I've always loved the detailed, intricate light displays every year at Christmas. The talent that it takes to coordinate lights to music is beyond my knowledge or amount of free time. This is a quick and easy hack that allowed me to create the fun vibe of a music controlled Christmas display in just a few minutes with limited supplies in the comfort of my own living room.
Step 1: Get Your Supplies
There are endless amounts of options of products this project can be done with and they will all be listed at the end in the Parts List. You can go as big & detailed or small & simple as you would like. In my case, I kept it as minimal as possible. I used the Car Interior Wireless Sound Atmosphere RGB 4x12 LED Light Strips with Music Controller and IR Remote from Parts Express. This LED set has 4 leads which are perfect for attaching to the tree legs and includes a built in sound controller for picking up the beats of the music.
Step 2: Powering Your LEDS
This specific set of LEDs should be powered by a 12V AC power adapter. I used an extra that I had laying around but if you need to purchase one then I suggest the 12 VDC 2A Switching AC Power Adapter with 2.1 x 5.5mm Center + Plug from Parts Express.
* These LEDs come with a car adapter just in case you want to add a little holiday cheer to your car as well!
Step 3: Supplying the Tunes
To ad a hands free element to this project I decided to use a Bluetooth speaker for the audio. This would allow me to send music to my tree to activate the lights via my cell phone.
I achieved the Bluetooth music capability by using the Dayton Audio MARK1 Portable 2.1 Bluetooth Brick Speaker from Parts Express. This speaker is small enough to be hidden at the back of the tree under the skirt but has enough punch and power to really get the LEDs moving and dancing.
Step 4: Prep Your Tree With the LEDs
The 4 LED strips in this kit have adhesive backs that make it easy to attach them to each of the tree legs.
Step 5: Get Organized
Once you have all 4 LEDs placed on the legs of the tree, you'll notice some wires that could get messy underneath the tree skirt. I organized them using one of the twist ties that came off the kit when I opened it. This allowed me to easily gather the wires in one area under the skirt to keep them from peeking out.
Step 6: Put Everything in Place & Connect to Power
The placement of the products under the tree skirt is the most important part of this project. You'll need the music controller for the LEDs and the Bluetooth Speaker at a close enough range to have the music as quiet as you like while still getting a response from the LEDs. Once you gather the extra LED wire and controller at the back of the tree, place the Bluetooth speaker close to the wall and connect both it and the LEDs to power.
*Pro tip ;).....Make sure the 'IR Out' side of the Controller is facing up when placing it.
Step 7: Disguise Your Set Up
I found this setup works best with one of those cheap white glittery tree skirts from the Dollar Store. Plus when it lights up it looks like a glittery, glowing snow cap! Place the skirt under the tree, covering all elements of the set up including the speaker. In my setup, I gathered the skirt higher up on the base of the tree giving it a hill top effect that allows the light to spread more evenly under the tree skirt.
Step 8: Rock On!
Time to start the party! First, power on the LEDs using the included remote, then connect your phone to the Bluetooth speaker. There are so many settings on these LEDs and the best way to get an effect you like is to play around with the remote and adjust to your liking. There are jump and fade options for light transitions. You can also increase or decrease sensitivity, using the sun button, to make the lights more or less sensitive to the music or sounds. There is also a nice, one light ambient setting with no transitions. The options are endless!
Step 9: You're Ready for Endless Hours of Holiday Music Fun!
Step 10: Parts List - Including More Detailed and Complicated Options for You Over Achievers Out There
White Tree Skirt