Candy Cane Lawn Ornaments

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About: Husband and wife team who make stuff and things. We also like to share our passion for making stuff and things with others.

Project Start Date: 8-Dec-2018

Project Complete Date: 21-Dec-2018

INTRODUCTION: This project describes how to build large lawn ornaments that are lit with addressable LEDs. Specifically we will build a group of four 40” candy canes that are lit with 200 pixels (WS2811 12mm diffused string). The LEDs are connected to the wifi using D1 mini NodeMCU and controlled by XLights/Vixen software.

Step 1: MATERIALS

  • 4’ x 4’ x ½” thick plywood
  • 36’ plastic pipe of various diameters from ¾” to 2”
  • White paint, 4 cans of spray paint
  • Rebar, 4 x 2’ pieces
  • 2’ metal strapping
  • 16 drywall screws
  • 4 strings of 50 pixels, 5V addressable LEDs, waterproof
  • 100’ 18/3 jacketed wire
  • 12 waterproof connectors
  • 2 wifi modules with waterproof casing
  • 5V power supply, 30A with waterproof casing
  • Water proof, 2.4L Storage totes
  • A wifi connected computer to run XLights/Vixen software

Step 2: TOOLS

  • Measuring tape
  • Jigsaw
  • Mitre saw Drill
  • + ½” drill bit
  • Wire cutters & stripper
  • Soldering iron
  • Heat gun
  • Hot knife
  • Hot glue gun
  • Multimeter

Step 3: Candy Cane Build & Assembly

  1. Draw out the candy cane shape on the plywood with pencil. The inside diameter of the hook is 9”, outside diameter is 18.5” and the stem is 28”. Cut out the candy cane shape from the plywood using a jigsaw. Use the first cutout to trace out three more candy cane shapes and then cut them out with a jigsaw.
  2. Paint the plywood white on both sides.
  3. Cut the plastic pipe into 2” long pieces using the mitre saw. 200 pipe pieces are required for this 200 LED project.
  4. Arrange 50 pieces of pipe onto one candy cane shape. Take note of the spacing between the pixels on the light string (usually 2.5”-3”); the distance between pipe centres from one to the next should be no further apart than the pixel spacing. Fasten the pipe pieces to the plywood with hot glue.
  5. Drill a ½” hole in the plywood at the center of each pipe.
  6. Repeat arranging pipe pieces/ gluing/ drilling for the other 3 candy canes.
  7. Paint them all white
  8. Mount the LED pixels on to the candy canes. Push the pixel snugly into the ½” hole, use hot glue to secure it if necessary. Use one pixel per hole, one LED string per candy cane. Be sure to note which end is the start of the LED string.

Step 4: Control Module Build & Assembly

  1. Install the nodemcu on a breadboard and flash it with ESPixelstick firmware (watch the included video to find out how). LOADING ESPPIXEL FIRMWARE ON WEMOS MINI D
  2. After the firmware flash is successful, unplug the nodemcu USB cable and plug it back in to reboot the module
  3. Once the module is powered back on, determine the IP address of the nodemcu. This can be done by checking your router or by using a network tool such a Fing on your phone. FING
  4. Using a web browser go to your nodemcu's IP address and proceed with the configuration.
    1. For this project we used Universe 1 and 2 for control module 1 and 2 respectively. The pixel count is 300 for each universe.
    2. The pixel type is WS2811.
    3. ESPixelstick uses pin4 on the nodemcu for data out.
  5. Test the control module. Unplug the USB cable and connect the starting end of an LED string to the breadboard, +5V to +5V, ground to ground and nodemcu pin4 to LED data in. This step will ensure you start with a known good control module.
  6. Plug the USB cable back in and go to the test tab in your configuration window and test different colors to ensure the colour order is configured correctly
  7. Build the control module as per the attached wiring diagram. We recommend you test the circuit on a breadboard before soldering to a proto board.
    1. Connect nodemcu pin4 to one of the low level pins on the logic shifter.
    2. The corresponding high level output on the logic shifter is connected to the data pin at the starting end of the led string.
    3. From 5vin terminal on the control module tie together the +5V pin on the nodemcu, the HLV on the logic shifter, and the power out terminal of the control module.
    4. Tie +3V pin on the nodemcu to the LLV pin on the logic shifter. Tie the ground of the nodemcu to the IN and OUT terminals of the control module and the ground of logic shifter.
    5. This project uses two control modules. Repeat the above steps.

Step 5: Physical & Wiring Layout

Caution! This project uses 120VAC. If you aren't experienced working with 120VAC, please consult with an electrician. Consult your local codes and regulations regarding temporary wiring installations.

  1. Map out the locations of your power supply, control modules and candy canes. We placed the candy canes in single file down the length of the driveway and the power supply close to the 120V outlet on the house. Each control module controls two candy canes. Voltage losses between the control module and the LED string depend on the wire gauge and length.. The control module is located close to the first candy cane to minimize the wire length (and voltage losses) from control module to the first LED. Check the voltage losses if you choose to mount the power supply and both modules in the same waterproof container; WS2811 chips require 3.7V minimum.
  2. Ensure a strong wifi signal on the 2.4GHz band is present at the locations of your control modules. We used Wifi Analyzer by fatproc to check the signal. WIFI ANALYZER
  3. Stake in the rebar pieces where the candy canes will be mounted.
  4. Flag the locations of the control modules and power supply.
  5. Measure, cut to length, and label your 5V wires according to your map from step 1.
  6. We used 6 pieces of 18/3 wire; power to control module 1, power to control module 2, module 1 to candy cane 1, candy cane 1 to candy cane 2, module 2 to candy cane 3, candy cane 3 to candy cane 4.

Step 6: Testing & Final Assembly

  1. Waterproof cases are required to house the power supply and both control modules. We used small rubber totes, with a water tight seal.
    1. Install three cable glands on power supply container, 120V AC in, 5V power supply to control module 1 and 5V power supply to control module 2.
    2. For each control module container install two cable glands, power in and line out.
  2. Install the waterproof connectors everywhere. Don't forget to isolate and waterproof any unused wires and connectors on the LED strings to prevent them from shorting.
  3. Create some fun light sequences in xLights XLIGHTS BASICS With DrZzZs
    1. For the candy canes, we created custom models in xLIGHTS. The stripes were created using sub models of the custom models, defining the matching pairs of the strips. For instance, from starting for the bottom, positions (1,50), (2,49) create the first two stripes
    2. Once the models were created, we then created the sequences.
  4. Bench test the light sequences with everything wired up.
  5. Mount the candy canes to the rebar with strapping and screws.
  6. Launch the sequence

  7. Enjoy!

Holiday Decor

Runner Up in the
Holiday Decor

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    3 Discussions

    0
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    Penolopy Bulnick

    3 months ago

    Very fun and unique candy cane decorations :)

    0
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    ijackson3DIY Hacks and How Tos

    Reply 3 months ago

    Thanks! We were really pleased with the way they turned out. We weren't sure if we should enter them in the holiday decor or the Make it Glow Challenge.