You can click on the pictures on this page for a larger version.
Like our current Mega, the Mega-Tree was a 20-foot, freestanding 3-dimensional Christmas
tree, which thanks thanks to computer control, can animate, change colors,
spin, flash, and do many other effects all synchronized to our FM radio
broadcast of Christmas music. Although it didn't have the capabilities
of our current pixel-based tree, it was still pretty
fun to watch, and was quite novel when it debuted in 2003.
The tree could take on many different colored effects. It could change between three different solid colors, and perform many animated multicolor effects and color morphs. In the photos below, taken the first year we had the tree, show the tree in an all-green, all-red, and a gold and red configuration.
Here are some details about the original mega-tree:
Unfortunately it's impossible to show the animated effects via static pictures. To view the Mega Tree in action, please see the video links on our 2011 display page.
The two pictures above show a couple frames of the animation (from our 2003 display): to the left, a red tree with a spinning green "tree slice", and to the right, multicolored slices spinning.
The Mega-Tree was in planning and development for about a full year. There were numerous technical and logistical issues to solve. Fortunately we didn't do this in isolation-- there were a few other folks out in the PlanetChristmas chat room making similar trees, so we got to help each other through the issues. The nice thing about home-constructed displays is that even though several of us were making similar ones, they all differed significantly in terms of implementation, number of lights, and animation capabilities, so each of these is truly unique!
The Tree was expanded for 2004. The original tree contained 4600 lights and 10 slices. We decided to expand it to 12 slices because 12 is a nice number for sequencing music to (music is typically written in meters of 4 or 3, which divide nicely into 12). The tree is also somewhat fuller with the addition of these slices and additional lights.
On September 28, 2003, we ran our first "live" proof-of-concept test with the mega tree. With about 60% of the light strings completed, we hung them on the flagpole to see how it would handle the weight. Everything went well, although the test brought up some minor issues in time for us to correct them. Below are some pictures taken during this test-- note that the PVC base is just hanging (crooked) by the lights, and is not complete in these pictures since it wasn't finished for this test. As an aside, boy did we get some strange looks from neighbors driving by as we tested Christmas lights in September!
Our 2003 Christmas Log describes how this display (as well as the rest of our displays) progressed throughout the 2003 year, when it was in development.
As note above, for the 2011 season we replaced the lighting on the original star topper with RGB flexible ribbon, giving it better brightness and the ability to change into virtually any color. We also changed the mounting method so the star 'floats' slightly above the tree, rather than sitting directly on top of the tree's light strings. Here are a couple of pictures of the star topper taken during setup for the 2011 season. This version of the mega-tree was retired after the 2011 season, but its replacement shares much of the same structural design.
Need more info on the tree's construction and how we set it up? Click Here for a 10 minute video which shows us setting it up for the 2005 season and describing what's involved (RealPlayer required, 15.4MB) Sorry about the terrible audio quality -- evidently our video camera picks up everything but me!
This page was last updated on Sunday, October 14, 2012