Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 38

Thread: Metal-free mini tree

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Plymouth, MN
    Posts
    9,215
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Metal-free mini tree

    Here's an experimental mini-tree made from a child's hula-hoop water toy, four 1/2" x 48" wooden dowels, a little black spray paint and zip ties. Because there's no metal in the frame whatsoever, there shouldn't be any issues whatsoever with ground connections tripping a GFI.

    The dowels are attached at the top and bottom with a single zip tie wound through a small hole. Four holes through the hoop allow attaching at the bottom; a single zip tie holds them all together at the top. Three strands of lights covers it nicely.

    I've only built one but it appears that it will also be stackable. I used Rustoleum flat black outdoor paint which should be fairly weatherproof and protect the dowels fairly well. It would probably be a little better to use a slightly larger dowel as these bend a little bit, so I'll try two other sizes and build 2 more prototypes and let everybody know whether these are workable or not.

    -d

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Sparks, Nevada
    Posts
    570
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Metal-free mini tree

    Nice work.

    Brad
    [I][COLOR="Red"]2007:[/COLOR][/I] 32 ch Grinch, [I][COLOR="Red"]2008:[/COLOR][/I] 128 ch Lynx Freestyle, [I][COLOR="Red"]2009:[/COLOR][/I] 128 ch Lynx Freestyle, Four Wireless Lynx Express', 192 Channels, 2 Houses, 4 Gazillion lights, no spare time.I really need to edit my sig pic :oops:
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Mooresville, NC
    Posts
    7,566
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Metal-free mini tree

    Great idea! Keep us informed on how it performs in the rain.
    James Family Christmas - 1600 channels of SS Renard channels
    Website - http://jamesfamilychristmas.com/ <<broken
    Facebook - James Family Christmas


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Plymouth, MN
    Posts
    9,215
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Metal-free mini tree

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne J View Post
    Great idea! Keep us informed on how it performs in the rain.
    Our forecast today was for lots of rain so I set the prototype out on the patio. I've got good news and bad news...

    First the bad news: one coat of spray paint isn't the greatest protector of wood. The wooden vertical slats got pretty soggy and while the unit stayed up, it lost some of its integrity. This wasn't totally unexpected -- it would probably fare okay in climates such as our's in Minnesota where in December it's normally too cold for rain and we get snow instead. However, I'd call it an unacceptable design unless you live in the Mojave or plan to light Death Valley.

    Now for the good news: I figured out a better way and built a prototype using PVC, wooden dowels inside the PVC for strength and hot glue to seal the top ends of the struts from the elements. I set it outside in the rain and as expected, it performed well. It looks virtually the same as the first prototype -- the only differences are that it's stronger and the struts are slightly larger in diameter. Construction details and a few photos below:

    Materials
    1 - child's hula-hoop toy. 27-28" diameter. (see notes at end if you can't find one and need to make one)
    4 - 48" lengths of 1/2" PVC. This has a 7/8" outside and 11/16" inside diameter (Loew's SKU# 717141340512)
    4 - 48" lengths of 5/8" wooden dowel
    Zip ties (you'll need only 5 for the frame but another 90 or so to attach the lights)
    Flat black outdoor spraypaint
    3 - 100-count light strings (about 67 feet total length)
    Hot glue

    Build the vertical struts
    1. Trim 1/4" from each of the four 48" dowels so that each is 47-3/4" long.
    2. Insert a dowel into each of the 48" pieces of PVC. Stand on end to align the bottom end flush, leaving 1/4" gap at the top. The dowel adds strength to the PVC pipe.
    3. Fill the top with hot glue, making sure to inject a little down the sides. This serves two purposes: it will hold the dowel secure while drilling holes and also seal the wood from the elements on the top, exposed end.
    4. After the glue has set, drill a small hole 1" from either end of each strut. The hole should be just large enough for a zip tie to fit through. It works best if you drill the top and bottom holes perpendicular to one another through the strut, although it's not critical to the assembly.
    5. Connect the tops (hot glue end) loosely with a zip tie. You'll tighten it later.

    Attach struts to hoop base
    6. Drill four small holes in the base hoop equidistant from one other (90 degrees) and parallel with the ground. You can eyeball it -- it doesn't have to be exact.
    7. Attach the bottom ends of the struts loosely to the hoop at each of the 4 hole locations with a zip tie. The strut stands on top of the hoop.
    8. Adjust and tighten all zip ties.

    9. Paint the frame, let it dry.

    Apply the lights
    10. Starting about 2" above the base, wrap the light strings around the tree, spacing vertically about 2" per wrap. Three 100-light strings should make it to the top (length=about 67 feet) Suggestion: Attach only one zip tie per revolution to make it easier to move and adjust the wraps later. Add multiple colors if you like and really fill it up.
    11. Power up the display and check for spacing. Adjust as necessary.
    12. When satistifed with the spacing, finish by using a zip tie for each wrap on each strut.

