapped tree along with one of my musical selections this year... I don't have a lot of lights powered up yet -- I'm just testing individual items as I get them installed, and later I'll power everything up.

This one starts with a left-to-right wash of the whole display, so you'll see the tree light up at the appropriate time. However, watch as the music gets going and you'll see the animation. About 75 feet to the right of this tree is my megatree and the trunk of that is wrapped in a similar fashion, so that the lights will alternate going up/down. It'll drive people crazy watching them pulsate like that. Wait until you see what I have planned for our old friend, Wizards in Winter this year... that one is really fun to watch!

Anyway, only problems I have right now are a couple pixels out of place, and there's a dark area in the middle of the tree I have to fill in with some hand-wrapped lights. The problem is a very large branch coming out toward the street right in that spot, so some manual attention is necessary.

Up in the tree are some strings of LEDs -- they're the only LEDs I'm using this year and it's a test to see how well they last. Anyway, here's the link to the video... I've deliberately reduced the resolution to make the file smaller so it'll be pretty small on your screen, but you'll get the idea...

http://dirknerkle.clubdata.com/video/test_hallelujah_tree.wmv

dirknerkle
11-18-2010, 11:00 AM
Nice Dirkster! The tree in my front yard just isn't tall enough to pull that off unfortunately. It's a fruitless mulberry (very common tree here) and you basically cut off all the branches every year (or every other) so they don't get very tall. If you let them grow they get out of hand fast since I think they're really just a big weed...

Thanks, Brian. I think it could be simulated pretty easily with a 3 or 4" x 10' piece of PVC anchored by sliding it over a pipe driven into the ground.. And as PVC generally grows very little (unless you use some of the new nuclear fertlizers out there), there wouldn't be any branches to cut back in the fall!


Very nice! How "tall" is each segment of lights? I'm doing the plastic netting for the palm trees and using 8 strings of 100 clear for each tree - 8 segments per tree obviously - but am wondering if they're granular enough or if they'll be too wide a section once installed on the trees.

-joni-

Thanks. There are two segments, one of 5 strings and one of 7 strings. Each string when wound back-and-forth across the garden fence accounts for about 14 inches of vertical space. Because my tree isn't perfectly vertical AND because there are a couple large limbs that come out of the trunk, I'm considering making perhaps 6 to 10 more but they'd be individual wraps, and that would give me a little more flexibility in molding around the limbs to eliminate dark spots. As it is. a single wireless SS24 runs the whole tree. There are 12 vertical segments around the trunk of the tree and 9 multi-colored LED strings in the tree. That leaves me with 3 unused channels and one or two of those will probably be used for two different snowmen or maybe not used at all. Not sure yet.