Ceramic Christmas trees usually don’t fall under the normal scope of scaled models. It is a scaled tree, so I guess that makes it all right. My mom made this tree for me back in 1981. It used a night light bulb and due to the small size of the tree and the nature of the fixture that held the bulb, roughly 1/3 of the tree was lit. I always wanted to find a better way to light this tree. Over the years, I thought about an LED bulb cluster or shallower fixture. I then thought about pulling all of the plastic “bulbs” and replacing them with small LED’s. I couldn’t find anything that would fit and later realized that there were 75 “bulbs” and at $1-2 an LED, the cost of this project would have gotten out of hand.
Finally, I stumbled upon a fiber optics hobby kit and realized this was my answer. It took me two solid tries to get it right but in the end, it worked out really well.
Since I finished it last winter, a couple of the LED’s have failed. They were advertised as supporting voltage from 3-12v. The LED fixture includes a resistor so I was confident that my 9v power supply would be sufficient. I’m not sure why they failed. To solve the problem, I ordered the brightest LED “bulb” available in the size I needed and added my own resistor. The new LED’s were brighter and have held up very well.
The start of the madness. I pulled each “bulb” cut the stem, drilled a small hole and glued the fiber in place.
After a short eternity, I drilled and glued all of the bulbs. I only drilled through my finger once!
When I started feeding the fiber into the holes, I realized my LED idea never would have worked. Quite a few of the holes had very sharp angles that provided very little clearance.
My first thought was to cut the fiber, attach the LED and stuff it into the tree itself.
This quickly turned into a problem. The sharp turns I was creating was causing fibers to pull out of the LED fixture and the bulbs themselves.
Although it worked, the sharp turns were making it difficult to properly feed all of the bulbs. Several bulbs were very dim for this reason.
ROUND 2! I wasn’t willing to go through all of this trouble and end up with a mostly lit tree.
I ended up removing all of the bulbs a second time, saved those with longer fibers and redrilled and glued the rest. I needed longer fibers to try another idea. I wanted to pass all of the fibers through the base and land them in there.
After sorting the fibers into groups of similar lengths, I slipped on the LED fixtures to try it out. Everything was working well.
This was already working significantly better than my first idea. My only problem at this point was fishing the fibers and LED’s into the base without them coming apart.
I had to use my glue gun for another project and had the idea of using it to hold the fibers. It worked perfectly!
With all of the fiber and LED’s comfortably sitting inside the base, it was time to solder the wires.
Ready to be taped and tucked.
The tree posing with my other projects.