    How to make your own hula-hoop base if you can't find one
    Materials you need:
    1 - 84" length of 1/2" high-pressure PVC. This has a 5/8 outside and 7/16" inside dimension, is flexible enough to bend into a hoop yet sturdy enough to serve as a base. This is a different type of PVC than the one used for struts. (Lowe's SKU# 038561500059)
    1 - 4" length of 1/2" wooden dowel This is the joint to link and secure the two ends.

    Building the hoop - pictures 4 and 5
    1. Mark a line in the middle of the 4" dowel so you know how far to insert it into an end.
    2. Bend the 84" PVC into a circle, insert the dowel half way into one end, then attach the other end. Push together.
    3. Drill a small hole parallel to the ground and 1" on on either side of the center of the joint. The size of the hole should allow for the zip tie.
    4. Insert and tighten a zip tie through each hole.

    -dirknerkle
    Last edited by dirknerkle; 10-18-2009 at 06:16 PM. Reason: Added Lowe's SKU#s to listing

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Raleigh
    Posts
    110
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Metal-free mini tree

    Quote Originally Posted by dirknerkle View Post
    Our forecast today was for lots of rain so I set the prototype out on the patio. I've got good news and bad news...

    First the bad news: one coat of spray paint isn't the greatest protector of wood. The wooden vertical slats got pretty soggy and while the unit stayed up, it lost some of its integrity. This wasn't totally unexpected -- it would probably fare okay in climates such as our's in Minnesota where in December it's normally too cold for rain and we get snow instead. However, I'd call it an unacceptable design unless you live in the Mojave or plan to light Death Valley.

    Now for the good news: I figured out a better way and built a prototype using PVC, wooden dowels inside the PVC for strength and hot glue to seal the top ends of the struts from the elements. I set it outside in the rain and as expected, it performed well. It looks virtually the same as the first prototype -- the only differences are that it's stronger and the struts are slightly larger in diameter. Construction details and a few photos below:

    Materials
    1 - child's hula-hoop toy. 27-28" diameter. (see notes at end if you can't find one and need to make one)
    4 - 48" lengths of 1/2" PVC. This has a 7/8" outside and 11/16" inside diameter
    4 - 48" lengths of 5/8" wooden dowel
    Zip ties (you'll need only 5 for the frame but another 90 or so to attach the lights)
    Flat black outdoor spraypaint
    3 - 100-count light strings (about 67 feet total length)
    Hot glue

    Build the vertical struts
    1. Trim 1/4" from each of the four 48" dowels so that each is 47-3/4" long.
    2. Insert a dowel into each of the 48" pieces of PVC. Stand on end to align the bottom end flush, leaving 1/4" gap at the top. The dowel adds strength to the PVC pipe.
    3. Fill the top with hot glue, making sure to inject a little down the sides. This serves two purposes: it will hold the dowel secure while drilling holes and also seal the wood from the elements on the top, exposed end.
    4. After the glue has set, drill a small hole 1" from either end of each strut. The hole should be just large enough for a zip tie to fit through. It works best if you drill the top and bottom holes perpendicular to one another through the strut, although it's not critical to the assembly.
    5. Connect the tops (hot glue end) loosely with a zip tie. You'll tighten it later.

    Attach struts to hoop base
    6. Drill four small holes in the base hoop equidistant from one other (90 degrees) and parallel with the ground. You can eyeball it -- it doesn't have to be exact.
    7. Attach the bottom ends of the struts loosely to the hoop at each of the 4 hole locations with a zip tie. The strut stands on top of the hoop.
    8. Adjust and tighten all zip ties.

    9. Paint the frame, let it dry.

    Apply the lights
    10. Starting about 2" above the base, wrap the light strings around the tree, spacing vertically about 2" per wrap. Three 100-light strings should make it to the top (length=about 67 feet) Suggestion: Attach only one zip tie per revolution to make it easier to move and adjust the wraps later. Add multiple colors if you like and really fill it up.
    11. Power up the display and check for spacing. Adjust as necessary.
    12. When satistifed with the spacing, finish by using a zip tie for each wrap on each strut.

    How to make your own hula-hoop base if you can't find one
    Materials you need:
    1 - 84" length of 1/2" high-pressure PVC. This has a 5/8 outside and 7/16" inside dimension, is flexible enough to bend into a hoop yet sturdy enough to serve as a base. This is a different type of PVC than the one used for struts.
    1 - 4" length of 1/2" wooden dowel This is the joint to link and secure the two ends.

    Building the hoop - pictures 4 and 5
    1. Mark a line in the middle of the 4" dowel so you know how far to insert it into an end.
    2. Bend the 84" PVC into a circle, insert the dowel half way into one end, then attach the other end. Push together.
    3. Drill a small hole parallel to the ground and 1" on on either side of the center of the joint. The size of the hole should allow for the zip tie.
    4. Insert and tighten a zip tie through each hole.

