**** Cassettepunk ****

Technological Surrealism / Alec Nerds Out

Nerdy Xmas Tree


One last project for 2015:

I’m not religious and always felt a little weird about putting the star on the tree, but traditions are valuable and Luciana, now 3, is old enough to start absorbing them. This is also my first Christmas of separated parenting, so I have the freedom to follow my instincts.

Immediately disregarding my instincts, I went to Canadian Tire and picked up a plastic Christmas tree (hereafter termed the Festive Petrochemical). I hated choosing it, I hated paying for it, I hated driving it home, and I hated it as it sat in its box in my entryway. So I turned around and returned it, picking out instead a Norfolk pine from Figaro’s Garden, a local shop housing the biggest housecat you ever saw. Norfolks will survive year-around as houseplants, so avoid the plastic-vs-murder dilemma.

Now, decorations: I decided to wire the tree for power and start building a series of custom ornaments, both festive and nerdy. As time passes I’ll involve Luciana more and more in their design and construction. But for now I have three: a glowing eyeball, a robotic “ho ho ho”, and a touch-sensitive icicle.

Christmas tree ornaments are an ideal vehicle for beginner hacking projects. All they need to do is produce a bit of light or sound, and you have the pleasure of seeing them displayed. I’m eagerly anticipating next November, by which point I hope Luciana is already going to be tinkering.

Oh, and we have named the Norfolk “Jac the Tree”.

Happy holidays!

Source code on github.com.


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One Comment

  1. […] Celebrating his first Christmas with his three-year-old daughter after separating with his wife, [Alec] decided to finally get a tree. He’s not religious or anything, but it’s a fun holiday for kids, so he decided to get in the spirit. But he had to make his own LED ornaments. […]

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