Creating an Interactive Tree: The Making Process

My original intention was to build an interactive tree out of braided transparent pipes for the trunk and laser cut paper leaves with LED lights inside for the limbs. However, after some testing, I concluded that this strategy was not viable. I then switched to 3D printing the trunk with a multicolor filament and adding NeoPixel Christmas lights to make the tree dynamic.

I spent the following two weeks learning 3D printing and NeoPixel programming after sketching up my ideas and making CAD models. Before going on to the trunk, I experimented printing tiny test pieces. After printing the trunk, I attached the NeoPixel lights to the top of the tree and configured them to light up in response to a person’s pulse.

In the weeks that followed, I focused on creating and testing the tree’s interaction. I experimented with several heart rate sensors and pulse detection algorithms until I discovered one that worked reliably with the NeoPixels. I also tweaked the code to verify that the lights responded correctly to variations in pulse rate.

The final fabrication step required connecting all of the components, including the printed trunk, NeoPixels, and heart rate sensor. I also attached a power supply to the tree so it could operate for long periods of time.

In retrospect, I wish I had allotted more time for experimenting and testing during the project’s early phases. While my decision to use 3D printing and NeoPixels resulted in a successful production, I could have saved time and money by first evaluating the viability of my initial design.

Overall, I am happy with the fantasy aesthetic I was going for. The colorful filament lends a fascinating texture to the trunk, and the interactivity of the NeoPixel LEDs makes the piece more engaging.

Making a dynamic tree was both a difficult and enjoyable process. I learnt new 3D printing and programming abilities and was able to alter my concept to achieve a successful final product. Despite several hiccups and hurdles along the road, I am pleased with the ultimate outcome and look forward to applying these abilities in future projects.

3d print, aesthetic, design, Fantasy, heart rate, heartbeat, miniature, neopixel, pulse, tree
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