Intro: Color Changing LED Snow Heart Valentine
Don't let the leftover snow from the recent "Snowzilla" storm go to waste. Show your loved ones how much you care with a giant Valentine's Day snow heart in the front yard. Not your average snow heart, this display is jazzed up by embedding color-changing LED holiday lights into the snow for a brilliant night lightshow.
I sure hope the snow melts soon, because I am hooked. The LED Snow Heart is actually my fourth LED snowman this week (see Olaf and BB-8 examples). I can't imagine making a regular snowman anymore - gotta have LED lights!
Snow, shovel, wheelbarrow
GE iTwinkle Color Changing LED Lights (36 bulb count string)
GE Color Effects Color Changing LED Lights (25 bulb count string)
Step 1: Make a Heart Shape "Snowman"
For this project, a wheel barrow was used to transport snow from the remaining unmelted Snowzilla snow heaps along the driveway. An approximate 6-ft wide by 7-ft high heart was fashioned in the snow. It has a slight forward-facing slant, being about 2-ft high in the rear and 1-ft high at the front point.
NOTE: Picture above is after some rain and melting
Step 2: Select a Brand of LED Holiday Lights (GE)
This project uses the following light strings:
GE iTwinkle Color Changing G35 LED Lights (36 bulb count string) (Bluetooth)
GE Color Effects Color Changing G35 LED Lights (25 bulb count string)
Prior to 2014, the GE lights were originally sold as "Color Effect"s bulbs with push-button and/or remote control of color modes. More recently these GE bulbs have been sold as "iTwinkle" G35 lights with iOS/Android Bluetooth control (2014) and more recently iTwinkle WiFi (2015).
One advantage of the GE G35 LED lights, is the robust manufacturing quality. The individual LED lights are totally sealed in molded plastic, with no exposed wires or metal near the sockets like the old-fashioned incandescent bulbs. Also the bulbs do not give off much heat, if any. Therefore the LED lights are not only color changing with brilliant bright colors, they are inherently safer than incandescent light strings for the types of projects that I do (pie tin art and snow art).
SAFETY NOTE: proceed at you own risk. These bulbs are rated for outside use, and obviously could get wet and snow covered in normal holiday use. I am not observing any unusual safety issue using them intentionally in snow. Due care should be used including inspecting the strings for damage. Obviously extension cord connections could be susceptible to moisture. Therefore it's best to keep the cord connections dry, and not to power up in rainy/wet conditions. Unplug the light strings when physically working on them, and only use the lights at night under supervision, being careful to unplug each night. Using a GFCI ground fault protected circuit is recommended.
Step 3: Insert the Light Strings Into the Snow
For this project, the outer perimeter of the heart is the 36-count iTwinkle string. The space inside the perimeter is covered by the 25-count Color Effects light string.
I used a spade (with the tip blunted with duck tape) to make a path to insert the wires. Then I used a vacuum cleaner extension tube to carve out a space for each bulb. You can experiment with bulb placement, but generally pointing the bulb forward, towards the observer, gives the best results. The idea is to hide the cord, and bury the light fixtures in snow such that the tops of the bulbs are 2-3 inches deep.
The electrical connections were hidden away (as shown) behind the lobes of the heart. A plastic bag is used to keep water out of the connections to the extension cord.
Use care not to cut the wiring with any tools. Preferably select wood or plastic tools that would be less likely to accidinenally slice the wiring.
If you have extra unneeded lights/bulbs, you can remove the clear plastic bulb and tape over the empty socket to block any unwanted light. See my Pie Tin Christmas Tree Instructable for further tips on working with the GE lights.
Step 4: Power Up Display and Explore Lightshow Choices
Make your plug-in connections and power up the display. Explore the various light show choices available for the two different GE light strings.
Above brief video shows a rainbow color chasing mode for both GE light strings
Above picture shows appearance from inside the house.
Step 5: Other LED Snowman Examples (Olaf, BB-8)
Please see my recent Instructable for "Olaf the LED Snowman". Olaf was a big hit in the neighborhood.
BB-8 is a work-in-progress, combining the ideas of pie tins and snow as LED light reflectors. BB-8 was my first yard display to use two GE light strings. The first GE iTwinkle light string is used to custom select Orange color for BB-8's circular instrument bays. The second GE light string is embedded into the snowman body for a variety of color effects.