Geeky Christmas Ornaments




About: I like to tinker. I'm a co-founder and active participant of my local hackerspace: Hack42 in Arnhem, the Netherlands. You can also find me on under the name Moem.

How to decorate your Christmas tree, using nothing but old computer parts and other components? I'll tell you. It's easy and fun.
It's a great way to recycle, and to have a tree that's different and still shiny and nice to look at. Also, it's a great thing to do as a group or family.

It's not all that easy to take pictures of a Christmas tree. Most of the time, they'll either be pretty, or you can see the ornaments clearly. It's almost never both. That explains why some of the pictures of my tree look pretty, and some are clear.

I made this at my local hackerspace: Hack42 in Arnhem, the Netherlands. Kids, remember to eat your veggies and support your local hackerspace!

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Step 1: What You'll Need

Computer parts:
- Harddisk platters
- Harddisk platter separator rings
- Harddisk reading heads
- Various coils and components, as long as they're shiny
- Fan covers
- Flatcable

- Thick copper wire
- Thin wire in different insulation colours

- Scissors for cutting flatcable
- Hole punch
- Pliers for cutting and bending
- Your favourite wire stripper

Where do you get harddisk parts? Why, they're inside old hard disks. And if you need to know how to take those apart, look here and here.
Coils are often found inside the power supply.

Step 2: Make a Platter Matter

First of all, a safety precaution:

There are two types of harddisk platters: glass ones and metallic ones. It's very hard to tell them apart on sight.
The glass ones are great for wind chimes, because they make a lovely sound, and to use as mirrors. But you can't bend them, and drilling is iffy at best.
The metallic ones can easily be drilled and bent.
Try bending a glass platter, and it will shatter into very sharp shards! So make sure all the platters you want to use are metallic: tap the edge with a knife, and if there is a small nick, it's safe to use.

Here's how to make a platter ornament:
- Take a platter, grab the edge with a pair of pliers, and bend.
- Repeat this along the edge. You can bend in the same direction, or alternate; you can grab the platter in different ways. All of this will create a different effect. Experiment!
- Drill a hole in one edge of the platter, for easy hanging. Drill more holes if you want to hang other stuff from it.
- Polish with a soft cloth to get rid of fingerprints.

Step 3: Combine Materials

Fan covers are great. They're shiny, they come in chrome or gold, they have four easy points to attach stuff. So that's what we're going to do.
Things you can hang from the eyes on the sides and bottom:
- rings
- elcos and other components
- coils
- smaller fan covers
- reading heads
- cut pieces of flatcable
- harddisk platters

To link stuff together, use copper wire. The thick insulated wire that's used for homes is great for this: just strip it and bend it into hooks, eyes, whatever you need. The shininess makes it look attractive all by itself.

Step 4: Now Go Wild

Here are some more ways you can combine stuff into pretty shiny ornaments. Just look at the pictures and use your imagination.
If the things you make turn out too heavy for your tree, you can hang them on the wall or in a window. They're a lot like high-tech dream catchers!

Keep in mind that repetition makes almost anything look good. In fact, repetition makes almost anything look good. This is known as the Ikea effect.
So combine several small, simple things like rings, and they'll turn out pretty. Just connect them with copper wire links.

Cut shapes from the flatcables, punch a hole in them and hang them from platters and fan covers. Fold the pieces if you like or keep them as they are.

Use thinner copper wire to wrap around fan covers and platters for an interesting effect. Or cut the middle part from a fan cover and fill it in with other stuff.

Step 5: Top It Off

Finally, you'll want a tree topper. Use five or six reading heads to make a star!
Either strap them together with wire, or tie them to a fan cover.

The pictures show two examples.

Step 6: Decorate Your Tree and Enjoy the Results

Finally, here are some tree pictures.
You'll see that there are some CDs in my tree, too; they've been microwaved to get a nice craquele effect.

Now get creative, enjoy, and above all:
Merry Christmas!

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    10 Discussions


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Oh, that's neat! I'd never seen that site before. Thanks for the heads up!


    6 years ago on Step 6

    You are such a geek, and as a geek myself I say that as a compliment. One question, did you use your regular microwave to do the CDs in? The reason I ask is the fact that the arcing can weaken the magnetron tube and thus weaken your microwave. Other than that, very awesome and creative.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    No, we used an old microwave that was redundant anyway. Oh, we also out it outside, in case there were toxic fumes.

    Glad you like it, and yes, I take 'geek' in a positive sense :-)