[Sean Hodgins] really harnessed the holiday spirit to create his very own Giant Spinning Holographic Christmas Tree (of Death). It’s a three-dimensional persistence-of-vision (POV) masterpiece, but as a collection of rapidly spinning metal elements, it’s potentially quite dangerous as well. As [Sean] demonstrates, the system can display other images and animations well beyond the realm of mere holiday trees.
Initial experiments focused on refining the mechanical structure, bearings, and motor. A 1/2 horsepower A.C. motor was selected and then the dimensions of the tree were “trimmed” to optimize a triangular frame that could be rotated at the necessary POV speed by the beefy motor. A six-wire electrical slip ring allows power and control signaling to be coupled to the tree through its spinning central shaft.
The RGB elements are SK9888 LEDs also know as DotStar LEDs. DotStar LEDs are series-chainable, individually-addressable RGB LEDs similar to NeoPixels. However, with around 50 times the pulse width modulation (PWM) rate, DotStars are more suitable for POV applications than NeoPixels. The LED chain is driven by a Raspberry Pi 4 single board computer using a clever system for storing image frames.
If deadly rotational velocity is not your cup of tea, consider this slower spinning RGB Christmas tree featuring a DIY slip ring. Or for more POV, may we suggest this minimalist persistence-of-vision display requiring only a few LEDs and an ATtiny CPU.