It has our family in a sleigh being pulled by reindeer. I put a picture of our dachshund Frankie at the front of the reindeer leading the way.
After a couple days of our family flying around the star at the top of the tree I changed out the star for a picture of the Death Star from Star Wars and also changed the picture flying around the tree to an X-Wing fighter. I didn't think my wife would want to keep those up long, but she wanted them up through the rest of the holiday season.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
The tools I used on the project were as follows:
- Hand Saw
- Drill press
- Cordless drill
- Sanding block
12 volt dc wall transformer
Tie wraps (to hold the assembly to the tree)
NOTE: If you plan on using any tool for a project please make sure you are familiar with the tool and all of the dangers associated with it. If you are not familiar with a tool then you should ask someone who is to show you the proper way to use it. A lot of communities have classes at local colleges on the proper use of tools and machinery. There are also local woodworking clubs that offer classes at very reasonable rates for beginners. I highly recommend using these resources for your safety and for the most efficient use of the tool.
Always wear eye and hearing protection.
Always work safe with the proper safety equipment and guards on your tools.
Step 2: Decide What the Picture Will Be
Step 3: Edit the Picture
First I found a good side view of a reindeer and added a harness from another picture I had found.
Then I took a side view picture of our dog to add to the front of the sleigh team (also with a harness).
Next I found a sleigh and added that to the end of the group.
I added some harnesses to connect the animals to the sleigh.
I added some presents and pictures of my wife and kids to the sleigh.
Step 4: Print a Regular and Reverse Image
Step 5: Set Up the Dowel Rod and Motor
Next you need to add the motor to the rod. Before you do that you need to drill a small hole through the shaft if you don't already have one. The hole will have the end of the wire that supports the picture through it.
The motor should be about 5 to 6 inches below the end of the dowel rod. I used hot glue along the edges of the motor where it was against the dowel rod. Then I used electrical tape and wrapped the motor and the dowel rod the length of the motor. I did this to cover up the sides of the silver motor and make it less conspicuous on the tree.
Make sure you have the motor rotated so the shaft of the motor will line up with the center of the washer in the next step. They need to be aligned so the picture will travel in somewhat circular pattern.
Next add a washer at the top of the tree to serve as lateral support for the wire. I just held the washer in place directly above the shaft of the motor and used some hot glue to hold it to the dowel rod.
I then took a green marker and colored the exposed part of the dowel rod to help it blend in with the rest of the tree.
Step 6: Attached the Wire to the Motor
Step 7: Mount the Motor Assembly to the Tree
Take one zip tie and wrap it around the dowel rod and tree trunk just below the motor. Just fasten it loosely at first. Next wrap one around the dowel rod and tree trunk a couple inches above the bottom of the dowel rod. do this one loosely at first as well.
Check the dowel rod to make sure it is as close to vertical as possible. If you are happy with the way it is positioned and will be easy to conceal with the tree branches then you can go ahead and tighten up the two zip ties.
Step 8: Bend Your Support Wire
You also need to add some bends to the picture end of the wire to hold the picture. This will look like a capital letter "T" when you are finished. You may find a better bending pattern for your use.
Step 9: Hang the Picture From the Wire
Step 10: Come Up With More Pictures
Another thought I had was that it might be fun to add small items to the picture as well, such as hats on people, red noses on the reindeer, put the Grinch in the sleigh, etc.
Step 11: Optional LEDs for the Display
Step 12: Going to the Dark Side of Christmas
First I printed the Death Star onto some card stock paper. Then I added a small loop on the back with a piece of the extra card stock using a hot glue gun. The loop was used to go over the top of the tree where the Christmas star used to be. So I replaced one start with another.
Next I printed out a regular and mirror image of the X-Wing fighter so I could add them to wire that held the sleigh and reindeer.
In looking at it after it was complete I wish I would have had one large X-Wing on the front side and 3 or 5 small X-Wing's on the back side. That way it would be one large X-Wing when it was on the front side of the tree and closer to you and then smaller X-Wing's when it was on the back side of the tree and farther away and give the feeling of a little more depth.
Also, I should have added pictures of my two boys flying flying the X-Wing with one on each side and our dog in place of R2D2 on the back.