Hardware

Parts

You will need the following parts for this project:
  • Christmas tree or other item to decorate. I used a 3 foot tall artificial Christmas tree.
  • Strip of NeoPixel LEDs. I found 3 meters of the 30 NeoPixel strip worked well to loosely cover my 3 foot tall tree. You can use other NeoPixel products too, like rings or individual pixels.
  • 5 volt power supply that can supply enough current for all the lights. Remember each pixel can consume up to 60mA, so you will need a large power supply. I used the 5 volt 10 amp supply because my strip of 90 pixels can consume over 5 amps of current!
  • Large capacitor (1000uF 6.3 volts or higher), as suggested in the NeoPixel guide.
  • An Arduino Yun, or a CC3000 & Arduino Uno / Mega / Nano.
  • Adapter and wires to connect the lights, Arduino, and power supply together.

Assembly

If necessary, solder the connector for the NeoPixel strip to the input side of the strip (as indicated by arrows on the strip).

Next connect the strip power and ground wires to the power supply adapter. Add the large capacitor across the power and ground.

Finally connect the input, power, and ground lines from the strip connector to the Arduino. For the input line you can use any free digital pin on the Arduino. If using an Arduino without a 5V regulator, like the Yun, connect power to the 5V or VIN pin and ground to a ground pin. If using an Arduino with a 5V regulator, such as the Uno, it's safest to apply the 5V power to the USB input of the Arduino instead of the 5V pin--you can cut up a spare cable or use this adapter to feed in power.

If using a CC3000 and regular Arduino, connect the CC3000 to the Arduino in the same way as other CC3000 examples:
  • Arduino 5V to CC3000 VIN
  • Arduino ground to CC3000 ground
  • Arduino digital pin 13 to CC3000 CLK
  • Arduino digital pin 12 to CC3000 MISO
  • Arduino digital pin 11 to CC3000 MOSI
  • Arduino digital pin 10 to CC3000 CS
  • Arduino digital pin 5 to CC3000 VBEN
  • Arduino digital pin 3 to CC3000 IRQ
I chose to hide my Arduino in a small cardboard box placed under the tree skirt. I also wrapped connections in black electrical tape to keep my curious cat from getting to them. You can see my hardware connected to an Arduino Yun below:
Be careful decorating your tree with too many lights. The more current your lights require, the more heat they will generate. Don't leave your decorations powered on and unattended!
Continue on to learn about the software in this project.
This guide was first published on Dec 16, 2013. It was last updated on Dec 16, 2013. This page (Hardware) was last updated on Sep 14, 2019.