Running a shop means that the Snail and I have to think about things that we haven’t had to involve ourselves with for years. Well, since yesterday teatime anyway. One thing we haven’t bothered with in over a decade is the dreaded “C” word – Christmas. Now, as retailers, we have to think about it even though the number of days to Christmas is in triple digits. Whilst thinking about the most overcommercialised Chris since Chris De Burgh*, we remembered we had a fibre optic tree, one that sparkled and brought joy to whoever looked upon it, one which was so full of colour-changing light and happiness that we had stored it in the attic, out the way. In a bin liner, no less.
Having located it, I did what any self-respecting technerd would do, and took it to pieces. Actually, I remembered something very important about one of the reasons we stopped using it – it has a tendency to reach around 1000°C when operating for more than a couple of minutes. It isn’t hard to understand why, when you consider it uses a tiny halogen light in a relatively confined space. Time to replace that with some colour-changing LEDs from an old, er, thing that changed colour.
Old versus new: hot versus cold
The original colour-changing function was brilliantly achieved by the use of a motor (I said how useful motors were in creating the internet, well, this doesn’t feel like a step-up, does it?) and a coloured wheel, which spun round. So, I removed those bits. Weirdly, although the whole thing ran on 6 volts, it was AC rather than DC (so like the mains rather than a battery). I’ll have to ponder what I do with a 6V AC motor.
The Wheel of Colour-changing Light
My plan was to remove the halogen bulb from its casing and fit the reclaimed LED module to some metal pins so as to use the reflector. When I lightly tapped the pins (and it was a light tap, even for me), the bulb fell out, leaving the pins behind. OK, I thought, I’ll use those pins then. Fast forward to where I discovered that you cannot actually solder onto the pins because they are made of something that really, really hates solder. I used some old component leads and made my own.
I hooked everything up having removed the now-superfluous motor, and found a power supply that was DC and 4.5V which is all the LEDs need. This means that I can run this off a battery if needs be. I may use the 6V AC transformer the tree originally used to make a 4.5 V supply but then I was going to release an album of Wombles covers and that never happened either.**
The result is a cool-running, colour-changing Christmas tree that will now languish in its bin liner until such time as the shop needs it.
All wired up and working!
Come into the (bright green) Light
Tree of (multicoloured) Light
Right, I’m off to get heat stroke and thus cleanse this premature feeling of Christmas…
* Couldn’t think of another Chris, sorry.
** But it could…***
*** No, it couldn’t.
Many other people contribute to Kate and Gun’s wonderful ScrapHappy every month – check out what they have been up to too!
Kate, Gun, Eva, Sue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy,
Jill, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, Debbierose, Nóilin and Viv