December 19, 2020
My house has a commanding view of the valley below —
a perfect opportunity to display a Christmas tree for all to see.
i decided to make the tree a lighted one.
A step by step plan was required.
The engineering and execution was accomplished in the following steps:
The center post:
i chose to use black PVC pipe for the center post.
So that the tree would be visible from the length of the valley i made the post 12’ tall.
3” diameter pipe fit through an umbrella hole in my metal table and into an umbrella stand on the ground.
Notched light string holder:
At the top of the pipe i required a notched disk to hold the light strings.
It is a 6” diameter x 1/4” thick acrylic disk with eight notches around the perimeter. i affixed the disk with a screw to a wooden dowel which slipped into the Inside Dimension (ID) of the pipe.
Eight wooden stakes with notches anchored the light strings to the ground. i arbitrarily decided that the base of the tree would be a 10’ diameter.
On a 10’ stick of wood i marked the 5’ center.
With the stick lying on the ground i aligned the center mark to the bottom of the center support pipe. i marked an “X” on the ground at both ends of the stick. 90° from the first marks i repeated both “X”s.
Next, i found the center between the “X”s and used those points and my stick to mark the last four stake locations.
Lastly, i drove in the ground stakes at all eight “X”s.
Now to calculate how much light string i needed.
i drew a right triangle with a 12’ height and a 5’ base.
The hypotenuse = the square root of 12 squared plus 5 squared.
The answer is 13’.
13 x 8 = 104.
The light strings must traverse between the stakes three times.
The distance between the stakes is 7’.
7 x 3 = 21 + 104 = 125 total feet of light string required.
Two 100 bulb strings at 65’ each should do it.
Stringing the lights:
Start at one ground stake and string the lights up to a notch in the top disk. Working clockwise, hook the string onto an adjacent disk notch, then down to the next ground stake. Run the string clockwise to the next ground stake, then up to the disk. Over on the disk, then down to a stake. Over a stake, then up to the disk. Continue until arriving at the last ground stake.
Provide power and timing:
i have mechanical timers in my electrical drawer.
They are the type where you push down pins for the off position and pull up the pins when you want power on.
i programmed the timer to come on at 5pm and off at 10pm, then plugged it into an outside house outlet.
An extension cord to the light string completed the project.
Finally, my wife and i drove down to the valley floor to admire the tree.
It was perfect so we kissed to celebrate.