Introduction: Happy 2016 Pie Tin Time Ball

Introducing the pie tin "Poly-Holi-Hedron", a new multi-purpose holiday decoration presented in Time Square Time Ball mode. Given the availability of color-changing LED holiday lights, it is now possible to design a universal holiday decoration that can be reused and displayed for many holidays. This Instructable represents one possible approach.

The Pie Tin Time Ball is a giant soccer ball made out of 12 pentagon and 20 hexagon shapes carved out of Elmer's poster board. Pie tins affixed to the poster board panels serve as reflectors for the GE iTwinkle color-changing LED holiday lights. The ball is illuminated internally with a Flux color changing LED light bulb, which allows making colorful back-lit silhouette shapes, numbers (2016), and letters on the panels. Finally the uppermost top pentagon serves as a level platform for a topper decoration. For the Time Ball, the ball is topped off with a LED party light hidden inside a New Years top hat. To show all of its many facets, the Time Ball revolves on a rotating tree stand.

Example display modes presented here for the Poly-Holi-Hedron include the Great Pie Tin Pumpkin, Celebration of LED Light Menorah, Indoor Christmas Tree, and 4th of July Fireworks. Valentines Day will be next!

Major Supplies

GE iTwinkle Color Changing LED Lights - 36 count (Bluetooth version)

FLUX Color Changing LED Light Bulb

LED Party Light

Extension cord with Light Bulb Socket (2)

Elmer's Poster Board

Hefty 10-inch Pie Tins (20)

Hefty 9-inch Pie tins (10-12)

1 1/4-inch wooden Dowel (48-inch)

Rotating Christmas Tree Stand

Duck Tape

Scotch Magic Tape (Matte finish)

Foam Pool Noodle

Step 1: Make the "Soccer Ball" Dome

The famous soccer ball shape (truncated icosahedron) is made out of 12-pentagons and 20-hexagons, for a total of 32 surfaces for pie tins. An X-Acto knife was used to cut the shapes out of foam poster board (Elmer's 28-in x 40-in Tri-Fold purchased at Walmart). Each shape needs a 1-in hole in the center for the GE Light (use a quarter or dollar coin as a cutting guide). Ample duck tape is used inside to hold all of the panels together. For the Time Ball project, the observer will not be able to see inside the ball, so you don't have to worry about the internal appearance.

Regarding size, my goal was a relatively large 32-inch diameter ball which can just squeeze through a standard 35-inch front door of the house. This necessitated equal 5.8-inch sides on each pentagon and hexagon. Microsoft Powerpoint was used to adjust size and then print out a cutting guides for the shapes. This design allows a 10-inch pie tin to fit on each Hexagon, and a 9-inch pie tin fits on each Pentagon.

Thankfully the math of this project is relatively easy to handle with on-line calculators. The calculation tools below provide the inside circle and outside circle of a regular polygon. The Time Ball is based on a 10-in inside circle of the Hexagons, and an 8-inch inside circle of Pentagons.

Step 2: Prepare the Pie Tins

For the basics, please see my prior Instructables for the pie tin Christmas Tree and pie tin Menorah. Because the hollow Time Ball is illuminated internally, each pie tin surface represents an artistic opportunity for X-Acto knife cut-outs (eg; like carving a pumpkin).

For this project, the numerals 2-0-1-6 are first carved into pie tins as shown. For several of the numerals, Microsoft Word was used to print out large numbers as a guide (using Arial font at 650 font size). Once the pie tins are carved, trace the outline onto each corresponding poster board panel and make the carve outs.

One discovery for me on this project is that Scotch Magic Tape (matte surface) applied to the poster board cut-out serves as an excellent diffuser for LED light. Putting scotch tape over the cut outs also prevents the observer from seeing inside the ball (which is an ugly mess of wires and duck tape).

The two matching cut outs (pie tin and poster board panel) can be joined with double-sided tape or spray adhesive (eg; Elmer's). When changing the display for different holidays, one simply cuts out the old panels and inserts the new panels. Use caution not to cut the wires of the GE holiday light string.

Basically, the more cut outs, the better for adding artistic interest to the display as the pie tins rotate. Another artistic option is to leave the cut outs open (without the Scotch tape diffuser). This allows the light to shine through the holiday motif shapes to project into the ceiling and walls for even more pizzazz. Normally the author is running out of time to add more cut outs, and getting finger blisters, but the possibilities are endless.

Step 3: Assemble the Rotating Tree Stand

Rotation is artistically necessary due to the 3D nature of the display. It is amazing how few of the 32 sides of the structure are actually visible at first glance. A rotating Christmas Tree stand was purchased on Amazon. The tree stand accepts a 1 1/4-inch wooden post which was purchased at Home Depot. As shown, for the Time Ball project, the top pentagon was made out of pegboard instead of poster board. A small piece of 1x2-inch wood was drilled with 1 1/4-inch hole and affixed to the pegboard by screws, to fit onto the wooden post. Additional 1 1/4-inch utility holes were drilled into the pegboard to allow passing extension cords and holiday light strings through. Two utility holes were used for the Time Ball project (only one shown here). Also shown in the above photos is the paper cutting guide for the pentagons.

Pool noodle slices are handy for supporting the top and bottom of the dome. Be aware, if using pool noodles slices to support the entire weight of the ball, the slices will eventually lose their grip and slide down the wooden post. In that case, use duct tape or screws below the slices to prevent sliding.

Step 4: Make the Topper

For the Time Ball project, an inexpensive LED Party Light (Amazon) is used to splash moving colors onto the ceiling and walls. A cheap cardboard News Years top hat was used to beautify the top. The 2016 numerals were cut out of the top hat with an X-Acto knife. The cut out numeral holes were then covered with Scotch Magic Tape as a light diffuser for two GE holiday light sockets. The two GE holiday string lights were affixed to the top pegboard using the plastic mounting brackets supplied by GE with the iTwinkle lights.

For other holidays, the top pegboard surface can be used as a shelf for electric Menorahs, small Christmas trees or poinsettias, store-bought Christmas tree toppers, homemade LED creations, and so on.

Step 5: Indoor/Outdoor Considerations

As designed, the Time Ball is an indoor-only project, but it is light-weight can easily be taken outdoors for short periods on dry days. Poster board, though amazingly strong when dry, basically turns into mush upon exposure to water. Likewise the LED party light, Flux LED light bulb, and rotating tree stand are not designed for exposure to rain. On the other hand, last year's pie tin Christmas tree Instructable, made out of painted wood, can be left outdoors because the GE iTwinkle lights are weather proof.

Step 6: Poly-Holi-Hedron Videos/Photos

The Great Pie Tin Pumpkin mode has purple inside with orange lights outside. Bat and pumpkin face cut outs are shown.

The Celebration of LED Lights Menorah has dark blue outside with light blue inside, with an off-the-shelf lighted Menorah on the top shelf.

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