    -dirknerkle
    If you use schedule 40 pvc(which is thicker) , maybe you don't need the dowels and the thin pvc? I think you are onto something here.
    Thanks
    Jesus is the Reason....

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Plymouth, MN
    Posts
    9,215
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Metal-free mini tree

    Quote Originally Posted by dadams14 View Post
    If you use schedule 40 pvc(which is thicker) , maybe you don't need the dowels and the thin pvc? I think you are onto something here.
    Thanks
    The whole idea of a metal-free mini-tree was to help minimize tripping a GFI, which some of the metal designs do because, well, they're metal and they physically touch and are connected to the ground. My other goal was to have more control of the height than tomato cages provide because of the depth of snow we typically deal with up here in Minnesota.

    I compared the relative flexibility of identical lengths of schedule 40 vs. the thinner walled pvc with the dowel insert and I thought the latter was stronger. The comparison wasn't scientific (I didn't suspend a weight from a center point with the two ends properly supported to measure the drop); I merely estimated using manual effort. A 5/8" wooden dowel is surprizingly rigid and added quite a bit of integrity to the PVC. Of course, the shorter the strut, the stronger it will appear to be...

    A short mini-tree could very well use just PVC without the dowel insert, but up here in Minnesota a short tree could easily be gobbled up by snow and not even visible. Last year, the snow was waist-high in my front yard, so I'm hoping that at least the tops of 4' mini-trees will be visible this year. Otherwise, all you see from the street are humps of dimly-lit pastel-colored snow.

    Sometimes I envy those who don't have to deal with snow :mrgreen: and who don't have to fire up the snowblower as often as I do... There's nothing quite like the "thrill" of carving through another 20" snowfall on a -15F morning (that's -26C for you folks down under...) with a 15mph wind blowing the snow back into your face... Sometimes I wonder why I even live here!:confused:

    -d

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    10,283
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Metal-free mini tree

    Quote Originally Posted by dirknerkle View Post
    Otherwise, all you see from the street are humps of dimly-lit pastel-colored snow.
    LOL! Don't have to worry about that much here in San Jose - although the total lack of snow doesn't come off as "Christmasy" either...

    Maybe I missed it - is there some reason you just didn't use a PVC coupler to complete the hoop? That PVC cement makes for a pretty strong joint... I understand the reasoning for adding the dowels to the upright portions.
    Last edited by budude; 07-02-2009 at 07:03 PM.
    [COLOR=#000080][B][I]Brian[/I][/B][/COLOR]

    [COLOR=#ff0000]Christmas in San Jose! - [URL="http://www.christmasinsj.com"]WEB[/URL] - [URL="https://www.facebook.com/ChristmasInSanJose"]FB[/URL] - [URL="https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL1W78s7liEQEE0ed7WSyLF7B6j3lBX43w"]VIDEOS[/URL]
    [/COLOR][COLOR=#800080]Halloween in San Jose! - [URL="https://www.facebook.com/pages/Halloween-in-San-Jose/356280784428581?ref=tn_tnmn"]FB[/URL]
    [SIZE=1]2015 Halloween Show - Planning now - hopefully some house projection...
    2015 Christmas Show - 5x E681-12, 1x 6804, Ren48LSD, 3x RenSS16, 1x Falcon16v2 (w/expander), 24x90 WS2811 pixel MT (James MT Strips), 12x DIYC Floods, SuperPixelStar, 3x Pixel Arches, PixaBulb House outline
    [/SIZE]
    [/COLOR][SIZE=3][COLOR=#008000][I]Ignorance is Temporary [/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#800080][I]- [/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#ff0000][I]Stupidity is Forever[/I][/COLOR][COLOR=#800080][I]...[/I][/COLOR][/SIZE][I][COLOR=#ff0000]
    [/COLOR][/I]

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Plymouth, MN
    Posts
    9,215
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Metal-free mini tree

    Quote Originally Posted by budude View Post
    Maybe I missed it - is there some reason you just didn't use a PVC coupler to complete the hoop? That PVC cement makes for a pretty strong joint... I understand the reasoning for adding the dowels to the upright portions.
    Yah. Didn't have one, I was too lazy to drive to the store and I had several dowels in the workshop. The other reason is that a coupler means glue... which means permanent. This thing is dismantleable and reusable. Of course, you could use a coupler and drill holes through that if you wanted... it's AMERICA, RIGHT?!?!

    Happy 4th of July, by the way!!!

    -d
    Last edited by dirknerkle; 07-05-2009 at 10:55 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Wylie Texas
    Posts
    67
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Metal-free mini tree

    I wish I had seen this thread a week ago. I like the design! I made six mini trees out of pvc last weekend but I like the Hula-Hoop idea better!
    No, no, no, no, no. This sucker's electrical. But I need a nuclear reaction to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of electricity I need.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Ingalls, indiana
    Posts
    34
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Metal-free mini tree

    hey dirknerkle,

    i see you are from plymouth, do you know Tim Fischer?

Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •