Monster M4sk Installation

I used black sticky-back velcro to secure the eyes to the inside of the trunk. This makes them easy to remove or reposition if I want to add functionality or update the programming later on. Stick some velcro to the inside of the trunk and to the front of the Monster M4sk. I used a couple staples on the velcro inside the tree just to be sure it wouldn't pull off.

I also added a little more wire between the Monster M4sk connector and the sensor, to give myself a little more wiggle room in terms of sensor placement.

Access Hatch

Once the tree is in place, I still want to be able to access the Monster M4sk in case I want to update the programming. I used one of the branch collar knot-holes as an access hatch, cutting carefully around it with the keyhole saw. I painted the loose foam to match the tree and added rare earth magnets to hold it in place. Now I can reach through the trunk to make any adjustments needed.

I embedded the rare earth magnets in the bark so the access hatch can be removed just by pulling, and snaps back into place on its own. Rare earth magnets are strong, so the glue needs to be stronger! I used E6000 glue and it worked great.

This hatch also became the controller platform for the Fairy Lights I added to the tree later on.

Attaching Branches

I fixed my larger cardboard branches to the tree first, carving the foam where needed and supporting them along the walls. I very carefully added more expanding foam around the joints (this stuff gets everywhere so use a drop cloth and go slow!), over-filling them a bit so that when I carved the foam down later, there would be a smooth transition between the branch and the trunk. 

I trimmed and painted the foam on the joints to match the tree. This worked pretty well in most places, but there were a few joints that just looked fake and awful. Not to worry! I got some fake moss from the craft store and glued it over the joint. This covered my sloppy work, and added another level of interest and realism to the tree. 

I put pieces of moss everywhere after that! 

Ceiling Attachment Points

The far ends of the branches are attached to the ceiling. I used a table saw to angle the ends of the branches so they would lie flat against the ceiling before attaching them to the trunk.

I screwed small eye bolts into the ceiling drywall and ran a piece of fishing line through the bolt and around the branch. This allowed me to get the branch as close or as far away from the ceiling as I wanted, and gives the illusion that the branches are self-supporting and hovering in space.

I added more support points mid-branch, wherever it seemed necessary. The foam-based branches do want to droop a bit, but adding these fishing line supports keeps them exactly where I want them.

Leaves

I ordered 6 dozen oak leaves from AliExpress.com. They took a while to arrive, but I find that ordering direct from Asia can save you a lot of money if you're buying in bulk vs. the local craft store. They also have a huge selection available. I chose leaves that look like September -- still green in the center, but changing to reds and yellows on the edges. 

I only ended up using about 4 dozen, but it's good to have extras.

These leaves come in manageable twig-sized pieces with about 20 individual leaves per piece. I stripped off a little of the plastic coating on the bottom to expose bare wire, then simply pushed the wire into the expanding foam until the leaves were in place. 

Mount the Eyes and Sensor

The sticky-back velcro makes it really easy to place and adjust the eyes. You can put more velcro or tape over any areas that are leaking light through your tree's eye holes.

With the eyes in place and the sensor timing dialed in, find the perfect spot to place the sensor. Move it around until you're happy with its tree-waking action. 

I placed mine down at waist-height, far enough away from the eyes that it's not obviously connected -- I don't want people to notice it immediately. I also wanted it on the side of the tree away from the bed, so the eyes won't come on in the middle of the night and terrorize my guests.

I used a 1" spade bit to drill a hole through my tree so just the top of the sensor was sticking out. I disguised the PCB with a little more moss but made sure not to block the sensor. Angle really matters so I messed with it until I was really happy with the action.

My Tree Ent lives!

I also added a series of gorgeous NeoPixel fairy bottle lanterns to hang from the branches of my tree, so be sure check that guide out as well. 

Enjoy your tree! Mine keeps me company on lonely nights. And if he hasn't spoken to me yet.. perhaps he's just thinking of something worth saying.

This guide was first published on Feb 12, 2020. It was last updated on Feb 12, 2020.
This page (Installation) was last updated on Aug 09, 2020.